Are Betta Fish Smart? [Owners Share Their Experiences]

Are Betta Fish Smart

I have seen many betta fish keepers often wonder how smart actually bettas are. You might even see someone saying that his betta can perform tricks! Is that actually true? Are betta fish really that smart?

Betta fish are quite smart compared to other aquarium fish. They can recognize their owner’s voice and can be trained to do certain tasks like jumping out of the water to grab food from owner’s hand.

It may seem like bettas do nothing and are prone to sitting around on the floor in the aquarium, but they can even recognize their owners and go on learning lots of tricks such as shooting a ball to a goal, which sets them apart from the other fish.

Well, read through the article to get to know more about them. First off, I’m going to walk you through the 5 amazing reasons as to why betta fish is considered as one of the smartest fishes in existence.

So, without further ado, let’s dig a bit deeper into it!!!

1. Betta Fish Can Recognize Their Owner’s Voice and Face

Betta fish not only do learn to associate their owner with food, but they can also learn to recognize which one is their owner’s voice and face.

As they are sensitive to vibrations, they can easily recognize the voice as vibrations through the water. Which is why they prefer to react in a slightly different way with new people.

You can try this out with some of your family members. Just let them stand next to the aquarium and you will see your bettas will hide or show aggression to them.

But once you put your face near the aquarium and they hear out your voice, they will come out of hiding right off the bat and try to interact with you.

Remember, betta fish are sight predators and possess good eye-sights through which they can see and remember your face with ease.

When you interact with your little friend regularly, he can, after a certain time, realize that you’re his master.

Apart from this, when you move your finger through the outside of the tank, he’ll start following it. And, when you walk near the aquarium, you will notice that he follows your every move like a clingy dog.

If your bettas show these types of behaviors, this means that he trusts you and allows you to train him to carry out more complex tricks.

“Betta fish can recognise their feeder. They will be excited to see you. Once u get their trust u can train them to do a lot of things. I will sometimes wet my finger n stick some pellets on my finger n hover it slightly above the water. He will jump out n grab the food. Downtimes when I’m watching TV n I just wave my hands towards the tank frantically, he will rush in front of the tank n swim vigorously. He will let me pet him in the water as well. So adorable.”

Dee Mei


Though bettas aren’t super smart like dogs and cats, they are way more intelligent than most people give them credit for. They do have smartness and intelligence, but not to the extent of higher intelligence animals.

2. Male Bettas Guard Their Babies

Another proof of bettas’ intelligence is that they want to make sure their babies live on successfully.

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It seems like an ordinary act to you, however not lots of fish species try to protect their kind against other fishes.

This is obviously an exhibition of smartness since they want their next generation to survive.

“My Betta was going after my kuhli loach and I said, “Nightshade!” And he turned around and came up to the surface. For context, I had about 8 guppies, 5 kuhli loaches, 6 otos, and three snails in the tank at the time, and he knew exactly who I was talking to.”

Penelope Davis

3. They Can Be Trained

You can literally train these fish and they almost imitate you. Not only can they be trained simple tricks like feeding on your hands, but they can be trained to do complicated tricks as well.

For example, within just 2-3 weeks, your betta fish can be trained to jump and hit your finger. That’s cool!

All you get to do is wet your finger and stick a pellet on the tip of the finger. Hold your finger slightly over the top of the water. Then you notice your betta will jump and hit your finger to grab the food.

If you think it’s a bit tough for him, consider lowering your finger into the water.

After some time, you can keep pulling your finger a tad higher than before until he gets the trick. Once he figures the trick out and gets used to it, he will jump and hit your finger right away even if you do not use food.

But, carry on training with the food on your finger if he doesn’t do it. You can also educate your betta to jump through a hoop in its training tank.

Here are some experiences from real betta owners:

“Mine knows im the food machine, as soon as I walk into he room he comes straight to the front of the tank trying to get my attention. If you rub your pointer and thumb together (anywhere where he can see it) he gets super excited because he knows that means feeding time and goes to the top to wait for food. Guess you could say mines a bit food orientated” 

Mel Leete

“My guy is crazy smart. I’ve been able to train him and I’ve only had him a week or so. I’ve got him jumping through hoops and playing with a ping pong ball. He also knows his name.”

