Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?

Are you wondering, do Betta fish get lonely?

You may be surprised to learn that many Betta fans worry that their Betta buddy is lonely. 

However, the answer is, no. Your Betta is not lonely. In fact, he enjoys the solitude of his tank. 

Let’s take a deeper “dive” into the “social” life of the Betta and how you can help your fish combat stress and perhaps, even boredom. We will also list some “appropriate” tankmates for the Betta species. 

betta fish

Do Betta Fish Get Lonely? Nature Versus Aquarium Life!

In nature, the Betta species will stake out a territory in a rice paddie or other slow-moving body of water. Here they will be vigilant to keep their “home-zone” free from intruders. They do this by flaring their fins and gill plates to make themselves appear larger. If the intruder persists, the Betta will then begin to chase and bite at the other fish until it retreats or one of them dies.

In the aquarium, the Betta will bring with it these natural instincts to defend itself and its territory (that is why most Betta males need to live apart from each other).

There are a “finful” of suitable tankmates for the Betta; however, your tank will have to be at least 10-gallons, with plenty of live plants and decorations to hide among, and the tankmates will have to be small and docile. Even then, some Betta males may show aggression toward those fish, so you will have to be prepared to take him out or the other tankmates. 

As a general rule (and safer option) it is best to leave your Betta in the tank alone. He will be much happier not feeling like he constantly has to defend his territory. 

Do Betta Fish Get Stressed? Yes!

That being said, we do know that Betta fish can exhibit signs of stress. These symptoms include;

  • Sleeping a lot
  • Hiding among the plants (all the time)
  • Glass surfing (constantly swimming up and down the surface of the glass).
  • Wedging himself beside the decorations
  • Lack of energy

One of the leading causes of stress in the Betta is poor water conditions. Be sure to perform weekly water changes and monitor the temperature. The Betta is a tropical fish and needs a constant temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit – if you don’t have a heater, get one! Your Betta also likes a pH level around 7.0 and a low-flow filter where he doesn’t have to constantly battle the current. 

If you have checked all your levels and your Betta is still acting stressed, examine him for visible signs of illness;

  • Torn or ripped fins
  • Scales falling off
  • White spots
  • Fuzzy substance on the body or around the mouth

These are some of the common signs of a bacterial disease that will require medications to clear up.

However, if your Betta appears to be fine, maybe he has gotten a case of the boredom blues. Try some of the following tricks to see if he perks up. 

How to Relieve Boredom in Betta Fish

Bettas are very intelligent, interactive fish and enjoy being played with and having things to do. Try these interactive activities to help alleviate boredom in your Betta fish.

  • Use Your Finger – run your finger along the side of the tank while talking to your Betta. He will enjoy your company and will soon learn to follow your finger.
  • Doodle on His Tank – Grab a dry erase marker and doodle a fun shape or design on the tank. Most Bettas will make a point of checking it out.
  • Ping Pong Ball & 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.
  • Post It – cut out shapes or draw designs on Post Its and stick it to his tank. 
  • Decorate Around the Outside of the 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.
  • Treats or Different Food – a simple way to help alleviate boredom in your Betta is to give him a treat. Live food like daphnia will create a challenge for your Betta and spark those natural hunting skills. Plus, these little crustaceans are high in protein and great for constipation. 
  • Change up the Tank – Give your Betta something new to explore by adding a different live plant or a Betta-safe decoration. If your tank is smaller, change some of the current decorations around when you do a water change. 

Pro Tip: If any of these suggestions seem to be stressing your fish out, be sure to remove them and try something different. 

Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish? Yes! No! Maybe!

It seems to go against human nature to leave a fish alone in a tank (we think “he must be lonely”). Or, perhaps, we have splurged and have placed our Betta in a large tank and feel like it’s a “waste of space” to have just one fish in it. 

If these scenarios describe you and your Betta is more docile and you think he may get along with other fish, here is a list of “acceptable” tankmates;

  1. Harlequin Rasbora: in some areas, the Harlequin Rasbora can be found cohabitating with the Betta fish. That’s good news! This puts this species in the same temperature and pH level as our Betta buddy. Plus, the Harlequin Rasbora is a peaceful fish. However, even docile fish can get aggressive and “antsy” with limited real estate to swim around in, so, again, be sure you have a large enough tank to house a small school of Rasboras and a single male Betta (at least a 20-gallon aquarium).
  2. Platies – these peaceful fish make a nice addition to a larger Betta habitat as they do need to be kept in schools. They enjoy the same water parameters as the Betta, but they are livebearers, so a small group could turn into a large school in a short time. 
  3. Ember Tetras – this species of Tetra is quite small, but they are also very fast swimmers, so your Betta may have trouble even catching up to them. They are bright red, so they look great in an aquarium. However, as with any Tetra, they should be kept in groups of at least four or five. 
  4. Snails – there are several different types of aquarium snails, and for the most part, Bettas tend to ignore them (some may “play” with them by poking at them or knocking them off the glass). Snails are great for keeping algae under control but do be aware that some will eat your live plants. Mystery snails and Apple snails can also grow quite large and some species can also reproduce quickly. 
  5. Pygmy Corydoras – this little catfish makes a great choice for Betta fish as it is the opposite of everything that triggers aggression in the Betta fish – they are dull-colored, don’t have flowing fins, and are purely bottom-dwellers. The Corydoras also has plate-like scales and is docile by nature.
  6. Amano Shrimp – this species of shrimp is hailed as ‘the best algae eaters.’ they are a larger species, so Betta isn’t as likely to eat them. Plus, they tend to take their food and run away with it, so be sure there are plenty of hiding places. 
  7. Ghost Shrimp – these little critters are, perhaps, the best tankmate for your Betta in regards to gauging how well he will do. They are transparent (hence their name), like to eat the algae, and worst-case scenario, your Betta could snack on them.
  8. African Dwarf Frogs – if you want another cool critter to add with your Betta, the African Dwarf Frog will fit that bill. These guys are bottom-dwellers, so will be out of your Betta’s way; however, you will need a tank that isn’t too tall – they need to breathe from the surface as well. They can also be food possessive, so be sure to feed them away from the Betta. 

Other suitable tankmates for the Betta can include other types of Tetras, Rasboras, and Corydoras, but keep in mind the bigger the tank the more likely you will find success with adding fish with your Betta. And, of course, keep the “golden rule” of avoiding long-finned fish and never overstock an aquarium (one inch of fish per gallon of water). 

Conclusion of Do Betta Fish Get Lonely

Now we know that Betta fish aren’t too likely to get lonely, because they live solitary lives in the wild. But they can definitely suffer from stress. Perform regular tank maintenance and keep an eye on those parameters to help reduce tank toxins. 

If you have a large tank (10 plus gallons) then you may choose to add in suitable tankmates. To help ensure success for your community Betta tank, only pick fish that have been known to co-habitat with the Betta species. However, remember that not all Bettas will welcome tankmates, so have a backup plan if your Betta gets “bitey.”