Do Betta Fish Have Tongues? {Can They Lick Things}

Betta fish have quite a few distinguishing physical characteristics, including their beautiful flowing fins and dopey, expressive faces. We can see all of this by just looking at our fish, but what about their less obvious features?

Do betta fish have tongues?

Yes, betta fish have tongues, but they aren’t the same type of tongues that humans have. Instead, a betta fish has a bony tongue that is used to prevent them from swallowing food that is too big, and for protecting other parts of the mouth and the structures within.

Let’s look a little deeper into if betta fish have tongues and what they can do with them!

It’s almost a given that animals like mammals and birds have tongues, mostly because we can see them! Fish, bettas included, on the other hand, are harder to get a good look at since they aren’t exactly a cuddly pet.

Do Betta Fish Have Tongues

If you’re wondering if your betta has a tongue, the answer is yes! Betta fish have tongues, and while they can’t taste with them or move them like we humans can with our tongues, the betta’s tongue still serves a purpose.

A betta can use its tongue to:

  • Prevent swallowing things that are too large and could cause choking
  • Helps to protect the gills and the ventral aorta, which is the aorta that provides blood to the gills, from being harmed by hard or spiky food

Do Betta Fish Stick Their Tongue Out?

No, betta fish don’t stick their tongues out. A bettas tongue is a bony organ and it can only move minuscule amounts in an up and down motion.

Unlike humans and other animals, betta fish don’t use their tongues as an aid for chewing. As a rule, fish don’t actually chew their food; instead, they swallow it whole.

Because of this, it isn’t necessary for the betta’s tongue to move enough to be stuck out of the mouth.

If you see something sticking out of your betta’s mouth, it isn’t likely to be their tongue.

Some fungal infections show up as fuzzy mold sticking out of the mouth. Alternatively, if a betta has a piece of food stuck in its mouth that it can’t swallow, it can also hang out of its mouth.

So if something is protruding from your betta’s mouth, try to get a closer look to make sure there is nothing wrong you need to address.

Can Betta Fish Speak?

No, betta fish can’t make audible noises, but they can hear and recognize voices.

Betta fish aren’t a talkative species and actually aren’t able to make any noise that is audible to humans.

If you want a noisy fish, the pygmy gourami, also called the sparkling gourami, is another labyrinth fish and close relative of the betta that can make a very loud “croaking” noise that is easily heard across the room from the tank.

These fish have similar behaviors to bettas and can be great additions to aquariums as unique, chatty fish.



Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.

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