Betta fish caring about human interaction

ap4lmtree

In another thread, it was brought up that betta fish don't care about human interaction with them. One person said that fish if not just bettas, cannot tell the difference between humans feeding them and doing something else with them. Although, I was told that there are scientific articles of some sort, I could not find any

Other than peoples own personal experience and behavior of not interacting with their pet bettas, I do not know what supports that they don't care about human interaction with them. I think it has been reported that fish who lack human interaction with for a long period of time would get used to that type of interaction -- not interacting with their owner, then they won't care about human interaction so much. Corollarily, if humans interact with fish just to give them food, then the fish would not interact with humans except in wanting food.

It is lots of weight put on fish for them to be the ones to originally initiate or develop behavior, such as not food begging, instead of human interaction teaching and developing it by interacting with them to give them different behavior. Rather, absent of humans teaching them different behavior, it is more difficult for fish to develop it on their own or initially knowing how to do so.

From my personal experience, my bettas that I have interacted with since adopting, always bark at me. When I say bark, I mean they make a barking motion with their mouth without audible sound. It appears they are happy to be around me when they do so.

Here is one of my bettas bark at least one time. She constantly swims near the front of the tank always wanting attention from me. I spend 12 hours a day with her on my desk although I interact with her less than 30 minutes a day, she always sees me for a whole 12 hours. She is in a 2.5g on my desk where I spend 12 hours or more a day there. However, bettas that have not been on my desk nor seen me most of the day, don't bark nor want as much attention from me as much those that have been on my desk.

 

david1978

I have never had a betta by itself but my betta community really don't interact with me. They come to the surface when I splash the water to signal feeding time but that's about it. No finger chasing or even interaction with a mirror. About the only fish that I have had that interacted with people was my Oscar. I think it was more of a feed me thing then companionship thing. It may be the difference in keeping a fish alone vs together.
 

Fanatic

I do indeed believe that any of my bettas have had some sort of social attraction towards me whenever I am near the tank or doing physical work in the aquarium.

Most keepers see this as the fish showing affection, but it's only a mere act of begging for food, as fish really don't have a loving heart to attach themselves to the person maintaining them and their tank. They are very intelligent too, probably one of the smartest fish that I have ever owned.
 

Mr. Kgnao

When fish interact with me, I assume it's entirely Pavlovian. But the Sorites-esque question: how many orders of abstraction from base physiological reflex must a behavior be before we consider it 'higher-order', seems to me to fall along the lines of the old philosophical standby (props to Wittgenstein), 'Is the beautiful the same as the good?'; it's mostly a question of terminology masquerading as something of deeper predicable importance. I mean, I used to be in a band, setting lyric poetry to music, an act viewed across cultures and millennia as possessed of noble, creative brilliance separating man from beast, but mostly I was just interested in the ladies.

If you feel your fish are interacting with you on a deeper level then, to butcher Goethe, rejoice, in that lovely, warm sense, before Lethe's cold wave wets your fleeing foot, or we wander to far with our cynical circumspection, and don't like what we learn about ourselves.

On a somewhat related note, everybody should see Roy Andersson's You, the Living.
 

aquafrogg

I do not feel like bettas need interaction with their owners in order to thrive. They simply aren’t capable of feeling anything besides their instincts of fight, flight, hunger, pain, and the desire to mate. They associate you with their hunger, so if they are “interacting” with you then it is simply to beg for food. Mentally stimulating, maybe, but not interacting in the way you think. To think of it as anything more than that would feel nice in your brain but simply would be incorrect and anthropomorphization of a creature that simply is not capable of anything past instincts. I love a good debate though, and am eager to hear what you have to say.
 

CrazedHoosier

I don’t think we can say for sure how certain animals feel about, well, anything really. We simply can’t read minds. We can assume what certain animals want by how they live in nature, and can guess what their capabilities are based on brain to body ratio, but we still can’t know what they’re thinking or feeling. Not all animals give off dopamine or other chemicals like that, so it’s hard for us to even begin to understand the feelings of non-mammalian animals. It’s also hard to guage intelligence, as it is very relative. To us, walking on land and getting an apple off a tree to survive, is smart; to a betta, holding your breath for an extended period of time while a predator is at the surface of your territory, is smart. Some people say college-educated people are automatically smart, but it’s obvious there are some very stupid college graduates out there.

I think it’s fine to believe our non-mammalian friends can feel emotions and in some way love us, but at the same time, it’s important not to push our human emotions on them. Kinda like the big “my betta seems lonely” debate. We as a social animal look at bettas and assume they’re lonely, but they probably aren’t.

I think that’s part of the beauty of having pets like reptiles and fish, though. There is so much mystery in them.

Anyway, that was a bit of a long rant, but I like these questions.
 

ap4lmtree

I spend 10+ hours 7 days a week with one of my bettas on my desk. She hardly begs me even 4 hours a day for food. She often just watches me all day. If you spend 5 minutes or less at a time with a betta or any fish throughout the day, then it is unlikely your betta or any fish would have a similar bond from the fish with you as mine does.

This is in addition to my criticism that it makes sense that betta or any fish would only beg pet keepers for food when that is the main if not only thing pet keepers do to the fish, give food. Rather, it is reflective behavior of what the pet keeper brings and puts on the fish that the fish does and learns to do the same in return.

