How Do You Know A Betta Fish Is Happy?

Last Updated on April 20, 2022

A healthy betta is a happy betta! So how do you know a betta fish is happy and how to keep it that way?

This article will help you out with that. A betta is a great pet to keep because it can teach you a lot of things about aquarium cleanliness, proper diet for bettas, and maintaining an environment where healthy betta fish live. This is a good initial step as we get into the fish keeping hobby.

Eating Habits

Healthy bettas have a good appetite, and a happy betta will definitely show its interest in food. bettas are carnivores and require a high-protein diet to thrive. A varied diet will keep your male betta happy. If your betta is eating his food, it’s a sure sign that he’s happy and healthy. Beware of overeating, however.

Giving only a small amount of food is the best way to feed bettas. It should finish the food within 2 to 3 minutes. Take note that its stomach’s size is like the size of its eye. That can be a guide for the amount of food. Don’t overfeed your betta. This can lead to food getting stuck inside its digestive tract which will lead to health problems. An unhealthy betta is not a happy betta.


When buying a betta fish from a local fish store, check if it is alert, curious, and energetic. This will give you a good start in taking care of a betta fish, especially if it is your first pet fish.

Male bettas love and engage in interaction. Observe your betta and look for the following signs:

  1. Your pet betta is patrolling around the tank as though checking every nook and cranny. This is a good sign of a happy betta fish taking care of its territory.
  2. It watches you and comes to the surface of the tank water when you approach. It spends very little time hiding when you are near. This is a good sign that it is comfortable in your presence. Some bettas go near your hands because it is being curious as you do your maintenance of its home every week.
  3. Bettas react to stimuli such as seeing its reflection in a mirror. You can do this as a daily exercise for a maximum of 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overdo it because gill flaring and fin fanning require energy too. Provide live plants that will make the home of your betta more natural. This will give your betta obstacle courses it can swim through and create a more interesting home for it.

Vibrant Colors

The vibrant color display is a characteristic of betta fish. They will show this especially when given excellent living conditions. A stressed-out betta will have dulled colors and unhealthy looking fins. Good water parameters are essential to bringing out the best color of your pet.

Look at the body of your betta for horizontal stripes and faded colors. Stress can cause its vibrant colors to fade and horizontal dark- and light-colored stripes appear on the body. These are known as “stress stripes.” The fading of colors can be transient and difficult to pinpoint but the stress stripes are very evident. Vertical stripes do not indicate stress; they appear when a female is ready to breed or is acting aggressively.

Bubble Nests

A male betta will create a bubble nest in its tank even without the presence of a female betta. This is a good sign that your male betta fish is happy in its home. It is healthy and has the energy to create bubble nests. This is a sign that it is ready to breed. In the wild, it uses this bubble nest to attract female bettas.

Female bettas do not usually blow bubble nests, but some stories from other fish keepers have crop up. Males do this as part of their natural instinct. Do not, however, use this as a sign that your male betta fish is sick or unhappy just because it is not creating bubble nests. It may take a few months before it happens. A bubble nest may also dissolve without you noticing it as soon as possible.

Related: Do Female Betta Fish Make Bubble Nests?

Signs of Depression in Betta Fish

signs of depression in betta fish

Not eating

A betta who constantly ignores its food and is lethargic is a sign that something is wrong. Check water parameters and perform a water change as needed. Clean water does wonder for fish. If this does not help, check for other signs of disease.

Changing brands of betta fish food can also help. Loss of appetite is a sign that your betta is not happy.


A betta who used to be active then suddenly loses interest in swimming around its tank may suffer from lethargy. This decrease in activity level is a likely sign that your betta is not happy. Check water conditions and perform a water change as needed.

Check the temperature of your betta tank. A betta in cold water will show symptoms such as lethargy, lack of appetite, and being more prone to diseases. If it stays in one area of the tank then it can mean that its metabolism has slowed down. This is also caused by cold water exposure. Use an aquarium heater to provide the correct temperature for your pet betta.

How to Keep Betta Fish Happy?


