Considering getting a King Betta but don’t know the difference between a King Betta fish and a regular Betta fish? Hint: It’s not a crown!
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about a commonly misunderstood species of fish: The King Betta!
An excellent and beautiful-looking fish, it’s certainly a popular fish that most Betta enthusiasts look into owning. After all, who can raise a whole kingdom of Bettas and not give them a king?
|King Betta Info|
|Common Names||King Betta, Siamese Fighting Fish|
|Scientific Name||Betta Splendens Regen / Betta Imbellis (debated)|
|Minimum Tank Size||10 - 20 Gallons|
|Water Temperature||26°C (78 deg F)|
|pH Level||6.8 - 7.0|
|Water Hardness||5 - 20 dGH|
What Is a Betta Fish?
A Betta is one of the most common tropical fish kept as household pets and in aquariums.
These beautiful freshwater fish originate from Southeast Asia, but it can be pretty easy to find one in a pet store no matter where you are in the world.
Personally, I’ve always viewed the Betta as the tropical equivalent of a goldfish. – The most common choice, good for beginners and generally very pretty. But after learning more about this wonderful species of betta, I discovered I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
As it turns out, there are actually over 73 variants of Betta.
The Betta Splenden (the one you’ll have seen in the pet store) is a hardier breed and is a great pet for people new to owning tropical fish.
With such a wide variety of breeds, it goes without saying that each one presents its own unique challenges. Some are rare, more sensitive, have different diets, or are prone to higher levels of aggression.
And to top it all off – many of them look totally different.
That might seem nice and simple for now, but some extra confusion can arise when we start cross-breeding. This can lead to the creation of new species with new challenges and stunningly unique looks.
What Is a King Betta?
A King betta is a type of Splenden named the Splendens Regen.
Or is it?
Allow me to explain.
As you could probably tell by the way I brought up cross-breeding before, a King Betta is a man-made breed – not found in nature.
For this reason, King Bettas are often given different scientific names. Some sources will tell you they’re a Splenden Regen, and some will tell you that they’re a Betta Imbellis, and others will tell you they’re a hybrid Plakat.
This source says don’t worry too much about that – they’re not a natural species, so most information that can be found on them is easily available when you look them up by their common name.
Unfortunately, as with most mixed breeds, King Bettas have been bred for their appearance – meaning that some of their other features, such as levels of aggression, are far worse than even a typical Splenden.
Their harsh temperament means that this breed is only recommended for experienced Betta keepers, who can provide the correct care, habitat, and mental stimulation for their pet fish.
The King Betta is also commonly confused with the Giant Betta – Primarily because of their similarities in care, appearance, and a name that implies some level of superiority! The key difference between them, as you may imagine, is size.
These two fish, however, are very different species, and you can learn about both breeds and all the misconceptions about them right here!
TL;DR – A regular Betta with a crown and lots of lands.
The Betta Imbellis (not the King Betta) is a species which have been selectively bred over many years. A beautiful fish by nature, breeding and crossbreeding with other species has allowed many people to make much money in the ornamental trade.
Originally, however, the Imbellis are native to Thailand, where they have been line-bred for use in fighting. Because of this, breeders would select fish to breed with higher aggression levels- creating better fighters with each generation.
Their history as aggressive fighting fish has led the Betta Imbellis to have extremely high levels of aggression, so when cross-bred with splendens, smaragdina, and mahachaiensis to produce new breeds, the high levels of aggression are passed on here.
The King Betta is one of the crossbred variants of the Imbellis.
Due to them being a man-made breed, King Betta’s natural habitat is non-existent. It has always lived in captivity.
For this reason, when considering the setup of their tank and the required water parameters, it’s best to take reference from the natural habitats of the two species bred to create the King Betta.
Generally speaking, if they were to be found in the wild, the King Betta would inhabit the waters of Southeast Asia and would likely swim in rice paddies or river basins, where the water is warm. There are plenty of surrounding plants and debris to play and hide.
These conditions should be replicated in any tank you set up for a King Betta.
What Does a King Betta Look Like?
King Betta look fairly similar to the regular Betta, or the Betta Splenden, as they’re similar in size and color.
Whilst their size may be average; you can usually tell them apart by their shorter fins and broad tails.
As mentioned before, it’s believed that King Betta originated from the Imbellis species. This breed is quite bland in colour, often found to be brown or black, with some brighter colors mixed in as highlights.
Due to the amount of cross-breeding with various species to produce the King betta, they are far more colorful than the Imbellis and are often found in various beautiful bright colors.
As commonly seen in Betta breeds, females are smaller and less colorful than males.
How Big Does a King Betta Grow
There’s a lot of misinformation on the size of King Bettas swimming around online. This is generally due to the common misidentification between King and Giant bettas.
As the name suggests – Giant bettas get… well… giant!
King bettas are generally the same size as most average Bettas, spanning up to around 5-6cm / 2-2.5 inches, with the females being towards the lower end of the spectrum.
What Is a Halfmoon King Betta?
If you’re not hugely familiar with Betta jargon, you might not know the names of different species, color types, and tail shapes. Don’t worry; that’s what articles like this are for!
The word ‘Halfmoon’ refers to a particular shape of the tail, a rounded one that looks like a half-moon.
Other tail types include the round tail, delta, super delta, combtail, and many more!
If you see the name ‘Halfmoon King Betta’ written down anywhere, on an online breeding site or in a pet or fish store, for example, you can expect to see a King Betta with a Halfmoon tail type.
This doesn’t mean that the King Betta is of a different species, just that its breeding line has a specific shape or type of tail.
As mentioned before, King Betta is generally found to be very aggressive. After all, one of their common names is the Siamese fighting fish!
