What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?

15 min read

Betta fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish today. One of the best ways to keep your betta fish happy is to know what do they like in their tank.

Betta fish like entertainment like toys, decorations, or plants to explore and hide behind. Betta fish enjoy interacting with their owners to learn tricks. Aside from entertainment, betta fish also like a tank with clean water, the proper water temperature, and treats like Brine Shrimp.

What Kind Of Toys Do Betta Fish Like?

Expert Tip: Before you put anything in your betta fish tank, make sure there are no sharp edges to catch your betta’s fins. Make sure anything you put in the tank is aquarium safe from a pet store or legitimate online dealer. If you wash something to put in your betta fish tank, don’t use soap because the chemicals could get in your tank.

You should play with your betta fish every day if possible. Betta fish are very intelligent and enjoy mental stimulation. Here are some good toys that betta fish like:

Dry Erase Markers

You don’t put the marker in the tank or write on the inside of the tank. You can write anything you want on the outside of the tank and it will capture your betta’s attention. Anything to satisfy their curiosity. You can leave it up for a day, wash it off, and write something else.

Some people even lead their betta around with the tip of the marker like a laser pointer, which we will get to later.

Ping-Pong Balls

Betta fish are conditioned by nature to spend most of their time at the surface of the water so they enjoy playing with toys at the surface. Ping-pong balls are probably the cheapest and easiest toys to get for your betta fish and ping-pong balls float!

Be careful though as bettas can get too excited and jump when they are playing with ping-pong balls so make sure you have a lid on the tank.

Betta fish have different personalities, so some will not be interested in the ping pong ball. Others will only be interested in it if you push it around while some won’t be interested in it at all.

Don’t leave it in the tank every day all day or your betta will get bored with it very fast. Just take it out of the tank after a little while.

Expert Tip: Make sure you wash the ping pong balls with just water. Don’t use any soap because you don’t want to get chemicals in the water. You have chlorine in your water but as long as you dry the ping pong ball, it should be okay.


Bettas are territorial fish and they will flare at other bettas to let them know it’s their territory. If you hold a mirror in front of them, they will think it’s another betta fish and flare their fins.

Betta Fish

It is natural for them and may also make them think that they scared their opponent away when you take the mirror away.

This is usually reserved for males, especially when they are in a tank by themselves.

However, females will do the same when they are in a tank with other female betta fish.

Flaring is good for your bettas as long as you don’t do it too much.

Expert Tip: Mirrors are great for your betta fish but you shouldn’t use them for more than five minutes per day.

Floating Logs

Betta fish like floating logs but the best one to get is the Zoo Med floating log. It looks like a natural floating log and we absolutely love it.

It has an opening at the top of the leg that sits above the water surface so you can sprinkle food into it. Your betta can use it as their eating space and it will help keep some uneaten food from falling to the bottom of your tank.

All you do is rinse it with warm water and plop it in your tank.

Bettas love to swim in and out of it, rest, or even build their bubble nest for babies in it.

Expert Tip: I have found some reviews that complain of paint or resin smell so some people soak it in water for up to a week before they put it in their tank but I have not found any reviews of anyone complaining about it hurting their fish.

Some people have complained about paint flaking off and about sharp edges but there are almost 3000 reviews on Amazon.com with 85 % being four stars or higher.

If you buy the Zoo Med log just check it for a strong smell as soon as you open it and return it if it smells funny.

If it has a rough edge you can sand it down with a nail file. Most buyers didn’t complain of these issues though, especially if you buy it in person at a local pet store.

Sinking Log

The opposite of a floating log is a sinking log that sinks to the bottom. Betta fish also like to swim in and out, hide or take a rest which they can do in a sinking log.

Zoo Med Laboratories AZMFA50 Sinking Ceramic Betta Log 4.25 inche

Betta fish like the floating log better since they like to spend most of their time close to the surface of the water but you can have both logs. They look great as decorations.

The best one to get is the Zoo Med Sinking Ceramic Betta Log. It’s specifically designed for betta fish.

Laser Pointers

Several betta owners report that their betta’s love to chase a laser pointer around the tank when you shine it on objects in the tank.

I would just shine it straight down into the tank and not through the glass because it can be dangerous to shine it directly into your betta’s eyes.

I would buy a cheap laser pointer because the light won’t be strong enough to do any damage.

Also, don’t do it for too long because overstimulating your betta is never a good idea.

