What is an alien betta?
It isn’t entirely known where alien bettas came from or how the breed was achieved. It’s largely believed that they are a hybrid between Betta splendens and other wild species, like B. smaragdina, B. stiktos, and B. mahachaiensis.
Likewise, there is no clear reason why these fish are referred to as aliens; perhaps it’s due to their iridescence in some lights. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that these fish do not exist in the wild.
As you’ll soon find out, alien bettas can go for a lot of money. Sometimes, pet stores will label these fish as ‘wild alien bettas’. This naming is incorrect and makes the buyer believe that these fish were in the wild at some point in their life.
Instead, this probably refers to their lineage and being the offspring of a Betta splendens and wild species cross.
It might be difficult to first identify an alien betta fish as their colors and appearance might initially be underwhelming and look more like a true wild species.
These fish are typically blue or grey and are very slender in appearance, but resemble the more sturdy build of a wild betta. There are varying degrees of black scaling on the body and fins which is believed to be due to non-spread iridescence; the rest of the body is highly iridescent and shines beautifully in the right lighting.
There are a few ways to know that Betta splendens have been used in the breeding process. Two of these ways are by looking at the full-mask on their heads as well as how their fins are structured. These are some of the traits that have knowingly been inherited from domesticated bettas.
Many hobbyists have found that their alien bettas are more relaxed and peaceful than their domesticated counterparts.
However, they come from similar habitats and should be treated the same as domesticated bettas in regards to their behavior; it’s better to be overly cautious when dealing with bettas.
It should be noted that because of hybridization and the inbreeding that must happen, many alien bettas are infertile. The breeding process can still be as aggressive as that of Betta splendens and only experts should attempt to produce the alien cross.
Is the alien betta an aggressive fish?
Some hobbyists swear that alien bettas are better behaved than their domesticated cousins. However, there is no reason that there would be such a dramatic difference in demeanors.
It is true that some wild betta fish tend to be less aggressive than Betta splendens, but even then, those wild species are still capable of inflicting serious injury on another fish.
All in all, there is no reason to take the chance with introducing your alien betta fish to other aliens or other species entirely.
How do you breed alien betta fish?
As mentioned before, alien betta fish have low fertility, and breeding can be near impossible.
Because of this, breeders might have to resort to poor breeding practices like inbreeding their offspring with one of the parental lines, which can get tricky and sometimes lead to unwanted mutations.
However, first-generation alien bettas can be bred like any other betta fish for the most part with a Betta splendens and wild species cross. Keep in mind that the success rate is a lot lower for spawning and keeping those fry alive.
One of the most popular combinations is Betta splendens with Betta imbellis.
Alien betta fish tank requirements
Even though these fish are hybrids with wild species, their requirements aren’t all that much different from the majority of bettas.
This can make introducing an alien betta into your aquarium nearly seamless if you already have experience taking care of these fish. If you’re new to betta fish keeping in general, then there are a few things to consider like tank size, tank setup, water parameters, and feeding.
Tank size and setup
Too often, betta fish are shoved into small containers without any filtration or heater. These fish, while easy to keep, definitely need a little more to keep them happy and healthy for their potential five years of life.
The absolute minimum tank size for a betta fish is 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) with many hobbyists recommending nothing less than 5 gallons (18.9 L). Giving more space for your betta will give them the room to display their natural behaviors and best colors. Even more so, keeping water parameters in check becomes that much easier with more water volume.
Betta fish can be kept on a sand or gravel substrate and look best against a densely planted backdrop. However, they can also look great with artificial plants and hides as long as they’re aquarium-safe and won’t damage your fish’s tail.
Because betta fish are labyrinth fish, they will especially love being able to go to the surface of the water to breathe in atmospheric air. While doing this, they can sometimes get lazy and want to rest on a nearby object.
There are many betta fish products designed for this purpose, like betta hammocks! For the most part, your betta fish will find comfort in an aquarium plant, but it doesn’t hurt to spoil your alien every now and then.
Though not necessary, it’s also recommended to use a filter. Not only will this help move water around the tank to prevent algae, but you also have the ability to add activated carbon and other filter media if need be.
On the other hand, a heater is necessary. Betta fish are tropical fish and prefer a temperature range between 78-80° F (25.5-26.7° C). Even if the climate you live in doesn’t fluctuate from this range too much, it’s still recommended to use a heater for stability.
Some hobbyists believe that alien bettas do better in slightly cooler temperatures than regular betta fish, but there don’t seem to be any ill-effects of keeping them at the standard tropical range.
Alien betta fish need 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, and regulated nitrate levels (<40 ppm nitrate). This means that, yes, they need a fully cycled aquarium; you can never add a fish to an uncycled aquarium without introducing beneficial bacteria before or at the same time.
These fish like relatively neutral pH and will do best in water between 6.5-7.0.
Feeding your betta fish
In order to keep your alien betta looking like a galaxy, you will want to give as best-quality food as possible. Betta fish are omnivores, though a majority of their diet is made of meat-based foods.
In the wild, betta fish like to eat insects and insect larvae that are usually found at the surface of the water. In the aquarium, it’s best to give your fish a high-protein diet to make up for these protein-rich foods.
The best betta diet will be filled with variety, with bloodworms, insect larvae, and brine shrimp being mixed in with a regular betta-specific flake or pellet. It is important to keep in mind that betta fish can be lazy and will eat until there is no more food, which can lead to obesity or constipation.
Alien betta fish should be fed 1-3 pellets or a pinch of flakes only once or twice a day. Not only will this keep your betta at the right weight, but this schedule will also help keep the water clean.
Other live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods should only be treated as an occasional snack. Live food is most encouraged as it can help stimulate natural predatory instincts and give your fish some activity in its tank.
However, live food runs the risk of introducing foreign parasites that can affect your betta. Luckily, it’s not too hard to set up a live food culture of your betta’s favorite snack to ensure quality and safe food!
Alien bettas are a relatively new breed of betta fish available in the aquarium trade. Because of this, they can be quite expensive and hard to find. However, their requirements don’t differ much from domesticated betta fish, even though they are related to some wild species.
If you happen to come across one of these beautiful betta fish, make sure to have a decently sized tank that has been fully cycled without any other tank mates.
If you have any questions about alien betta fish, other breeds of Siamese fighting fish, or have had experience breeding your own bettas, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!