The betta fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish, is among the most popular tropical fish today due to its bright colors and gorgeous flowing tail. Betta fish have great personalities and will love to interact with you and their environment when they’re happy and healthy.
Many beginner fish keepers are drawn to the betta as a starter fish due to the fact that the male is happy on its own (no need for multiple fish) and can be kept in a slightly smaller tank, in comparison to other popular aquatic pets.
Still, even though bettas thrive living in solitude, they still need to be entertained to keep them happy and thriving. Having the right betta fish toys in your fish tank will allow you to let your betta’s naturally inquisitive mind wander.
Here are the best betta fish toys to keep your betta happy and entertained for a prolonged life.
Do Bettas Like Toys in Their Tank?
Yes, betta fish love having toys in their tank. They’re a naturally curious and inquisitive fish that want to explore their surroundings. Betta’s love to interact with their environment and can get bored if they don’t have enough stimulation. The best betta fish toys keep them active, stimulated, and comfortable in their environment.
What Kind of Toys Do Betta Fish Like?
Bettas love toys that closely replicate their natural environment and encourage exploration, resting, chasing/fighting, and finding hideouts.
It’s important that fish toys don’t overcrowd the tank and that they don’t provide any harm to your betta. Discussed later in this article, fish toys can damage betta’s fins, eyes, scales, and immune systems.
Best Betta Fish Toys
We’ve curated the following list of betta fish toys that are guaranteed to stimulate your fish. We encourage you to have one or some (depending on the tank size) of the following fish toy recommendations to ensure your betta fish lives a happy, healthy life.
Bettas are naturally fighting fish, hence the name Siamese fighting fish. Putting a mirror in front of your betta is a great way to make your pet feel a sense of competition, especially male bettas. Bettas, upon seeing their reflection, will often flare their gills, and stretch their fins to make them look as big and strong as possible. Your betta will patrol around the tank to look for other threats, which will keep it entertained. When you remove the mirror, your betta will then feel as if it’s won.
The mirror is also a great way to help with constipation because when bettas flare their gills, it tenses muscles that can help to release their bowels.
This mirror is great for playtime because you don’t need to stand next to the tank holding a mirror for the duration of playtime, thanks to the suction cup.
Next, is the Zoo Med floating betta log, which is all the rage. Betta fish love this thing: they’ll swim through it, rest inside it, even build their bubble nests in it. Bettas love to interact with their environment and swim all up and around the fish tank.
The Zoo Med floating betta log is also useful for feeding because it has a feeding hole right at the top, which keeps food pellets inside, safe from other fish.
This fish leaf hammock is a great toy for bettas to rest. As important as it is to keep your betta entertained, it’s important to give your betta resting spots to make it feel at home. The betta hammock is one of those spots that bettas love to hang out on top of.
The best place to put your leaf hammock is up near the water’s surface, because this is where they’re most comfortable resting.
4. Moss Balls
Your betta will love these moss balls to swim around, nestle their nose into, rest on, and investigate.
Moss balls are not only great for bettas, but they also help keep algae and toxin levels down, meaning better water quality in your fish tank.
With this product, you’ll be able to grow your own moss ball with marimo moss purchased from your local aquatic store. You simply add a little bit of moss into the holder and sink it to the bottom of the fish tank, and it should grow on its own. To make a ball, combine two of the holders to make a ball shape.
I recommend that you rotate the moss ball every once in a while so the underside of it can get light and keep the moss from dying.
Yes, a simple ping pong ball is a great fish toy for keeping your betta stimulated. Ping pong balls stimulate bettas because they’re a curious fish that loves to chase. Since the ping pong balls float, you’ll get to see your betta fish chasing it around having a great time.
One thing to note is to be sure that the ping pong balls do not touch any bubble nest your betta may have built. This can cause some psychological damage to your betta. To avoid this, use the ping pong balls only when your betta fish has not built a nest. Otherwise, you can attach the ball to some fishing line to keep the ball away from the location of the nest. Ping pong balls make for really great betta toys and are extremely cheap, so I still suggest finding a way to incorporate them into your betta tank when there are bubble nests built.
Betta hoops are another fun fish toy to place in your betta fish tank. Bettas will love to swim through the hoops, giving them an opportunity to be active and interact with their environment. Some bettas will also rest in the bottom hoop. For a very low price, this fish toy is sturdy enough to remain upright and has a unique look that will suit any tank perfectly.
7. Real or Silk Plants
Aquarium plants are another popular addition to your betta’s tank. Not only do they release oxygen into the aquarium water, but bettas love to swim among the plants. They provide fun formations for the fish to swim among and build bubble nests within.
I typically recommend live plants because they maintain a good water quality and they don’t have rough surfaces like some fake plants can have. Living plants balance your water chemistry by reducing the amount of nitrates in your water, controls carbon dioxide levels, oxygenates the water, and inhibits algae growth.
