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Can Betta fish have toys?
Bettas are curious fish which enjoy things they can interact with in their tanks. This can be as simple as a ping pong ball or floating mirror. Toys can also include items like floating logs and extra plants. While these things won’t make your Betta more active they will give them places to hide and explore which can help them feel more comfortable in their aquariums.
What to consider when choosing a toy for Betta fish
The main consideration when choosing a toy for your betta is safety. Commercially made toys are often safer than homemade or DIY betta fish toys because they only use materials and paints which are suitable for freshwater tanks. Apart from safety the primary consideration should be fun: does you Betta enjoy interacting with a particular toy? Every fish has their own personality and not every Betta will enjoy every particular toy. Try a few until you find a great match!
What do Betta fish like in their tanks
Betta fish like things they can hide in and take interest in new tank additions which are unfamiliar to them. Floating logs and plants can give your fish places to hide and explore. Natural elements can improve the look of your tank and help you Betta fell comfortable and secure.
Betta toys should be chosen carefully to avoid anything which might hurt your fish. Avoid anything with sharp edges which can injure the sides or fins of your fish. Small holes can be risky as a Betta may get stuck when trying to pass through. This is especially true with smaller pieces of piping. Toxic paints can be a threat with homemade Betta toys because repurposed household items may not have been constructed to be submerged in fish tanks. A word of caution about laser pointers: while Bettas will often chase the lights from laser pointers this isn’t safe as the light can damage their eyes just as it does in humans.
Best Betta Fish Toys
The best betta fish toy is often the one your particular fish enjoys most. It’s best to buy toys which have been specially made for adding to fish tanks. Some objects which your fish might enjoy aren’t intended to stay submerged and may leach chemicals from paint or heavy metals.
Floating Betta toys
Floating betta toys are a great choice as they stay close to the water’s surface where your Betta can find and play with them. Some great choices can include ping pong balls, floating mirrors and floating logs. Floating logs can provide your fish a place to relax and hide when they are feeling shy.
Do Betta like floating toys
Most bettas like floating toys but every fish has its own personality and may enjoy one toy more than another. Some bettas can seem inactive but may just not have anything in their tanks to catch their interest. Floating toys can give them a reason to poke and explore, giving them a great chance to have some exercise!
Ping pong balls
Betta fish will interact with floating ping pong balls in their tank. Anything that floats will attract the interest of Bettas, but ping pong balls are especially light and easy to move around which makes them a great choice for interactive tank decoration. Ping pong balls are also easy to clean and can be removed from the surface of tank water and washed when they begin to collect algae or a slimy coating.
Some hobbyists feel their Bettas play with ping pong balls while others believe their fish are annoyed with them and may be attempting to attack. All Bettas are different so you should observe yours carefully to make sure it isn’t exhausting itself while playing with ping pong balls or other floating tank decorations. Be prepared to remove balls if it looks like your Betta is bothered by their presence.
Floating logs are a great tank addition for Betta fish which can give them some of the same advantages as caves and other rockwork. Many fish enjoy exploring and resting in caves and elements of tank hardscape, but Bettas spend most of their time in upper tank regions far away from pots and caves which stay near the bottom. Floating logs can provide a cave experience for your Bettas without them needing to swim towards lower tank areas.
Expect to see your Betta exploring their floating log and even resting inside when they need a break. A floating log is a great way to give your Betta a way to enjoy cover and a resting place without placing large amounts of bogwood in upper tank areas.
Betta Circus Rings
Betta Circus Rings add a splash of color to your tank while giving your Betta fish something to inspect and swim through. Bettas are often kept in tanks which don’t have much aside from open water in the upper regions. In nature, they are used to swimming in and around fallen debris and other natural elements which they can explore. While these Circus Rings don’t look natural, they can give your fish some of the same experience they would have swimming around logs and other debris in nature.
