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Betta Fish Flaring | What You Should Know

Betta Fish Flaring | What You Should Know

You want to know about betta fish flaring. What is it? Why do betta fish flare in the first place? Is flaring good for bettas? Is flaring bad for bettas? Etc, etc. Your betta fish may be flaring at another fish, his reflection, an object, or even you. So let’s try to understand what’s going on and why your fish is flaring so we can help you and your fish be happy and comfortable!

What is Betta Fish Flaring?

Flaring in betta fish is the result of the fish extending their gill plates outward. Male and female betta fish can flare, although it is more common in males. 

Why Do Betta Fish Flare?

Betta fish flare in response to an external stimulus that is threatening or unknown. They are making themselves look bigger to hopefully win in a face-off. Even though bettas are known as siamese fighting fish the general goal of flaring is to get another fish to back down and leave. They aren’t necessarily gearing up for a fight although that can be the result of this scenario.

Is Flaring Good for Bettas?

Flaring can be good for bettas when it is only done briefly. It can simply be a way to stretch out their muscles and even relax their body a bit. It can also actually chase another unwanted fish off when this is the intended purpose of the flaring. For some pet bettas it can even be a way to show off, this behavior is common in all types of betta fish.

Is Flaring Bad for Bettas? 

It certainly can be a bad thing especially when it is prolonged. If your fish is flaring and it doesn’t seem to be resolving or it's happening more than a minute or two a day you want to figure out the cause of the flaring. What is making your fish feel threatened?

How to Prevent Stress and Flaring

Determine what your betta is flaring at. The most common things pet betta fish flare at is other fish, their own reflection, something new in their tank, or their owner. Remember, betta fish flare to defend their territory. So remove the threat, at least for a while. You can slowly introduce whatever the source of concern is for your pet. It is also important to note that flaring is more likely to happen when your fish is breeding. 


If your betta is flaring at his reflection try adjusting the light. If this doesn’t help try covering part of the tank. Start with the back and see if this helps. You can use paper or cloth or a fish tank background.


If you have multiple fish in the tank, you may need separate tanks. Male betta fish don’t tend to do well housed together. They are better off with their own space and territory. This is especially the case when they are spawning.


If cleaning the tank is a problem for your fish, do it differently. If you remove your fish and he gets stressed then find a way to clean with him in the tank. More than likely though the problem is you cleaning around your betta and your hand or the siphon pump or algae brush or whatever is freaking him out. Simply remove your fish and give him his own little space while you clean.


Well, there you have it! I hope you have a better understanding of betta fish flaring. Flaring can be good and it can be bad. Small spurts of flaring can be a helpful exercise for your fish. Excessive flaring means you have an overly stressed fish that needs some TLC. Their immune system may even become weakened. So, keep an eye on your betta and be sure they aren’t flaring too much. And if they are, play detective and help them out! Share your betta flaring experiences with us here in the comments and learn more about betta fish care on our blog.

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