Leaf Hammock

Leaf hammocks are great for bettas as well. You attach it to your tank close to the top and since betta’s like spending most of their time at the surface of the water, most betta fish will spend their leisure time resting on their leaf. That is why it is called a hammock.

Of course, betta fish all have unique personalities, so some betta fish will have nothing to do with it.

2 Pack Betta Fish Leaf Pad Improves Betta's Health

Expert Tip: Most betta leaf hammocks have a metal wire for strength. If you buy one, make sure it isn’t exposed or becomes exposed over time as it could rust and contaminate your water.

Fake Marimo Moss Ball

Moss balls are not moss at all but are a good form of algae for your tank. They won’t discolor your water like other algae and they actually feed themselves through photosynthesis.

moss balls

Betta fish love to push them around like soccer balls or just rest on top of them and relax.

You can get live or artificial moss balls. Live Moss Balls will help filter ammonia out of your tank but we will talk about them in the plant list below.

Fish Training Kit


Marina Betta Ornament, Circus Rings

Betta fish love to swim through hoops or rings for fun or entertainment. There are several online that you can order but here are a couple of the most popular:

They are also great tank decorations!

Betta Buddy

Marina Betta Buddy

The betta buddy is just a replica floating fish that can provide your betta fish with companionship and something to play with.

What Kind of Plants Do Betta Fish Like?

Java Ferns

Java ferns are native to southeast Asia, where bettas originated from. Java ferns are great for bettas to hide behind, and swim around. It also adds a more natural feel to their aquarium, just like home!

Expert Tip: Java ferns can grow rather large, so you should limit them to one area of your tank and make sure your tank is at least 10 gallons so they don’t take up too much room.

Java ferns’ most common appearance has multiple sword-shaped leaves.

Bettas love to have ferns in their tank so they have a place to hide, it makes them feel safer.

Java Moss

  • Java moss is another great plant for bettas because most of the time it requires no maintenance.
  • Java moss is another plant from southeast Asia so bettas naturally like it.
  • It is easy for beginners.
  • You can let java moss float at the top of your tank, shape it into a tree, or attach it to your tank decorations.
  • You don’t have to plant it in your substrate, it will grow along anything in your aquarium.
  • It is hard to kill java moss but if it has algae growing on it then it means it is dying.
  • If you like the look, you can let java moss cover your substrate like carpet.
  • Java moss will give your betta another place to hide.
  • Java moss is soft so it won’t hurt your betta’s long tail and fins.

Banana Plants

  • Banana plants live in warm slow-moving water, which makes them perfect for betta fish.
  • Their roots also store nutrients.
  • Their leaves float on the surface like pads to provide a hiding place for your betta fish.
  • These striking plants are found in warm, slow-moving waters throughout the Southeastern United States. The base of a Banana Plant is specialized roots that store nutrients for lean times in the future.
  • They have a wide variety of colors from purple to green.
  • Full Name: Banana Plant (Nymphoides aquatic).
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Low to High

Betta Bulbs

Betta bulbs are called tubers.

A much thickened underground part of a stem or rhizome, e.g. in the potato, serving as a food reserve and bearing buds from which new plants arise.


This is just terminology for the actual bulb that you set in your tank.

Betta bulbs don’t need roots, which makes them so easy and great.

Plus they are actually called ‘Betta’ bulbs, so you know they are great for betta fish.

Insider Tip: Betta bulbs can start growing outside the water so it is wise to buy it from a reputable pet dealer and make sure you know what species of plant it is before you just drop it in your betta tank. If you are unsure of the species, or if you buy it online, you can grow a betta bulb in a seperate aquarium before you put it in the same aquarium as your betta fish.

Water Sprite

Bettas love to spend time in the leaves of the water sprite plants.

The worst thing about these plants for betta fish is that they are high light plants but they are tolerant of low light so they are still a safe option for bettas.

These plants can be left to float or be planted.

These aquatic ferns are great plants for your betta fish tank. In fact, a lot of betta fish enthusiasts refer to Water Sprite as a Betta fish playground because of the way bettas often hang out in the forest of leaves.

While tolerant of low light, they thrive in high-light environments. They also tend to grow explosively, which makes them a great nutrient sponge but also a bit of a nuisance.

One thing that makes Water Sprite a great option is that it can be planted or left free to float on the surface.

Though Water Sprite is known to grow very quickly, it is one of the easiest plants to trim. Simply cut it at the base of the stem and discard the leaves to prevent them from rotting in your tank.

