Skip to Content

Do Fish Get Bored in an Aquarium? How to Prevent This

get 5 secrets to thriving plants

Keeping your fish content in a home aquarium is crucial to helping them thrive in their environment.

That said, it is only natural to wonder if fish get bored in their surroundings. 

While fish do not necessarily feel human emotions, there are a few signs to watch out for that can mean your fish is feeling ‘bored’.  These signs include glass surfing, stagnant behavior, and nipping other fish when they are usually docile. It is important to note that fish are naturally curious. 

Fortunately, there are a few ways to keep your fish entertained in their aquarium.

These will prevent a fish from being bored and showing signs such as glass-surfing. Read on to learn about some options!

Signs of a Bored Fish

Fish can get bored when they do not have anything to entertain them and are too familiar with their surroundings.

An empty tank creates boredom in fish and can affect their long-term health, such as thinking and other skills may not develop as well or at all.

Colorful aquarium fish

There are signs to look out for to spot a bored fish.

  • Change in Habits: There may be signs of boredom or sadness if they are showing different habits. For example, if your fish typically stay in one level of the tank then all of a sudden they start lingering in different areas this could be a sign they are bored with their habitat.
  • Hurting Themselves: Some fish may actually start hurting themselves if they have nothing else left to do. This is typical behavior for a betta fish that is bored. Oftentimes bettas live alone and when they have nothing to do they will start hurting themselves by eating their own fins or banging or charging into the aquarium walls.
  • Stagnant Activity: When fish are bored or even sad their actions will become very passive. They have nothing to stimulate them or have something to look forward to. This creates a very dull life for them.
  • Unusual Behavior: As previously stated, when there is nothing in the tank to stimulate your fish they will have poor development with thinking or other skills that species would normally have or exhibit. Due to their underdevelopment, they will start to exhibit odd behaviors that you normally wouldn’t see inside a tank.

Replicate Natural Environment 

When first setting up a tank it is always important to try to mimic the natural habitat of the species of fish you plan on adding.

This is important for making your fish comfortable in their environment as they would in their natural habitat in the wild.

However, it is also important because of the fact that it can prevent boredom in your tank as it makes them feel at home.

When replicating their natural environment, such as adding decorations, plants, branches as well as rocks and caves.

This provides your fish with ample things to swim and play around, such as hiding and playing with other fish

The benefit to adding in all these things is that they can be moved around or switched up from time to time to keep a changing environment.

This also helps prevent them from becoming bored in the tank after time has passed.

Add Floating Decorations

Adding in some floating decorations or even toys are a great way of curing your fish’s boredom! 

Floating decorations will move around the tank with the water, which can create a change in the tank as it moves to different areas.

This will spark your fish’s interest and help prevent boredom. 

Even something as simple as putting a ping pong ball that has been cleaned in your tank would be sufficient as the floating object does not even need to be a decoration. 

Fish will love to play with a ping pong ball as they can play with it by moving it around the tank.

This not only helps the bored feeling but can also stimulate their senses as well!

There are also tubes and tunnels that you can place inside your tank! They can be placed near the top of the tank or even weighted down to stay on the bottom of the tank.

They have tubes and tunnels that can be purchased or you can opt to use something like pvc tubes, as long as they are wide enough for the fish to swim through as well as safe from harsh edges.

This can create an obstacle course or a maze of sorts for your fish to enjoy and play in!

Add Reflectors or Other Tank Mates

Adding in a mirror is great for piquing the fish’s interest in their reflections. Betta fish for example, as they often live alone, will become interested in their own reflection.

They will charge or flare their fins as they become curious as to the “new fish” in the tank as this provides them with much-needed interaction as they normally live in solidarity. 

Although this method is best not to leave the mirror in the tank at all times. It is best to place the mirror in the tank for a few minutes here and there.

Leaving the mirror in the tank will soon cause it to lose its purpose as they will become bored with their reflection. 

Adding more fish in your tank is also another great idea as fish get lonely too! However, be mindful of putting compatible tank mates with similar tank requirements.

Also, you will want to avoid overcrowding, ensure you have enough room in your tank for new additions, or invest in a larger tank. 

Adding tank mates prevents boredom as oftentimes fish will play with each other. They may swim, hide, or chase each other.

This creates constant activity in the tank which will help them from becoming weary and bored and can stimulate them as well.

Changing Food Habits

Something as simple as changing the way you feed your fish can help stimulate them! Food is often a great motivator with a lot of animals, and fish are no different. 

As you may have noticed when you feed your fish they show more enthusiasm as they get excited about their food.

Instead of just putting their food on the top and letting it float to the bottom, you can find new ways that will make it slightly harder for them to get to the food.

This will help stimulate them as they work for their food.

For this method, you will want to opt to feeding live or frozen foods as opposed to the typical flake food.

Using live food such as bloodworms or brine shrimp will give them variety in their diet as well.

This also goes along with their natural habit as in the wild the fish have to search and scavenge for their food.

Adding Air Stones or Bubblers

Air stones and bubblers offer many different benefits to your tank, the most obvious is to add oxygen inside your tank for your fish and plants.

However, another benefit is that they create bubbles that can amuse your fish.

As the bubbles create bubbles in the water, the fish will become amused with them as they swim through them.

For fish that like more of a current in the water will especially love the addition to the bubblers.

get 5 secrets to thriving plants