This species is a solitary type of betta fish, preferring to live alone as a single fish family as they are highly territorial.
Due to them originating from the Imbellis type, which was originally bred for fighting, their temperament is one of the features that has, unfortunately, remained through many generations.
When cross-breeding the Imbellis with various other species to create the King Betta, it would have been a good choice to specifically choose breeds that were calm and friendly to try to balance out their anger.
Unfortunately, when it comes to ornamental breeding, the most important outcome is the appearance of the fish. It’s sad to say that King Betta has been bred for many years only to look good.
Whilst that aim has been a success, sadly, it has meant that their temperament and health have been a second thought.
Is King Betta Susceptible to Diseases?
Due to selective breeding for appearance’s sake, the health of the King Betta has not been a top priority amongst breeders who sell them for their looks.
Of course, they will still want to produce healthy fish with good longevity. However, King Betta is prone to several health conditions, but this is generally the same with most Bettas.
Fin rot, Velvet, and Ick are all conditions that may affect a King Betta, or indeed, a Betta of any species.
These illnesses usually result from inadequate care, such as poor water conditions. If you maintain your tank’s water parameters, keeping it clean and ensuring your pet is stress-free, your King Betta should remain in good health.
Although this fish is recommended for those with experience in Betta keeping, it must be made clear that this is due to their temperament and not any health issues.
Overall, the King Betta is a hardy fish, and if it weren’t for their snappy attitude, they would be far better pets for those starting out in the hobby.
How To Care for a King Betta
With their temperament making them territorial creatures, it’s advised that King Betta is kept alone.
This, however, can make for quite a dull fish tank set-up, so it’s important to note here that the King Betta is often only aggravated by other fancy fish.
They certainly like to stand out, that’s for sure!
To ensure the safety of your pet and any others you may have, let them live alone, or if you want to try introducing some tankmates, try docile, dull-looking bottom dwellers, such as kuhli loach!
These fish can bring more life to your home aquarium while keeping the peace.
Even though female King Bettas are smaller and duller in color, these are not a safe choice to be kept alongside a male and should only be introduced when it comes to breeding.
Breeding King Bettas is often considered quite easy – but a word of advice: Unless you’re an expert breeder, don’t try this at home!
Due to their temperament (yes, this again!), male and female King Bettas typically don’t get along. Throwing them into a tank together could lead to disaster and death, so without prior experience in breeding and with aggressive breeds, don’t risk it!
Professionals should do any breeding or those well versed in the hobby to know what they’re doing.
Causing extra stress to your pet unnecessarily or even potentially putting them in danger at the hands of (or indeed the fins of) another fish.
The King Betta is a carnivorous fish with a similar diet to most other meat-eating species, which kind of discredits the saying ‘eating like a king’ – at least in the Betta world, anyway!
These fish thrive on a diet of live and frozen food, which should be supplied, ideally alternately.
Bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and daphnia are all excellent choices of live or frozen food for your Betta. However, you must ensure that live foods are sourced from a reliable supplier in order to minimize the risk of parasites.
Flakes and pellets are also a good choices. Just ensure that if fed either of these, they are high in protein to be an appropriate substitute for real meat.
These should ideally not be the main or only food source, and if possible, should be fed as part of a varied diet alongside live or frozen meals.
Tank Set Up
Many people often confuse the King Betta with the Giant Betta, these may be similar in some ways, but the defining difference is their size.
Whilst the Giant Betta is huge; the King Betta is generally similar in size to most other Bettas, such as the Betta Splenden (the most common type). So they don’t need as much space.
That being said, the King is proud of his territory (just like any King, he’s no different just because he’s a fish), so a larger tank is always the better choice, as this fish loves to explore.
Being a solitary type, it’s recommended that if housed without tankmates, the King Betta should be housed in at least a 10-gallon tank. And, if housed with tankmates, King Betta and his minions should be housed in a 20-gallon tank.
This species has no natural habitat for captive-bred fish, so it isn’t simple enough to try to mimic this in their tank. Otherwise, it would just be empty, making for an incredibly sad little King.
Instead, the best decorations for a King Betta include ornaments for them to be able to explore amongst and hide, as well as items such as logs and rocks if you are going for a nice natural look.
Live plants are always a good choice. If you’re experienced in fish keeping, you’ll likely know that these can be a little more difficult to maintain than ornamental plants.
That being said, they add extra life and biodiversity to your aquarium, which can be particularly helpful if your Betta is living alone.
Toys are also always recommended for Betta. They’re highly intelligent fish no matter the breed, and it’s recommended to provide them with interactive ornaments and plants to explore and play with to keep them mentally stimulated.
Without having something to do on a day-to-day basis, your pet may become bored or even depressed if he lacks the mental stimulation required to keep him happy.
Betta generally likes a gravel substrate, something smooth and bulky that isn’t going to get stirred up.
If they live in a tank with dull-colored bottom dwellers, a sandy substrate can also be added to the tank, which is a great choice for these Betta community tanks.
The composition of the water is one of the most important things to get right when setting up and maintaining your aquarium.
King Betta is a very hardy species, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to get this right! As with any animal, their living conditions are crucial to their longevity and quality of life.
Ideally, the water in the tank’s ideal temperature should be maintained at 26°C (78 deg F), with a pH level of 6.8 – 7.0 and a water hardness level of 5 – 20 dGH.
This will ensure the optimum living conditions for your King Betta to help them live a long, happy, and healthy life.
Hopefully, this article has helped provide you with all the information you need to know to help you build the perfect kingdom for your new King!
All the best of luck in raising and caring for your new pet fish, and if you’re still on the fence about what breed of Betta is best for you, check out some of our other articles that tell you all about them, such as the Emerald Betta and the Betta Livida!