Something that I just recently started doing is playing music for my betta fish, a very interesting thought indeed.
Whether or not they like music is questionable. It is thought that the betta fish lack the intelligence and auditory capabilities to really appreciate music. However, this does not mean that this cannot hear music in a certain sense, particularly in terms of the vibrations.
Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about betta fish and their musical tastes.
How Do Betta Fish Hear?
Before we start talking about the musical preferences of your betta fish, it’s also worth talking about how a betta fish hears in the first place. You might have noticed that a betta fish does not have ears like we human beings do. However, a betta fish does still have ears, but they are covered with skin to help protect them from water.
What is important to note is that basic fish cannot hear music the same way we do, and this is because they are under the water.
For sound waves to be effectively perceived, they must be able to travel through the air. The vibrations that the air atoms create result in a difference in pressure that our ears can process as sound. Our human eardrums process vibrations and sound waves and turn them into audible noises that we can hear.
However, it doesn’t really function the same way underwater. Sound moves through water very differently than through the air. In the water, these sounds are more vibrations than anything else. In the simplest terms, it is not really the music that a betta fish hears when you play it.
Rather, a betta fish can hear, or more accurately, sense the vibrations being created by the music. Therefore, betta fish may have trouble hearing a piece of music that just has a lot of soft and high-pitched instruments, as these will not create a lot of vibrations in the water. However, deep music with a lot of bass should be easier for a betta fish to hear.
Can Betta Fish Hear Music Underwater?
The simple fact here is that water is not a good medium for sound transmission. As mentioned above, sound doesn’t travel through water the same way as it does through the air, and the ears of fish are also a little different than human ears. Water is a very effective acoustic insulation material.
When waves of sound hit the surface of the water, they produce pressure differences that cause molecules in the surrounding area to slow down or speed up, hence the vibrations created by the sound.
Although there are vibrations created by the sound, this is not really audible in the way that us humans perceive sound.
These are effectively sound currents that are very difficult to hear under the water. Therefore, if you play various types of music for your betta fish, it is very likely that it cannot hear the music.
You would have to turn the music up very loudly, and it would have to be very deep with a lot of bass, for there to be a lot of vibrations to be created in the water.
However, just because your fish can sense or hear the vibrations in the water does not mean that it can hear the actual notes of the music. Your betta fish will not be able to distinguish Mozart from Metallica.
Factors to Consider
If you want to play music for your betta fish and expect fish to hear the music adequately, there are some factors to keep in mind.
First and foremost, the depth of the fish tank makes a difference. Shallow bodies of water tend to amplify sound a little bit, whereas deeper bodies of water tend to minimize sound.
Therefore, the sound waves of music are more likely to be heard in shallower water than in deeper water. If your betta fish tank is too deep, it probably won’t hear any music at all, no matter the type of music. Fish in shallow water can much more easily detect those vibrations. Here are some great betta fish tanks to check out.
You then also want to consider the intensity of the sound. Fish actually have pretty good hearing and are able to detect low frequency sounds much better than high frequency sounds. This is because low frequency sounds tend to travel faster in water.
Loud noises that are abrupt are heard quite loudly and under the water, it may even affect the behavior of your betta fish. What it really comes down to is that deeper sounds are easier for them to hear.
Do Betta Fish Like Music?
The fact is that there is simply no consensus on whether or not betta fish like music. Some fish owners who play music for their betta fish and fish claim that classical music may make their betta fish feel more comfortable, calmer, and at home.
Some people also report that betta fish seem to respond more to louder and deeper music, especially if it is more aggressive in nature.
However, it is more likely that the betta fish is simply responding to the intense vibrations it is feeling in the water rather than actually enjoying the music itself.
There is simply no scientific evidence to prove in one way or another if a betta fish likes music, and if so, what type of music it prefers. More than anything, the reaction of a betta fish to music being played is likely just due to the vibrations rather than the sounds themselves.
I can say from personal experience that whether I am playing Mozart, Eminem, Metallica, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, or anything in between, it does not appear to make any difference in terms of how my betta fish reacts or behaves. It is quite likely that a betta fish cannot really hear music at all, and if it does, most likely cannot recognize the complex auditory stimulus either way.