My bettas that are in other areas, not on my desk, don't really have a bond from the betta with me as much as that one.

For scientific or scholarly reports, it would require field study rather than laboratory study to study if bettas bond with anything, or the study would fail external validity.

I was shocked that the people on here expect betta or any fish to develop, know and understand things like bonding on their own without the pet keeper developing it in them.

I guess those people skeptical of bettas having a conscious are also skeptical of other animals, let alone insects, having a conscious.

Blanket dismissive anthropomorphism criticism for any animal, let alone just bettas, likely is similarly sourced with views that humans are beyond much of animal nature. Rather, with this line of thought, humans are rational based rather than largely irrational beings. However, this view is in fallacy, humans are largely irrational beings and very much animalistic.
 

aquafrogg

I spend 10+ hours 7 days a week with one of my bettas on my desk. She hardly begs me 10 hours for food. She often watches me all day. If you spend 5 minutes or less at a time with a betta or any fish throughout the day, then it is unlikely your betta or any fish would have a similar bond from the fish with you as mine does.

This is in addition to my criticism that it makes sense that betta or any fish would only beg pet keepers for food when that is the main if not only thing pet keepers do to the fish, give food. Rather, it is reflective behavior of what the pet keeper brings and puts on the fish that the fish does and learns to do the same in return.

My bettas that are in other areas, not on my desk, don't really have a bond from the betta with me as much as that one.

For scientific or scholarly reports, it would require field study rather than laboratory study to study if bettas bond with anything or fail external validity.

I was shocked that the people on here expect betta or any fish to develop, know and understand things like bonding on their own without the pet keeper developing it in them.

I guess those people skeptical of bettas having a conscious are also skeptical of other animals, let alone insects, having a conscious.

Blanket dismissive anthropomorphism in any animal, let alone just bettas, likely is similarly sourced with views that humans are beyond much of animal nature. Rather, with this line of thought, humans are rational based rather than largely irrational beings. However, this view is in fallacy, humans are largely irrational.
I do spend a lot of time with my betta, though. I spend overall at least 20-30 minutes a day watching and trying to get him to follow my finger and stuff. He gets excited because he thinks I am going to feed him and swims to the top to wait for food. Or he flares if I have my phone out because he is smart and has learned that my phone means he needs to flare so he can get a treat. It's all food-based. It is what he associates me with, even though I do spend time trying to get him to interact with me otherwise.
 

kallililly1973

All 3 of the bettas i've had over the past close to 3 years have interacted with me when I sit in front of the tank weather they flail their fins or flare or cruise around in circles or sit there begging for food I find it to be an absolute human/fish interaction and I also think their very grateful that we took them in to live a better life than in a cup so they are showing their appreciation to us. That's my story and i'm sticking to it.
 

aquafrogg

All 3 of the bettas i've had over the past close to 3 years have interacted with me when I sit in front of the tank weather they flail their fins or flare or cruise around in circles or sit there begging for food I find it to be an absolute human/fish interaction and I also think their very grateful that we took them in to live a better life than in a cup so they are showing their appreciation to us. That's my story and i'm sticking to it.
I understand where you are coming from but that is anthropomorphization of a fish which is incapable of feeling appreciative. But if that is what you believe and helps you enjoy your fish a little more, then that’s okay.
 

ap4lmtree

I understand where you are coming from but that is anthropomorphization of a fish which is incapable of feeling appreciative. But if that is what you believe and helps you enjoy your fish a little more, then that’s okay.

It isn't anthropomorphization. People on here have been just giving blanket dismissive rhetoric that things are anthropomorphic. There isn't enough studies to say it one way or another.

Based on personal experience, he gave support for his conclusion that it isn't anthropomorphism.

The conclusions that say it is anthropomorphism in here or that fish act only on instinct, or want food, are highly lacking in time experiences with fish for support of that contrary conclusion.
 

CrazedHoosier

It isn't anthropomorphization. People on here have been just giving blanket dismissive rhetoric that things are anthropomorphic. There isn't enough studies to say it one way or another.

Based on personal experience, he gave support for his conclusion that it isn't anthropomorphism.

The conclusions that say it is anthropomorphism in here or that fish act only on instinct, or want food, are highly lacking in time experiences with fish for support of that contrary conclusion.

I agree! We can’t say absolutely how any animal, even dogs, feel.

If you believe an animal only runs on instinct and doesn’t express emotion, that is purely your opinion. Science does not back either side, as almost all evidence is inconclusive.

There isn’t even scientific evidence that shows the brain to body size ratio equals higher intelligence. Especially in animals such as fish, as they’re some of the most evolved animals on earth. They could quite possibly be more efficient with their smaller brains. It’s all just idle speculation.

Anyway, this is sort of a dumb argument to get heated about. Why does it matter if someone feels like they are best friends with their betta? Why does it matter if you feel your betta doesn’t care about you at all? As long as you’re taking good care of them, it’s fine. We should respect other people’s opinions on a topic this light.
 

kallililly1973

I still stick to my story that my fish interact with me not only bettas... I can tap my nails on the top rI'm and they all fly to the top and I can also point at my Gourami and his fellers will rise up as if to see how far away I am from him... like above stated what’s it matter as long as they and you are happy then everything is all good
 

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