Can Betta Fish See Color? (The Answer Simplified)

Curious to know everything there is to know about your betta? The more you watch him, the more you may be wondering “can betta fish see color?” Well, fortunately, you’re about to have this question answered. But to be honest, the answer isn’t surprising.

So Can Betta Fish See Color?

Yes, betta fish can see color. Think about it, one of the common aggression triggers in bettas is other colorful fish. If betta couldn’t see color, then why would they attack colorful fish? But while bettas can see color, the amount of color they see varies on lots of different factors.

What Affects The Way Bettas See Color?

Just like humans, the way bettas see color can be affected by a lot of circumstances. One clear example is whether your tank has enough light inside it or not. If your bettas tank light is off (or it’s night time in the wild) then they aren’t going to see color as clearly as when lights are on.

On top of how bright their surroundings are, how murky the water is can also have an effect on the amount of color they can see. If the water is incredibly murky, then this will also affect how well they can see color.

So What Colors Can Bettas See?

It is believed that bettas can see all of the colors that we can see. And it’s not just bettas. A lot of fish have the same ability to see multiple colors just like we do. This is surprising when you think that dogs can’t see as many colors as us.

Even more, interestingly, it’s quite likely that bettas can see even more colors than humans. While humans only have three cones in their eyes which allow us to see red, blue and green, bettas have more. It’s believed that on top of seeing over 300 colors like humans, bettas may also be able to see ultraviolet colors.

However, the chances are in some circumstances bettas won’t be able to see red as well as they can see green or blue.

Why Are Bettas Able To See Some Colors More Than Others?

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of things that can affect the color your bettas can see. However, the fact that they are underwater plays a huge role in what colors they can see. To understand more we’ll need to get a bit more scientific.

The first thing you need to know is that the different colors we see have different wavelengths of light. Colors closer to red have longer wavelengths, whereas colors closer to blue and green, have shorter wavelengths.

Absorption

It’s important to know about different wavelengths of light, as they’re affected differently when they enter the water. Longer wavelengths get absorbed a lot quicker than shorter wavelengths.

That means that colors that have the red in them are going to be absorbed in the water a lot quicker than colors that are green or blue. Or in other words, depending on the depth of the water, it’ll be harder to see red.

But it’s not just the depth that will affect how a betta sees. It’s also how far away an object is. The further away from the object, the harder it will become to see the colors. As the object gets farther away, your betta will have a harder time seeing red. And if it goes even further he’ll start to have trouble seeing green and blue as well.

Scattering

As well as being absorbed light also gets scattered. While this isn’t going to have the exact same effect as absorption it can make it harder for your betta to see, which will affect his ability to see color.

Scattering is when small particles in the water make it harder for your betta to see. It’s similar to fog or clouds for us. If you’ve just cleaned your tank then the chances are you’ve released a lot of the particles into the water.

These particles are going to cause a lot of light scattering in your tank until they settle to the substrate again.

Is This Why Bettas Get More Aggressive When They See Certain Colors?

If you’ve been keeping bettas for a while then you may have noticed that they get a lot more aggressive around certain colors. Well, then it could be because they’re seeing certain colors in your tank a lot more intensely than others.

In fact, one study even found that bettas acted a lot more aggressively towards bettas that were red over bettas that were black.

However, We Can’t Know For Sure

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been too much research on what colors bettas can see. What we do know is that bettas are able to see clearly and that they’re also able to see different contrasts clearly as well. However, because we can’t get inside the brain of a betta we don’t know exactly what they see.

But fortunately, what we do know is that sight isn’t your bettas main sense. Bettas have lateral lines running down their sides which allow them to sense a change in water pressure. As well as this they also have a great sense of smell, and although they don’t have ears, they do have a similar hearing system in their head to us, which means the can hear quite well too.

So Can Bettas See Color?

While it’s clearly apparent that bettas can see color, the real question is how intensely can they see color?

Under certain circumstances, it’s probable that your betta is able to see just as much color as you. However, due to the effects of absorption and scattering in a lot of cases, it’s likely the amount of color they’ll see will be hindered somewhat.

However, it’s also important to remember that sight isn’t your bettas primary sense. Along with having good sight for fish, they also have lateral lines running down their body which help them sense differences in the water. On top of this, they also have a great sense of smell, and can hear what’s going on around them too.

So while they may not be able to see color well all the time, they’re more than well equipped to know what’s going on in their surroundings.

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