Siamese fighting fish species profile for the betta

Betta fish with vibrant blue-purple and black scales swimming

One of the most well-known fish breeds is the betta fish, sometimes known as the Siamese fish. Betta fish are a wonderful addition to any fish lover's household with their jewel-toned coloration and flowing fins. Only the male betta fish engage in combat. Betta females can be housed in groups. Bettas should not be kept in a fish tank, despite the way they are frequently sold. Bettas thrive in soft, warm water with a pH range of neutral to slightly acidic.

Species Overview

Common Names: Betta, siamese fighting fish

Scientific Name: Betta splendens

Adult Size: 3 inches (7 cm)

Life Expectancy: 2 to 3 years

Characteristics

Family Belontiidae
Origin Cambodia, Thailand
Social Males cannot be kept together
Tank Level All
Minimum Tank Size 2 gallon
Diet Live foods preferred, will eat flakes and frozen foods
Breeding Egglayer (bubble nest)
Care Easy to Intermediate
pH 6.8 to 7.4
Water Hardness Up to 20 dGH
Temperature 75 to 86 F (24 to 30 C)
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Origin and Distribution

The shallow waters of Thailand (previously known as Siam, thus the name), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and portions of China are where bettas first appeared. Bettas may be found in the rice fields, ponds, slow-moving streams, and wetlands that are located in these places. In many places today, bettas have been introduced, resulting in the emergence of populations that are not native to those places.

The tradition of orchestrated bouts between males, which is similar to cockfights, led to the creation of the popular name "Siamese fighting fish." These games are still played today, supported by gambling revenue. To ensure better battles, some cultures purposely breed males for violence.

Colors and Markings

The male betta is among the most well-known aquarium fish due to its vivid colour and long, flowing fins. Females often have significantly shorter fins and less intense coloring. This species typically lacks vivid color in the wild.

The vast spectrum of hues produced by captive breeding efforts, however, includes white, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, green, turquoise, brown, and black. The colors shown range from solid tones to those with various fin and body tones to patterned hues. Selective breeding has also affected the sorts of fins. Crown tails, deltas, fans, half moons, lyre, and split tails, to mention a few, have joined veil tails in popularity.

The bodies of both sexes are torpedo-shaped, and the mouths are inclined upward to allow for surface feeding. Females are somewhat smaller than males when they reach adulthood, measuring between two and three inches. This species is special because it has a labyrinth organ that allows it to absorb oxygen from the air rather than from the water, enabling it to thrive in low-oxygen pools.

Tankmates

Males cannot be kept together in a tank without dividers. In most cases, it is possible to keep many females together without any issues, and you may also add one male to the mix. As long as they are little and don't nibble on fins like tiger barbs, they may be maintained with other peaceful fish species.

Warning

Male bettas should not be kept with other fish that have similar body types and long fins, as they could mistake them for rivals.

Betta Habitat and Care

One of the most well-known, colorful, and frequently contentious species in the hobby of keeping freshwater aquariums is the betta. The appropriateness of keeping them in little bowls is a topic of intense debate. It is crucial to become familiar with their natural environment, where they reside in vast rice paddies, small ponds, and even extremely slow-moving streams, in order to properly comprehend their demands. The water temperature is frequently disregarded, despite the fact that many fish keepers are aware that bettas are native to shallow waters.

The betta's native lands are tropical, thus the water there is often warm, reaching the 80s. Bettas prefer warm water, and when it drops below 75 degrees F, they start to feel drowsy. The primary reason against keeping a betta in a small bowl—water temperature—is that it is difficult to manage the temperature.

Bettas thrive in environments with little dissolved oxygen, however this does not imply that they need less oxygen than other fish. Bettas have a unique breathing system that enables them to inhale air straight from the ground. In reality, they are forced to do so by nature. Even though the water in the studies when the labyrinth organ was removed was saturated with oxygen, the fish nevertheless suffocated to death. Bettas must have access to the water's surface in order to breathe air straight from the atmosphere for this reason.

For bettas to be healthy, the water should be soft, warm, and have a pH balance that is neutral to slightly acidic. Powerheads and filters should not be used since there should be as little water movement as possible. As long as the water requirements are maintained and there are no aggressive or fin-nipping fish present, bettas may be kept in a communal tank. However, unless they are kept apart by a barrier, only one male may be kept in each tank.

If you want to maintain more than one betta in the same tank or if you have other fish that could bite at their fins, you should utilize plastic boxes that dangle inside the aquarium. Females may be kept together in the same open area without fear of conflict because they rarely fight.

Diet and Feeding

Bettas live nearly entirely off of insects and insect larvae in the wild. They are designed with an upward-facing mouth that makes it easy for them to snare any unfortunate bug that could fall into the water. They have a significantly shorter alimentary tract than vegetarian fish, which indicates that their internal digestive system is designed for meat. Because of this, are the best type of diet for bettas, however they can also tolerate flake, frozen, or freeze-dried meals.

Excellent alternatives that may be found frozen or freeze-dried include brine shrimp, Daphnia, plankton, tubifex, glassworms, and beef heart. If flakes of food are provided, they should be combined with frozen, freeze-dried, and, ideally, live meals.

Gender Differences

Males often have longer, more voluminous fins and more bright coloring. They are also bigger overall than the females and have a more noticeable "beard" (behind the gill covers). When preparing to mate, females with short fins will exhibit vertical stripes and an egg spot.

Breeding the Betta

Bettas are typically at least six months old when they are purchased as pets since they have a very short lifetime and are best bred when they are less than a year old. They can reproduce without a big tank or any other tools since they breed in bubble nests.

Smaller tanks are also viable, although most breeders find that a bare-bottomed tank of around ten gallons works well. Prior to reproducing, the fish should ideally be condition by being fed a diet of live meals. The pH of the water in a breeder tank should be approximately 7.0, and the temperature should be at or just over 80.

When he is ready to spawn, the male will blow an intricate bubble nest. As males may get hostile during courting, the female should be given a hiding spot. It is typical for the female to lose a few scales or have her fins frayed during spawning, even when she has a hiding area.

The pair will exhibit vivid coloring and start circling one another beneath the bubble nest when they are prepared to spawn. The guy will encircle the woman who is lying on her back. The eggs are fertilized and start to sink as she eject them. The male will spit the eggs into the nest after scooping them up. The male will now take care of the brood. It is best to get rid of the female since the male could act violently toward her while taking care of his young.

The male will keep watching over the bubble nest and will spit any eggs that fall out back into it. The eggs will hatch in one to two days, and the fry will then be seen hanging in the bubble nest with their tails pointing down. The male will continue to pick up any fry that fall out of the nest throughout the next 36 hours as they continue to feed from their yolk sack. After the fry hatch, the male should be removed within two days since he could eat the young once they can swim freely.

Baby brine shrimp or extremely fine baby food should be given to the fry several times each day. For fish that lay eggs, Tetra produces a dry mixture, and many pet stores sell frozen newborn brine shrimp. Don't overfeed the fry since the leftover food will pollute the water and rapidly kill the fish.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

If bettas appeal to you, and you are interested in some compatible fish for your aquarium, read up on:

Check out additional fish breed profiles for more information on other  fish.

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