How to Train Your Betta
Do you know how to train your betta to perform tricks?
Bettas are known for the huge personalities, and it doesn’t take long for them to recognise you and start interacting. If you are a new betta owner, spend some time with your fish and within about a week, he or she should start to show signs that they recognise you.
First Trick: Following Your Finger
This should be the first trick you teach your betta as it can help you get his attention and teach him more difficult tricks.
You can get your betta’s attention by very lightly tapping on his tank. Once you have his attention, try dragging your finger across the outside of your tank.
If he follows it, give him a treat! Repeat this to encourage him.
If your betta doesn’t follow your finger yet, you can try and get his attention by wiggling your finger around.
Once he is used to following your finger, try getting him to follow patterns. Reward him with a treat each time he follows. This can be done for a few minutes over several days.
Second Trick: Water Jump
The water jump is one of the easiest tricks for your betta to learn. For this trick, place a food or treat (such as a live bloodworm) on the end of a clean paddle pop stick. For the first few days, slowly feed your betta using this method. Avoid sudden movements, especially during initial training, as this may scare your fish.
After a few days, your betta will associate the stick with a food treat. You can now begin raising the stick a little higher each day, moving towards it resting on the top of the water surface.
Once he has successfully eaten from the stick on the water surface for a few days, lift the stick slightly higher out of the water. Your betta should jump to take the food! Be careful not to raise the stick too high and to always have your betta jumping in the middle of his tank, so he lands safely back in the water.
Third Trick: Flaring
Flaring is a good exercise for your betta and it looks great, too! While bettas normally flare when they see another male to mark their territory, you can encourage your betta to flare using a small mirror. Flaring expands his fins and tails and opens his gills.
To train your betta flaring on command, get a small mirror and hold it in front of him. When he flares, hold up a pen (or similar item). You should always use the same item so that your betta can recognise it as a marker.
Repeat this a few times a day over several days and when he flares, reward him with a treat. Once he’s trained, just showing him the pen should be enough to encourage him to flare!
It’s important to only have your betta flaring for a few minutes each day. While it’s good exercise, too much flaring can be a strain. Five minutes per day is a good amount of time for flaring.
Fourth Trick: Hoop Swimming
This is a trick for advanced bettas! One of the hardest tricks to learn, it’s also one of the most impressive. You will need a piece of pipe cleaner or something similar that can be safely shaped in to a circle with a diameter of roughly 5cm and placed in your fish tank.
To begin with, make sure one side of the hoop is touching the glass.
Get your betta’s attention and have him follow your finger, back and forth in front of the hoop. If he swims through the hoop, quickly reward him with a treat.
Remember to move slowly and give your fish time to master this difficult trick, and reward him with a treat each time he successfully swims through the hoop.
Once he seems to be getting the hang of it, you can slowly decrease the size of your hoop and move it away from the glass, towards the middle of the tank.
Your betta has successfully mastered this trick once he can happily swim through the hoop in the middle of the tank at your command!
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