Do you want a gorgeous pet betta fish to keep in a small tank? Perhaps you want a big betta that really makes a statement! If that sounds like you, you’ll need to know if Giant and King bettas are the same species.
So, are these two fish different betta species or the same variety of betta but under different names?
Read on for a complete comparison of Giant bettas vs. King bettas.
What’s the difference between Giant bettas and King bettas?
Giant bettas and King bettas are not the same variety of betta fish.
Giant bettas are a form of selectively bred Plakat, reaching between 3 inches and 7 inches in length.
In comparison, King bettas only grow to measure around 3 inches long, making them slightly larger than regular betta fish. Like Giant bettas, Kings are a type of hybrid Plakat.
|Giant Betta||King Betta|
|Size||3 inches to 7 inches in length||Around 3 inches in length|
|Color||Blue, red, green, marble||Blue, red, green, marble|
|Natural habitat||Not present in wild populations||Not present in wild populations|
|Breeding||Egg layer, bubble nest builder||Egg layer, bubble nest builder|
|Lifespan||Approximately 3 to 5 years||Approximately 3 years|
You can see that there are many similarities between these two betta types, but there are some differences. Let’s take a closer look at these two beautiful fish.
Betta fish origins
All the beautiful pet betta fish varieties that you see on the market today derive from wild betta fish.
Normal-sized betta fish originate from tropical regions in Asia, particularly the Phraya and Mekong river basins of Thailand. Here, the fish live in shallow, slow-moving waters, such as ponds, streams, rice paddies, ditches, and marshes. The fish feed on tiny aquatic worms, insect larvae, and water-bound insects. Bettas can jump, often seen leaping an inch or two out of the water to snatch an insect right out of the air.
Betta fish are labyrinth breathers or anabantoids. These fish can survive in poorly oxygenated water by breathing atmospheric air via a unique structure called the labyrinth organ. Also, bettas can jump from puddle to puddle during the dry season, enabling the fish to survive where other species would die.
Centuries ago, farmers would collect bettas from their rice paddies, putting two male fish together to watch them fight and wager on the outcome. The contests soon caught on, and eventually, the King of Siam regulated the activity and even levied a tax on bettas!
The fish’s intelligence soon made them popular pets. The crossbreeding of bettas to create brightly colored, long-finned varieties soon became an industry in itself. Wild bettas do not have the spectacular finnage or vibrant colors of their hybrid cousins, being a rather dull green color. Wild bettas are stockier in shape with short fins, making these Plakats powerful fish perfect for fighting.
The betta splendens is not a large fish, usually growing to approximately 2 inches in length.
Giant betta history
The first Giant bettas were produced by three Thai betta breeders, Athapon Ratanapichad, Natee Ratanapichad, and Wasan Sattayapun, calling themselves Team Giant.
One day in 1999, while inspecting their regular betta fish stock, the breeders discovered an unusually large green male Plakat. Athapon had already observed that his green betta fish tended to grow much larger than fish of other colors, but this particular fish was over 3 inches long. The fish’s unusual size was almost certainly caused by a genetic mutation that increased the creature’s growth rate.
The breeders immediately set about trying to produce a whole new strain of oversized betta fish. They bred this one extra-large male betta to the largest female that the breeders had at that time. A tiny percentage of the first-generation fry grew to a large size. Undeterred, the team continued breeding the giants with normal betta fish, gradually increasing the percentage of Giant bettas produced in each generation. Within five generations, three-inch bettas comprised around one-fifth of the fry in each spawn.
Once they could produce true Giant bettas, Team Giant began experimenting with breeding different colors by crossing the Giants to regular bettas of various other types. Then, the team picked out the largest fish from each spawn until they could eventually produce Giant bettas in different colors.
Now, thanks to Team Giant’s experiments and persistence, the trend for breeding Giant bettas has caught on, and there are many different forms and colors of these impressive fish.
Giant betta vs King betta
King betta fish are also artificially created hybrids. However, like Giants, King bettas lack the flowing finnage of betta splendens, being more Plakat-shaped and having short fins.
King bettas and Giant bettas are often confused with each other. Many fish stores mislabel the two varieties and use the names interchangeably. So, you need to be aware of that when you’re buying a betta fish.
King bettas are generally the same size as regular betta splendens, reaching around 3 inches in length.
However, Giant betta fish are much bigger, typically reaching 4 to 6 inches long.
King and Giant bettas are thought to be related to the normal species betta imbellis. Betta imbellis are bred for super-aggression and are widely used in fighting contests.
Rather than being bred for the ornamental qualities of the normal betta splendens, these varieties of betta fish have short fins and a broad tail, making them fast, agile swimmers and excellent fighters.
Behavior and temperament
Both these oversized betta fish are highly territorial and very aggressive towards other fish of their own kind.
These fish are specially bred as fighters, so you must never keep one with another betta fish, including females.
Can Giant or King bettas live in a community tank?
Wild bettas are not community or schooling fish. They live alone except during the spawning season. Similarly, captive betta fish don’t suffer from loneliness, provided that you include lots of decorations, planting, and toys in their aquarium to keep them interested and busy.
That said, you can include some peaceful bottom-dwellers that will keep to themselves and not compete with the betta for food or territory. Popular choices for betta tank mates are Khuli loaches and Corydoras catfish. You can also safely include invertebrates such as snails and shrimp in the setup for added interest.
Never put brightly colored fish species with trailing fins with bettas. It is highly likely to cause problems.
How to care for Giant and King bettas
Betta fish are pretty hardy characters, although these oversized varieties don’t tend to live as long as regular bettas. The best way to help your pet live his longest life is to provide him with the correct care.
What size tank for Giant or King bettas?
Contrary to popular belief, bettas cannot thrive when kept in a small vase or bowl. Ideally, you want a tank of at least 5 gallons, although a larger aquarium is best. As a general rule, you need to allow one gallon of water per one inch of fish.
Never overcrowd your tank. That’s certain to cause problems with aggression, and the water quality will also suffer.
Betta fish feed at the water surface, and they also need to breathe air every so often via their labyrinth organ. So, ideally, the fish need a long, shallow tank rather than a tall one.
The water temperature remains relatively stable in the natural environment, so you need to replicate that in your betta’s tank. The ideal temperature for King bettas and Giant is 78° F. Also, the ambient room temperature needs to be the same as the tank water so that the betta’s labyrinth organ is not damaged.
The water pH should be between 5.0 and 7.5.
Does a betta tank need a filter?
All betta fish are happiest in an environment with a slow flow. If the current in the tank is too strong, the fish will be stressed, which can lead to health problems and a shorter lifespan.
However, all fish tanks need an efficient filtration system to keep the water clean and safe. For Giant and King betta fish, an air-powered sponge filter is the best choice, as that provides a gentle flow while keeping the water clean.
Both Giant and King bettas like to live in a dimly lit aquarium with lots of plants.
Surface plants are ideal as they provide a shady environment. Include plants with broad leaves that serve as resting places for the bettas. You should also use twisted roots, driftwood, and smooth stones to create a natural-looking aquascape. Territorial bettas need caves and hollow betta logs that they can hide in and defend as their own.
A sandy or fine gravel substrate is the best choice for bettas. Include a layer of dried almond leaves on top of the substrate. Those leaves leach beneficial substances into the water and provide a valuable habitat for bacteria and microbes that help process the toxins in the water.
Giant betta vs. King betta diet
Wild bettas are primarily carnivorous, eating a diet of insect larvae, insects, and tiny aquatic worms.
In captivity, you can feed your King or Giant betta a high-protein carnivore diet. Betta pellets and flakes make a good basic diet, supplemented with frozen meaty foods. Bettas love live foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, and mosquito larvae, but make sure you get them from a good supplier. Live food often comes with a cargo of unwanted hitchhikers, including parasites that you don’t want in your betta tank.
Be careful that you don’t overfeed your betta. Overeating can cause potentially serious digestive problems that could even be fatal for your fish. Ideally, you should feed your betta fish twice a day, offering him only what he can eat in a couple of minutes.
It’s also a good idea to starve your King or Giant betta for one day per week. Fasting enables the fish’s digestive system to process whatever food it contains and can help to prevent conditions such as constipation and bloat.
How to breed King and Giant bettas
All betta fish are bubble nesters that are pretty straightforward to breed in a home tank setting. However, since both King and Giant bettas are known to be super-aggressive, leaving a female in the tank with a male can have disastrous consequences.
You can read a selection of complete guides to breeding betta fish at this link.
Health and disease
If you keep your fish in a clean, healthy environment and feed them a high-quality, balanced diet, you should have few problems with Giant and King bettas.
However, these fish can be prone to a few of the most common fish diseases, including:
- White Spot Disease (Ich)
- Fin rot
- Bacterial infections
Most of the diseases that bettas suffer from can be treated easily with an over-the-counter medication that you can get from your local fish store.
Availability and price
Although you can find King bettas in some pet stores, they aren’t as easy to come by as regular bettas. However, you can usually find these large bettas for sale online for around $25.
Giant bettas are hard to find, and they are generally more expensive, too. For example, a rare “candy” colored Giant betta was recently advertised on eBay for around $300!
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the differences and similarities between King bettas and Giant bettas. If you did, remember that caring is sharing!
King and Giant bettas are hybrids related to regular Plakat bettas. King bettas are slightly smaller than their Giant counterparts. However, both species have the same aggressive temperament and are best kept alone or with a few peaceful bottom dwellers or invertebrates. When it comes to their care requirements, these super-sized betta fish need the same basic conditions and diet.
Do you have a Giant or King betta fish?
Tell us about your big, beautiful betta fish in the comments box below!