Scientists worldwide have spent years studying betta fish, so the wealth of knowledge we have about our fishy friends can be overwhelming.
Here at Betta Source, we know your priority is keeping your betta fish happy and healthy, so we’ve tracked down the best betta fish facts from across the web.
Read on to learn some of the most interesting betta fish facts you’ll find anywhere!
What Is So Special About Betta Fish?
Betta fish are popular for two reasons: their ornamental appearance with flowing fins and bright, beautiful colors and their aggressive behavior. According to The New York Times, these tropical fish have been bred explicitly as “living works of art.”
There are hundreds of betta fish varieties, including veil tails, half moons, crown tails, dragon scales, feather tails, and delta fish.
Each betta brings a different joy to its owner, and anyone who has owned one of these beautiful fish will tell you that every fish has its own personality.
Siamese Fighting Fish
Additionally, betta fish are sometimes called Siamese fighting fish because they are naturally territorial, and males fight to protect their territories and mating prospects.
In the past, Thai royalty used to force betta fish to fight for their entertainment, much like cockfighting. Breeders hand-selected fish to be bigger, brighter, and more aggressive.
Fortunately, betta fighting is now illegal in most countries, so all that’s leftover is the infamous (and entertaining) betta attitude.
Where Are Betta Fish From?
Betta fish were initially found in rice paddies in Thailand, but they can also be found in wetlands throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Betta fish love warm, shallow, fresh water — their natural environment ranges from ponds and marshes to slow-moving streams.
How Long Have People Been Keeping Betta Fish As Pets?
Betta fish have been bred in captivity since the 14th Century A.D. The betta fish we keep today look different than those in the wild, and they have only become more beautiful with careful breeding.
Pet bettas often have long, flowing tails, differing from wild bettas’ shorter, more practical fins.
Are Betta Fish Good Starter Pets?
No. Contrary to popular belief, betta fish are not good starter pets. According to PETA, betta fish are very sensitive, and most betta owners do not know how to care for them properly.
Some people keep betta fish in flower vases or decorative fish bowls. But, these fish need room to explore, as well as plants and decorations to mirror their natural habitats and keep them interested in their surroundings.
How Long Do Bettas Live?
With the proper care, betta fish can live in captivity for up to five years! Some live even longer.
On average, captive bettas live for three years, and their lifespan is directly related to the quality of their environment.
So, how do we make an ideal betta fish environment? Keep reading to find out.
Facts To Keep Your Betta Fish Happy and Healthy
Knowing about your betta fish is the best way to keep it happy and healthy throughout its lifespan. Below are some facts that can help you give your fish a great life:
- Betta fish should never be kept in vases or small fish bowls.
- Betta fish need to be kept in a 5-gallon tank (at least), but bigger is always better.
- Betta fish are labyrinth fish; they breathe surface air with their labyrinth organ, so they need breathing room at the top of their tanks and an air filter to enrich the oxygen within their tanks.
- Betta fish like warm water temperatures, so you should invest in a heater and never let your tank fall below 76 degrees Fahrenheit or rise above 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Betta fish prefer slightly acidic water (pH 6.5 to 7). To achieve this, you can buy pre-made betta tank water or treat tap water with special drops. Treating tap water with a water conditioner also removes harmful impurities.
- Betta fish love plants! Fill their tank with plenty of plant life to keep them stimulated and recreate their natural habitat.
- Betta fish are omnivorous, so feed them both plant roots and insects. Some bettas go crazy for mealworm larvae.
- Betta fish do not like other fish
Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish?
No, and if you put two male bettas in the same tank, they will hurt or even kill one another. Single betta fish get irritated by the sight of their own reflection, so you don’t want to risk starting an accidental (and very illegal) betta fish fight.
Betta fish will also attack and kill other tank mates unless they are carefully selected to co-exist with bettas. Your fish are not being mean; they are protecting themselves and listening to their DNA.
Housing betta fish with inappropriate tank mates can be dangerous for your betta and the other fish, so choose carefully or leave your betta to swim alone.
Don’t worry! Betta fish can get bored, but they won’t get lonely. As long as the tank is entertaining, bettas don’t need company.
Betta-Safe Tank Mates
Although betta fish don’t need company, especially if they have lots of plants and decorations to keep them entertained, you may want to get the most out of your fish tank by adding a tank mate.
As long as all animals have enough space and the betta tank is kept clean and appropriate for all occupants, you can house a betta with special tank mates, including snails, ghost shrimp, and even African dwarf frogs!
All animals must have a clean environment and plenty of space. Otherwise, animals may act unpredictably and harm their tank mates.
Why Get a Betta Fish?
At this point, you may be wondering why you would even want to get a betta fish. Rest assured, betta ownership is memorable and rewarding.
