Are Betta Fish Smart?(The Answer Might Surprise You)

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Ever heard of the phrase “beauty with brains?” Well, Betta fish are the definition of this. Find out more about this stunning, intelligent fish species. 

When people want to refer to some freshwater fish that has a short attention span, they often compare them to Goldfish. Although this fish species is known for its famous nine-second attention span, its distant cousin, the Betta fish, is known for its intelligence. 

Those planning on introducing Betta fish to their aquarium might be pondering the question – “Are Betta fish smart?” Well, in this guide, you will find out all about Betta fish and their alleged intelligence. Take a look!

Are Betta Fish Smart?

The intelligence level of animals is determined by how easy they are to train. It has been observed that Betta fish are easy to train, follow instructions well, and thrive on mental and physical stimulation. Thus, Betta fish are far more intelligent than most people think, and we will talk about how smart they are in the subsequent sections.

How Smart Are Betta Fish?

Betta Fish Could Be Depressed & Unhappy

Although this may seem like a wild idea to many, Betta fish often experience feelings of unhappiness and depression. Their mental faculties are incredibly similar to that of humans, making them capable of feelings like happiness, sadness, and depression.

Furthermore, the fact that these fish experience such complex emotions tells us that they are highly intelligent creatures.

Betta Fish Can Recognize Their Owners

Betta fish are pretty active and would instantly flare when you play with them. Sometimes, he likes to watch you through his plants or from under driftwood, regardless of whether fed or not.

“Why does my Betta fish stare at me, almost like he’s trying to look into my soul?” you might ask. The reason is simple. Much like dogs, cats, and birds, Betta fish are capable of recognizing their owner’s faces and voices. Not just that, these intelligent fish can also tell the difference between people’s voices, making them capable of recognizing not only their owners but also others.

Our voices are carried through sound vibrations in the air and water. Betta fish are highly sensitive creatures and can capture the different sound vibrations, which helps them recognize their owners or other people. Furthermore, these fish have pretty good vision, allowing them to recognize faces from inside the tank.

You Need To Stimulate Your Betta’s Mind and How to

It isn’t surprising to know that intelligent creatures require regular mental stimulation to keep their minds active and happy. But, unfortunately, while you can try and introduce other fish species to your Betta fish’s tank, this method isn’t always enough to provide them with the level of mental activity they need. 

You can train your Betta fish to learn both simple as well as complex tricks. In addition, regular interaction with your fish strengthens your bond with them, making them more affectionate and loyal. 

Another way to stimulate your Betta’s mind is to tap its hunting instincts. You can do this by offering live food which your Betta will enjoy hunting and catching. However, keep in mind that Betta fish rely on their eyes to catch prey and protect themselves from predators. Therefore, ensure that the live food you offer is of good quality and is visible in the tank. 

Finally, one last way to stimulate Betta’s mind is to play the “mirror game.” Essentially, all you need to do is place a small mirror in your Betta’s tank for a short period. Unfortunately, although these creatures are highly intelligent, they aren’t self-aware. This means that they do not comprehend that the creature in the mirror is not another fish but themselves. 

Placing the mirror in their tank for a couple of minutes at a time can stimulate them mentally and physically. It can also be used as a training method. However, we recommend placing the mirror only for about 5 minutes at a time, so you don’t over-stimulate them. 

You might be interested in: 7 Awesome Betta Fish Toys & Decor to Keep Them HAPPY!

Betta Fish Can Be Trained To Do Tricks

One of the greatest pleasures of life is teaching your pet to do tricks. Fortunately, Betta fish are experts at learning tricks. So while you can start with simple tricks such as “jump and touch my finger,” you can slowly move on to more complex ones.

Make sure to provide enough treats and encouragement when training your Betta to do tricks. They can also follow a ball, interact with a mirror, and engage in simple interaction with their owners.


If you have been thinking about introducing a new fish species at home, you can’t go wrong with Betta fish!

These highly intelligent creatures are a pleasure to raise and train. They love interacting with their owners and are known to exhibit simple emotions like happiness, sadness, and depression.

To ensure that your Betta fish grow to be healthy, happy, and active, ensure that you provide them with adequate stimulation, food, and a safe environment. It is best to research thoroughly and speak to the breeder you buy the fish from to get the best tips on raising smart Betta fish.

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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