Betta Fish: Characteristics, types, care and more…

Betta fish (Betta Splendens) also known as Siamese fighting fish are probably the most sought after fish in the aquarium world. Don’t miss this great opportunity to know everything about them.

Native to Southeast Asia (mainly Thailand and Cambodia) bettas are freshwater fish belonging to the labyrinth family.  Their name comes from a clan of ancient warriors who were known by the name of Bettah. 

 This is because they can become very violent among them (especially males), hence one of their nicknames is ‘Siam fighter’.

For this reason, it is important to know the care and recommendations about this species before adding it to our aquarium.


Animalia Kingdom Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciforms Family: Osphronemidae Gender: Betta Species: B. splendens


The Betta Fish’ Main Characteristics

Like 95% of fish, the betta fish’ body is coated with scales as well as a thin «adipose film» that protects them from external elements. Their fins hold them straight and provide power, speed and direction for swimming. To stay in certain positions, they use a swim bladder located at the back of the head and extends about a third of the body.

However, the Betta Splendens’ most characteristic organ in undoubtedly the so-called «labyrinth which is an auxiliary respiratory organ located above the gills and made-up of many very fine sheets with a lot of blood supply and through which they can take Oxygen.

With the help of this organ they come to the surface every few minutes to breathe atmospheric air from which they extract the necessary oxygen for proper blood flow.

Another significant feature is that of the palate and smell. Betta fish can «smell» food from a certain distance. A sensitive-receptor sense along with the palate organ allows them to «analyze» dark areas (mud, suspended sand, algae) to detect food in them.

Yet, the Betta fish’ most interesting and characteristic trait, comes from their striking fins and incredible colors that depend on each individual. Later we will give a detailed description of each species of this dazzling family.

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How to Feed Betta Fish?

Bettas are carnivores. Therefore, any live derivative will be appreciated by the fish. In their natural habitat their main intake is composed of mosquito larvae. You can also give them small red garden worms, tubifex, artemia, etc...

Another option is to give them finely minced meat. Bettas have teeth, so you won’t have any problems. They agree to supplement their menu with dry foods including flakes but should not be the main thing in their diet.

The Betta Fish’ Characteristic Behavior

Betta Splendens are very aggressive and territorial fish. Their aggressive responses can be observed by exposing them to their own reflection in a mirror outside the aquarium.

Males fight violently with each other until one of them surrenders and hides or even fight until the death of one of them.  For this reason it isn’t advisable to have two males in the same aquarium.

After a ritual dance in which the two males swim together, open the operculum and unfold their tails, if neither of them withdraws, they will launch themselves against their adversary by tearing the fins and causing severely important wounds that usually weaken the fish and leads to the death due to diseases.

betta Fish: male halfmoon betta fishThere have also been cases that a male detects that the opponent is much stronger and decides to surrender, in this case the expired Betta, will fade by immediately showing the stress lines, and quickly search for a hiding place, avoiding the fight.

Females are also territorial, but less violent and struggle to maintain their hierarchy. However in their case such fights consist only in bites and a spectacular dance very similar than the ones that males perform before the definitive attack.

Due to their hierarchical behavior females should never live together in pairs. Although male bettas are very territorial and aggressive with males of their own species, they are quite peaceful to live in community aquariums and can be placed with other quiet fish in the aquarium. Females often live seamlessly in community aquariums.

here they are


The Betta Fish’ Habitat

Betta splendens are native to Southeast Asia. Contrary to the popular belief that they could only be found in Siam, they can be found in much wider territory. Thus, today their geographical location also extends to Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos.

These fish became world famous due to the struggles they engage with other males of the same species. They are currently used in Asia to organize fights where a lot of money is waged.

How Do Betta Fish Reproduce?

Betta Fish are Oviparous creatures whose reproduction is one of the most famous, as well as exciting and easy to get in an aquarium. The reproductive act begins when the male betta fish performs a courtship ritual for the female, enlarging his fins as a smug attitude.

If the female is interested, she will darken her skin and vertically straight stripes will be observed. Then the male places his fins as if they were arms around the female and thus begins fertilization.

The female lays her eggs, retreats and it is the male who undertakes the surveillance. The female withdraws as the male may become somewhat aggressive.

