Betta Fish Flaring Gills (Explained)

If you enjoy observing your Betta you may notice your Betta fish flaring gills at you. The sight may look interesting because it appears bigger but then you start wondering what it means and is this a coon behavior. 

In most cases, you can notice your Betta flaring gills which show a sign of intimidation and dominance and you can notice it every day. But as long as it doesn’t last longer than a minute or two it is considered normal. If it becomes long and frequent then it is a sure sign that your Betta is stressed and you need to do something.

Why Is My Betta Flaring Its Gills?

Betta Fish Flaring Gills

Flaring gills is like their body language, something that you as an owner need to decode. We are going to reveal possible reasons, why is your Betta sending these signs and what are the reasons for this behavior. After we provide you with all the information, you will be able to decode how your pet feels and is there anything to worry about since there are various reasons.

  • Intimidation is number one on our list and it is connected to instinctive reaction. Territorial behavior is something that is very typical for Bettas. If there is something or anything that endangers their territory you will notice your Betta puffing up to look bigger. This trick will do fine on other fish especially if they are smaller. Once a Betta grows in size and grows in size in most cases it will scare off other fish that are possible intruders. 
  • If there are no other mates inside your tank then the second reason may be the reflection. In many cases, they do not understand that what they see is their reflection on the objects or the glass of a tank.  Bettas start flaring gills at their own reflection and even you can see them attacking it. This can lead to injuries so you should take out all the objects that have a reflective surface. The other thing you can do is change the position of the lights or cover the surfaces. That way your Betta won’t be able to see its reflection, will not attack it and you will reduce the possibility of your Betta being hurt.  
  • Among the reasons that cause your Betta flaring gills the main one is stress. If anything appears as a threat your Betta starts flaring gills as a way to defend. Since this is the best it can do it will become stressed. There are cases when Bettas stop eating and even sleeping so they become more stressed. The immune system is then under attack and it weakens. As the immune system no longer provides appropriate protection your Betta becomes exposed to diseases. The chain reaction connected to stress can harm your pet`s health significantly. In this situation, you need to eliminate everything that causes stress to your pet or you will be dealing with severe consequences. Your Betta pet can be stressed if your tank is overcrowded and it doesn’t have enough room to swim. If the arrangement of the tank doesn’t provide Betta with enough free space it will be stressed so be careful to always leave enough free space for swimming but also have enough hiding places. 
  • Flaring gills may be the result of mating behavior. When a male wants to present itself to a female it performs flaring gills. When the female accepts the male, it will establish dominance and stop flaring. On the other hand, if the flaring doesn’t stop then a female rejects the male and you need to separate them. 
  • Bettas tend to show their aggression to other tank mates by flaring gills. This can be a signal of Betta getting ready to attack. In this situation, you need to separate tank mates using a divider or use another tank. 
  • There are cases when Bettas just flare their fins without extending them. These are signals that Betta is happy or excited. It might be just playing so let it be. 

Is Betta Flaring Healthy Or Not?

If you notice or Betta flares occasionally you can consider it as exercise and workout. This is not an alarm for you and you can use that situation to inspect Betta’s fins which you cannot see in full size otherwise. On the other hand, if it becomes often or constant that it is considered very stressful for your Betta. In this situation, you need to react instantly. The stress caused by constant flaring will weaken the immune system and lead to illness. You should observe to identify the cause and eliminate it. Only relaxed and happy Betta are healthy.

How To Stop A Betta Flaring Too Much?

If your Betta flares too much you need to do something to stop it or it will lead to a health problem. If the case is another tank mate you should move the other fish to a different tank. Moving your Betta means change of the environment and another cause of stress can arise so to avoid additional stress it is better to move your Betta in the known surrounding and move the other mate elsewhere. If you do not take certain steps your Betta will get ill or even die out of stress. 

Most fish do not flare so they will not understand Bettas flaring as a threat. Until they get attached, they won’t react to flaring as something that will endanger them. They can be chased, bitten and hurt so once you notice flaring you need to identify the cause and take measures to stop it. 

Final Thoughts 

We have told you everything you need to know about Betta fish flaring gills. To sum up, in most situations flaring refers to an act of dominance and shows intimidation. There are other cases that show different things and the causes are quite different. It is not dangerous if Bettas show this behavior from time to time and not longer than a minute or two. If it appears longer it will lead to stress, stress will weaken the immune system and your Betta pet will be exposed to diseases, could get ill and even die. What you need to do is to observe your Betta pet every day and if you notice any of the signs that we mentioned, take measures to stop them and ensure your Betta healthy environment without stress.

Leave a Comment