- Scientific name: Betta
- Common Name: Fighting Fish
- Aquarium size: 50 liters
- Temperament: Aggressive
- Temperature: Between 22º and 30ºC
- pH: Between 6 and 8
- Diet: Omnivore
- Length: Depending on the species between 4.5 and 10 ctms.
The Betta fish, popularly known as the Siamese fighting fish, belongs to the genus Belontids , of the Osphronemidae family.
It is common that when talking about Betta fish, many people are thinking of the Betta splendens or Siamese fighting fish , when in reality the Betta fish family is huge.
Almost all Betta fish have the fighting or combatant tagline , implying the fierceness of this breed (towards their own), however and to show that not all Bettas are aggressive we have the Betta fish Imbellis, called “peaceful combatant” , it can coexist perfectly with other males in an aquarium, as long as they have enough space and females for everyone.
It is one of the most popular fish for freshwater aquariums, due to its great variety in colors, shape of its tail and fins.
This popularity reaches such a point that some “fish tanks” called betteras have become popular in the market , which of course I do not recommend using due to their small size and lack of accessories necessary to maintain water quality .
Siam fighting fish
The nickname “Siam Fighting Fish” is derived from the Thai tradition of raising fish to fight each other in organized matches, in which participants and spectators place bets on the outcome of the match.
The Betta Splendens fish, which is the true Siamese fighting fish, is the result of selective fish farming, seeking to enhance vigor and strength. It appears that the current genus is a hybrid in which Betta Imbelis, Smaragdina and Mahachaiensis were included.
Its size can vary depending on the variety of Betta fish. The smallest can measure about 4.5 centimeters, the Betta Splendens fish, which is the most popular, reaches 7 centimeters and the largest the Betta pugnax, reaches 10 centimeters.
Its body is fusiform (spindle-shaped: elongated and elliptical), as well as hydrodynamic.
How does betta fish breathe?
One of its most original morphological characteristics is its “accessory” respiratory organ, called the labyrinth . This organ allows the Betta fish to breathe atmospheric air, which is usually more developed in those species that live in environments with less oxygen.
It is normal for Bettas to come up to breathe some oxygen to the surface, but if they do it very frequently, it means that you have a lack of oxygen in the aquarium.
The coloration of Betta Splendens is the result of endless crosses and selective breeding. At the same time that more aggressive fish were sought, they also sought to make them attractive for breeding in the aquarium.
Betta fish in the wild have a coloration ranging from dull green, shades of brown, gray and red-blue, with relatively short fins.
This fish contrasts enormously with the Betta for sale, with bright colors: red, blue (Steel and Royal blue), green, purple, turquoise, black, orange, copper …
They have also been morphologically modified, with large tails and fins, which they flow dramatically in the aquarium: veil-like tail or crescent tails.
In all varieties of Betta fish, sexual dimorphism is present , which allows us to identify the male Betta fish from the female Betta fish.
Male Betta fish
Males have a more developed dorsal and anal fin than females, also their colors are much more striking and spectacular than in female Betta fish.
Their behavior also gives them away, since they are very aggressive towards each other , being impossible to have two male Betta Splendens fish in the same aquarium … one of the two would end up dead.
Female betta fish
The females have dull and uniform colors , with a completely different morphology, much simpler (tails and short fins) and less spectacular.
The character of Betta females is also much more peaceful, being able to live in groups of five individuals, without actually competing for space.
Types of Betta fish
The variety of Betta fish for sale is huge. Aquarium hobbyists rarely distinguish between different families of Bettas , they only notice the classifications that breeders make, based on the shape of their fins and tails or on their colors.
Although it is very likely that in the end you will buy your Betta fish because of its color or shape, I think it is worth knowing the different Betta families:
Classification of Betta, according to their tail or their colors
The popularity of the Bettas comes precisely from their attractive morphology, and their bright colors. It is logical, that although it is not an official classification, if it is taken into account for your knowledge:
They may be the best known of all Betta fish, the most common, and the best-selling. They have an asymmetrical tail fin, exaggeratedly long and somewhat drooping.
Some varieties are really hard to find for sale and one of them is the Swordtail Betta or Betta Spadetail.
It gets its name from the shape of its tail, ending in a point.
Betta Plakat Fish
Or Short-finned Betta fish. It is one of the most robust and strongest Betta varieties, as well as the most aggressive and active in the aquarium.
Like the famous elephant, the Betta Dumbo has large pectoral fins, similar to the large ears of the elephant in the children’s story.
Half Moon Betta variety
The Betta Half Moon variety is one of the most spectacular that can be obtained for the aquarium, since its tail fin is shaped like a half moon at an angle of 180º.
It is a variant of the Half Moon, with the difference that the tail fin is reminiscent of the petals of a rose in its shape.
The Crown Betta fish or crowntail, has a pointed and spiny tail, slightly reminiscent of “real” crowns.
Or Betta double Tail, as clearly stated, are Bettas with a forked tail fin. Within the variety we will find the males are more spectacular, with veil-like tails, while the females have a much smaller tail.