Before reproduction Betta fish build a nest with bubbles of different sizes and thickness. If we decide to have betta fish in our homes, it is necessary that the couple know each other in advance; otherwise it is very likely that the male will attack the female.

To avoid this we can split the fish tank in two with a transparent sheet so that both can be visualized without contact; after they meet, they can be put together.


Depending on the temperature the fry will take 24 to 72 hours to hatch and can barely swim (only vertically, to return to the nest when they fall off). Such a situation keeps the male very busy, since during this time there will be a lot of fingerlings that fall and the male has to keep returning them to the nest until they have  completely absorbed their yolk sac.

It’s worth mentioning that good results have been observed feeding  the male normally throughout this process. At 3 or 4 days, the fry start to fend off and swim on their own. 

Then the male must be removed from the aquarium so that he does not become a threat to them, since his paternal instinct will disappear and try to eat the fingerlings he cared for so much.

It is also recommended to oxygenate the water by means of an aerating stone (since they do not yet possess the labyrinth formed), since the bubbles when breaking on the surface make a film similar to a cream, which prevents the exchange of gases with water. The water level should be lowered to about 5 cm. for such a process.

The fry’s development is very fast and water needs to be renewed frequently. In this state, minnows need a lot of food based on microorganisms.

At around two weeks, the fry will begin to develop the accessory breathing organ (The Labyrinth, an organ that allows them to take atmospheric air). This takes about five days and is the most critical period since many frys die. You should cover the aquarium and do not open it much because if the air and water temperature is different and if there are cold air currents on the water’s surface, the young will die.

A common average is that less than 10% of the scrub reaches maturity and most are lost at this stage. If the young fish were able to overcome it, they will surely develop smoothly.

After one month you should increase the water’s level slowly, at a rate of one centimeter per day. At three months, when males and females differ, each male must be separated into an individual aquarium to avoid fights between them (they can be aquariums of about 4 liters or better even 10 liters aquariums).

They can be reproduced at 5 weeks of age but it is advisable to wait for them to be 5 or 6 months old.

Feeding the Fry

The moment they swim freely, it is necessary to give them infusions and/or newborn artemy. Infusions for the initial feeding of the Bettas can be easily obtained by placing macerated lettuce leaves in water or dried banana peel.

It is important that you have several infusions of this type initiated on different days. Avoid excess sun so as not to form many algae. Some spoons of this water should be added to the frys’ aquarium every day, between the second and tenth day after hatching.

On the seventh day, start feeding with newborn artemia. Once they have reached two weeks, they can be tried with very fine minced meat or chicken liver, until they accept another kind of food, which should happen from 30 days.

The Aquarium

A small aquarium of 20 liters would be ok for reproducing betta fish.  The bottom must be smooth, without decoration or stones but with some plants that will serve for two things: the first to help reinforce the bubbles’ nest and the second so that the female can use them as shelter during the males’ attack.

The reason that there should be no stones  in the bottom is so that the male can more easily find the eggs at the bottom of the aquarium, since they have a somewhat sandy color; this will make the male much more successful.

The water should not exceed 15 cm deep and the temperature should be between 26º C and 28ºC, with a Ph of 6.8 to 7, and hardness up to 8 dH.

It’s important that the aquarium is totally covered with a glass lid, so that the water and air temperature are as similar as possible, and it is recommended that it have a glass division.

It’s   also highly recommended to use low-powerful filtration and aeration, with surface without much agitation, as the betta fish’ natural habitat is usually very quiet. It’s also important that the presence of nitrites is low (less than 15 ppm) or we will fail in breeding.

Parents’ Choice and Preparation

You should choose a mature pair of Bettas, this is 4 to 6 months old and they should be fed very well in their usual aquarium. The male will have to be selected according to its external traits: size, colors, activity, health, etc…

Adult females will be suitable for mating, which occurs when they have a well-rounded and bulky belly, with a protruding white dot in the anal region and vertical stripes contrasting with the body’s color.

Plants for Reproduction:

They are necessary more than anything, to provide the female with a hiding place. Sometimes, the courtship is not too «gallant» and the male can hurt the female.