Most Bettas are too large to swim through some of the smaller rings but may enjoy the larger ones. It’s best to place this toy where it is close by. If these Circus Rings are placed at the bottom of a deeper tank your Betta may not swim deeply enough to even notice it. Attaching to the top of tank hardscape will keep it visible and close enough for easy exploration and play.
Betta Exercise Mirror
A Betta Exercise Mirror gives your fish an opportunity to exercise their territorial instinct safely. In nature, Bettas will often have fights with other fish they feel are competitors. Fighting with actual fish can lead to injuries. This is especially true in smaller tanks where there isn’t a place for the loosing fish to escape to. An exercise mirror can make your Betta feel there is a competitor which needs to be driven off causing them to flare up and attack their own reflection in the mirror.
It’s important to remember that Bettas don’t play with exercise mirrors, but are attacking what they believe is a competitor fish. Your fish shouldn’t be exposed to a mirror for long periods. Only give them a few minutes at a time to allow them to show some aggression. Once or twice a day should be the maximum amount of time you should let your Betta interact with an exercise mirror. Longer than this can lead to exhaustion, stress, and other injuries.
Coconut shells are a great natural alternative to hard rock caves, and provides a safer area for Bettas to take shelter. Hard rock caves are popular with many aquarium hobbyists but coconut shells have smoother and softer sides without sharp edges or hard surfaces. These shells can give your Betta fish a hiding spot that feels more like what they’d find in their natural environment.
Beyond everyday shelter coconut shells can give your Betta fish a private place to spawn. These shells are a great choice for Betta breeding aquariums because they are made from natural materials similar to what Bettas would choose in nature. Coconut shells will need some preparation before being added to your aquarium. It’s best to boil these shells and allow them to soak in non-chlorinated freshwater for a few days before introducing to your Betta tank.
Adding Leaf Hammocks to your aquarium will give Betta fish a comfortable place to rest and relax. In their natural environment, Bettas will often spend time laying on leaves, bogwood, and other natural elements. These leaf Hammocks are attached with suction cups and should be placed close to the water’s surface. This high placement in the tank will give Bettas a place to rest which is nearby the area they would choose normally. Placing these leaf hammocks too low will probably cause your Betta to ignore them and choose to swim in upper tank regions instead.
Indian Almond Leaf
Also known as Catappa leaves, Indian Almond Leaves are a great tank addition for Bettas which can add tannins and shade to their environment. Some Betta hobbyists will often add Indian Almond Leaves to their tanks as a way to color the water and introduce many of the natural compounds which these fish would have in their natural environment. The tannins and chemical compounds introduced by Indian Almost Leaves may also provide health benefits. Breeders like Indian Almond leaves because Bettas like building their bubble nests under them.
One possible downside to Indian Almost Leaves is that they become waterlogged and biodegrade over time. While they will float at first, and your Betta will enjoy swimming and exploring under them, after a few weeks they should be removed before they begin breaking down into small pieces at the bottom of your tank. Some hobbyists enjoy this aesthetic which they feel more closely mimics the Betta’s natural environment. But it depends on personal preferences, and some Betta keepers only let the leaves float for a few days until they’ve colored the water and released most of their helpful compounds before removing them from the aquarium.
Live Aquarium Plants
While live aquarium plants aren’t usually considered toys, it can give your fish a stimulating area to explore. Adding plants to your Betta tank can help your fish feel more relaxed and comfortable. Let’s take a look as some of the best live plant additions which can benefit your Bettas!
Marimo moss balls
Marimo moss balls are an attractive addition to Betta tanks but have their own unique care needs. Marimo moss balls are made from living moss and need to be moved occasionally to grow evenly and round. Without moving the balls every few days Marimo moss won’t have even access to light, and shaded areas can brown and die. In shallow tanks Bettas can often poke and move these balls occasionally but you should plan to move them yourself every few days.
In an active Betta tank Marimo moss balls will collect fish waste and debris. Once a month the balls should be squeezed out to release debris before being added back to your Betta tank.
