Betta fish depression: what to do?

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Page last updated: 28/10/2022

Betta fish depression: what to do?

In this blog we will discuss what are some of the things you can do if your betta fish is depressed.

We will also discuss what are some signs of betta fish depression and the various causes of depression in betta fishes. 

Betta fish depression: what to do?

The main reason for betta fish depression is often because of their environment that they have been introduced to.

If you have been noticing that your betta fish is depressed, here are a few things you can do to help them thrive:

Provide ample space

Make sure that your betta fish has enough space and house them in a tank that is larger than 5 gallons. For any fish, a bigger tank is always better. 

If you have been housing the fish in a small tank, the first thing you can do is to buy them a bigger tank. 

Plenty Of Decorations

Another thing to help them thrive is to give them opportunities to engage and have their stimulated. 

You can do this by adding decorations to keep them entertained such as adding caves, floating leaves, ornaments and toys.

The main goal is to keep them intrigued and encourage them to explore  tunnels and also give them the space to hide. 

Plants to match your bettas natural environment. While you might want to add live plants, they aren’t always practical. 

However, if you want to, some of the plants that you can add for a betta include: java moss, anacharis, hornwort, and anubias are all great choices!

You can also opt for silk plants however, you should totally avoid plastic plants because they can damage the body of the betta. 

Rearrange His Tank

To keep your betta entertainment you should change the environment in its place every once in a while by moving things around and adding new toys to allow them to explore.

Add new tank mates

If your betta’s temperament is calm and peaceful, you can go ahead and add tank mates such as otocinclus catfish, corydoras, or plecos. 

However, you have to know that betta’s are solitary fish and it could stress them out, so you should understand their temperament first. 

Betta fish depression: what to do?

Feed Him High-Quality Food

Make sure you’re feeding your betta high-quality food as well as adding a new variety of food so that they are not malnourished or bored with the same food they eat.

Interact With Your Betta

Finally, another thing you can do is to interact with your fish from time to time by placing your finger slightly above the water until he jumps out of it, or you can also play with them with a mirror as well. 

What are some signs that your betta fish is depressed?

Some common signs of depression in betta fishes include:

  • Hiding and avoiding is a classic sign that your fish is struggling with something. If you are witnessing avoidance behaviours from you, hiding, and non responses from your otherwise active and receptive fish , it is possible that your fish is going through a hard time- be it because of physical illness or because of depression. 
  • Another sign that your fish is depressed or that something is wrong is having a lack of interest in things your fish would have otherwise got excited about. This can manifest in various ways such as refusing to play, not taking notice of their favourite words, toys, or door knocks.
  • Another possible sign is a change in appetite. It has to be mentioned that changes in appetite is a very common symptom of a lot of other health issues. Depression can make them lose their appetite, refuse to eat, as well as show disinterest in their favourite foods. 
  • Another sign of depression in beta dishes include a change in colour. If you notice that your betta is losing their vibrancy and becoming dull it is probably depressing.
  • Stress stripes is another sign where you notice some stress stripes on the sides of their body which were not present before. 
  • Aggression towards themselves as well as other tank mates is another sign that it is possible that your betta fish is depressed. 

What are the causes of depression in Betta fishes?

Fishes do get depressed like other animals however, depression in fish is slightly different than in humans and tends to manifest in various ways. 

You might notice changes in their appetite, they might avoid you and hide in caves or with the plants, you might also notice changes in their colour and vibrancy.

A recent study by Elizabeth Burke done on zebrafish showed that fishes do experience depression and when they do they stay near the bottom of a small tank to which they have been newly introduced. 

Other behavioural symptoms included 

  • Uninterested in food,
  • Disinterest in interaction, and 
  • Lethargic behaviour
  • They might also exhibit aggression towards other tank mates.

Some of the main causes of depression include:

Lack of Space

It is often the case that betta fishes, since they are solitary fishes, are placed in small aquariums like bowls, vases, biorbs, or small tanks. 