Fanwort- and species of Limnophila aromatica are useful for such a purpose which in addition to providing hiding places, are suitable for the male to build the nest. plant them densely in the two back corners of the aquarium

Bettas are carnivores. Therefore, any live derivative will be appreciated by the fish. In its habitat its main intake is composed of mosquito larvae.

You can also give them small red garden worms, tubifex, artemia, etc… Another option is to give them finely minced meat. The Betta has teeth, so you won’t have any problems. They agree to supplement their menu with dry foods.

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Types of Betta Fish.

Let’s learn about the main members of this family

Veil Tail Betta Fish

The veil tail betta or VT is the most common type of tail within this family. This is a species with a long and fluid tail that tends to fall off the caudal peduncle.

The anal and dorsal fins are also long and fluid. Veil tails have an asymmetrical tail, which hangs constantly even when it widens.

We invite you to read our article veiltail fish to learn more about this topic

Crown Tail (CT)  «Betta King» or «CT»

This variety of the Betta Splendens is very showy and beautiful. They are named because of its radii which protrude from the caudal fin resembling a crown.

The crown variety can also have different styles as the raddi can be: single, double, triple, quadruple, crossed or random.

From this genotype some more were developed with some defects, for example the comb tail.

Delta (D) & Super Delta (SD)

This variety is also very showy because of the shape of its fin. The caudal fin opens in the form of a river delta. The division of the radii in both Delta and Superdelta variety bettas can be 4 or 6.

What differentiates from each other will be the caudal fin’s degree of amplitude. Delta up to 130º (according to others, up to 120º or 150º), and superdelta 150 until 180º.

«Double Tail», «Double Tail», «DT»

The prefix «DT» is used for the double tail, so don’t confuse it with the delta «D». So named because the caudal fin is split in two in such a way, that it appears to have two caudal fins.

A characteristic of this variety is that the dorsal fin is always relatively larger than the other varieties. Although there are some fish that are born without this weird trait.

Plakat (PK) «PK»

The plakat variety is said to be the betta splendens’ original wild variety, although its original colors were mostly dark. nowadays there are many varieties of colors that make them more colorful.

Although the plakat variety is wild, it’s  one of the most expensive bettas that exist on the market, since in many places bettas are used for fights such as typical cockfights, since the short length of their fins allows them to move more quickly and be attacked as possible.

It’s   also considered the strongest and more resistant betta fish’s species. In many cases it is difficult to differentiate males from females of the same variety.

To differentiate well a Plakat male from a female, whether Plakat or another variety we can look at several points.

1st – Mouth: Plakat males like any male of another variety will have the mouth more facing up and the lips thicker than females.

2nd – The pelvic or ventral fins, are longer and wider than those of females.

3rd – Finally the anal fin has to surpass the caudal one.

Half Moon Tail «HalfMoon»,

There are many who think that this is the most beautiful variety of bettas, and that is that their fins have a wonderful splendor.

The caudal fin’s radii are divided into eight. They are called half-moon because the caudal fin resembles a moon split in half.

The half-moon must have 180 degrees of opening in their caudal fin to be regarded as so.  In addition to this, in order for it to become totally perfect, the symmetry between the fins, caudal, dorsal and anal must form a perfect circle from the fish’s mouth.

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Types of Betta Fish by Pattern

Solid pattern

This species only has one solid color from front to back. Solid colored Betta fish are often bright red or orange, although blue, white, or even black can be found

Bi-Colored Pattern

This pattern variation is also known as Cambodian. This species has a pale or almost colorless body when compared to the tail and fins which are solid in color.

Butterfly pattern

This coloration pattern consists of a body that is solid in color and extends outwards to the fins. Sometime the body can be one color, with the inside of the fins being another. Once the color stops, the rest of the fins will be either white or transparent.

Marble Pattern

This is a neat type of pattern since it looks marbled and can consist of various colors on both the body and fins. There is also the fact that the coloration may change with age.

Mask pattern

This species has a paler face in comparison to the rest of the body.

Dragon pattern

This pattern has been created through selective breeding. There is often a very strong and rich base color with the scales on the main part of the body being a pale iridescent color. The base color is usually red, and the scales often copper in color. We invite you to read our article dragon betta fish to learn more about this awesome species

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