Why Does My Betta Fish Stare At Me?

When we had our betta fish, I noticed it would stare at us a lot.

I was actually quite surprised because before we got our first fish, I figured fish were just to look at.

I was curious, so I decided to do some research and this is what I found…

Bettas will usually stare at you because they associate your appearance with feeding time, They are usually staring at you in anticipation of their next meal. However, bettas can also stare at you for other reasons if they are not hungry but if it isn’t hunger, it is usually for entertainment, they are near-sighted or are simply sleeping with their eyes towards you since betta’s do not have eyelids.

It isn’t likely your betta is staring at you other than for food or entertainment but there are still several other reasons why your betta may be staring at you so let’s dive in…

Water Quality

Here are the proper water parameters for your betta fish:

  • Temperature: 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • GH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm) 
  • KH: 3-5 dKH (53.6- 89.4 ppm)
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm.
  • Nitrates: <20 ppm

If any of these are out of whack then your betta fish may be staring at you in an attempt to let you know something is wrong.

Since they view you as their food source, they may be expecting you to do something.

Check your water daily and do weekly water changes to make sure your betta’s water quality doesn’t make your betta stare at you like a shark at tofu haha.

Bettas are from a tropical climate which means warm water, so bettas will usually need a heater to keep their water warm enough.

Bettas should also have a filtration system to help keep their water clean.

Aquarium Too Small

There is an age-old rule for fishkeeping that you should have one gallon of water for each inch of fish.

This isn’t written in stone though and it is better to err on the side of having too much room for your betta than not enough.

For just one betta, it is better to have at least a 5-gallon tank because it will leave more room for their poop, leftover food, and other detritus to foul the water before you do a water change.

The smaller your tank is, the more frequently you will have to change the water to keep the water from becoming contaminated.

Also, just because a betta fish can survive in small spaces like a 2-gallon bowl doesn’t mean that they enjoy it.

Be nice and give your betta fish enough room.

One inch per gallon is enough as long as you start with 5 gallons because you have to remember that any equipment that you put in the tank will also take up some of the space.

Taking a Nap

Since betta fish don’t have eyelids, it is completely possible that your betta is just taking a nap with their eyes pointed towards you.

You can simply move to the other side of the tank to see if they follow your movements, just don’t wake them up!

How would you like it if your betta fish woke you up from your nap?


Betta fish don’t have the greatest eye-sight, so it’s possible they cant tell if it is you until you are close enough to their tank.

Near-sighted means that they only see good up close.

Betta fish actually have what you could call sensors along their back that pick up vibrations in the water

This actually helps them with depth perception and their lack of vision.

They probably picked up some vibrations pf you walking towards the tank and they are waiting and staring to see if it is you, their loving source of food.

Do Betta Fish Recognize Their Owner?

It has been proven by science, that although betta fish have small brains, they do indeed recognize their owners, other fish, and objects or plants in their tank.

Although they usually recognize you for food, they may also stare at you as a source of entertainment.

If you have some floating toys like ping pong balls, you can move them around and get your betta to chase them.

The more time you spend with your betta, the stronger your relationship will be and the more they will recognize your presence when you are near them.

Food Source

The number one reason that your betta fish will recognize you is as their source of food because, well like some people, eating is their favorite thing to do.

If your betta is hungry at all, they will instantly recognize your presence by their tank.

It is best to have a regular feeding schedule so your betta isn’t staring at you just for food.

Entertainment, or Just Curious

As stated above your betta will also stare at you because it is bored or used to you playing with it.

Other than the ping pong balls, there are floating logs and other toys you can put in your betta’s tank.

Here is a great article we wrote about betta fish entertainment…

You can also redecorate its tank or keep setting different objects close to the tank for your betta fish to observe.

No Eye Lids, Cant Blink

Fish are always in the water so their eyes are always moist.

Therefore, they don’t need eyelids as humans do to moisten their eyes.

So, it may just seem like your betta fish is staring at you because their eyes are always open, just like when they are sleeping as we were saying above.

Conclusion: What To Do If Your Betta Has a Staring Problem

If your betta fish is staring at you, don’t worry, it is probably for food or entertainment.

We already covered what to do like keeping the water clean and making sure they have a big enough tank.

If you are a good, educated fishkeeper in the first place then your betta fish won’t be staring at you because of health concerns.

You will find many sites with long-winded explanations of what to do but it is rubbish!

Fishkeepers should actually be called water keepers, because if your water parameters are good then your betta fish is good!

So if your water parameters are good and your betta fish is still staring at you then either feed with it or play with it and enjoy being a water keeper ahem… I mean a fishkeeper…

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