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5 Ways to Make a Betta Fish Happy: Facts & FAQs

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By Lindsey Stanton

male and female betta fish

Betta fish are some really awesome pets. Otherwise known as the Siamese fighting fish, this boisterous and territorial fish is a joy to have in your home. While they don’t get along too well with many other fish, they make for some cool pets nonetheless. They are somewhat solitary, which is not inherently a bad thing, but it does mean that you need to work a little extra hard to keep them happy. After all, the whole point of having any pet is to have a happy and vibrant one, not a sluggish and miserable animal.

Your pets deserve the best of the best, so it is your responsibility to give it to them! So, how do you make a Betta fish happy?

Have you seen our Betta Fish E-Book? we have put together what we consider to be the Ultimate Betta Care Guide that covers all the essentials and more! you can check what it covers and a sneak peek here.

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How to Tell If Your Betta Fish Is Happy

red male betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotscki, Shutterstock

Obviously you need to be able to tell when your Betta fish is happy in order to know how to make it happy. So, what are some signs that your Betta fish is doing well?

  • Your Betta fish should be very colorful. Strong and vibrant colors are a sign of good health and happiness.
  • The fins should be held open, not close to the body, allowing them to move with the water currents when they are not actively swimming.
  • Your Betta fish will eat on a regular basis and have a healthy appetite.
  • Your Betta fish will swim in smooth and regular patterns.

How To Tell If Your Betta Fish Is Not Happy

Betta Fish in a Bowl
Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

On the flip side of things, you need to be able to tell when your Betta fish is not happy or not healthy. This will allow you to make the appropriate changes to give your little pet the home that it deserves.

  • If your Betta fish is not happy or healthy, its color will not be nice. It will have a faded and muted color pattern.
  • If your Betta fish does not feed regularly and does not have a healthy appetite, it may be unhappy or sick (we have done a review on Bettafix here which is a popular solution for treating bacterial and fungal infections for Bettas).
  • Betta fish are stressed out or unhappy when they regularly have their fins close to their body and clamped.
  • When Betta fish get stressed out or unhappy, they tend to develop stress stripes, which are easy to see stripes of muted color.
  • Your Betta fish is probably unhappy if it is darting around, swimming irregularly, or hiding most of the time.

How To Make Your Betta Fish Happy

Now that we have identified how to tell when your Betta fish is happy or unhappy, let’s talk about how you can ensure that they are as happy as can be.

1. A Good Habitat

The most important aspect of keeping your Betta fish happy is the habitat in which it lives. Betta fish come from Southeast Asia with relatively warm waters, soft or semi-soft substrates, lots of plants, and a relatively low water flow. Your best bet to keep your Betta fish happy is to replicate the natural environment to which they are accustomed in the wild.

First off, you should get a Betta tank that is 2.5 gallons in size at the very least, but something like 4 or 5 gallons is even better. Betta fish are pretty active and they like to swim around a lot, so giving them plenty of space is essential. Moreover, when it comes to the filter, Betta fish don’t like very strong currents, because even though they are fish, they are not the strongest swimmers. A very gentle current is okay, but anything that will blow them away is definitely not ideal.

Also, you will want to get plenty of plant life in the tank, as Betta fish like to hide sometimes, they like to swim around plants, and there are lots of plants in their natural habitat. A good substrate, such as small pebbles, is ideal too. You can always get some decorations, like little caves that your Betta fish can swim into. Betta fish also like to rest in the water.

You can get little decorations like suction cup leaves that attach to your tank near the surface of the water. This will give your Betta fish a nice little resting space.

2. Their Location

red betta in aquarium
Image Credit: MANU PARADY, Shutterstock

Something else to keep in mind is that Betta fish are very active and love to swim around, so you should keep them in a place where there is lots going on. You might think that your Betta fish does not watch you or pay attention to what is going on outside of their tank, but that is not the case. You can keep your Betta fish happy by keeping them in a room that has lots of people and activity in it.

On a side note, you do want to pay attention to lighting. Even if you don’t want to get special tank lights, keeping them in a fairly well-lit area that gets a lot of daylight is ideal. On the other hand, make sure that there are not lots of drafts where the tank is, as well as keeping the tank out of direct sunlight.

3. All About the Water

Another really important factor when it comes to keeping your Betta fish happy is the water they are in. As we mentioned before, these guys are warm-water tropical fish, so the water in your Betta tank needs to reflect that. You will most likely need to get a water heater if you live in a cooler place, as Betta fish like the water to be around 74 degrees Fahrenheit, all the way up to 79 degrees. That is well above room temperature. (More info on the right temperature conditions in this article here.)

Also, Betta fish need to be in waters that are fairly neutral in terms of the pH level, so right around 7.0 is good. Furthermore, they like the water to be of a medium hardness, which means that it has a decent amount of dissolved minerals in it. One thing that is very important to note here is that nitrite and ammonia should not be present in the water.

Yes, there will be some of those compounds in the water, but their levels need to be kept to an absolute minimum. You definitely want to get a filter for them to keep the water as clean as can be. Also, you should engage in regular water changes to keep the water clean, clear, free of unwanted toxic compounds, and free of chemical buildups.

4. Feeding

crowntail betta fish feeding
Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

Betta fish are big-time eaters, so what you feed them will go quite a long way in dictating how happy they are. You can buy plain old Betta pellets and Betta flakes from your local store, and your Betta fish will do just fine. However, to really make your pet fish happy, it is recommended that you give them some treats from time to time.

They love fresh or freeze-dried daphnia, bloodworms, small insects, and insect larvae too. Giving them an occasional treat will definitely make them happy. Just be sure not to over-feed your Betta fish, as that can lead to a whole host of problems.

5. Toys

Toys can sometimes be a bit overlooked or not considered for fish but there are actually plenty of fun toy options you can buy which are a good way of keeping betta fish happy.

Some popular toys include (here is our top 10 list):

  • Betta Balls: They like to push these around (and they are good for the tank).
  • Hammock/Resting Leaf: Doubles as a hiding place and somewhere for them to relax.
  • Ping Pong Balls: These have become quite popular, Betta’s like to push these around.
  • Laser Pointers: Same kind of concept as with a cat, most Bettas should be intrigued and follow the pointer around which provides some entertainment and exercise for them.

When it comes to how to keep a betta fish happy and entertained, the above toys should help provide some entertainment for you both, there are actually quite a lot of options out there but these are just some of the popular options that we personally like and have used, of course in addition to some good plants which are also essential.

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The bottom line is that your pets deserve the best that you have to offer. Pets like Betta can’t really fend for themselves when you have them at home in a tank, so it is up to you to keep them happy.

Follow the above tips and you should have no problem keeping your Betta fish as happy as can be.

Featured Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

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