Keep in mind that like most floating plants, Water Sprite can coat the surface, soaking up all available light and hindering plants growing under the water.

Thanks to their attractive appearance and ease of care, Water Sprite is a great beginner plant that fits in well in any betta tank.

  • Full Name: Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
  • Care Difficulty: Easy
  • Light Level: Moderate

Cryptocoryne PetchiiBecket’s Cryptocoryne.

Originated from Sri Lanka

Large olive-green leaves for your betta to hide.

Needs a nutrient-rich substrate for its roots

Temperature77-82 F
Maximum Height6 In.
Growth RateMedium Speed
AreaMiddle – Foreground
LightModerate – Bright
PropagationSometimes Plantlets

Moss Balls

Moss balls are not moss at all but are a good form of algae for your tank. They won’t discolor your water like other algae and they actually feed themselves through photosynthesis.

Betta fish love to push them around like soccer balls or just rest on top of them and relax.

You can get live or artificial moss balls. Live Marimo moss balls will help filter ammonia out of your tank.

Amazon Sword Plant

There are many variations of Amazon Sword Plant, but the one we are talking about is the most widely available:

OriginationSouth America
Common NameBroadleaved Amazon Sword Plant
Maximum Height20 inches
Growth RateMedium
LightBright Light Needed
Temperature75-82 F
PropagationSometimes Plantlets

The Amazon sword plant is popular because it’s durable and very easy to care for.

Amazon sword plant needs some nutrients in the substrate like iron which may have to be added as a supplement but this plant does well in hard water.

The Amazon sword plant can take up a lot of space so only plant it in larger tanks.

Anubias Nana – Dwarf Anubias

Originated in West Africa.

The smallest of the Anubias species, it can be a great foreground plant. It only grows to about 4 1/2 inches. Dwarf Anubias grow some great dark green leaves for your bettas to use as a hiding place.

Maximum Height4.7 inches
Growth RateSlow
LightLow Light
Temperature72-82 F
PropagationUp and Horizontal

Anubias Barteri

One of the most popular Anubias with arrow-shaped leaves that are larger than other Anubia leaves.

Large leaves are great for bettas since they like to have a hiding place.

It is considered a mid-level plant, requires low-medium level light, and grows up towards the light while spreading its leaves outward.

Anubias Barteri will thrive in low to medium light and its rhizome will slowly grow horizontally across your tank while sending up tall stems toward the light.

Anubias Coffeefolia

This plant is actually from the family of the Barteri plant.

It grows bronze-brown colored leaves that turn dark green later in its plant life which is where it gets its coffee name from.

This plant requires low light which is great for betta fish since they don’t require much light.

This plant also grows up towards the light while spreading outward.

Anubias Hastifolia

This plant has leaves shaped like arrowheads.

Anubias Hastifolia is a very hardy plant that grows easily and isn’t difficult to care for.

Anubias Hastifolia is from Africa and grows best when planted in the substrate or on hard surfaces like rocks.

Anubias Hastifolia plants require medium light and iron supplements. Make sure you keep the light low so the leaves don’t begin to grow algae which thrive in bright light.

Anubias Hastifolia plants are slow growers and are very hardy plants that betta fish will leave alone.

Pogostemon Helferi

Originated in Tahiland. It was called the little star in Thailand because it spreads as it grows so if you’re looking down, the top of the plant looks like a star.

It grows 5 – 10 cm tall and wide and requires medium-light with a nutrient-rich substrate.

Some people like this plant because it grows a foreground of carpet vegetation.

Do Betta Fish Like Fake Plants?

Betta fish love plants but here is the key:

If you choose fake plants for your betta fish, then silk plants are the best so your betta fish doesn’t tear their long tail and fins. If you use plastic plants make sure they are soft and the edges are rounded. Fake plants are much easier to take care of and a better choice for people with less free time.

What Type Of Decorations Do Betta Fish Like?

