Male bettas are colorful little gems that radiate personality. It's not hard to tell if your male betta is happy. There are telltale signs that your betta is happy, healthy and loving life. If you see your betta exhibiting these signs, you're doing something right.
Happy, healthy male bettas have a good appetite. Bettas are carnivores and require a high-protein diet to thrive. Bettas should never be kept in a vase with a plant on top with the expectation that he can thrive on the roots of the plant. A varied diet will keep your male betta happy. If your betta is eating his food, its a sure sign that he's happy and healthy. Beware of overeating, however. Bettas will consume everything you give them at once because in the wild they never know where their next meal is coming from, so the typical advice about not feeding more than your fish will eat in five minutes does not apply to bettas. A betta's stomach is the size of his eye, so don't overfeed him or you will have a host of medical problems with which to deal as well as one unhappy male betta.
Male bettas are quite engaging and love interaction. If your betta is swimming around the tank, watching you as you move around the room, coming to the top of the tank when you approach and generally spending very little time hiding, he's a happy camper. Bettas are intelligent little guys and need variety and enrichment in their tank or they quickly become bored and depressed. You can keep your male betta happy by providing plants, decorations that allow him to hide, toys such as betta hammocks and floating mirrors. Some male bettas can be taught tricks such as taking food from your finger, jumping out of the water and flaring when prompted.
This is a biggie. Male bettas who are happy and healthy want to find a girlfriend and raise a family so they build bubble nests in an effort to coax a female into the nest to mate. It's not necessary to actually have a female in the tank for your betta to blow a bubble nest. Some male bettas blow a nest every week, some blow a nest daily and some only once or twice a year. Not all male bettas blow bubble nests, so if yours isn't building a nest don't despair. But if he is, accept the gift of the bubble nest and thank him profusely, praising him for his industrious nature and architectural stylings.
Keeping Him Happy
Now that you can recognize the signs of a happy male betta fish, be sure to keep him that way. Always keep the tank pristine clean, don't add fish that will stress your betta such as those with colorful fins he could mistake for an interloper, and don't overfeed your betta. Learn the signs of illness and be vigilant about watching your betta for changes in personality. A happy, healthy betta that suddenly begins to hide all day in his cave, refuses to eat, floats on his side or seems to languish is in trouble and needs your immediate help.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.