If you have a cat or a dog, you know they often get bored and need toys and outdoor activities for entertainment. But as an aquarium enthusiast, what can you do for your fish to keep them healthy and happy? Do they get bored swimming aimlessly? Do they need toys to get out of boredom?
Actually, they do. Just like cats and dogs, fish enjoy interacting with objects. It entertains them. There are lightweight and easy-to-play-with fish toys available, safe for aquariums. You can bring them in your tank to give your water buddies something fun to do.
That raises several questions about fish, fish toys, ways to entertain them, how to make fish toys, and where to find them. I will tell you all about it in the following sections. Let’s begin!
Do Fish Like Toys?
Yes. Fishes do like toys. They are fun-loving like other footy and furry animals.
Swimming in a confined space can make their life monotonous. If they have nothing to do to busy themselves with, they will soon suffer from stress, which can lead to them becoming ill.
When you give them toys, it gives them a source to keep them occupied in something. They enjoy playing games and hiding with their fellow fish in the tank. It makes them lively and cheerful by stimulating their brain and mind. That, in return, rewards you with a well-balanced and full-of-life reef tank.
Do Fish Get Bored? Do They Need Entertainment?
Determining whether your pet fish have got bored is tricky. You have to assume it by observing their physical activities, as they cannot communicate it. Finding them at the bottom layer of your tank or floating indifferently around the surface could signify that they are bored.
There is another factor, too. Aquarium fish caught in the wild are used to living in an expanded area. So when you bring and raise them in a much smaller space, it can easily bore them.
On the contrary, that will not happen with the ones bred and raised in aquariums since they are already habituated to living in such an environment.
So, yeah. A little entertainment can go a long way in ensuring their well-being. If you are concerned about it and would like to do something to help them cope and keep busy, try adding caves and rocks. Decorations like toys, floating plants, backdrops, and mirrors will also help.
What Do Fish Do For Fun?
According to biologists, fish do stuff for fun, like play. It is not just meaningless and random behavior but is involved with their evolutionary background.
For example, you will often notice them swimming through rocks and caves or picking at tank thermometers for entertainment. It is an air pump associated with an air stone to create bubbles. Your fish can play by plunging through them.
An aquarium decorated with floating plants is a good place for fish to entertain themselves. They also spend their time interacting and creating a bond with their folks.
Interestingly, pastime activities also depend on the characters of the fish. Fish that are naturally playful and sociable, Corydoras catfish and goldfish, enjoy hanging out with each other, searching for food, and simply treading water in the tank.
Other than that, tropical fish, particularly livebearers like platys and guppies, spend a lot of their free time spawning.
What Do Fish Like In Their Tanks?
Fish like to have caves, rocks, plants, etc., in their tanks. Anything they can nip or hide under will make a great fish toy. You can arrange the following things to decorate your aquarium.
- A leaf hammock for their relaxation
- Laser pointers for their exercise
- Toy logs, ping pong balls, and moss balls
- Artificial and live plants
- Water wheels and bubbles
- Coconut husks, mirrors, etc.
How Do I Make Fish Toys?
It is no big deal to make fish toys on your own, granted that you take necessary caution and take only natural or non-toxic plastic components. It is also simple. You can make a nice leaf hammock for your goldfish or betta aquarium to make a fine addition.
Here is a list of ideas for DIY fish toys.
A Leaf Hammock For Relaxing
They are decorative and useful in keeping your tank ecologically balanced. If you can find a real Catappa leaf or an Indian almond leaf, take a suction pad and affix the leaf to it. Then put it against the wall inside your aquarium. And there goes your leaf hammock.
It will be a relaxing place for them. However, remember to omit sharp edges to prevent your fish from getting hurt while hanging out in the hammock. A plastic leaf will also do in case a real one is not available.
Places For Hiding
You can use PVC pipe to create hiding places and tunnels. A perk of adding the pipe to the tank is that your fish can hide in them and feel safe besides having fun.
Coconut Husks To Take Rest
Living in tropical areas makes it easy for aquarists to pet bettas because there is plenty of natural materials to make them toys.
For instance, you can use a coconut husk and turn it into a resting place for them. A touch of creativity will make it a nice cave, a unique playhouse for your fish.
Betta fish are vulnerable to distress. So they frequently look for a safe place to rest. A coconut husk can be their haven. But remember to check its safety before placing it inside the tank. Otherwise, the entire purpose will fail to work.
