15 Surprising Facts About Betta Fish Personality Traits

Alison Page

Alison Page


surprising facts about betta fish personality traits

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Bettas or Siamese Fighting fish are probably best known for their vibrant colors, flamboyant finnage, and aggressive, somewhat feisty temperament. But there’s a lot more to the betta’s personality than that!

In this guide, I delve into the behavioral patterns of betta fish that defy common misconceptions and reveal a whole new dimension to your pet!

Keep reading to discover 15 surprising facts about betta fish’s personality traits.

Key Takeaways

  • Unique Personalities: Each betta fish has a distinct personality, challenging the common misconception that all bettas are aggressive; environment and companions can influence behavior changes.
  • Female Bettas’ Temperament: Female bettas can be as aggressive as males, debunking the myth that they’re universally milder and suitable for a mixed-sex tank.
  • Intelligence and Activity: Bettas are intelligent; they can recognize their owners, be trained to do tricks, and require mental stimulation and physical activity to avoid stress and health problems.

No Two Bettas Are the Same!

Colorful Fighting fish in aquariums

Each betta fish has its unique personality. Some can be lazy and feisty, while others are curious and friendly, and there’s no way of telling what your fish will be like until he settles into his new home.

Remember, your pet’s personality will probably change depending on the aquarium conditions and the tank mates you have chosen for him.

Female Bettas Can Be Feisty Too

Many newbies to betta fish keeping decide to keep a sorority of females to keep the male company. However, that is not necessarily a good idea!

I have kept many betta fish of both sexes during the 40 years of my fish-keeping journey, and I can assure you that female bettas can be just as feisty as males. Female betta fish can actually be a lot more aggressive than their male counterparts!

Bettas Can Enjoy the Company of Other Fish

blue half moon Siamese fighting fish with snail

As previously mentioned, betta fish personalities are very different. Some are simply too aggressive to live with other fish. However, more tolerant individuals can live within a community if you carefully choose their tank mates.

For example, I’ve successfully kept some male bettas with species such as gouramis, angelfish, and Corydoras catfish. That said, I’ve owned a couple of betta fish that wouldn’t tolerate anything with fins, so, for safety’s sake, I opted for a few large shrimp and snails instead.

Male Bettas Are the Daddy!

Male betta fish are responsible for constructing a bubble nest in preparation for spawning and placing the eggs in the nest after fertilizing them. The male then guards the nest and newly hatched fry, chasing off any predators that come too close.

Betta Fish Can Recognize Their Owners

Betta fish are highly intelligent and very curious. Believe it or not, a betta can recognize his owner and the person who provides him with food. Don’t be surprised if your pet welcomes you whenever you pass his aquarium, although he is often simply asking to be fed!

Bettas Need Mental Stimulation

Bettas are extremely intelligent and need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom. If your pet is bored, he will quickly become stressed, which can lead to a compromised immune system.

When the fish’s immune system is not working properly, he is left wide open to attack by parasites and bacteria, potentially shortening his lifespan. In addition, a stressed fish will quickly lose his bright colors.

Bettas Can Be Trained

Hobbyists can harness their pet’s intelligence and curious nature by teaching them to perform simple tricks. That helps to provide your betta buddy with valuable exercise and mental stimulation and impress your friends!

Bettas can be trained to jump or swim through hoops to get a food reward! Some betta fish play soccer, follow their owner’s finger, and even allow themselves to be petted.

Bone Idle Bettas!

Not every betta enjoys training or acrobatics. Some prefer to while away their days lounging on floating logs or broad leaves rather than leaping out of the water or patrolling their territory.

Unfortunately, being a couch potato can lead to health problems like obesity and constipation, which can ultimately lead to swim bladder issues, so it’s crucial to encourage your fish to get some exercise.

Greedy Guts!

Many bettas are extremely greedy, gobbling up whatever they’re offered. That’s likely because wild betta fish are opportunists, grabbing whatever insect, crustacean, or insect lava they find since they don’t know when their next meal will come.

A betta’s stomach is the same size as his eye, so you can see that it doesn’t take much food to fill him up. Eating too much often leads to constipation and bloating, affecting the fish’s swim bladder. To prevent him from over-eating, offer your betta buddy one or two pellets daily in two sittings, and include one fasting day per week when you don’t feed him at all.

Bright Colors Mean a Happy Betta

surprising facts about betta fish personality traits

Betta fish are known to show their most vivid colors when they’re happy and healthy. So, if you provide your pet with optimal water conditions and a high-quality diet, you should be rewarded with the flamboyant, dazzling colors you love.

Family Ties

You might have spotted a few similarities between gouramis and betta fish. They both tend to prefer life in the upper areas of the water column, both are primarily surface feeders, and both are labyrinth fishes. So, it’s unsurprising to learn that all betta species are classified under the suborder of gouramis.

Most notably, gouramis and bettas have a labyrinth organ that they use periodically to breathe atmospheric air from the water’s surface. That’s essential to supplement the dissolved oxygen the fish derives from the water.

Bettas Are Super Aggressive

Hundreds of years ago, bettas were originally bred to fight. Owners and spectators placed bets on the likely outcome of the fight, and the practice was big business in the fish’s native Siam. Thankfully, fish fighting is largely illegal in the Western world today.

However, that inbred aggression and territoriality lingers in fish sold in the trade. This is why some betta fish can’t handle sharing their tank with anything other than a few benign invertebrates.

Bettas Need Heat

Betta fish come from Southeast Asia, especially in the Mekong River Basin in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Temperatures here are very warm, reaching the high 80s during wintertime and averaging around 100°F (38°C) in summer.

For that reason, you must keep your betta aquarium temperature at 78° to 82°F (26° to 28°C). If the water temperature is too low, your betta buddy will become very lethargic and stressed, leaving him open to attack by bacteria and parasites. In addition, your pet will find it much harder to digest his food, potentially causing issues like bloat, constipation, and swim bladder problems.

Nap Time

Although your betta might enjoy training sessions and should spend a lot of time patrolling his territory on the lookout for intruders, he will also enjoy napping.

So, if you spot your pet catching a few Zs on a flat leaf or inside a cave, that’s not usually a cause for concern and is perfectly normal behavior for bettas.

Bettas Can Jump!

Siamese fighting fish jumping out of fishbowl

Wild bettas live in small ponds or puddles that sometimes dry up during the summer. That leaves the fish with no food source and in a potentially perilous situation.

So, what does the betta do to save itself?

Well, the betta simply leaps out of the water and navigates a short distance across the ground to another water body close by. The betta can do that thanks to its labyrinth organ, which lets the fish breathe atmospheric air.

Bettas feed on insects, sometimes jumping right out of the water to snatch a passing mosquito flying above.

That remarkable behavior can cause problems with captive bettas. If water conditions are less than ideal, the aquarium is too small, or aggressive tank mates are stressing your pet, a betta fish will leap out of the tank in search of a better option.

For that reason, we recommend keeping your betta fish in a tank of at least 5 gallons, maintaining the water quality and temperature at optimum levels, and choosing suitable tank mates for your pet.

In Conclusion

Betta fish are not simply beautiful to look at, although they undoubtedly provide a gorgeous focal point in any aquarium.

Next time you’re admiring your betta buddy, take a moment to watch his behavior and get to know his personality. Remember, all bettas are unique!

What kind of character is your betta? Tell us in the comments box below!

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