Lindsay Williams

4. Stimulation

You can physically stimulate your fish by providing him with live food to hunt down. As betta fish has natural hunting instincts, live food is the best bet to meet his needs.

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Bear in mind that stimulation is crucial for a healthy and happy betta fish because it can develop its intelligence as well.

In spite of their long fins, Betta fish love to chase things. Even by using a laser pointer in the tank, you can make your betta active.

You can also make your fish smarter by providing him regular proper training. Moreover, playing with your betta can improve your bonding with it and improve its health, too.

“The first thing my first betta did when I put him in the tank was check the walls — every centimetre he went around checking to see how enclosed he was. And then he used this little glass planter as a litter box. I loved him.”

Dana Rilke

5. They Can Conserve Oxygen

An interesting fact is that betta fish have a unique organ called, labyrinth, which helps them breathe air coming from the surface. Consequently, they can survive in waters like stagnant ponds and polluted waters that have a lack of oxygen.

Actually, when they don’t get enough oxygen to survive, they conserve the use of oxygen. Then, they go to the surface and restock their oxygen supply and avoid moving so much so that they can save both oxygen and energy.

Aside from that, bettas have the capacity to survive “fish out of water” situations for the time being. As they can conserve oxygen and take in water in their mouths, they can still keep themselves moist when they are out of the water. But that doesn’t mean that bettas aren’t concerned about when they lack oxygen.

“My guy would build himself a nest to sleep in at the bottom corner of his talk. I had been given some of those glass beads that kept getting stuck in my vacuum gravel so I took them out. There were a few left in the tank. Each time his nest got disturbed he would move the marbles back to the same spot and sleep with his head on a bead.”

Kelly Donahue O’Leary

“Mine would/could: Recognize his name Recognize my face and voice Recognize my mother’s face (he liked her more) Go through hoops with minimum instruction Jump out of tank with incentive Listen to music (he liked the Geometry Dash soundtrack specifically) Liked draw-eraser drawings on his tank and stickers.”

Tara Clare

Do Betta Fish Have Feelings?

Betta fish are able and tend to feel the emotions of fear, pain, and anger, although their mental strength is still not as developed as those of most other mammals.

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How Can I Tell If My Betta Is Happy?

By checking in on some signs of normal, healthy behavior, such as, if your betta exhibits vivid and strong colors, if it feeds on easily, if the fins are held open, or if the fish’s swimming movement is active and smooth, you can realize that your betta fish is cheerful.

You can make sure your betta fish remain happy all the time by providing them with their mental and physical needs.

A proper size tank, top-quality food, plenty of decorations and plants in their tank can keep your bettas happy and healthy.

Can Betta Fish Hear Your Voice?

Betta fish can hear and recognize your voice. Bettas have internal ears and they can hear out your voice, even if you’re outside of the aquarium. Even a small commotion in the water can be felt by a betta.

Bettas have a set of bone structures inside their heads that are the same as the bones that you have within your head for hearing.

Although they can hear your voice, most amateur aquarists say, they can’t recognize their own names.

Do Betta Fish Get Depressed?

Bettas can get significantly depressed. When a betta gets stressed or unhappy, you will see he barely eats. At times, you will also notice that he just floats in one space for a long period of time.

Moreover, if your bettas are stressed, you see an odd change in their swimming patterns. He will swim madly from one end of the tank to the other, crash at the bottom of the tank, or keep rubbing himself on rocks.

Why Do Bettas Get Depressed?

Bettas often get depressed when it is not provided with the required nutrition and care that it needs.

Therefore, always ensure you feed your betta a wide array of good-quality food. Most people buy food that lacks nutrition, causing a betta fish to get depressed.

Additionally, the environment, the lack of company, as well as sickness can stress it out. Cleanliness in water can also cause depression among betta fish, hence you must use clean water in the new fish tank.

Final words

Okay, I hope by now you’ve got the skinny on ‘Are betta fish smart?” as well as many other unknown and interesting facts about your favorite betta fish. Hopefully, you enjoyed this post.

And, did I miss anything in this article? Please do let me know in the comment box below so that I can update the article further. Have a great day, thanks!

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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