To be sure, one of the most common questions we receive asks the question: Can bettas see color?
While this is a fairly fascinating subject, when explored in greater depth, you’re going to want to understand that the answer probably won’t surprise you. That is to say, if you already know some basic facts about fish, you probably know which direction this topic is headed in.
Yes, betta fish can indeed see color! This is a fundamental component to their relationships with the other fish you may be keeping in your aquarium. In particular, their ability to see color highly influences how they interact with other bettas.
You already know that male bettas will perceive other male bettas to be a threat. This is true of any fish that run to a colorful design. In other words, in order for your betta to react in the first place, they obviously have to be able to see the bright colors of the fish that makes them feel in danger.
As it turns out, where this subject begins to get interesting comes down to the various factors which influence how they see and absorb color. For example, light can dramatically impact the ability of your betta to see color. This is just one outside influence to consider.
Which Conditions Influence Bettas Seeing Color?
In the same way that one factor or another can influence how we see the world around us, bettas can have both vision and color perception altered by the circumstances around them. We mentioned light, which is worth a closer look, as there is a bit more to it than that.
How much light is inside your tank? This is one of the most significant factors influencing whether or not your betta is going to be able to see color. For example, if you turn the light in the tank off at night, as this simulates their natural environment, then your betta isn’t going to be able to see color as well as it would with the lights on.
How clear is your water? If we find ourselves surrounded by something that muddles our vision, then our perception of color is going to be chaotic at best. The same holds true once again for bettas. If the tank is murky or dirty, these things are going to make it harder for the betta to see color properly. This is just one of the reasons why it is important to keep the tank as clean as possible.
Now, let’s discuss the specific colors that bettas can see. This is another interesting component to the larger question.
Which Colors Can Bettas See?
Knowing which colors bettas can actually see under ideal conditions can prove fascinating. This is partially due to the fact that it is widely believed bettas can see not only as many colors as we humans can, but that they can also see these colors as well as we humans can.
In fact, they may even see color BETTER than we can! Human beings utilize a trio of cones in their eyes, when it comes to seeing color. These cones allow us to see green, red, and blue. Damage to one or several of these cones can cause an individual to become colorblind.
With bettas, it is believed that they have more than the three cones found in humans. We can see approximately three hundred colors. Bettas can see these, but additional cones give them the ability to see ultraviolet colors, as well. This is something humans cannot do.
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How Bettas May Perceive Certain Colors
At the end of the day, there is only but so much that we know about the way bettas see color. However, what we basically understand to be true give sus some interesting questions and possibilities. Different colors have different wavelengths of light, with red having the longest wavelengths. The longer a wavelength is, the more quickly it becomes absorbed in the water. In other words, depending on the depth of the water, it can be very difficult, or even impossible, for your betta to see red.
All of this suggests that bettas respond more aggressively to red-colored fish than to other colors. However, there are many exceptions to the rule. We also have to remember that light gets scattered, as it comes into contact with the water. This is yet another factor that can influence how your betta perceives color. How far an object is from the betta can also play a determining factor in not only how/ir they see the color, but whether or not they perceive it to be a threat.
Given that distance is a factor, it makes sense then to give your betta plenty of room to be alone in your aquarium.
As time goes on, we would love to learn more about bettas and their relationship to color.