Bettas are some of the most popular tropical fish, and owners love them for their fun personalities and beautiful appearance. Sometimes, though, these fish can exhibit some behavior that can be hard to understand. If you’ve got bettas of your own, then you might have asked the question: why does my betta fish stare at me?
Betta fish stare for a number of reasons, and it is a relatively common behavior. Often, they are expecting food and waiting for a meal, or they may be keeping an eye on you or watching you for entertainment. It is also easy to assume that your bettas are staring at you, but they may just be looking off into space or otherwise investigating their environment.
This article will go into detail about why betta fish stare, how to tell if it’s a sign that something is wrong, and how you can stop your fish from staring if you need to. You will also find out the different ways in which your bettas might interact with you and whether you can tell if they are happy and well.
Why Does My Betta Fish Stare at Me?
There are a lot of different reasons why your betta fish might be staring at you. There are also other things that your fish may be doing which can easily be mistaken for staring in your direction. It’s not necessarily behavior that you should worry about, but it can be an indicator that your fish might benefit from some changes.
They Are Waiting for Food
No matter which animal you are talking about, one of the biggest motivators behind any of their behavior will always be food. Bettas love to eat, and they are often keeping an eye out for some food. These fish are also pretty smart and can quickly figure out that you are the main source of all of their meals.
Your fish may well be staring because they’re hoping you’re about to drop some flakes or pellets into their tank!
They Are Naturally Curious
Like many other aquarium fish, bettas are naturally curious animals that love to explore their environments. It is one of the reasons why they are so much fun to look after. Bettas like to watch what’s going on around them and are curious about anything that they can see outside of the tank.
They Are Watching Your Movements
In the wild, betta fish are both predators and prey for other animals, so they need to be highly aware of movements in their vicinity. Any movements could be a potential meal or a potential threat that they need to react to. By instinct, your bettas are going to be very alert, and they can become very still while they’re watching and examining what’s around them.
They Are Looking for Entertainment
No matter how much you have going on inside of your tank, your fish are still going to seek extra entertainment. They like to watch things that move, and you are certainly more engaging than a rock or a plant. Some people say that their betta fish will even stare at the movements on a TV if it’s close enough!
Their Tank is Too Small
Many fish are kept in tanks that are too small for their needs, particularly bettas. If your fish’s environment is not big enough, then they can become bored and lethargic, which can lead them to being motionless and staring more often.
They Can’t Blink
Alternatively, you may be assuming that your betta fish is staring at you when they are simply staring in general. Because fish are constantly underwater, they don’t have eyelids as they don’t need to blink and keep their eyeballs moist. In that sense, your bettas are always staring – they don’t have any other options!
They Are Lacking Energy
Even though fish don’t blink, they don’t always stay in one place and stare. If your fish is stationary for long periods throughout the day, they may be tired and low on energy. This can be due to their water not being warm enough, illness, injury, or an insufficient diet.
They Are Breathing
Another interesting thing about betta fish is their ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air, using a special “labyrinth organ.” Bettas need to rise to the surface in their tanks relatively frequently to take some breaths. They can look like they’re staring quite intensively while they’re getting a bit of oxygen.
What To Do If Your Betta Has a Staring Problem
Most of the time, staring is not a problem that you need to address. However, if your fish is staring a little too desperately, or they are not otherwise lively and active, then you might need to look into making some changes that could help them with their staring problem.
Feed Your Betta (If They’re Hungry)
If your betta has not eaten enough, then they may be staring at you because they are hungry. If you notice your betta staring and are reminded that they are due another meal, feeding them might be all they need.
Of course, you need to make sure that you are feeding your bettas regularly and you are not giving them too much to eat, no matter how often they give you the puppy dog eyes.
Adjust Your Feeding Schedule
To make sure that your betta fish isn’t becoming hungry too often, you should make sure that their feeding schedule is regular and consistent. If you feed your fish too often, they can become greedy, and if you feed them irregularly, then they can get hungry in between meals.