Post-It Notes Or Paper Cut-Outs For Awareness
You can convert colorful paper cut-outs or post-it notes into distinct fish toys. When you put them on the tank’s side, it will make your fish curious.
Creating beautiful designs will increase their curiosity while helping you communicate with them. It is an amazing way of expressing your feelings for your lovely pets. And in the process, it creates a bond between you and them.
A Tiny Mirror
You can convert a tiny mirror into a temporary fish toy. You may wonder how it helps with entertaining your fish.
The mirror will create a seed of pride and interest in your fish, giving them an illusionary thought that more fish are on the other side. It will make them exercise and lower their boredom.
Nonetheless, I mentioned that it is a temporary fish toy for a reason. You should not keep it in the aquarium permanently. It will give them additional pressure, having them think of the other fish as threats. In that case, it will cause them to stress instead of getting energized.
You can fasten the mirror to a string to remove it when playtime is over. Repeat the drill once in a while to let your fish play.
You can use either live or artificial plants. They both come with their advantages.
The first one will produce oxygen for your fish. They can play with the fake ones, hide under them, or nip them. If you bring artificial plants, see that they are free of cutting edges to ensure safety for your pets.
What Are Some Popular Fish Toys To Buy?
Bridges And Tubes
Fish usually like darting through objects, particularly if they enjoy chasing. Placing floating tubes will enable them to play around the water’s surface and make it more fun.
You can push a ping pong ball across the tank water into a goal. Once the fish get it, they will follow the drill and play the game.
You can prepare the setting to be more challenging by introducing floating plants. Give your fish a heavier ball if they prefer playing in the lower region.
A Water Wheel
Many pet stores have plastic wheels of appropriate sizes. Fish love turning them and putting stones and rocks on them. Some wheels turn themselves automatically, becoming more appealing to curious fish.
Stakes And Ladders
Simple accessories like stakes and ladders are a profound way to amuse fish, allowing them to play by weaving inside and out.
How To Buy Toys For Aquarium Fish?
Step 1: Looking For Signs
Observe your fish and look for symptoms of stress, loneliness, and boredom. Having multiple fish does not guarantee their happiness, especially if you have different species. If they are not friendly, the problem will be more alarming.
Fish chasing and nipping each other’s fins may be under stress or bored. Similarly, a fish swimming lethargically or nonchalantly toward outside activities may feel lonely.
Step 2: Selecting Fish Toys
Finding suitable toys for your fish depends largely on its nature. So, look it up on the internet, see what it would like most, and select some. Then visit your local fish stores or online pet shops to order them.
Step 3: Prioritizing Safety
Always remember that you should put nothing in your tank with sharp edges. Sometimes plastic-molded accessories have edgy corners. Try to avoid them. But if you end up buying them, ensure their safety with a file and scissors.
Besides, do not buy metal toys. Some toys have metal components inside, which can be problematic. Note that the condition of a new toy is not your only concern. It also matters how it becomes after your fish plays with it.
Finally, steer clear of toys a fish can rip off or swallow. Also, do not put anything with holes that can trap it. When your fish are in a growing phase, be mindful of old toys. They might pose a threat over time.
Step 4: Arranging A Water Wheel Or Bubbles
Consider spending on a tank device that generates bubbles. The motion will entertain your fish for hours.
Step 5: Purchasing Useful Items
Get items not originally designed as fish toys. For example, smooth stones, huge glass beads, a vase, a flower pot, and a silk plant can excellently serve the purpose of toys. You can also get creative by thinking about the stuff a human baby would enjoy. If that works for your fish, get it.
Step 6: Shopping For Other Animals’ Toys
Look for dog and bird toys because they can entertain fish too. You will see tunnels for hamsters and mice in pet stores, which can be fun passageways for fish, helping them explore. A bird ladder is also another great option.
Step 7: Choosing Colors And Shapes
It is better to go for toys in bright colors. They will create more curiosity for the fish. However, the textures and shapes matter, too; for instance, some fish like miniature balls. Some might prefer tiny objects near the surface because they like being close to the upper area.
In conclusion, fish enjoy interacting with objects, just like other animals. Toys can be a great source of enrichment and entertainment for them. You can make them or buy them from pet stores.
Sometimes they may seem confused about engaging themselves. Try offering them tiny chunks of food after participating and playing successfully. They will eventually learn to enjoy them soon.
Lastly, remember to select lightweight, tank-safe, and easygoing toys for your fish. They will help you keep them thriving and healthy while allowing you to spend time and bond with them.