Are Betta Fish Intelligent Pets?

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Are the betta fish intelligent pets? The short answer to this question is yes, betta fish are smart fish, or to put it better, betta fish, or any fish, are more intelligent than most people perceive them to be.

The consensus of the fish is that they are not as bright as some other creatures and there are questions whether the fish are sentient creatures. The scientific evidence suggests they are.

What is more, the fish might be one of the most intelligent invertebrates out there, which some people might find surprising. Of course, fish can’t speak, which is why they are sometimes perceived not as intelligent as some other animals like some mammals, but the truth is that fish (and with that, the betta fish) are quite bright.

While the evidence is non-conclusive and it is hard to place fish on a “scale” of intelligence among all creatures, they are certainly underestimated a lot of the time for their intelligence.

This shows with the betta fish, as their intelligence is demonstrated by their ability to learn things, to recognize their owner and to react to a stimulus coming from the outside. This alone shows they are sentient, conscious beings.

Can You Teach Your Betta Fish Something?

Of course, you can; bettas are quite intelligent and capable of learning things. All it takes is some time and effort on your part, and of course, determination from you to teach the betta new things. You can, for example, provide them with a stimulus that can be the driving force for the betta to learn new stuff.

For example, you can teach your betta to jump out of the water, which is quite a simple trick, by sticking a pellet to your finger and putting it above the water. After some time and practice, the betta will jump, and you can train it to jump higher and higher each time. This is just a simple example, but there are even more sophisticated ways to train your betta.

There are training kits that you can buy and use to teach your betta something. These training kits contain all the essential things to allow you to train your fish.

Can You Play with Your Betta?

Sure, you can use food as a stimulus again. The chances are that your betta will be pretty bored in your tank, especially if it is kept on its own in an empty tank. Usually, they might interact with tank mates, but if there are no tank mates, you can interact with the betta and play with it.

Not only can your fish get bored, but it might even get depressed and lonely. This means that such stimulation from your part is also desired. Your betta will be very happy to play with you and interact with you since it might be boring.

Another brilliant thing about bettas is that they can recognize you – your face, your voice, even. It can do that through the vibrations in the water, so that is another cool thing about the betta fish that you should know about.

Can Your Betta Fish be Depressed?

As bizarre as it might sound, your betta fish can get depressed over time. This is displayed similarly as in human beings – betta fish get uninterested in activities and tend to float near the bottom of the tank, looking all gloomy. They also tend to lose coloration and swim less often and appear much less active overall.

So how to deal with that? Antidepressants? No, there is no such thing as antidepressants for fish. But there are some things that you can do to prevent it. For example, you can interact with your fish and keep it busy, even if it is alone in the tank.

You can place some blackworms or daphnia in the tank, which the betta will try to hunt. At least it is a form of distraction and activity. You can also distract it and play with it, which is an excellent way to keep it from getting depressed.

The fact that bettas can get depressed is just another indicator that they do possess some mental existence and consciousness.

Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?

This factor is connected to depression, and yes, bettas can get lonely in your tank. This can especially happen if your betta is placed in the container alone, or if the tank is entirely devoid of any greenery, even. You can do something for that, luckily.

For example, at least provide some greenery to the tank. That is the least you can do. You can also put some snails in there, or even consider a fish partner. It can be hard to keep them from getting aggressive, but at least there is some interaction.

Lastly, you should interact with your betta as much as possible to keep it from getting lonely. Try to play with it, or provide it with some activities such as hunting.

How to Keep Your Betta Fish Happy?

The water quality and maintenance are of course, essential here and should be self-explanatory. That is the basis for a happy fish. Then, you can stimulate your fish in many ways. For example, you can teach it new tricks or train it to perform certain things. You can also play with it and keep it as active as possible to prevent it from getting depressed.

Betta fish can get quite attached to their owners, so try to return that love to your betta fish. If you provide them good care, proper maintenance, high-quality food and some stimulation from your part, then you will be on an excellent way to keep your fish happy.


Betta fish are quite intelligent creatures. Sometimes fish are perceived as not quite as smart as some other creatures, but that is a widespread misconception. Your fish possess the ability to connect with you and express emotional states, and even have the ability to recognize you.

Stimulation is key to keeping your fish happy, so try to interact with your bettas as much as possible.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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