Although the cons are hard work and the inability to keep other fish, the pros include endless entertainment and having a curious and intelligent companion.
A happy, healthy betta will swim around all day long, flash its fins from time to time, and even get excited to see you.
Do Betta Fish Recognize Their Owners?
That’s right; betta fish will get excited to see you because they recognize their owners!
Betta fish are deeply curious and constantly learning about their environments, so they get to know the person feeding them (you) and may even stare at you or “perform” for you as you walk by.
You and your betta fish can provide each other with hours of low-cost entertainment and companionship, and the looks and temperaments of betta fish as they show off are hard to beat.
Scientific Facts About Betta Fish
All pet betta fish are the same species, Betta splendens. Nevertheless, there are 73 species of betta throughout Southeast Asia, including some endangered species of fish like Betta miniopinna and Betta persephone.
Other species of betta have duller colors and more practical fins, although some species become more colorful when they fight or expand their fins to make themselves look bigger.
There are countless variations within Betta splendens. Some breeders even cross species through selective breeding to produce unique-looking fish. All this means you can choose the shape, color, and even some of the behaviors your fishy friend will exhibit.
Male Bettas Care for Their Young
Betta males do all the work when mating. They court the females, fertilize the eggs, and care for their young — just like seahorses do!
If you see your betta “dancing,” acting more aggressively than usual or even making “bubble nests,” it means all his other needs are met, and he is happy enough to think about getting a girlfriend.
Your fish exhibiting mating behaviors does not mean he needs company. Do not introduce a female fish unless you’re trying to get into betta breeding.
Wild betta fish are becoming rarer and rarer. Due to pollution and the development of palm oil plantations, their habitats are at risk. Additionally, human medication in wastewater changes betta behavior and makes them less likely to reproduce successfully.
Most pet betta fish are not captured in the wild. Instead, they come from large breeding farms where they are often mistreated. Sometimes, pet betta fish escape and wreak havoc on wild betta populations.
You can help keep bettas safe by choosing ethically-sourced pets and using your voice as a pet owner to advocate for bettas in the wild.
Scientists continue to study wild bettas and pet betta fish. They recently discovered that blue males are more aggressive than red ones — and female betta fish prefer red partners to blue ones.
Talk about One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish!
Historical Facts About Betta Fish
Experts say the domestication of betta fish is “quite literally the fish equivalent of dog domestication.” Over the past 1,000 years, betta fish have transformed to be the stunning, lovable pets we know today.
As we’ve already discussed, betta fish were initially bred for fighting, which is one reason pet betta fish are so active and aggressive. Even though our fish no longer fight (if we keep them correctly), they are still very beautiful.
When betta fish were introduced to the West, people fell for their bright colors and flowing fins, so betta fish breeders cultivated these vibrant colors and even shaped the fins and tails of some fish by picking and choosing genes.
The betta fish we love wouldn’t exist without us, and they can’t survive without us, so we have a responsibility to be good to our fishy friends.
Betta fish are still very popular in Thailand and all over the world. Bettas are even Thailand’s national aquatic animal. Their name translates to “enduring fish,” and bettas have certainly endured as the favored fish of ornamental fish keepers everywhere.
Join a Popular Fish Keeping Community
Aside from goldfish, betta fish are the most popular pet fish in the world! Not only are they beautiful and interesting, but they are smart and curious, as well.
Betta keepers can train their betta fish and teach them tricks. There’s also an endless amount you can learn about your pet and how to care for them. Betta Source is one of many online communities that can help you raise a happy, healthy fish.
Important Betta Fish Facts To Remember
Now that you know more about where your fish is from, how many years of hard work went into its appearance and demeanor, and how it prefers to live, you should be prepared to create an ideal environment for your new fishy friend.
If you keep your betta fish happy and healthy, both of you will be able to enjoy one another’s company, and you can even be an advocate for betta fish in the wild and a resource for other betta owners everywhere.
Let’s review the most important betta fish facts in this article to get you started:
- Betta fish are from freshwater wetlands in Southeast Asia, so give them plenty of space and live plants to recreate their environment. Do not keep them in a vase or decorative fish bowl.
- Betta fish are also called Siamese fighting fish. They should be housed alone or with particular tank mates. Never put two male bettas in the same tank — the fish will hurt or kill one another, and betta fighting is illegal.
- Betta fish are omnivorous, so their food consists of both plants and insects.
- Pet betta fish are no longer wild animals and have unique needs in captivity.
- Betta fish live for two to five years, so be prepared for a commitment!
By keeping a betta fish, you are joining a long tradition of ornamental fish keeping and one of the oldest animal domestication projects in human history.
Treat your fish well, and you will have a rewarding experience. Remember that your actions directly affect your fishy friend’s lifespan and wellbeing.
For more betta care tips and tricks for getting started, please read: