I’ve gone on record saying fish are a great first pet but are also kind of difficult to take care of since a lot of the time you won’t know what’s going on in their little heads! I thought I’d compile a list of a few things you can check for to make sure your Betta is healthy and happy.
Sign’s They Are Happy
Saying Hello to You
Bettas are surprisingly social creatures.
Every time we walk into the room Blub comes to the top of his tank to say hello to us, but I’ll admit I haven’t actually spoken to him yet… I have had customers at the pet store that used to tell me they would talk to their Betta every day and that they lived a very long and healthy life, which to me makes sense as most creatures are social even if they aren’t very social.
You want to make sure your Betta is always swimming around the tank and spending very little time hiding. They are fairly intelligent and will want to watch and interact with things or they will get bored or depressed.
They Are Vibrant and not Fading in Colour
One of the first things you will notice about your Betta is how bright they are.
Unfortunately, when Bettas get stressed out they lose their colour. They actually develop horizontal stripes on their body when they are stressed. Commonly these are black and once they show up, they don’t usually leave.
Blub had a fair share of these when we first adopted him, although not many have developed on him (other than when he got sick.)
Note: Stress stripes are horizontal. If your Betta is female and has vertical stripes, this just means she is ready to breed!
I’ve covered this topic a couple of times already on this blog, but one of the easiest ways to tell that your Betta is if he is blowing bubbles at the top of the tank.
(Note: only male Bettas do this, and it is because they are well enough to have babies.) Check out the article if you’re interested in more about this!
They Eat Well
Unwell Bettas will ignore new food, while Bettas who are healthy tend to zip around their tanks searching for food. A great way to tell that your Betta is happy is if they are searching for food immediately when you change their water or replace them in the tank.
Ways to Improve Their Happiness
Adding lots of interesting things in their tank
Bettas love to hide, and while this is a bit of the opposite of what I’ve said, you still want to provide them with plenty of room to hide if they do get scared.
Bettas can also be taught a number of tricks, although I personally haven’t done it you can actually find a great number of them on the web!
Make sure the filter is not too strong
Bettas aren’t huge fans of water currents and will often get stressed out if they are pushed around.
Make sure that your tank is always filled enough or lower the speed of the filter (if you can).
We personally have a filter that doesn’t allow you to change speeds, so we have to make sure our tank doesn’t get any lower than an inch from the top to make sure Blub doesn’t get knocked around.
Add a Heater
I’ve covered this a few times in the past about the importance of heaters in tanks that are 5 gallons or more.
I’m actually learning that we lucked out with our 2.5-gallon tank while at our old place. We didn’t need a heater there, however, our new place gets cold very quickly, and we invested in a Marina C10 Compact Heater, 10-watt.
Make sure you’re checking the temperature of the tank fairly frequently, especially if you are turning the AC on or leaving windows open. Chilliness will definitely stress your Betta out and a heater will prolong their life.
If my Betta is Aggressive, does this mean they are unhappy?
Absolutely not! Bettas all come with different personalities, so your Betta might just be playing around! You have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to aggression, I’d be more worried if your Betta didn’t want to swim around.
Signs for a Sick Betta
Runs into objects or tries to scratch itself
Gills won’t close all the way or look swollen
Fins/Tail are closed off or falling apart
Body has sores, patches, spots or lumps
Belly looks hollow/fish floating upside down
Scales are raised/open