Belontiidae – Betta (Betta splendens)

Updated on November 20, 2020 by

The Siamese fighting fish are known to be highly territorial, males particularly showing high levels of aggression, attacking each other if sharing the same aquarium. Incredibly hardy and popular among aquarists, the males are vibrantly coloured, displaying long flowing fins.

Quick stats – Betta splendens

OriginSouth East Asia
Max size2.5” / 7.5 cm
AquariumMin 10 gallon / 30 liters
Water75-86° F / 25-30° C

KH 0-25, pH 6.0-8.0

Care levelEasy
ColorsBlue, red, white

Betta splendens description

Belonging to the family of Belontiidae, the Siamese Fighting Fish originates from Asia and occurs naturally throughout central Thailand.These fish are remarkable for their exuberant beauty and their notorious aggressive behaviour against each other.

Due to the fact that these wonderful creatures have been cross-bred, they now come in different varieties and colors. The Betta, same as Gourami fish, is remarkable for possessing labyrinth organs. This enables them to be able to breathe oxygen not only under water but also above water. Hence they have the ability of surviving in low oxygen water.

Betta exhibits sexual dimorphism, as the males and females can be easily identified. The females have a smaller body and fins than males. The males on the other hand are also more brightly colored than females.

The Siamese Fighting Fish is categorized into different classes based on the shape of their fins. The popular classes include feathertail, rosetail, crowntail and half-moon, etc.

With proper care, a Betta can grow up to 2.5” long and live 3 to 4 years.

As a popular species, these lovely fish can be easily found in most pet shops and fish stores. However, the ease of buying the Siamese fighting fish is not the same as taking care of them. But no reason to panic, just stay put, we’ve got you covered.

Betta splendens in the natural habitat

Betta is a freshwater fish which originates from Asia, and is native to the rice paddies, streams, swamps, roadside ditches and river basins of Thailand and Malaysia.

In the wild, it is mainly found in warm, shallow and slow moving water bodies with dense vegetations. Sand, deep sediment, mud or leaf litter substrate is natural to the Siamese Fighting Fish.

Having made their way to plenty of foreign lands, today they are kept in captivity in many places including most parts of Europe, especially Russia and Germany.

Betta splendens in the ideal aquarium

Betta splendens

Setting up an aquarium for Bettas would require mimicking their natural habitat, so as to provide the necessary comfort, and reduce their aggression.

A well filtered 10 gallons tank having a temperature of 75-86° F (a soft warm water is mandatory, so you should consider a heater if the room temperature is not that high), a pH level of 5.5 – 8.0, and water hardness of 5-35 dGh will be suitable to house 2 – 3 Bettas.

The water should be changed every two weeks, replacing at least 25% of the water at each interval. The water flow should be slow to moderate, with dense vegetation. A fine gravel or sand substrate will provide great comfort for the Betta.

Some decorations can be added to the tank, but should not block the pathway of these active swimmers, and should not be rough and sharp as they may tear the long fins of these species.

As active swimmers, they also have the tendency of jumping out of their tank, this requires that the tank should be provided with a tight lid.

Direct sunlight contact to the tank should be greatly avoided, but low artificial light is suitable for these species. The lighting should be made to last for 12 hours per day, and should stay off for the rest of the day. This will give them enough time to rest and control algae growth.

Selecting tank mates for the Betta could be a hassle, as these fish are aggressive and territorial. It is perfect to have one Betta male in a tank, but if more are to be added, then an extra 5 gallons should be provided for each fish added.

As aggressive species, the males should definitely be kept in separate tanks from the females. If both sexes are to be kept together, a male Betta should be kept in the company of 3 – 4 females, and also should only be introduced when they are ready to breed. However, a group of female species can coexist together than the male counterpart, provided there are enough hiding spots for each of them.

If Bettas should be housed with other fish species, aggressive and territorial species alike should be greatly avoided, otherwise they will fight to their death. This requires that species such as Oscars, Rainbow Shark, Tiger Barb, and Cichlids should be greatly avoided.

Rather calm, peaceful and bottom feeders would be suitable tank mates, since Betta spends most of their life at the top level of the tank. Thus Cory Catfish, Guppies, and Neon Tetras for instance would be suitable companions for the Betta.

Betta splendens feeding

Bettas are carnivores, so this requires that they should be fed meaty (freeze-dried, frozen or fried) foods containing high protein. Flaked foods can be used to supplement their diet with vitamins and other nutrients.

Bloodworm, daphnia, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp are meaty food that Betta will simply love. In the wild they are even found eating other small fish too.

The Siamese Fighting Fish are fussy eaters, and as such, you should be careful not to overfeed them. They should be fed twice a day with just an amount they can finish in about 2 – 3 minutes.

Flaked and pellet foods are used to provide them with required nutrients and this can be found in many pet stores and fish shops. Owing to the fact they are fussy eaters, if they are found to lack appetite, this might likely be that they are sick or there’s something wrong with the food.

Try switching up their diet, as they really like a wide variety of foods.

Betta splendens breeding

Breeding these lovely species could be a hassle, as they need to be prepared for weeks before they can be ready to breed. This requires that the breeding tank should be kept at the upper limit of the aforementioned water conditions, ensuring that the tank is kept clean at all times.

They should be fed a small amount of quality, live foods 2-4 times a day. A tank divider is a great idea to keep the male and the female separated for a while so they just get better acquainted. After this, they can be introduced to one another.

If the female is ready to breed, she will darken in color  and display vertical stripes. Also if the male is ready, he will also darken in color and start to build bubble nests.vAfter the bubble nest is built, the male and female begin to circle the nest. The female does this in inspection of the nest, and if she doesn’t like it, she might destroy the nest, demanding the male to build another one.

If the nest is built to the pleasing of the female, the courting will start with some interesting displays which involve chasing and biting. But care must be taken so that the exercise does not become too aggressive and the female is not harmed.

When they are both ready to spawn, the male wraps himself around the female. At the climax of the euphoria, the female releases the eggs while the male fertilizes them.

The male catches the eggs as they sink to the bottom and takes them to the nest where they are left to hatch for 24-48 hours. Related to this, it’s important that no substrate is used in the breeding tank, and also the tank is not too high, which will make it a very difficult job for the male to carry the eggs all the way up to the bubble nest. At this point, the female needs to be removed, as the male has overprotective parental instincts over the eggs, and can become overly aggressive towards the female.

After egg hatches, the fry remains in the yolk-sac for a period of 2-3 days until the yolk sac is completely dissolved, then they are ready to swim freely. Although the adult Betta does not feed on their young ones, they might occasionally mistake them for food. So, at this point, the adult male should be removed from the tank as well.

After a period of 4 months, the young Bettas are mature and ready to explore other aquarium worlds.

Betta splendens
Betta splendens
Betta splendens
Betta splendens
Betta splendens


To conclude

Although Bettas are notably aggressive species, they are natural beauties adding an interesting personality to the aquarium.

They are preferably kept alone in a tank, but if they must be housed with other species, similar aggressive species should be avoided. Rather peaceful, calm and shoaling species would be suitable companions.

The breeding process is quite an interesting display to watch. After the breeding process, the fry hatch in about a couple of days and mature in 4 months.

Bettas are easy to care for, and with proper care and adequate tank conditions they can live up to 3 – 4 years.

Betta splendens FAQs

How long does a Betta live?

With proper care, Betta can live up to 3-4 years.

What is the maximum size of a Betta?

Betta can grow up to 2.5″ or 7.6cm.

What are suitable tank mates for Betta?

Calm, peaceful and shoaling species, such as Cory Catfish, Guppies, and Neon Tetras would be suitable companions for the Betta.

What is the best food for Betta?

As carnivores, Betta prefer meaty foods with enough proteins. Flaked and pellet foods can be used to supplement their diet.