Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta)

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Betta splendens - (Regan, 1910)
Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta)

A highly bred male betta, representing 175 years of selective breeding. Neil Hepworth


The glorious finnage and fight-to-the-death spirit of male bettas can be traced back almost 175 years to breeders in Thailand (then Siam). For this reason male bettas are usually kept singly in small tanks or special bowls. (See notes below about water temperature.)

The Genus Betta actually has many more species than the familiar Siamese Fighting Fish. lists 64 valid species (2007).

Family: Osphronemidae

Other common name(s):

  • Betta

Native range:

Habitat: In the wild, found in rice paddies, canals, swampy areas, streams and rivers. A well-planted tank with dark substrate will reveal this lovely fish as a true “show-off” with a surprising amount of personality. Floating plants will be used for hiding and nest building.

Maximum length: 6.5 cm (3 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 7.6 L (2 gal)

Water: Freshwater 26 °C (79 °F) - 27 °C (81 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Omnivore. Feed a variety of meaty, high-protein foods supplemented with color-enhancing flake foods.

Aquarium Compatibility

Males are usually kept singly, but bettas can be fine community fish if kept with no aggressive or fin-nipping species. One male to two females is best, as the male can be pretty rough at times, and the presence of two females will dilute his aggression.

Special Care

Bettas are from the tropics and require constant warm temperatures in the range of 78-80º F (26-27º C). A betta kept at a room temperature of 68 F (20ºC) is not going to thrive.


When the male builds his floating nest of saliva-coated air bubbles, he is ready to breed. If the female accepts his advances, the fish will “embrace” in open water, releasing both eggs and sperm. The male gathers the fertilized eggs after each embrace and spits them up into the bubblenest. The male tends the eggs, which hatch after 24 hours.


Like all labyrinthfishes, the Betta has an auxiliary breathing apparatus (labyrinth) that allows it to breathe air at the water’s surface and survive in small tanks or containers.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: NH
Text credit: KW