Java Moss is an easy maintenance plant for Betta tanks which can add cover and give your fish places to hide and explore. Java Moss can be placed along rocks, driftwood and other hardscape. This plant needs less care than some other plant species and is safe for Betta fish. It is best to locate it high up on hardscape or driftwood where it has access to brighter light than it would have in lower tank regions.
Java Moss is a great addition to breeding tanks as it gives Betta fry places to hide and explore. It will also collect biofilm which some fry use as a food source.
Java Fern is an excellent plant addition for Betta tanks which looks beautiful and has simple care needs. Java Ferns are easy to raise because they are epiphytes which don’t need soil to grow. This plant can be attached to rock or hardscape where it will eventually attach itself and begin growing normally. Your Betta will appreciate the cover and decoration, and will enjoy exploring in and around the plants.
Java Ferns are normally sold as bare root plants. They must be attached to hardscape or driftwood with string or a drop of super glue gel. Eventually the plant will send out hair roots and won’t need extra help to stay attached.
Live Fish Food
While food isn’t usually considered toys, giving your Betta live fish food is a great way to exercising their hunting instinct. While many Betta fish’s diets are mostly flake foods, meaty foods should also be provided occasionally. Frozen meaty foods don’t provide much of a challenge and if they are uneaten they can spoil tank water. Live foods let your Betta have the benefit of live, meaty foods while giving them exercise and the challenge of catching their own meals! Not all live foods are a good fit for Betta fish. Here are some good choices which provide your fish a hunting experience while being easy to eat!
Live Daphnia, also known as water fleas, are an excellent live food for Bettas and many other fish species. Many hobbyists will raise Daphnia so they always have a source of quality live food. While Daphnia is an excellent fish food they can be somewhat difficult to raise, particularly when compared to easy to raise live foods like brine shrimp and microworms. Daphnia can be worth the trouble to learn to raise correctly as they are a healthy food source which can give your Betta exercise and the nutritional support they need to display vibrant colors.
Microworms are a popular and easy to raise live food source when can be easily grown on starch paste. Keeping a few different batches of microworms can give you regular access to this excellent food source while letting you recover from the failure of any individual batch. Microworm starter culture is usually added to plastic containers with moist mashed potatoes, and close fitting lids which have been specially vented to prevent the microworms from escaping. After a few weeks the microworms can be seen climbing up the sides and can be wiped off with a finger or cotton swab and rinsed off in your Betta’s tank. It’s important to not add too many microworms at one time. Any worms which your Betta doesn’t eat will die after around 12 hours and will rot, causing lower water quality.
Live Brine Shrimp
Live Brine shrimp are a common and easy to grow source of food for Bettas and many other fish. Unlike some other live foods it isn’t necessary to keep live colonies of brine shrimp because they can be hatched as needed from dried eggs. Brine shrimp are a healthy and popular type of live food but it’s important to not overfeed. Unlike some other live foods, brine shrimp will only live around 30 minutes once they are added to your Betta’s tank. Any which haven’t been eaten in this time will die and can spoil tank water.
How to entertain a Betta fish
Betta fish are curious and can be energetic when given a reason. If your Betta is looking bored try adding a ping pong ball or other floating toy to their tank. They will often inspect and poke at new things in their environment to decide if they are a threat. If you want to see a show you can hold a mirror up to the outside of your tank. Bettas are territorial and will see their reflection as a competitor and try to attack it. Getting your Betta worked up with a mirror is fun and can give them a reason to flare and become more active. Don’t try to keep them constantly active as it can lead to exhaustion.
Signs of a healthy and happy Betta fish
A happy Betta will swim around their tank easily although they won’t usually be constantly active. Bright colors are a sign your Betta is eating well and getting the right amount of live foods in addition to their primary diet of prepared food. If your Betta seldom swims or explores in their tank this may be a sign they aren’t feeling their best and may need extra attention.