It has pectoral fins longer than normal (usually white). We can find Bettas Big Ear Dumbo, Half Moon …
Betta Delta and Super Delta
Morphologically they are very similar to the Half Moon Betta, with the difference that the tail fin does not exceed 180º.
Betta Butterfly Fish
Its most outstanding morphological characteristic is the existence of a white band that outlines all its fins.
Or with a marbled appearance, it stands out for having small specks of different colors in all its scales. The coloring possibilities are enormous.
A very popular variety (within the Marble Betta) are the Betta Koi, which are similar in coloration to Koi carp.
Distribution and habitat
Bettas are Asian beetles, originating in the Far East, from Thailand to Malaysia.
In freedom it is possible to find them in calm waters with little movement, such as rice fields, swamps, streams and ponds. These waters are often full of vegetation, mud or sand, containing little dissolved oxygen.
They have adapted to living in a wide variety of difficult situations , from ditches with stagnant water, to swampy forests, where the composition of the water is highly acidic.
One capacity they have developed to survive in such adverse conditions is to breathe air directly, through an accessory respiratory organ called the labyrinth.
It is a fairly complex organ, which varies depending on the different Betta species, being more developed in those that survive in more complicated environments.
Betta Fish Care
To breed Betta fish, it is convenient to reproduce their natural way of life, taking special care in the size of the aquarium and reproducing its habitat: plants, lighting, water quality, temperature … but you also have to pay attention to food.
If we also want to reproduce Bettas in captivity, it is necessary to know their mating rituals and the conditions in which they occur.
As a general rule, they survive well in a 50-liter aquarium, which can vary in size depending on the species and the community of fish that accompany it.
The water temperature must be kept between 22º and 30ºC, with a pH between 6 and 8, as we will be acceptable.
For a perfect adaptation, it is better that the aquarium has a good plant cover, and superficial vegetation that allows it to create its bubble nests , where they make their mating spawning.
Water currents should be avoided, as they are calm water fish. It is very important to choose a suitable filter for the aquarium, which does not disturb them.
It is advisable to keep the aquarium covered, without filling it completely, so that they can access the layer of air that forms on the surface, which should preferably be humid and warm air. Some aquarists cover the tank with cling film to create that hot, humid air.
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What do Betta fish eat?
To feed Bettas, there are dry products suitable for their diet , most of them with a high protein content based on Daphnia, Artemia or larvae, which ensure that they maintain their color.
Also you can add them to your little feeding insects such as fruit flies, it will not be easy to get.
How many times should a Betta eat?
It is recommended not to overfeed Bettas, as they have a tendency to obesity.
It is convenient to guide behaviors to feed them, with specific hours (two to three times a day) an amount appropriate to their size, removing the amount that has not been eaten in a reasonable time. In this way we keep the aquarium in the best conditions.
Behavior and compatibility
Most of the varieties of Betta fish should not be kept in a community aquarium , the demands of care and their aggressiveness discourage it.
If the size of the aquarium allows it, you can look for very peaceful species with which they can live and that live in environments similar to yours.
Betta Compatible Fish
Bettas can be matched with bottom fish as they do not compete for space and are very calm.
If we are going to have them in a community aquarium, it is convenient that the chosen species be very calm , that they do not confront them by the territory, since they would lose out.
Some of the most recommended Betta compatible fish varieties are:
Betta Fish Breeding: How to Breed Bettas
With the exception of the Betta brenderi, the Bettas usually practice mouth incubation, for which they build nests of bubbles, wrapped in salivary mucus. The bubble nests are built by males.
We must provide the aquarium with some type of cover, such as surface plants, that serve as a nesting place.
It may be a good idea to provide yourself with a breeding aquarium , where we will try to ensure that the water is not too deep, since the fry tend to fall to the bottom and if the depth is not too great, they go up to the nest without problems.
There are some considerations, such as the temperature being a little higher than in the usual aquarium, without exceeding 29ºC. Another good idea is to lower the lighting, the Orientals usually use enameled containers, to prevent the light from reaching them.
Females turn paler before spawning, with dark bars appearing on the sides. Another curiosity, the male usually wraps the female under the nest during spawning.
Once the spawning has taken place (if we have used a reproduction aquarium) we will remove the female, who will try to eat the eggs, and it will be the males who assume the responsibility of monitoring and caring for the nest.
The eggs will hatch in 24 to 48 hours. Once the fry begin to swim, the male loses all interest in the nest.
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One of the reasons why the Betta fish is so popular is the beauty of its colors and the majestic movement of the males, especially of those more spectacular varieties, the Betta Splendens, Dragon Betta, Half Moon Betta, etc.
Many of these fish, which are now so spectacular to us, are the result of numerous crosses and hybridizations, which provide us with a huge variety of morphologies in fins, body and colors , causing that in the most spectacular varieties, the price of Betta fish varies enormously. .
The varieties that can be purchased in the usual stores, are produced in mass in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe,precisely for sale. These fish often have serious genetic problems, due to inbreeding.
If we can find a trusted private breeder, we may be buying higher quality fish.