Bettas are a great addition to any aquarium due to their vivid colors and flashy fins.
They’re a favorite among aquarists for their relatively easy care and the ability to liven up a fish tank.
Let’s learn about these beautiful fish in more detail.
Betta Species Overview
Common Name: Betta, Siamese fighting fish
Scientific Name: Betta splendens
Family: Gourami (Osphronemidae)
Bettas are native to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, with most of them found in the Chao Phraya River.
They’re also found in nearby regions like Singapore, Malaysia, and Brazil, where humans have introduced them.
Bettas were initially bred to be fighting fish. So they’re popularly known as Siamese fighting fish.
Fish fighting is a popular sport, similar to cockfighting.
In their natural habitat, bettas inhabit the slow-moving streams, ponds, rice paddies, canals, swamps, and roadside ditches.
These areas are shaded by submerged marginal vegetation, containing little dissolved oxygen.
Bettas possess a specialized labyrinth organ that enables them to take surface air in addition to the dissolved oxygen from the water.
This unique ability helps bettas survive in waterbodies containing less dissolved oxygen.
Bettas have a streamlined body shape with an upturned mouth geared for hunting prey at the water’s surface.
The fins of bettas help them to steer through the water.
The caudal fin, in particular, is most prominent and has been bred to be bigger and more elaborate in domestic species.
Bettas aren’t brightly colored in their natural habitat.
However, captive breeding has resulted in a wide variety of colors, including red, yellow, orange, white, pink, blue, green, black, turquoise, and brown.
Apart from coloration, captive breeding has also resulted in different fin and tail types.
Male bettas sport beautiful colors with flowing fins compared to female bettas.
Female bettas have short fins and display vertical stripes with an egg spot when they’re ready to mate.
Names of Species
Due to their popularity, bettas have been bred selectively over many years to create a wide variety of bright colors and tails.
Although all these fish technically belong to the same species, they differ in appearance due to selective breeding.
Given below are the various types of bettas as per their appearance.
|By Pattern and Scale Design||Bi-colored, Solid, Cambodian, Dragon Scale, Butterfly, Piebald, Marble, Mask.|
|By Tail Type||Veiltail, Combtail betta, Crown Tail (CT), Delta (D) & Super Delta (SD), Double Tail (DT), Half Moon (HM) / Over Half Moon (OHM), Half Sun, Plakat (PK), Rosetail & Feathertail, Round Tail, Spade Tail|
|By Color||Multicolored, Black, Blue, Clear / Cellophane, Chocolate, Copper, Green, Mustard Gas, Opaque / Pastels, Orange, Purple / Violet, Red, Turquoise, Yellow & Pineapple, Albino|
Bettas have a lifespan of around 3 years. However, they can live up to 5 years in captivity under optimal aquarium conditions.
Due to predation and other environmental factors, bettas have a shorter lifespan in the wild than in home aquariums.
Female bettas generally live a few months longer than their male counterparts.
Bettas are small creatures. The size of a fully grown betta is around 2.25 inches or 5.7 cm in length.
Some bettas grow a little longer to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length, but it’s rare.
The growth of bettas largely depends upon numerous factors such as genes, water conditions, general health, and a nutrient-rich diet.
Betta Tank Setup
One of the most crucial aspects of setting up a betta tank is choosing the right type of fish tank.
While bettas are often sold in small bowls at most pet stores, it’s not the ideal way to keep them.
Let’s understand the tank requirements of betta fish in more detail.
Bettas are solitary fish. So a 3-gallon tank is sufficient for a single betta fish.
However, if you house bettas in a community tank, the tank size will vary as per the fish species and their numbers in the tank.
A simple rule to follow is to add 1 gallon of water for every inch of fully grown fish.
Bettas love large tanks as they get ample space to swim and claim their territory.
So a minimum of 10-gallon or bigger tank is recommended for a betta group.
Similarly, a 20-gallon tank is required to house a betta sorority of 5 females.
Large tanks are also ideal as they’re easy to maintain, have less temperature fluctuation, and have more space for bettas.
Keeping bettas in a small tank can result in stress due to cramped space, aggression, stunted growth, and other health issues.
Tank Equipment And Decorations
The best environment for bettas is the one that closely resembles their natural environment.
Bettas thrive well in clean, warm, and filtered water.
Also, water movement should be slow and steady as they’re accustomed to living in water bodies with a gentle current.
Bettas do well in densely planted tanks.
Live plants are an excellent choice for bettas as they help oxygenate the water and filter out impurities.
Plants also help bettas in minimizing their aggressive behavior as they get cover, which helps them to feel secure and stay calm.
Given below are the items required in a betta tank:
- Gravel on the bottom of the tank,
- Aquarium lights,
- Live plants such as Java Fern, Java Moss, and Anacharis,
- Decoration such as caves, rocks, driftwood, etc.
Proper care goes a long way in maintaining the health of bettas.
Bettas need stable water conditions with a well-balanced diet to live a healthy and long life.
Let’s now discuss how to take proper care of your betta fish.
Bettas are carnivores that primarily feed on insects and insect larvae in their natural environment.
They need a protein-rich diet for enhanced coloration, optimal growth, and increased lifespan.
