Betta fish are strikingly colored fish with boisterous personalities, so it seems like they would be unable to hide their shining scales. However, every fish needs a place that it can feel secure, but if a betta fish lives by itself, does it still need a place to hide? Do bettas even like to hide from the outside?
Betta fish are a prey animal in the wild, so having an area where they can hide from potential predators is necessary in order to keep your betta healthy. Without a hiding place that your fish can retreat to when it feels threatened, it will become stressed very easily and will only show dull colors. The wild betta does not have all the colors a domesticated one does, so just don’t let your little buddy know that he isn’t quite as good at hiding as his ancestors.
In this article, we will discuss plants, caves, betta logs, betta leaves, floating plants, and do it yourself hiding places.
Plants are the primary hiding place and protectors of bettas in the wild. Bettas come from regions with slow water movement and an abundance of plants, primarily stem plants. The easiest way to make your betta feel secure and give him a hiding place is to add a few bundles of plants.
Some aquatic plants are extremely demanding, requiring hundreds of dollars’ worth of lighting, fertilizers, and carbon dioxide. In order to growt medium and high-tech plants, you need a perfect balance of these three key components.
On the other hand, you could go with low tech plants that grow in essentially any light and generally don’t require fertilizers. These are great for beginners and are very undemanding. Fertilizers will benefit them, but you must ensure that the liquid fertilizer you use has both macros and micros.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that plants use the most of, while micronutrients are essential to plant growth, but plants don’t use many of them. A fertilizer like Flourish Comprehensive only provides micronutrients, so you would have to use it in combination with another fertilizer. However, a fertilizer like Nilocg Thrive contains both macros and micros.
The best plants to start with are pennywort, Anacharis, banana plants, Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Java moss, Flame moss, Christmas moss, Subwassertang, Vallisneria, Rotala, Ludwigia, Bacopa, Crypts, Water Wisteria, Pearl weed, and Dwarf Sagittaria.
The Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, Crypts, and Dwarf Sagittaria will require root tabs in order to grow, but these are easy to administer. Simply place them in the substrate underneath the plant every few months and you’re good.
Betta fish also appreciate being able to hang out in caves, but plants are the ideal hiding place. There are many fish caves available on the market, and you can use anything that is food safe, smooth, and that betta cannot get stuck in.
Cichlid caves normally work for bettas, as do small pirate ship decorations, and even PVC pipes. Bettas prefer caves that are in the mid to upper level of the aquarium since those are the areas that they inhabit.
You should always do the tissue test on any aquarium decoration that you buy in order to ensure that it is safe for your betta. The tissue test is to check what areas, if any, will tear your betta’s fins. You can normally just sand down the rough areas to make them safe, but if the decoration is painted, you should check with the manufacturer before sanding it.
It is possible for the primary material the structure is made
All you have to do is take a tissue and run it over the decoration at all angles. If it tears at any point, it means that the decoration is more than capable of hurting your betta, both the fins and the scales. Since an open injury in the water is asking for an
Betta logs are floating logs that are aquarium safe. These allow your fish to float at the top of the tank, access air, and hide at the same time. They are normally a big hit with your fish, and they will thank you for them.
It has suction cups that prevent it from moving around and potentially squishing your betta between it and the glass. However, it is possible for a betta to swim between the side with the suction cups and the glass and get stuck, though most don’t have an issue.
Betta leaves are similar to the log except they do not provide the same amount of security. The leaf has a suction cup that sticks it to the side of the aquarium near the top so that the betta can rest.
Bettas can also rest on
In a betta’s natural habitat, there is an excess of floating plants. Some of these, like red root floaters, Frogbit, duckweed, and dwarf water lettuce, are great for beginners and require minimal effort to keep them alive.
Bettas are most comfortable with their hiding place being up high, since they inhabit the upper level of the water in the wild. The best way to provide security on the top layer is to add floating plants.
These plants have long or thick roots, depending on the type, which your betta can rest in and on. Frogbit and dwarf water lettuce have extremely long roots which can reach down well over a foot and can be trimmed once they get too large.
Red root floaters have many tiny roots that extend down only one to two inches, but my bettas prefer the many, small, clustered roots over the several very large roots of other plants. However, every betta is different, so it’s a good idea to try out several different floating plants to see which ones yours likes the most.
Duckweed typically has only one or two roots per plant and is notorious for being difficult to remove once introduced. It is also an invasive species in several areas, so be sure to dry out and kill any before throwing it away, and never flush it or rinse it down a sink.
DIY hiding places
Since most anything that is food safe is also aquarium safe, you have many options for DIY betta hiding places. Polymer clay, while it is not food safe, is safe for aquarium use once it is cured. This means you can make a shark mouth like a cave for your betta, or maybe a secret castle or even a dinosaur!
Another interesting possibility is kitchenware. If you can find a teapot with a very wide spout that your betta cannot get stuck in, you can use that as his little cave. Broken teacups, once sanded down and smoothed, are also great caves for bettas and help you upcycle them.
Paper plates are a no-no, since they degrade and dissolve in water over time. Tupperware is safe for aquarium use, but it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing in aquariums. You can also use glass cups and vases.
If you don’t have any at home but this sounds appealing to you, check your local thrift store. There’s always glassware and tea sets that are very cheap, and after giving everything a good cleaning, they should work fine in your betta’s tank. Be sure to take measurements before buying anything.
Another possibility is using PVC as a cave. Plain PVC doesn’t look too good in aquariums, but you can use aquarium safe silicone or super glue to attach gravel, rocks, and even plants like mosses, Java Ferns, and Anubias to it. This also applies to Tupperware and gives a more natural look.
Betta fish love to hide. Plants, including rooted, stem, and floating, make the best hiding areas for your bettas since that is what they would encounter in the wild. You can also use caves and DIY methods to meet your betta’s need to hide.