Since we already covered the plants and toys, here are some non-plant decorations that your betta could enjoy:

Ulifery Robot Dog Cool Walking Land Tank Aquarium Ornament Fish Tank Decorations for Betta

61ua8tIsALL. AC SL1001 PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
Ulifery Robot Dog

Aquazoo 2 Pieces Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves

71hN040mNyL. AC SL1001 PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
Aquazoo Aquarium Rock

Nickelodeon Spongebob Aquarium Ornament

71DBORNY69L. AC SL1500 PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
Spongebob Squarepants Aquarium Ornament

Uniclife Aquarium Decorations Resin Coral Rock Mountain Cave

81piACH+cZL. AC SL1500 PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
Uniclife Aquarium Decoration

GSD Star-Fish Broken Barrel Decor Resin Betta Fish Tank Accessories

81Wjw5OAq+L. AC SL1500 PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
GSD – Star-Fish Ornament

HRRIVE Aquarium Landscape Anchor Rock Decoration for Cichlid Betta Goldfish Fish Tank Ornament

PetAquariums What Do Betta Fish Like In Their Tank?
HRRIVE Aquarium Landscape Anchor Ornament

Do Betta Fish Like Tankmates?

Betta fish can be very aggressive so you shouldn’t put two male bettas together and the only way you can have female bettas together is if you have at least 5 so they can establish a pecking order in what is called a sorority.

If you only have one betta and you don’t want four other females, then you need to choose an already proven compatible tankmate which is going to be a peaceful non-aggressive species like:

  • Corydora
  • Clown Pleco
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Ember Tetra
  • Guppies
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Otocinclus
  • Zebra Snail

Do Betta Fish Prefer Warm Or Cold Water?

  • Betta fish come from tropical waters which means their water temperature needs to be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Room temperature is usually between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit and a lot of people who buy betta fish are not aware of this.
  • If the water temperature is too hot, your betta fish’s metabolism will go into high gear which will cause too much stress and a shorter life span.
  • If the water is too cold then your betta fish’s immune system will slow, opening the door for illness and the opposite end of the stress spectrum.

How Often Should I Change Betta Fish Water?

There are a lot of varying opinions out there.

This is the best way I can sum it up:

You need to change your betta’s water enough that there is not a toxic buildup of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Buy a testing kit and test your water before each water change. If you have a filter you can change 20 percent of your betta’s water once a week and 50 percent of your betta’s water once a month. The higher the volume of water per betta fish, the fewer water changes. Less water volume per betta fish equals more water changes.

The water changes are to keep your water clean.

Betta fish may not realize it, but they do like clean water in their tank.

Do Betta Fish Need Light?

  • When you put betta fish in an aquarium, you are trying to mimic their natural environment.
  • Since bettas come from shallow puddles and rice paddies, they do need light, but only low light.
  • You don’t want to use low light because it can promote algae growth.
  • LED lights are the best because they mimic natural sunlight, while not promoting algae growth.
  • Fluorescent lights are also a good choice.
  • Betta fish are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night like us.
  • You can either remember to turn their light off at night and on in the morning or you can buy a light with a timer.
  • Most lights are adjustable as well, so you can dim them or make them brighter…

Do Bettas Need Moving Water?

Betta fish come from slow-moving water in shallow puddles and rice paddies. You should have a sponge filter or an adjustable filter to adjust the water flow so that it is barely moving. If the water is moving too fast, it will cause stress for your betta fish, leading to illness.

This is another reason to test and change your water weekly. The slower the water moves the easier it is to get dirty.

Do Bettas Prefer Gravel Or Sand?

It’s not that betta fish prefer either but they do love plants!

So, if you are going to have live plants, you need sand the plants will have something to grow in.

If you are going to have fake plants then you can use gravel or sand but gravel is easier to clean.

Expert Tip: If you choose fake plants, then make sure you get silk plants so your betta fish doesn’t tear their long tail and fins.

Do Bettas Like Tannin?

This is another thing that isn’t tangible like toys but betta’s do like the benefits that tannins provide.

Thes benefits are:

  • Eliminating bacterial infections
  • Makes the water more acidic
  • Antifungal properties
  • Helps Betta’s heal faster
  • Keeps the water darker – betta’s like low light

Do Betta Fish Like Treats?

In their natural environment, betta fish like to feast on mosquitos, flies, or insect larvae at the surface of the water so they do like treats in their tank. The best treats to give betta fish are:

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Freeze dried bloodworms
  • Mosquito Larvae


Now that you have a better understanding of what betta fish like in their tank you can have fun decorating it and buying plants and toys for your betta fish to enjoy. Now the most difficult decision for you will be which items to pick for your aquarium. Remember to consider how much time you have to clean and upkeep your tank as this might have an influence on what items you purchase.

Written by:

Pet Aquariums

Have you any questions?