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Why Does My Betta Fish Stare at Me?

If you are the owner of a betta fish or several this question has generally popped into your mind.
A betta fish will stare at you continuously and intensely. The stare can wear you down into thinking
you must act. This is not necessarily true as betta fish just naturally stare for several reasons.
Read on to discover the main reasons betta fish stare so intently that it can seem intimidating and scary.
Summary of today’s article:
5 main reasons betta fish stare
History of betta fish and staring
 Illness can increase staring and why
 Baby betta fish care
 Conditions under which betta fish thrive

5 Main Reasons Betta Fish Stare
“Bettas” as they are lovingly called by those that own them are just born with big eyes that are closer to
the front of the head than other types of fish so sometimes, they are not even really staring. However,
there are times (more times than most owners like) when they do intently stare.

  1. Betta fish are carnivores and stare when wanting food
    However, they are also pretty much gluttonous and do not swim as vigorously as other fish.
    Overfeeding of betta fish is the number one cause of death although this occurs in other fish as
    well. Betta owners do feel an overwhelming need to feed whenever staring occurs, so kindness
    overwhelms caution, and betta fish die quite a bit from overfeeding of them.
    One or two small sprinkles of food per day are all that are necessary to maintain a healthy betta
    fish. In addition, the size of a betta fish’s stomach is approximately the size of its eyes. Any vet
    or tropical fish provider will know this. This can be a real problem in females or baby betta fish
    as many females and babies have larger eyes than their stomachs and so are more easily
  2. Betta fish are fighting fish
    The stare can occur when you look directly at them as they find this challenging, especially the
    males. Look away, or with your eyes downcast to avoid this type of “stare down”. Most male
    bettas cannot be kept together in the same tank, although there are exceptions. Females
    generally can adapt to being together more easily but there are also alpha females. A watchful
    eye should be kept if keeping this fish breed with each other or other fish types and dividers for
    tanks help keep battles and death at bay.
  3. Betta fish need stimulation
    Being fighting fish, they do have good eyesight and a lack of stimulation is common for them.
    Buying a castle or other apparatus that they can swim in and out of is a good idea to keep their
    minds going, as they do not relax or enjoy swimming as much as other fish varieties. If you
    watch a betta fish swim you will notice that they wiggle more than swim across any tank or
  4. Bettas are one of the most curious of all fish types
    Goldfish also possess this quality and events outside the tank will rivet them. They are not
    staring, they are watching since as an owner you no doubt are peering in, making facial
    expressions, and maybe even cooing. Bettas also have good hearing which comes from both
    their ears and the vibrations through their bladders. Each time you approach the tank you are
    the entertainment of the day! This may sound crazy, but if you place their tank or enclosure
    closer to a television set, they can become glued to watching commercials or even certain
    shows. There are many owners of these colorful fascinating creatures who do just that.
  5. In the wild, it is natural for all fish to stare
    But especially brightly colored ones. The brightly colored ones become prey more often to other
    predators and for that reason betta fish stay alert to all movement outside the tank to be
    protected from attack. They also are not fast and furious swimmers, so alertness is crucial to
    their survival. Since they are found in marshes and ponds which is their natural environment,
    birds of prey can spot them easily as can all other predators. The staring is a “red alert” system
    that is always turned on for survival. Marshes and ponds where bettas live are also more
    shallow waters exposing them even more.
    History of Betta Fish and Staring
    As explained in the 6 reasons above, betta fish stare for mostly hereditary reasons. These tropical fish
    are descendants of the Siamese fighting fish. Born and raised in swampy shallow waters, they are both
    predators, very territorial, and viewed as prey by other predators. While their colors are striking,
    especially in the males, the tail and gills when the fish is threatened will be expanded much like a male
    peacock expands its feathers and tail when threatened, anxious, or to attract mates. As with many
    species of both mammals and aquatic creatures, the females are much less colorful, as the subtle colors
    allow them protection from detection in the wild.
    Betta fish in the wild are duller than domestic bettas
    Even the males are duller than the varieties bought in tropical fish stores. Being duller in the wild assists
    in protection in shallow waters. Special breeding has occurred with bettas throughout the last two
    decades, with a variety of colors, and color patterns. Fin patterns and tail patterns have also been
    enhanced and there is no scarcity in the selection of a betta that would appeal to you as an owner.

However, it is noted by many owners that the more colorful a betta the more aggressive it can be. It is
not proven why as fish of course cannot speak, but perhaps we can somehow conclude that being more
colorful makes them more aware of being prey.
Illness Can Cause Staring and Why
A sickly betta fish will come to the front of the tank and stare at you when they are ill as unlike
other varieties of tropical fish, betta fish adapt to illness by continually demanding more food.
White spots may appear on a betta, and these are usually parasites or fungi. An alarming sign is
a betta that keeps staring and is losing color. Eventually if sick enough they will stop eating but
by that time can be too late to save from death.
Water quality is a major component in the ability of bettas to thrive
So is water temperature. Betta fish are warm climate fish, and a heater is recommended for all
tanks as is a big enough tank to prevent the buildup of alkali and other chemicals. A fallacy
exists that betta fish do not need a large tank, and this is not true. They enjoy stimulation so a
large tank full of plants, castles, and other interesting fish items will intrigue them and cut back
on the staring and even illness. Filters are necessary also, but this goes without saying for any
Baby Betta Fish Care is Difficult
While baby bettas are cute as a button, especially when they stare at you in the fish store, be
aware that they take special care, and many do not survive even in pet stores. A consultation
with a store rep that sells baby bettas should be done, as they take more time and energy to
care for. The water must be always warm, up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit even, and there are a
variety of foods that must be fed. Of all bettas.
Baby bettas must be kept separate
A lot of space in the tank for them to explore and establish a presence as well as stimulation in
the form of plants and accessories are needed. Just like any toddlers of any varieties of animals
or even humans, the younger an animal, human, or fish is, the more attention they will need.
Tapping a brightly colored object on the sides of the tank or swishing it back and forth can keep
them amused for hours. This also works for adult fish but is crucial to the development of skills
in a betta baby.
The General Conditions in Which Betta Fish Thrive
As mentioned previously, water quality and enough space and warmth are necessary for any
betta. Whether male or female, it is best to keep them alone as they do prefer solitude due to
their instinctual fighting nature. The staring is natural but a betta that starts lying on the
bottom of any tank is indeed ill. Lying on the bottom of a tank can indicate a problem with the

bladder as not only does the bladder transmit information about the environment, but it also
helps a betta maintain buoyancy in water.
Many illnesses are caused by overfeeding
This can be quickly remedied by cutting back on the amounts of food fed each day. While a
betta will still eat when ill and will always have a voracious appetite, feeding an already overfed
fish will just hasten its demise. It is not easy to save a betta fish who is ill on your own, but
many videos exist online with all kinds of treatments for a fish with specific symptoms. There
are even platforms online where you can speak with a vet about your betta and get advice. Vets
who practice the treatment of tropical pets are necessary for bettas. Most owners of bettas get
very attached to their pets. Bettas are playful and interactive so give them the environment and
attention they need to live their lives happily!

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