Betta fish is a tropical fish that come from Thailand in Southeast Asia. From that land of origin, they have been introduced to the surrounding countries which have the same climate. This is a hint that we should mimic the temperature of the tropical climate for the betta fish’s tank. You can install an aquarium heater to provide the most optimal temperature range between 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 27 degrees Celsius.

Wild betta fish exist in shallow bodies of water such as rice paddies, streams, irrigation systems, and estuaries. They have easy access to the water’s surface. A tank no smaller than 2.5 gallons is recommended for a pet betta. A 5-gallon tank is even better. The larger volume of water will give more swimming space. It will also prevent sudden fluctuations in water parameters.

Betta fish have earned the name Siamese Fighting Fish for good reason. Males will be naturally aggressive towards other males so do not put two male bettas together in a tank. Females will also be aggressive but can live with other females in a sorority tank. This is something for more advanced fish keepers though. A beginner in the betta fish pet keeping hobby will have more success when taking care of just one betta fish.

Bettas should never be kept in a vase with a plant on top with the expectation that he can thrive on the roots of the plant. They need access to the surface to breathe through their labyrinth organ. This evolutionary trait allows them to absorb oxygen from the air they gulp in from the surface of the aquarium’s water.


The location of your fish tank will also be a factor to consider. Bettas are active fish. They are territorial and will once in a while swim around the tank to check for intruders. This is a good sign that your betta is happy in its home. Your betta fish will constantly check its territory and even notice what goes on outside its tank.

Putting your betta’s tank in a room that you spend a lot of time in will allow your pet to watch your movements. Whenever you approach the tank your betta will swim to the water surface in anticipation of feeding. This is a good sign that your betta is comfortable and happy in your presence.

Avoid placing your betta fish’s tank where direct sunlight shines on it to prevent the fluctuation of water temperature. Sudden fluctuations can cause temperature shock and stress


It is very important to maintain great water quality which is a key factor in the health and happiness of your betta fish. A betta fish will do well in slightly acidic to neutral water pH levels. Buy a water testing kit to keep track of water parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. Ammonia and Nitrite should always be 0 ppm and Nitrate not more than 20ppm.

Water changes are essential in keeping your betta healthy and happy. Partial water changes of 20% for a filtered tank once a week is a good maintenance routine. Avoid 100% water changes because this may alter the water chemistry in your fish tank and cause shock and stress to your betta.

Bettas need to be kept in warmer water. You can install an aquarium heater to provide the most optimal temperature range between 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 27 degrees Celsius. Your betta will be happy when water parameters are ideal and will show through vibrant colors, healthy appetite, and flowing fins.


Betta fish are known to be choosy when it comes to food. betta fish should be fed using flake or pellet foods specifically for bettas. These contain higher protein content than regular fish food. bettas are carnivores. In the wild, they eat insects that fall into the water, mosquito larvae, small shrimp, worms, and other insect larvae. Provide betta fish with a high protein diet.

Providing your fish with an extra treat from time to time will help keep him happy. Occasional live bloodworms or brine shrimp will entice the betta. These will trigger its hunting instinct as well. It’s important not to overfeed your betta because it can make him more susceptible to illness, particularly diseases that affect the digestive tract or swim bladder organ, which helps him to maintain balance.

Commonly asked questions

Why does my pet fish get excited when I come home?

This is a great indicator that your betta fish has become aware of you. Your betta fish gets excited because it knows that you are going to give it food and that you will interact with it. That is a happy betta!

Why is my siamese fighting fish flaring his gills?

Gill flaring is a natural response of betta fish to other betta fish. They are very territorial and will happily patrol their home most of the time. It could be that your betta is able to see its reflection on the glass of your aquarium. Find ways to lessen this because constant flaring will exhaust your betta.

How smart are bettas?

They can actually be trained to perform simple tricks such as going through plastic hoops to get a treat, follow your finger around the fish tank in exchange for a treat, and they are very aware of their territory.

Are bettas really happy in those tiny bowls?

They are placed in those tiny bowls just for display in the fish shop but need to be transferred to a larger tank. They do not receive their needs in those small containers which is why you shouldn’t use small containers as long-term betta fish homes.

Related: Are Betta Fish Jumpers?

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