On the other hand, a plastic leaf can sometimes damage betta’s fins and can also release toxic chemicals into the water. If you cannot get living plants, silk plants are your next best option because they’re softer. There’s lots of fun plants to choose from, we’ve created a pros and cons breakdown on some popular plant choices for your tank.
This catappa leaf hammock is another way to keep your betta entertained. It’s similar to the leaf hammock mentioned earlier, but this one uses a real leaf and takes a different shape. With this toy, you can use a large leaf and roll it into a round shape to allow your fish to swim through or rest inside of.
The best leaves for this toy is catappa, a.k.a. Indian almond leaves because they have medicinal properties that are great for your betta’s health. They release tannins that can remove infections and bacteria, heal fin rot, and boost the betta’s immune system.
This ceramic betta log is another popular betta fish toy among betta owners. Betta’s love to explore all across the fish tank, so having the option to hide at the water’s surface as well as at the bottom of the tank in the log gives your betta more ways to entertain themselves.
10. Live Fish Food
Just like the ping pong ball chasing, live fish food is another great tool to keep your betta fish entertained. Live fish food will swim around, providing the element of chase to your betta with a reward at the end. Live food gets the betta to practice its hunting skills and stimulate its mind.
Some good live fish food for your betta fish includes brine shrimp, daphnia, worms, mosquito larvae, fruit flies, etc. Be sure not to overfeed your betta because it will overeat if you don’t control its portions.
Finally, this R2 Fish School is a hilarious addition to your betta tank. Become a world renowned fish trainer and teach your betta fish tricks like playing fetch, shooting hoops, swimming the slalom, limbo dancing and much more. As we now know, bettas love playing games due to their inquisitive nature, so this fish training kit is a great way for you to interact with your betta fish in a way that keeps it happy and entertained, and learn a new skill along the way.
What to Watch For When Shopping for Your Betta Tank
When you are shopping for fish toys and tank accessories, there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Some aquarium toys and decor are meant for other types of fish and aren’t necessarily safe to bettas and their specific needs. Some items are also just cheaply made and pose risks to all of your fish.
Check for the following three things when shopping in your local stores by touch and your own personal judgment. When ordering things online, use the reviews to your advantage and if there is any mention of the following things to look out for, shop at your fish’s own risk.
1. Rough Edges
The most common issue in fish toys are sharp edges. Betta fish tails are very fragile and easily scratched and damaged. When purchasing any new items to put into the tank with your betta, it’s extremely important to make sure there are no sharp edges on them. I recommend either sanding/filing all edges with sandpaper or a nail file or avoiding items with sharp edges altogether.
2. Small Holes
Betta fish love swimming through things. It’s important to be sure that you avoid any items that have small holes because your betta might try to swim through it and get stuck. If your fish gets stuck, they can damage their scales or fins. If you have any items in your tank with holes, I recommend filling them in with something like moss.
3. Toxic Paint and Chippage
Another issue with cheaply made fish toys and decor is paint chippage. Since all items will be completely submerged underwater, some types of paint will chip. This poses a major risk to fish because they may ingest it.
Items that are painted with toxic paint can also be dangerous for your fish because it can release toxic chemicals into the water and can make your fish sick. To avoid this, always check the label for terms like: non-toxic, waterproof, and animal-safe or pet-safe. Additionally, only purchase items that are meant for aquariums since most decorations are not aquarium safe.
If you start to notice at any point that one of your decorations or toys are chipping, remove the item immediately.
You may have seen on some other sites the suggestion of a laser as a betta toy. I argue against these as they are not safe for bettas eyes and recommend to steer clear of them.
Signs Your Betta is Happy
There are many ways to tell if your betta fish is healthy and happy. As previously mentioned, they love to explore, swim around the tank, and play with toys. Here are some of the signs that your betta is happy and that your fish toys are doing their job:
Eats vigorously. Betta fish love the chase and will treat feeding time as a way to replicate that feeling.
Interacts with its surroundings. A happy betta fish will explore all around its tank. This is what stimulates their minds and keeps them entertained.
Bright, vibrant colors. Betta’s have beautiful, colorful scales when they’re healthy, and these colors will tend to dull when they are ill.
Makes bubble nests (male bettas only). Bubble nests are a sign of a healthy betta because male bettas will build them when they are ready to breed and they will only do this if they are healthy.
It’s important that you learn your betta’s personality so you can monitor it to see if its behavior changes. Behavioral changes can be signs of illness in your fish so if you do notice changes, it’s important to determine why the behavior is changing.
A Happy Betta is a Healthy Betta
You should now be ready to give your betta a fun-filled life full of toys for it to enjoy and thrive in its environment. While these toys won’t be as interactive as toys for your pet cats or bones for your pet dogs, you can still watch your betta fish enjoy these toys immensely.
Let us know if you try any of the betta fish toys from our comprehensive list. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with any of your betta-loving pet owners!
For general betta fish care information, see this betta fish care guide for more tips about appropriate aquarium size, filtration, lighting, food, and much more.