Betta fish are undoubtedly some of the neatest aquarium fish. They are bright, active, colorful, and packed full of personality. One of the really cool things about betta fish is that they can learn tricks. Now, teaching a betta fish tricks is not all that easy, but it is definitely doable with time and patience.
Keep in mind that while these little guys are willing and able, they are just fish, so you really do need to exhibit some serious patience when trying to teach your betta fish tricks. Let’s go through some step by step instructions in terms of how to teach your betta fish tricks.
How To Teach Your Betta Fish Tricks
Teaching your betta fish tricks may sound like a really difficult task to accomplish, which in all fairness, it’s not the easiest thing to get done. However, it is doable. So, let’s go through a step by step process of how you can teach your betta fish tricks.
Step By Step Preperations
We are going to start with some preparations before you can get started with actual tricks.
The first thing that you need to do before you can start teaching your betta fish tricks is to get familiar with it and let it get to know you. Betta fish don’t have the best sight, plus they need to get to know you just as a dog or cat does. It is going to help a lot if you spend a good deal of time up close to the aquarium so that your betta fish gets to know your face.
They may just be fish, but they will learn to remember you as time goes one. If you do this enough, when your betta fish sees you, it should swim towards you. This is how you know that your betta fish is ready for you to start teaching it some tricks.
2). Healthy & Happy
Another thing that you should do before you start teaching your betta fish tricks is to make sure that it is healthy and happy. If you have a sick or unhappy betta fish, it will surely not do any tricks for you (we have covered illness diagnosis/treatment in detail on this article). Part of this is making sure that you have done a great job at recreating the natural habitat of your betta fish, that it has clean and clear water, and that it is well fed.
If your betta fish does not have bright coloring, if it has damaged fins, or if it is sluggish and not behaving normally, you need to solve any and all of these problems before you get started with tricks. If there are lots of bubbles on the water’s surface, it’s a good indication that your betta fish is in good condition and ready for some tricks.
3). Food Treats
Something else that you will need if you have any hopes of training your betta fish to do any tricks is some treats. This is very similar to training a dog. Food always makes things easier and much more fun too. You should get some live or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, or daphnia.
These tasty treats will go a long way in motivating your betta fish to do tricks. Keep in mind not to give your betta fish too many treats because overfeeding is a problem that can occur pretty quickly if you are not careful. Also, make sure to thaw any food that is frozen before you try feeding it to your betta fish.
4). Wash Your Hands!
Finally, in terms of preparation, make sure to wash your hands with hot water before you go near your betta fish. Don’t use soap though because soap residue can be toxic and even lethal to these little guys.
Now, Onto Teaching Your Betta Tricks
Now that we are adequately prepared to train our betta fish to do tricks, we can begin the actual training. Let’s go through a simple step by step process for teaching your betta fish some simple tricks.
You need to get your betta fish’s attention. You can do this by lightly tapping on the glass a couple of times. Make sure not to hit the glass too hard or too much as this will probably scare your betta fish more than anything else. If you are having trouble getting its attention, try using one of those treats we talked about before.
2). Following Your Fingers
The first thing that you need to do when it comes to training is to get the betta fish to follow your fingers. Simply drag your finger across the outside of the glass and see if your betta fish follows it. If your betta fish follows your finger, give it a treat as soon as possible. This will reinforce the action of following your finger.
If the betta fish does not follow your finger, wag it around a little bit to get its attention. Keep this up for several days. Drag your finger up and down, left and right, and in different patterns. Every time the betta fish follows your finger, give it a treat to positively reinforce this action.
Keep this up for about 5 minutes per day for several days. You can only start teaching your betta fish tricks once it consistently and steadily follows your finger around.
The next thing you can try teaching your betta fish is to flare. Flaring is when a betta fish expands its fins and tail, as well as opening its gills as much as possible. This is something a betta fish does when it sees another male and it is a sign of aggression and territoriality, or in other words, it tells the other male betta fish to back off.
This is a good trick, not only because it looks cool, but also because it makes for good exercise as well as a decent cure for boredom. The easiest way to do this is get a small mirror and hold it in front of your betta fish. Place the mirror in front of your betta fish and when it flares, place a pen next to the mirror.
Always use the same pen so your betta fish can recognize it and make sure to remove the mirror shortly after the betta flares with the pen present.
Keep repeating this several times per day for several days. Every time the betta flares, reward it with a treat. Eventually you will get to the point of being able to show the betta fish only the pen and it will still flare.
Jumping is something that comes naturally to betta fish, so teaching your little betta to jump should not be too challenging. Get yourself a feeding stick and place a treat on it. Start off by holding the treat close to the betta underwater. Wait until the betta comes to you and eats the treat.
Keep repeating this while always moving the treat closer to the surface of the water. Then, take another treat and hold it just above the water’s surface. This will make your betta fish come out of the water slightly for the treat.
Then, you need to hold the stick and the treat above the water, a little further up, but close enough to be within jumping distance of your betta. Eventually your betta fish can even learn to jump out of the water and grab food right from your hands.
5). Swimming Through A Loop
This final trick that you can teach your betta fish is that of swimming through a loop. Just get a pipe cleaner and bend it into a loop with a handle so you can hold it. This is one of the more difficult tricks to master, but with time and patience, plus some treats, it is definitely possible.
Since your betta fish follows your finger now, place the hoop at the side of the tank and move your finger to get the betta to move through the hoop. The betta may be a little weary of this hoop, but with repetition and treats it should be doable. When the betta swims through the hoop, give it a treat.
Now, keep making the loop smaller and move it steadily towards the center of the tank. Keep repeating this until your betta fish will swim through the hoop without treats and without the use of your fingers.
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As you can see, teaching your betta fish tricks does take some time, effort, patience, and a lot of treats. That being said, if you have some spare time and really want your betta fish to perform tricks on command, you can definitely do it. Just keep repeating the above steps until your betta does the tricks consistently. Take your time!