Are betta fish intelligent?

In this post, we will answer the question “Are betta fish intelligent?”. We will also discuss some tricks you can teach your betta fish.

Are betta fish intelligent?

Yes, betta fish are intelligent, of course, we cannot compare them with mammals, but they can understand space, recognize a tutor or even learn tricks and games.

Does the betta recognize the owner?

Most of the time, yes. The betta is a small animal and does not have the same intelligence as mammals, but we already know that its intellectual capacity is enough to recognize a person and create a bond. To be more specific, a betta is smart enough to identify people and objects, as well as be able to make associations with patterns.

Although a fish’s brain does not have the same capacities for emotions as, say, a dog, a betta fish can sense and show its emotions.

Time is of the essence to recognize the owner

Like it or not, your betta fish will recognize you over time. He is curious about nature and will want to interact with objects inside and outside the aquarium. Whoever is feeding him will eventually be recognized by him. That’s why it’s interesting that the owner is the main person to feed him.

But remember, just as betta fish can recognize you and be happy to see you, they can also get scared and run away from you if you don’t associate yourself with good things. Remember that, just like with people, the way you treat your betta dictates your relationship with him.

How a betta fish recognizes its owner

A betta fish’s intellect is developed enough to make associations. When you feed it, the fish is in a state of excitement and joy. Over time he will associate that feeling with you. When you play with him, in the right way for a betta, you will be activating his instinct for exploration and curiosity. Betta fish like to explore, they won’t be scared off by play and this will help with the recognition process.

Therefore, a betta fish recognizes the owner through association. He associates what is felt with who is present. Therefore, it is essential to make your betta fish feel happy, especially when you are interacting with them.

The affection of the betta fish

Betta fish don’t feel the same way we do, they don’t feel the same way we do. They also don’t express themselves the same way dogs and cats do. But fish, especially betta, are complex enough to feel emotions like anger, fear, pain, etc. Likewise, he is also able to associate his owners with good emotions. In these cases, it is possible to notice the excited and happy behaviour when your fish approach. This happens due to the connection generated with the human.

People tend to think that fish are dumb and extremely simple animals, but even though they don’t have as complex nervous systems like some other pets, they can impress you. Some fish can even memorize places and paths, others can learn to jump out of the water to cross hoops, for example. In the case of the betta, some breeders train them like dogs, even using “clickers” and food as a reward.

How to make a betta fish recognize you and like you

This bond will form naturally if you take good care of your fish. Feed him the right way, make sure he has a properly sized tank for bettas, and keep it clean. All this will contribute to your fish liking you.

·      Aquarium and suitable surroundings

·      Feed it the right way

·      Always interact with the betta

·      Talk to your betta

·      Play with your betta the right way

Aquarium and suitable surroundings

 Remember that we talked about betta fish making associations. He associates what he is feeling with the objects and people around him frequently. If the environment is unpleasant and he sees you often, chances are he will end up hating you. So make sure you have an ideal environment for him. The kind of environment that will make him feel good, so he’ll naturally associate those feelings with you in a matter of time.

Feed it the right way

Feeding time is very important for a betta fish, it is the moment when it is excited. You must be the person who feeds it always. Soon, it’ll be excited just to see you approaching the aquarium.

Always interact with the betta

Although they are fish that protect their territory, this does not mean that they like to be isolated. Betta fish are curious and explorers by nature. So, when it’s time to feed, try to interact a little with your animal, run your finger near the glass, try to get his attention and get him used to you (but never hit the glass).

Talk to your betta

A betta fish is sensitive to vibrations, when you talk to him, he will notice. Bettas are so sensitive to vibrations that they may recognize the name you give them. Give him a name, talk to him, this will make your betta fish recognize you easier.

Play with your betta the right way

Bettas are fish that learn tricks like jumping through hoops, eating right out of your hand, and following your finger around the aquarium. To learn how to train them and you’ll have fun while strengthening bonds with your betta.

Care when playing with betta fish

Although tricks are great and a good way to bring the tutor and pet together, experts remind you that you need to be careful. As most training involves rewarding food, it shouldn’t be repetitive.

Tricks to play with your betta fish

Many owners have questions about how to play with their betta fish. As one of the smartest freshwater fish species, they learn many tricks and games. With the right training, you’ll be able to give your friend instructions and build stronger bonds with him!

Rise to the surface

This trick is simple and adorable. When you put your finger in the water, your friend will rise to the surface, as if looking for affection.

·      Place your finger on the surface of the water;

·      Throw in some fish food;

·      Wait for him to rise to the surface;

·      Repeat the training for a few days,

·      Over time, the betta fish will be trained to rise to the surface when they feel their finger in the water.

Track your finger

Another awesome trick to learn how to play with betta fish is to make it follow your finger. It’s easy and shows a great relationship with your friend

·      Gently tap the aquarium with your finger;

·      Wait for the little fish to look at you, make movements around the aquarium;

·      When the betta follows your finger, reward him with some food;

·      Repeat the workout for a few days;

·      After a while, the fish will be following your finger.

Pass through a ring

This is a trick that should be taught by more experienced tutors, as the fish needs to know how to follow the finger first. However, it is certainly one of the best for the species!

·      Sanitize all products and make sure they are safe for fish;

·      Immerse the material in the aquarium;

·      Make the fish follow your finger so that it passes inside the ring;

·      Reward your friend with a little kibble;

·      Repeat the workout for a few days;

·      After a bit of practice, he will be passing through the hoop


In this post, we answered the question “Are betta fish intelligent?”. We also discussed some tricks you can teach your betta fish.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us in a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Are betta fish intelligent?

Do betta fish have feelings?

Fish have the proper anatomical structure to detect pain signals, they create the same natural chemical relievers as humans do, and they deliberately choose to avoid painful stimuli when given the opportunity. Moreover, they are subjected to feelings that we humans may relate to.

Can betta fish remember you?

Bettas are also recognized for having excellent memories, and they are capable of recalling humans even after being apart from them for several weeks or longer. They can also recall the layout of their tank, as well as the locations of plants and decorations that were in the tank before you relocated them.

Do betta fish like when you talk to them?

Bettas are sensitive to the vibrations in the water created by sounds such as human voices, which some people interpret as implying that your fish can learn to identify your voice and its name as you speak to them. Check to see if you can get a consistent response from your betta by saying his or her name every time you visit.

Do fish like music?

Fish are attracted to certain sounds and vibrations while being attracted to others at the same time. Certain types of music and sounds are repulsive to fish, but others are enticing. Music and other noises can influence the way fish behave in the water, including their eating and swimming behaviours, and can be used to describe these changes.

Why does my betta fish stare at me?

They believe they are being fed, which is a straightforward explanation for their behaviour! They are looking at you because they are hungry and are looking forward to a meal. You will be able to better comprehend your betta’s behaviour if you spend more time with them. You will be able to discern whether they are hungry or simply bored and want attention.


Hibban, D. M., & Al Maki, W. F. (2021, October). Classification of Ornamental Betta Fish Using Convolutional Neural Network Method and Grabcut Segmentation. In 2021 International Conference on Data Science and Its Applications (ICoDSA) (pp. 102-109). IEEE.

Song, M. (2006). Caring for Betta Fish. Lulu. com.