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Can You Pet A Betta Fish?

There have been a huge number of viral photographs and videos on social media recently featuring unique looking betta fish and this has resulted in a large number of people getting involved in the fish keeping hobby and purchasing their very first betta.

Although these viral videos have done a lot of good for the fish keeping hobby, especially when it comes to increasing the amount of interest in betta fish as well as how to care for them correctly, it has also done a little bit of bad.

One of the viral videos shows someone petting their pet betta fish over and over again and although the betta fish does appear to be enjoying it in the video, this is usually not a good idea.

As you can probably imagine from any video that goes viral, we then noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions about if you can pet your betta fish or not with more people reaching out about this with each month that goes by.

Due to so many people asking about petting their betta fish as well as their being some potential risks to petting your betta fish, we wanted to publish our own article going over the subject.

Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible better understand why, in the vast majority of cases you really shouldn’t be petting your betta fish as it is a potential hazard to the fish that can easily be avoided.

Can You Pet A Betta Fish?

Just like all other fish, betta fish naturally secrete a slime onto their scales that helps to protect the fish from bacteria, parasites, and fungus and petting your betta fish removes this slime.

You also risk damaging the scales and skin of your betta fish when petting it too so we would never recommend that you intentionally pet your betta fish.

We know that there are videos online of people petting their betta fish but they may be unaware or simply not care that they are potentially causing health problems with their fish.

Due to some of the more unique looking betta fish being more expensive than a standard betta fish, the last thing you want to do is to pet the fish, remove the slime, and then for the fish to get an infection.

The gills, fins, and tail of some types of betta fish can be more sensitive to physical touch than other fish species too adding another reason to just not pet your betta fish.

Some types of betta fish are at risk of potentially ripping their tails and fins on the plants and decorations in their tank without you increasing that risk by petting them.

Do Betta Fish Like To Be Petted?

Although it may look like the betta fish in the various viral videos like to be petted, the risk of damaging your betta fish or removing the slime it naturally produces while petting it resulting in an infection is just too high.

Even if you do think that your pet betta fish does like to be petted, we would still recommend that you avoid it if possible.

Some people have suggested that it is safe to pet a betta fish if you wear gloves but this is not correct at all.

Gloves still present the majority of the same risks as petting your pet betta fish with your skin has and does not make the process any safe for your pet betta fish.

We have actually seen a number of people who have petted their betta fish with gloves on their hands report having the problems that we warned about above.

So, just because someone on social media told you that you can pet your betta fish if you put gloves on and that betta fish love being petted does not mean that it is correct.

We have also seen people say that holding your hand in the water of your betta fishes tank for a couple of minutes before petting the fish makes it safe and again, this is not correct at all.

This method also adds the additional potential thread of any potentially harmful oils and chemicals on your hand soaking into the water of your betta fish’ tank and cause issues with its water parameters too.


That brings our article going over if you can pet a betta fish to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand the potential risks that petting your betta fish presents and how it is essentially just adding unnecessary risk to your pet betta fish that can easily be avoided. The problem with these viral social media videos of petting betta fish is that there is no follow up about any potential harm that the petting caused their fish, it is just a short clip of someone petting a betta fish with no explintion or health warnings for the health and care of the fish.