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Aggressive behavior: Going head to head with a betta.Featured science projectScience project video


The behaviors of organisms will be repeated if such behavior results in a positive outcome. When behavior does not result in a positive outcome, such behavior will diminish. The male betta fish displays a certain behavior of warning other males to stay away. This science fair project will allow you to observe what happens when the betta's "warning" behavior stops working, which can be caused by extinction or habituation.


Understanding habituation and extinction of aggressive behavior.

Scientific Terms

Betta, Habituation, Extinction


Bettas are very territorial fish. Also known as Siamese fighting fish, males have elaborate display behaviors that they use against other male bettas. The display behavior serves as a warning to other fish. If displaying does not work, bettas will attack an intruding fish. This territorial behavior has endured in this species because it has proven to be an effective deterrent. But what happens if a behavior does not yield the expected results? When a behavior is not reinforced by a positive outcome, the behavior will diminish with time. This is called extinction. Habituation is when an organism gets accustomed to a stimulus and no longer responds to it. You may get irritated by something at the beginning, only to get use to it with the passage of time. You will observe how the displayed behavior of the betta fish is affected by both extinction and habituation. View the following resources for specific information on betta display behavior and care.

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