Why Does My Betta Fish Stare At Me?

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Have you ever noticed your betta fish gazing at you from across the room, seemingly watching your every move?

Do you often wonder why does my Betta Fish stare at me? Well, this is actually quite common!

Betta fish are much more intelligent than some people may think. Like any pet, they are able to learn feeding times and even bond with their owners.

So, what are some of the reasons for your fish to be staring at you?

Associating You With Food

The most obvious reason for your betta fish to be staring at you is quite simple.

You are associated with food and known as a food source to the fish.

Your betta fish will catch on quite quickly to the fact that when you are hanging around the tank, food often appears.

They may also be hungry and trying to ask for food by staring at you.

It is important to not over feed your fish though, even if he is asking nicely!

As you get to know your Betta fish, you can start to learn and observe the little things he does when he is hungry or asking for food.

This could be as simple as him moving to the area in the tank that you usually drop food in. 

I tend to feed in the right corner of my tank.

Come food time, my Betta will usually be waiting in that corner for food.

These little guys are smarter than we give them credit for!

Watching Life Outside The Tank

Life inside a tank can get a bit boring. Even with a big beautiful set up, tank life is the same each day.

But you, as their owner, are always different.

You may feed on a schedule but for the rest of the day you move around and do things around the room that aren’t predictable.

This draws interest from most fish.

An easy way to think of it is that you are almost like your Betta’s television.

Fish are naturally curious creatures so it is easy to understand why they would be interested in what is going on beyond their tank.

Betta Fish Are Near-Sighted

Betta fish have what is called ‘monocular vision’.

This means that they can see in two directions at once thanks to their eyes being on the sides of their head.

This also means that they do not have very good depth perception resulting in them being near-sighted (unable to see far away).

If your Betta is squinting at you like an old man, he may just be trying to distinguish who and what you are.

Betta Fish Are Near Sighted

Betta Fish Are Attracted To Movement

Betta fish are naturally aggressive and territorial, this means that it is instinctual for them to be still and observe things around them.

Any movement could be a potential meal or a threat, like a bigger fish.

Despite the fact that most Betta fish nowadays are captive bred (as well as their parents and grandparents also most likely being captive bred), their natural instincts will still remain.

One of my Betta tanks is currently on my desk and I have found my Betta fish to be thoroughly interested in the movement of my pen when I am writing.

He can go for ages closely watching me work and following the movement.

Your Fish Recognizes You

Many Betta fish owners will attest to their fish being able to recognise them.

I have found that my fish can tell the difference between me and guests that I have over.

It is important to remember, you are a huge part of your fishes life.

A lot of his day revolves around you and the food/interaction you bring him.

Your fish may be staring at you because he is thinking “hey, there’s my owner.” Watch the interaction between your fish and strangers.

Does he act the same way he does when you are at his tank?

If not, this is a good indication that he recognizes who you are!

I have also heard of Betta fish having a negative reaction to their owners when seeing them with glasses on for the first time.

This is also good proof that they are able to recognize our faces.

Your Betta Fish Is Lacking Enrichment

Another possible reason that your fish is constantly staring at you could be a lack of enrichment.

There are a few key things that will make your fish’s life interesting.

These include a large enough tank (no smaller than 5-gallons), live plants and even tank mates.

Just make sure you research compatible fish species before adding anything new to your tank. 

A simple change could also be shifting things around in your tank, this will give your Betta reason to investigate the new layout.

You can also see if your Betta will play with you.

Try moving your finger around the tank to encourage him to chase it.

You can also put new objects into his tank (make sure they are fish safe) for your fish to investigate.

This should give him something to be interested in and keep him busy.

I would refrain from purchasing your Betta fish a mirror.

Some people think this entertains the fish but I personally feel it will just cause stress.

Your Betta fish is not able to recognise the reflection as himself, rather he will think a rival male is trying to take over his territory.

Also, don’t ever tap the tank in order to try get your fish’s attention.

This will come across as a very loud sound to your fish and can startle them.

You don’t want to be associated with negative things when caring for your fish.

Betta Fish Staring

Your Water Levels Are Off

If you are finding your Betta fish staring at you often from the top of the tank and seemingly always surfacing to take a breath, your water levels could be off.

Your fish is not getting enough oxygen in the water which is why he is having to surface for air.

This can be a dangerous issue.

Despite Betta fish being labyrinth breathers (this means that they are able to breath in oxygen from the air through their mouths) as a fish owner, you don’t want your fish to be breathing air out of necessity. 

Make sure you are cleaning your tank often enough and that the water is not cloudy.

Check your ammonia and nitrate levels and if you have an airstone, check that it isn’t blocked up with an algae.

Betta Fish Don’t Have Eyelids. They Can Only Stare!

Humans need to blink to keep the eye from drying out. Since fish live in water, blinking is not necessary for them.

These has resulted in fish not having eyelids.

He can’t help but stare at you.

This lack of eyelids also means that your fish can’t close his eyes to sleep.

Their eyes always being open is also what makes them hyper aware of all movement around the tank.


Betta fish can and do make for amazing pets.

They are intelligent animals that are able to form bonds with their owners and recognize feeding times.

Your Betta fish staring at you can mean many things but it is not uncommon behavior and most likely just means he knows who you are and that you provide him with food.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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