Two meals per day is the general recommendation for bettas so that they aren’t struggling to take on too much food at once.
Fast Your Betta Fish
Although they need to eat regularly, your betta fish should also be fasting every one or two weeks. This usually consists of around one day without food, and it will allow their gastrointestinal system to catch up on anything that they have not yet fully digested.
A healthy digestive system will help to prevent hunger in your bettas, making them less likely to stare at you for food.
Increase the Size of Their Tank
You need to be sure that the tank for your betta fish is big enough. 5 gallons is the right size for a single betta and is the minimum amount of space that they should have to remain active and happy. If you have other fish in with your betta, then they will need even more space.
Add More Entertainment to Their Environment
Your betta might be staring more frequently because they are bored, so you can incorporate more entertaining elements in and around their tank to keep them occupied. There are all kinds of plants, toys, and decorations that bettas like to interact with – they are even known to play with balls!
A trick that many owners like to use is placing new objects on or around the outside of the tank for bettas to look at.
Ensure That Their Needs Are Being Met
If your betta fish is generally a bit lethargic and not as active as they should be, it might be because their habitat is lacking in some way. Make sure that their water is clean and you are keeping it at around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You also need to make sure that they are eating high-quality fish food that contains a good amount of protein and that they are getting some variety in their diet.
Contact A Vet If You Are Worried
If your betta fish is often motionless and staring, it is possible that they are not feeling well or have some kind of injury – particularly if they are living with other fish. If you are at all worried about the well-being of your fish, get in touch with a veterinarian to see if there are any medical issues that you need to address.
How Do You Know If Your Betta Fish Likes You?
Sometimes, when betta fish stare at you, it can seem like they’re either very keen to see you or acting threatening in some way. In reality, staring behavior is not always an indicator of how your fish feels about you, other than that you’re interesting and/or a great source of food.
To tell if your betta likes the care that you provide, you need to look out for signs that they are happy.
They Swim Often
The first sign that your betta fish is happy is seeing them moving around comfortably and interacting with their environment. A happy betta should be relatively active and seem keen to explore different parts of their tank.
They Eat Normally
Your betta should be enthusiastic about mealtimes and come over when you are offering up some food. If they don’t seem happy when they’re eating, they’re probably not feeling very well overall.
They Come Out in The Open
Betta fish love to spend some time in their hiding spots, but they shouldn’t stay in them all day. If your betta is happy, they should feel comfortable coming out into the open and exploring.
They Don’t Fight with Their Tank Mates
Considering the other name they are known by (Siamese Fighting Fish), it’s no surprise that bettas can be a bit aggressive with their tank mates. Fighting is always going to cause stress for your fish, so you need to make sure they are with tank mates that they don’t act aggressively towards.
They Make Bubble Nests
Male betta fish often make bubble nests at the surface of their tanks when they are feeling contented and comfortable in their environments. Not all males will make nests, but if they do, it is a sign that they are feeling happy and well.
Do Betta Fish Get Excited to See You?
Unlike many fish species, bettas can actually recognize their owners and become excited when you are around. They can get to know their feeding times too, and they may look out for when you’re going to bring them their next meal.
If your betta fish is happy and content, they may well get excited to see you, but if they don’t, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. All bettas are different, and some just don’t show their enthusiasm in the same way.
Recap: Why Does My Betta Fish Stare at Me?
There are many reasons why betta fish stare, and most are not a cause for concern. Your betta fish may be staring at you because they are hoping for some food, curious about your movements, watching you for entertainment, or just gazing off into the distance.
If your betta is constantly lethargic and often motionless, however, then they may not be as happy and healthy as they should be. They might need adjustments to their diet or environment to make sure that they are suitably entertained, healthy, and well.
Usually, betta fish are pretty engaging animals to have around. Happy bettas are active and lively, and they’re certainly smart enough to recognize who you are.