Do you talk to your Betta?
You may be surprised to learn that you’re not alone. Many aquarists talk to their finned friends when they are feeding them, doing general tank maintenance, or just watching them be fish.
Now the real question is, can Betta fish hear your voice?
The answer is, yes!
Although Bettas don’t have visible ears, they do possess tiny holes on the sides of their heads that lead to minute hearing structures. So when you’re sitting in front of his tank chatting about your day, he can hear you. However, it won’t be as clear as it would be if you were talking to your dog. The glass of the aquarium and water inside will create a muffled sound (like if you are underwater in a bathtub or swimming pool and someone says your name).
Let’s take a deeper dive into the hearing of the Betta species and what you can do to help the “talking/hearing” process.
Do Betta Fish Recognize Their Owner’s Voice?
It is thought that Betta fish do recognize their owners, but that is most likely through a mix of both hearing and sight. All fish will get excited and animated when you approach the tank because they associate you with food. However, as with all pets, the more time you spend with them, the more you will get out of the relationship.
To help bond with your Betta, you will need to put some effort into each interaction you have with your little buddy – so rather than just dropping food into the tank a couple of times each day, try the following “relationship building” exercises.
Visit Him Often
Visit your Betta often, spending at least ten minutes each time in front of the tank so he can see your face. Create a consistent routine of visiting your Betta fish, and not just when you’re feeding him, so he can become familiar with both your face and your voice.
Talk to your Betta each time you approach his tank. Talk to him when you’re feeding him, cleaning the aquarium, and just being in his presence. You may feel silly at first, but the more you practice talking to your Betta, the more he will become accustomed to your voice.
Once you have established a talking routine, pay attention to his behavior when you approach his tank. Does he come out from hiding, or swim to greet you? Your Betta is bonding with you! Well done!
If not, keep visiting him and talking to him. He may not understand what you’re saying, but with each word, he’s getting to know you better.
Play With Him
Bettas are very intelligent, interactive fish and enjoy being played with and having things to do. Try these interactive activities to help bond with your Betta fish.
- Floating Toys – place a clean, undamaged ping pong ball or floating Betta log on the surface of your tank. These fun toys will spark your Betta’s interest to explore and play. Floating logs may also be used to sleep in or build a bubble nest.
- Doodle on His Tank – Use a dry erase marker to draw a shape on the tank. Most Bettas will enjoy this new “artwork” and will make a point of checking it out.
- Use Colored Post Its – cut out shapes or draw designs on Post Its and stick it to his tank.
- Place Items Outside Tank – use colorful items and place them outside the tank. These could be a small vase of flowers, a child’s toy, or anything that catches your betta’s interest.
- Use Your Finger – simply running your finger along the side of the tank while talking to your Betta can be a fun pastime, especially when he learns to follow it along.
It’s fun to interact with your pet. However, if any of these suggestions seem to be stressing your fish, be sure to remove them and try something different.
Betta Fish and Sound/Noise
Perhaps, as a child, you were told not to tap on the pet store’s fish tanks. This is because the sharp sound (and vibrations it creates) of tapping on an aquarium can stress out the occupants inside. The same goes for your Betta fish.
Fish tend to be skittish as they instinctively use sound vibrations to gauge their surroundings for predators. A constant tap or clunking on their habitat can create fear and hiding in the Betta fish.
The same can be said for loud music. If you place your Betta habitat near your stereo system and like to listen to your favourite tunes at the highest decibel level, then you will most likely notice your Betta is hiding more.
Think about it. If your toe-tapping, air-guitar riffing music is echoing through your betta’s water, he (in his fishy brain) cannot detect the approach of a potential rival or predator, so he will become very stressed and, dare we say, “worried” by all that noise.
If you love to play your tunes loud and proud, then do your Betta a favour and move him to a quieter part of your home.
Betta Fish and Music – Do They Like it?
Although there is no definitive answer to whether Betta fish like music or not, there have been Betta owners that claim their fish will get excited, more relaxed, or even stressed out when certain types of music are played.
What we do know is that loud noises or sudden bangs around the fish’s environment can be a cause of alarm and stress on the fish. For this reason, we do not recommend playing music that is heavy on bass as this will create harder vibrations that will most likely stress your betta out.
After all, your Betta is a mere fish that cannot anticipate the rhyme or beat drop of the music, so he may just be in constant fear the whole time the music is playing.
If your Betta is housed in the same room that your music is, take note of his actions and reactions to certain music and the decibel levels of it. This will help you answer the question of does my Betta like music?
Lateral Lines & Vibrations
Betta fish possess a “lateral line.” This is a row of pressure-sensitive receptors that are highly in tune with vibrations in the water. The lateral line acts as the betta’s eyes in the dark and helps him not bump into objects or other fish.
When loud music is playing, it can interfere with these receptors making it difficult for your fish to navigate his environment. Prolonged vibrations can also stress your fish out to the point where he may try to jump out of the tank, causing himself a further injury or even death.
Conclusion of Can Betta Fish Hear Your Voice
Now that we know that Betta fish can hear our voices, perhaps you will want to spend more time talking to your fishy friend? After all, that might help keep your betta from feeling lonely.
We suggest at least twenty minutes a day of interaction with your Betta. Whether that be chatting at the side of the tank, playing with him with different objects, or experimenting with some soft music to see if he likes it, these experiences will all help create a bond between you and your Betta.