The best food for bettas in captivity is betta pellets that are tailor-made for specific breeds.
High-quality commercial fish flakes or pellets containing protein as the main ingredient are suitable for bettas.
Live or frozen food such as bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larva, brine shrimp, micro worms, earthworms, and mealworms are also good for bettas.
A good thumb rule is to feed bettas twice a day and the quantity that they can consume in 3 minutes.
You shouldn’t overfeed them as it can lead to obesity and bloating of the swim bladder, thus affecting their buoyancy.
Bettas are happy when kept in warm and soft water with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
Being tropical fish, bettas thrive in warm water.
While bettas can tolerate cooler temperatures for some time, prolonged exposure to cool water can make them inactive and prone to diseases.
So it’s vital to provide bettas a favorable environment to keep them active and healthy.
The ideal water parameters for bettas are:
|Water Temperature||75°F to 82°F (23.8°C to 27.7°C)|
|pH level||6.5 to 7.5|
|General Hardness (GH)||3 dGH to 4 dGH (50 ppm to 66.7 ppm)|
|Carbonate Hardness (KH)||3 dKH to 5 dKH (53.6 ppm to 89.4 ppm)|
|Ammonia and Nitrite||0 ppm|
Bettas need clean, filtered freshwater for optimal growth.
So it’s essential to clean the tank once a week to maintain the water quality.
You can perform partial water change of around 30% to 40% every week. Bettas prefer neutral pH water levels.
Keeping bettas in unchanged water for a longer duration can make the water more acidic, which can be detrimental to their health.
You also need to clean the waste build-up on the gravel or aquarium decorations.
Usage of a siphon is the best way to clean the gravel.
A well-maintained tank is a key to the faster growth of bettas.
Betta fish diseases are categorized as bacterial, parasitic, or fungal.
Parasitic sickness is contagious and caused by poor water conditions.
Fungal infections result from a previous health condition. And bacterial infections are usually caused by dirty tanks.
So it’s vital to ensure that the water quality is maintained at all times to prevent diseases.
Some of the common betta fish diseases are:
- Fin Rot,
- Tail Rot,
- Columnar (Cotton wool disease),
- Swim Bladder disease, etc.
Betta Behavior And Temperament
Bettas are naturally territorial and aggressive fish. They’re primarily aggressive toward their own species.
Male bettas are more aggressive toward other male bettas.
So two male bettas in the same tank can fight for hours until one of them gets severely injured.
The only possible way to house two male bettas in the same tank is by using a divider to partition the tank.
Male bettas can also become aggressive toward other fish that resembles them.
This is because they look upon the other fish as a threat.
They can also become aggressive due to space constraints, to establish their territory, or if there’s food scarcity.
On the other hand, female bettas are less aggressive and can live together.
However, they can also display aggression if the living conditions aren’t conducive.
Bettas are known for their aggressive territorial nature. So it’s essential to choose their tankmates carefully.
You can house bettas in a community tank as long as the water conditions are met and the tank is large enough for them to claim their personal territory.
The other fish in the community tank must be docile and not display any territorial and aggressive behavior.
Some of the compatible tankmates for bettas are:
- Kuhli Loaches,
- Cory Catfish,
- Harlequin Rasboras,
- Tetras like neon tetras, ember tetras, cardinal tetras, rummy nose tetras etc.,
- Bristlenose Plecos,
- Feeder Guppies,
- Platies (Short-finned),
- Short-finned Mollies,
- White Cloud Mountain Minnow,
- African Dwarf Frog,
- Ghost Shrimp,
- Mystery Snails, etc.
While bettas can live in harmony with many other fish species, it’s essential to avoid housing them with aggressive and predatory fish that can bully them.
Similarly, any slow-moving fish with large fins should be avoided as bettas mistake them to be one of them and become aggressive toward them.
The fish species that you should avoid housing with bettas are:
- Red tail sharks,
- Tiger barbs,
- Goldfish, and
- Other male bettas.
Bettas breed best when they are young, about 4 to 12 months of age. They need to be conditioned for the breeding to be successful.
Feeding live food rich in proteins is the best way to condition bettas for breeding.
You also need to shift the pair to a breeder tank with a temperature around 80°F or slightly above and a pH of about 7.0.
There should also be enough hiding places for the female betta as the male betta can become aggressive during the courtship.
Bettas have a unique way of breeding compared to other fish species.
Male betta blows a bubble nest when he is ready to spawn.
The pair display intense coloration and start circling each other under the bubble nest.
After the mating ritual, the female betta expels the eggs. The eggs begin to sink once the male betta fertilizes them.
It takes around 48 hours for the eggs to hatch.
Once the eggs hatch, the fry are visible hanging in the bubble nest with their tails pointing downward.
The fry continue to be in the bubble nest for an additional 3 to 4 days. During this time, they feed on the yolk sac.
If any fry fall out of the nest, the male betta picks up the fry and places them back in the bubble nest.
The bubble nest is a sort of protection for the fry until they start free-swimming.
Once the fry start swimming, the male betta should be separated.
You should feed the fry an infusoria-grade food for the first few days.
Post that, you can feed them brine shrimp or very fine fry food until they grow up.