This lack of space can become an immediate stressor and can be seen as soon as they have been added to their new environment.

Make sure that your betta fish has enough space and house them in a tank that is larger than 5 gallons. For any fish, a bigger tank is always better. 

If you have been housing the fish in a small tank, the first thing you can do is to buy them a bigger tank. 

Water Quality

Another cause of depression is poor water quality due to lack of oxygenation which can diminish water quality especially if the water has not been cleaned and cycled.

When there is no effort to ensure good water quality, high levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates in the water eventually become a toxic environment for the betta fish.

This kind of water environment becomes so stressful for the betta fish to comfortably live in and this can lead to poor health and depression. 

Boring Environment

It is possible that one major cause of depression in betta fishes is the lack of stimulation caused by a boring environment. 

Betta fishes like to explore and exercise and an aquarium can lead them to become bored and uninterested in exploring their environment.

You can help them thrive by giving them opportunities to engage and have their stimulated. 

You can do this by adding decorations to keep them entertained such as adding caves, floating leaves, ornaments and toys.

The main goal is to keep them intrigued and encourage them to explore  tunnels and also give them the space to hide. 

Plants to match your bettas natural environment. While you might want to add live plants, they aren’t always practical. 

However, if you want to, some of the plants that you can add for a betta include: java moss, anacharis, hornwort, and anubias are all great choices!

You can also opt for silk plants however, you should totally avoid plastic plants because they can damage the body of the betta. 

In adequate food

Another cause for depression could be lack of quality food as well as not enough food causing them malnourishment and depression. 

Make sure you’re feeding your betta high-quality food as well as adding a new variety of food so that they are not malnourished or bored with the same food they eat.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what are some of the things you can do if your betta fish is depressed.

We have also discussed what are some signs of betta fish depression and the various causes of depression in betta fishes. 

FAQ related to betta fish depression

How do you cheer up a betta fish?

Give them mental stimulation.You can do this by adding decorations to keep them entertained such as adding caves, floating leaves, ornaments and toys.

The main goal is to keep them intrigued and encourage them to explore  tunnels and also give them the space to hide. 

Should betta fishes have tank mates?

Yes, you can introduce tankmates for betta fishes. However, betta’s are solitary fish and it could stress them out, so you should understand their temperament first. 

Why do betta fish get depressed?

It is possible that one major cause of depression in betta fishes is the lack of stimulation caused by a boring environment. 

Betta fishes like to explore and exercise and an aquarium can lead them to become bored and uninterested in exploring their environment.

You can help them thrive by giving them opportunities to engage and have their stimulated. 

You can do this by adding decorations to keep them entertained such as adding caves, floating leaves, ornaments and toys.

Do bettas get lonely?

Betta fishes don’t often get lonely because they are solitary fishes and are naturally territorial causing them to become aggressive with other tankmates. 

Do bettas get bored?

Yes, betta fishes get bored easily especially when they are put in an aquarium. Betta fishes like to explore and exercise and an aquarium can lead them to become bored and uninterested in exploring their environment.

You can help them thrive by giving them opportunities to engage and have their stimulated. 

You can do this by adding decorations to keep them entertained such as adding caves, floating leaves, ornaments and toys.

References

Do Betta Fish Get Depressed? (How To Make Your Betta Fish Happy). Betta Care. Retrieved on 24th April 2022. https://www.bettacarefishguide.com/do-betta-fish-get-depressed-how-to-make-your-betta-fish-happy/#What_Are_The_Symptoms_Depression_In_Bettas

Depressed Betta Fish: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments. It’s a fish thing. Retrieved on 24th April 2022. https://www.itsafishthing.com/depressed-betta-fish/

ELIZABETH BURKE. Why Use Zebrafish to Study Human Diseases? Intramural Research program. Retrieved on 24th APril 2022. https://irp.nih.gov/blog/post/2016/08/why-use-zebrafish-to-study-human-diseases