how far can betta fish see

How Far Can Betta Fish See? Beyond the Glass

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Siamese fighting fish or bettas are an extremely popular species of fish, thanks to their vibrant colors, gorgeous fins, and quirky personalities.

You might have noticed your betta fish following you as you walk around the room near his tank or spot him watching something quite far away. This might make you wonder how far your betta fish can see.

Well, it’s thought that bettas’ eyes are adapted to only see short distances, and they are relatively shortsighted fish.

In this guide, look in more depth at how your betta fish’s eyes work and how far your betta buddy can see.

How Good Is Betta Vision?

So, how good is a betta’s vision?

Well, we think your pet can recognize its betta fish owner in a group of people standing outside the tank. That’s amazing! One of my bettas would happily follow my finger around the tank for a piece of fish food and could obviously see me.

However, your betta’s eyesight is not so sharp that he can identify objects a few feet away from him.

That’s not surprising, given that wild betta fish live in murky water, such as paddy fields, ditches, and ponds, where the visibility is very poor. Consequently, bettas don’t need to be able to see things long distances away and rely more on their lateral line and excellent sense of smell to detect prey and predators and to navigate safely around the aquatic environment.

Bettas can also detect subtle changes in shadows and light, which enables them to locate food, find resting places and shelter, and even spot a potential mate in their natural habitat.

How Does Betta Fish Vision Work?

Betta fish eyes are relatively large and protruding relative to their body size. They are located on the sides of the head, giving the fish a panoramic field of vision of almost 180 degrees. This enables the fish to see its immediate surroundings pretty clearly and spot potential predators and prey quickly.

Interestingly, despite the betta’s eye position, the fish don’t have binocular vision, meaning that accurate depth perception is a problem for these creatures.

For that reason, many experts think that betta’s monocular vision is relatively poor, while others are of the opinion that these remarkable fish have sharp eyesight.

Color Vision

It’s thought that betta fish have excellent color vision, especially for shades of red, green, and blue, thanks to the many specialized cone cells in their eyes.

This is backed up by the fish’s response to seeing its reflection in a mirror or in the viewing panes of a betta fish tank. When presented with a mirror image of itself, a male betta becomes highly aggressive, assuming that the reflection it sees is a rival male betta encroaching on its territory.

In fact, some betta fish enthusiasts use mirrors to “exercise” and mentally stimulate their pets, although I don’t recommend doing that too often, as it can stress your pet fish and potentially make him sick.

The betta’s reaction to its reflection suggests that these beautiful creatures can’t distinguish themselves from a strange betta and that it’s most likely that the sight of any colorful fish and its movement would trigger the violent response.


how far can betta fish see

Bettas and other aquarium fish have fixed-focus vision, meaning that they can’t change the shape of their eye lenses like you and I can.

That said, the fish are able to see stationary and moving objects close to them and at a short distance away.

Depth Perception

As mentioned earlier, betta fish have relatively poor vision when it comes to depth perception despite having binocular vision, relying instead on the relative size and apparent position of different objects when seen from various angles to work out distances.

Nonetheless, these freshwater fish are still extremely good at judging the location of potential predators, prey, and obstructions within their natural environment.

Low Light Vision

Betta fish are specifically adapted to operate in natural environments with poor light due to the shade provided by dense, overhanging vegetation and muddy, murky water conditions.

So, how do bettas cope in these challenging low-light conditions?

Betta fish have a layer of special cells called tapetum lucidum, which reflect light back through the fish’s retina, making it easier for the fish to see in dimly lit conditions.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide on how far a betta fish can see. If you did, please hit the share button above!

Betta fish can see vibrant colors, and their eyes have a special light-reflective adaptation that enables them to see better in poorly lit waters.

However, it’s thought that betta fish also have poor depth perception, and we know that a betta fish’s eye cannot adjust its focus like ours can. For that reason, we think that bettas can only see clearly for short distances, such as people standing right outside their tank.

How far do you think your betta buddy can see? Tell us in the comments box below!

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