Do Betta Fish Have Brains?

Most Common Betta Fish Signs Before They Die

Betta fish have brains but the brain is smaller and less strong than other mammals. In addition, they usually use their brain to interact with other fish and sometimes they show their intelligence by interacting with humans. However, they mainly use their brain to hunt by scanning their environment.

In this article, I am going to explain whether betta fish have brains or not. Let’s get started!

Do Betta Fish Possess Brains Then?

Brains do exist in betta fish. The movements of betta fish are controlled by their nervous system and brain. The cranial cavity of a betta fish has a little gap because the fish’s brain is small in relation to its body size and does not completely occupy it. The choroid plexus, a network of blood veins with a whitish tone and a delicate texture, covers the betta fish’s brain.

We must clarify what intelligence is before delving into the structure of a betta fish’s brain. Learning new knowledge, retrieving it, and comparing it to other sources are all aspects of intelligence. It also includes memory storage, but can betta fish do this? We are aware that they do.

For instance, when you add a new betta fish to your aquarium, both the old and new fish are aware of the change in surroundings. As a consequence, when the new fish feel secure, they will examine their new surroundings.

Another illustration is the connection they make between you and food. Have you ever observed that when the aquarium’s cover is opened, betta fish will rise to the surface in anticipation of being fed? This demonstrates their intellect.

Detailed Anatomy of Betta Fish’s Brain

The betta fish brain is made of the same parts that other species of fish’s brains are made. The brain is made of below parts:

  • Cerebellum: The cerebellum regulates all physical coordination, which regulates the timing of muscles and upholds homeostasis.
  • The Medulla: The fish’s heartbeat, metabolism, and blood pressure are all regulated by the medulla, which also regulates other internal organs.
  • The Midbrain: The midbrain, which is made up of optic lobes, is in charge of classifying new information and picking up new abilities. Numerous fish species may have optic lobes that fully enclose the midbrain, albeit the size of these lobes varies among fish species. 
  • The Forebrain: Betta fish have an essential forebrain structure called the olfactory lobes that helps them see and smell. Additionally situated in the forebrain, the pituitary controls digestion.
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The betta fish’s spinal cord resembles that of other fish. The fish’s body has a sheath of nerve tissue that is enclosed in the neural canal of the vertebral canal and extends from the bottom of the brain. Typically, it covers the whole length of the fish’s body. But certain species, like the sunfish, have spinal cords that are shorter than their brains.

What Are The Evidence That Betta Is Intelligent? 

Well, so there are a few traits of betta’s behavior that demonstrate their intelligence, and intelligence is an absolute requirement for the creation of a brain. Research suggests that betta fish are actually reasonably clever. I will now talk about a few aspects that demonstrate betta’s intelligence and, by extension, the presence of a brain.

1. Exceptional Parental Care

Ask your parents about the challenges they had while raising you and the amount of “intellectual power” needed. The same is true with betta fish; they are incredibly protective of their offspring. Bettas have a sophisticated system in place to protect their eggs and young from predatory fish. Betta fish are intelligent and skilled at using their minds, as seen by all of these parental traits.

2. Fighting Skills And Instincts For Hunting

Ever come across a hunter that was stupid? Probably not. A person needs to be extremely alert and sharp-minded to be an excellent hunter. Betta fish operate in a similar manner. Betta fish have a natural need to hunt. 

Instead of relying on fish meal pellets to survive, they prefer to seek live prey. When necessary, they may even engage in combat with other fish. Therefore, betta’s effective hunting and combat skills demonstrate their intelligence and confirm the existence of a brain.

3. Betta Fish Interact With Their Owners

Have you once tried circling the fish tank’s sides with your finger? Please give it a try. Perhaps not right away, but eventually, the Betta begins to follow your finger. The Betta could even leap in your direction if you put your finger at the tank’s top entrance. All of this indicates that betta fish are intelligent to some extent.

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4. It Is Quite Easy For Them To Become Stressed Out By The Environment

Would you be concerned about your surroundings if you didn’t have a brain? If you were simply a brainless blob, would you even be able to notice how tidy your room is? Absolutely not. 

The point I’m making is that unfavorable environmental factors can easily stress out betta fish. Betta might get anxious in a messy or congested tank. This implies that they have highly developed environmental sensitivity, which further implies that they are intelligent.

5. They Engage In Reflective Play

A mirror may be placed in front of the fish tank by certain betta owners. In response, the betta fish interact with their reflection. The betta fish also engages in similar play with its reflection as do young children who are attracted by it.

6. Betta Is Trainable.

With some time and dedication, you can train your betta fish to perform tasks like following your finger, eating food from your hand, swimming past the hoops, playing soccer, jumping out of the water, or coming up to be patted, among other activities. 

A fish dinner is the best kind of reward for desired behavior. They may be intelligent creatures based on their capacity for training. This kind of training is only possible in intelligent organisms with brains.

7. Bettas Like Watching Television.

Even some owners of betta fish claim that when the television is placed at a fair distance, the betta fish get interested in it and begin to watch it. Betta fish do really possess the brains necessary to watch television.

8. They Are Aware Of Their Owners

It is thought that betta fish can identify their owners. Some bettas become delighted whenever their owners go by and jump toward the front of the tank. The likelihood that your betta fish will recognize you increases more if you interact with them. The major things that bettas connect with their owners are food and playtime. Betta fish have emotional attachments to their owners. These all point to a high degree of emotional intelligence.

9. They Do Get Depressed

Betta is impacted by depression, a condition that affects the brain. It turns out that fish can not only experience depression but that some researchers believe fish to be a suitable animal model for the creation of anti-depressants.

What About Memory In Bettas?

Bettas are also renowned for having strong memory and are able to recall individuals even when they haven’t seen them in a few weeks or more. Additionally, they are able to recall the arrangement of their tank and can recall where plants and other decorations were while you moved them. 

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They develop a lasting link with their owner thanks to their memory. Therefore, the more you interact with your fish, the more probable it is that you will deepen the connection your betta fish has with you. Additionally, it’s good for your fish because boredom may create tension and anxiety.

There was a misconception that betta fish, like certain other fish, only possessed a thirty-second memory span. After this myth was disproved by science, it is now believed that betta has a memory capacity of up to five months. 

Five whole months is a very lengthy period of time. This memory capacity alone is evidence that betta is intelligent.

Do Betta Fish Experience Pain?

Many people believe that betta fish just swim around aimlessly as if they lacked the neural pathways necessary to feel pain. But scientists are gradually coming to the conclusion that betta fish have a sophisticated neurological system, pain receptors, and perhaps even awareness.

Betta Fish contain nociceptors, which are neurons that can perceive danger. These may consist of:

  • The extreme heat might be detrimental
  • Caustic substances
  • high pressure

The fact that fish generate opioids, the body’s natural analgesic, is another obvious indication that they experience pain. The nociceptors and neuronal activity in the brain would be stimulated if a stick were inserted into the gills of betta fish. In addition to the area of the brain that controls reflexes and impulses, this surge is also seen in the area of the brain that controls conscious sensory impressions.

Even though fish may not feel pain in the same ways that people do, it is still suffering. The majority of studies believe that betta fish experience pain, although the degree of that experience or the fish’s response to it may vary depending on the fish and the makeup of their brains.

Wrapping Up

In this article, I hope to have answered some of your questions on the betta fish brain. In another article, I have also answered whether betta feels pain or not. Therefore, if you want to have a detailed answer then you can read out my next article: 

Do Betta Fish Feel Pain? [Science Explains]

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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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