Do Fish Get Bored

Do Fish Get Bored? How To Keep Them Entertained

“Do fish get bored?” is a question many newbie aquarium hobbyists ask themselves after keeping fish for one or two weeks. It is a question with merit because many fish species usually appear quite unbothered by their surroundings in fish tanks and by whatever is happening outside fish tanks. This is despite the fact that their eyes are always wide open staring. 

So can fish get bored or are they just things with no capacity to get bored? Well, fish get bored. They get bored because they have intelligence and feelings. Keeping them in an aquarium without anything to keep them busy, without a partner, without engaging them frequently, and without playing with them will negatively affect them.

It will make them live boring lives and they will probably die faster just from boredom. 

Probably only a handful of aquarium fish do not get bored. The majority, however, have feelings. They do need interaction and they do need to do things that will keep them interested in living.

They do need some fish entertainment. And fish entertainment does not mean buying an aquarium-friendly tablet and playing Finding Nemo for your fish. It simply means doing things such as engaging your fish, buying decorations for your fish tank, playing games with your fish, introducing compatible tank mates in our fish tank, and so on.

By doing such things, you will keep your fish friend entertained and happy and loving life. 

So a fish is not very different from a dog or a cat. Like any other pet, a fish needs to be engaged. If you want to know how to everything about fish and boredom and how to keep aquarium fish entertained, please read on. 

Do Fish Get Bored?

As stated in the introduction above, fish are intelligent. They are not as intelligent as dogs and cats but they are intelligent and they do have feelings. However, since there are very many species of fish, they are not all the same. Some of them are quite smart and need entertainment or engagement more, while others not so much. 

When getting a fish species for your aquarium, the first thing you should do is to check whether the fish is a schooling fish. A schooling fish is a fish that craves companionship or loves staying with a group of other fish like it. You should never keep a schooling fish alone. It will be extremely bored and lonely. 

As for non-schooling fish species, they are okay staying alone in a tank. However, this does not mean they do not get bored. As mentioned above, fish are intelligent and have feelings. While you may like watching them being calm and everything in your tank, you should also know that they need interaction just like you and I do as human beings. 

Below are important traits to help you understand the basic nature of fish:

  • Fish have feelings and get happy, sad, angry, or insecure
  • They are intelligent
  • They can show excitement 
  • They need entertainment 
  • They need to have something to do throughout the day
  • They have taste buds and can, therefore, taste different foods
  • They require attention just like other pets
  • They can be trained to play games 

From the points above, it should be clear that you need to interact with your fish as frequently as possible in one way or the other. In my opinion, while fish do require interaction, they are the least demanding pets. They won’t disturb you and it is easy to forget about them. This is why you should make it a point to check on them frequently and interact with them or do things to prevent them from getting bored.

How to Prevent Fish Boredom

So we have established that fish do have feelings and they do get bored. Now it is time to learn ways to prevent fish boredom. 

To prevent fish boredom, you must first understand that fish are different. They, therefore, crave different types of entertainment and interaction. For example, some fish are schooling fish and they like the company of similar fish, while others such as bettas do not like staying together. 

Some fish like engaging their human friends and can learn to recognize and respond to the presence of their owners in one way or the other, while others simply like playing on their own in planted aquariums and behind decors. 

In short, different fish have different likes and dislikes. So before you try something to prevent boredom, you should research it to see if it is something your fish will like or not. That said, some of the universal ways of preventing boredom in aquarium fish include:

  • 400;”>Planting aquariums – By planting your aquarium, you will create a living playground that mimics the kind of environment your fish will naturally like living and playing in.
  • Buying and installing aquarium décor – By installing aquarium décors such as rocks, statues, and background pics, you will give your fish things to see and explore and familiarize with. It is kind of like buying a kid a toy. And don’t just buy one and put it in your aquarium, buy aquarium décor every two weeks or more frequently and replace the ones your fish is already bored with.
  • Buying and installing an air pump and an air stone – You need an air pump and an air stone to aerate and oxygenate your fish tank. But in addition to aeration and oxygenation, an air pump and air stone combo will generate bubbles that will keep your fish entertained.
  • Teaching it games – If your fish is smart enough, you can teach it games. For instance, you can teach it to play with a small ping pong ball. You can also teach it to jump and cross through a hoop using food as an incentive. It will take a bit of time to teach it but it is worth it and will prevent it from getting bored.
  • Feeding it live worms or small fish weekly – Fish like live food. Buy giving your fish prey to chase after every week, you will be entertaining it a lot. It will learn to be aggressive when it needs to be.
  • Teaching it to follow your finger on the aquarium wall – By tapping gently on the aquarium wall and tracing your finger along the glass, you can teach your fish to start following your finger around and entertain it in the process. It will also be a way of it known that you are around.
  • Feeding it food from your hand – Even if you have a self-sustaining aquarium, you should aspire to feed your fish small bits of food throughout the day. This will keep them engaged and entertained.
  • Showing it a mirror and seeing it how it reacts – If your fish reacts to seeing its image in a mirror, you should do it once or twice a day to increase the fun. 

As you can see above, there are many ways to engage and entertain fish pets. Just find what makes your fish happy and do it regularly to engage them. Sometimes engaging fish is as simple as switching on the light in your room and letting it “see” you every time you come to check on it. It could learn identify you and show happiness in one way or the other, every time you check on it.

What Happens When Fish Get Bored?

When fish get bored some people expect them to be aggressive but this is not a common or usual reaction even among naturally aggressive fish. Do you get aggressive when you get bored? Probably not. You probably just get stressed, irritated, and frustrated. This is the same thing with fish.

And how do you usually react when you are bored? If you are at home, you probably try to find something else to do or go to sleep. The case is the same with fish. They usually swim less and get less active when bored. They then start hating their lives. Sometimes they start hiding more frequently and behaving in unnatural ways because of stress. 

So boredom is a bad thing for fish and you should, therefore, prevent your fish from getting bored.


Fish do get bored. They are smart and they have feelings. Therefore, they need interaction or engagement in one way or another to prevent boredom. I have shared with you some of the ways to prevent your fish from getting bored. Use them to keep them entertained and happy and loving life.