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Betta Fish
(Betta slendens)

betta, fish, splendens, Siamese, fighting

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Betta Fish or Betta Splendens are members of the family Osphronemidae.  This family also includes another very popular freshwater tropical aquarium fish, the gourami. Betta Splendens are endemic to Tailand.

See the Betta Fish Secrets Care and Breeding Guide.

The Betta earned the nickname “Siamese fighting fish” because of their highly territorial nature toward other male members of their species. Two male betta fish will fight each other, very often to the death, when placed in the same tank together. Males will even flare their gills (in order to make him look bigger and more menacing) at their own reflection.

Male bettas have been known to have trouble getting along with anglefish, gouramis, and fancy guppies (especially the colorful males). Male bettas are vulnerable to fin nippers such as tetras and barbs. You might want to keep all this in mind when deciding whether to purchase one to add to your community fish tank.

The Betta fish is indigenous to Thailand. They were first domesticated in 1893 for combat where wagers were made on the outcome of the fight. It wasn't until the 1920s when aquarists began keeping them in home aquariums.

Interestingly enough, wild bettas do not have the brilliant colors of those you see in pet stores. In their natural environment betta fish are predominantly reddish-brown. The vibrant colors and billowing fins of the commercially sold male bettas are the result of selective breeding.

Female bettas, do not possess the exaggerated color palate or decorative fins of their male counterparts. It is these distinct differences that make it more difficult to find female bettas for sale in department stores. They are, however, readily available in most pet and aquarium stores for breeding purposes.

Ever wonder why you always see male bettas for sale in little fish bowls? Contrary to popular belief, it is not strictly because of their territorial nature. Betta fish are a member of the Belontiidae family. All belontiidae possess what is known as a labyrinth organ. This organ allows them to breathe atmospheric oxygen. While bettas do have gills and take in dissolved oxygen, they need both in order to survive. You will see betta fish frequently rise to the top of your aquarium to gulp in air. Given this need for both atmospheric and dissolved oxygen, bettas do not deplete the oxygen levels in water at the rate of other fish. This is why they can live in non-aerated fish bowls.

Given the male betta’s territorial instincts, it is best to have at least two females in the tank with them if you plan on attempting to breed bettas. Make sure to provide the females with plenty of places to hide from the male. It is best to keep the females in a separate tank when they are not spawning. The females do not share the male’s aggressive behavior. They can be kept in the same tank or bowl together without worry.

Bettas are carnivores. They will eat tropical fish flakes, tubifex worms, bloodworms, and small crustaceans like brine shrimp. They will also eat thawed frozen fish food. Many aquarium shops sale fish food specially formulated for the betta fish.

Bettas can survive in a fish bowl. But they are better suited to heated aquarium. They do best in neutral water (pH of 7.0) with a water temperature between 77-83 degrees Fahrenheit.

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