We’re all familiar with the comic character Superman who possessed remarkable powers that he used to do good and keep law and order in his home city.
So, what is a Superman betta? Are Superman bettas especially strong? Do they possess any special qualities that are lacking in regular bettas?
Read this guide to learn more about Superman betta fish, including how to care for them.
What Is A Superman Betta Fish?
A Superman betta fish is essentially a Plakat betta fish bred specifically for its fighting abilities. Plakat translates as “biting fish.”
Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting fish or Japanese Fighting fish. That’s because the males of this fish species are known to be highly territorial and aggressive toward other male bettas that enter their territory.
For that reason, you must never keep two male betta fish together, as the fish will definitely fight, often to the death.
Origins And Background
The Plakat betta fish is closely related to the wild bettas found in the Mekon basin of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, where the population of these feisty fish is greatest.
Wild Plakat betta fish inhabit slow-moving water bodies, particularly floodplains, rice paddies, ditches, and marshes. Plakats can even be found living in small puddles during the dry season. To survive in such harsh conditions, the fish have evolved a labyrinth organ that enables the fish to breathe atmospheric air, allowing the fish to survive in an oxygen-depleted environment.
The betta fish is also an impressive jumper, leaping from one puddle to the next to find mates, food, and escape from rival males. Siamese Fighting fish also jump to snatch low-flying insects from just above the water surface.
Plakat bettas are primarily carnivorous fish that feed on mosquito larvae, a small number of algae, some plant matter, and water-bound insects in the wild.
The IUCN Red List lists wild Plakat bettas as “vulnerable.” The primary threat to these fish is habitat destruction and pollution that increasingly affect certain betta strongholds in Thailand.
Superman Betta Appearance
Plakats can grow to an impressive 2.8 inches in length in the wild. These fish are not brightly colored and typically show shades of green, brown, or gray.
Plakats don’t have the long, flowing finnage of their betta Splendens cousins. Instead, these fish have short, stubby fins that evolved explicitly to make the fish more agile and powerful swimmers.
Modern betta fish are bred to display brighter, more vibrant colors than their wild cousins. Since betta fish are relatively easy to breed, you can even get into betta breeding to create your own beautiful color morphs in your home tank.
Superman Fighting Fish
Back when Thailand was known as Siam, Fighting fish were big business. Male betta fish are naturally extremely aggressive and are prepared to kill any other male encroaching on their territory.
Local people caught and bred Plakat bettas for over 700 years, specifically to use in organized fights. People would place wagers on the outcome of the battles, and a lot of cash changed hands. If you owned a highly successful Fighting fish, its offspring could be very valuable to other enthusiasts.
The first official reports of fights appeared in the 1800s. Even the King of Siam owned fighting Plakats and licensed the fights, giving royal approval to the events. In the 1840s, a Danish zoologist, Theodor Cantor, received several successful fighting fish from the King of Siam, from which modern bettas were bred.
Bettas are after the Ikan Betta people of Siam, who had the reputation of being brave warriors.
These days, Plakat fighting is still a serious business in the fish’s native Thailand. However, in most of the world, pitting bettas against each other could get you into hot water. For example, in the UK, the Animal Welfare Act forbids keeping these fish for fighting purposes, which could earn you a hefty fine.
In Thailand, fighting fish today does come with regulations and some restrictions. However, that’s more about controlling unregulated gambling than maintaining animal welfare standards. So, although you can fight your fish, you’re not permitted to wager money on the outcome of the fights. Fish fighting is also still legal in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Thai fighting Plakats are commonly called Morh. These fish have been bred selectively throughout the centuries to be stronger, larger, and more powerful than their wild relatives.
Superman bettas have short, powerful fins that are less prone to injury and damage than those of their more decorative cousins. These Mohr bettas have stocky bodies, a strong, oversized jaw, and a muscular caudal attachment point, enabling the fish to fight more aggressively and effectively. So, if you decide to buy a Superman betta, you must keep him well away from other male bettas and fish that might be vulnerable to attack, such as those with long, flowing tails.
Like all betta fish, Superman bettas have very distinctive personalities, and each fish is very much an individual. You can interact with your betta pet, train him to perform simple tricks, and enjoy many hours watching your fish explore his surroundings.
How To Care For A Superman Betta
So, you’ve decided that you want to keep a Superman betta, and who can blame you! These stunning fish are packed with personality and sass, making a Superman Plakat an excellent pet to own.
Superman betta fish are relatively easy to care for, provided that you give your pet a high-quality diet and the correct habitat and water parameters.
Superman bettas grow to between 2 and 3 inches in length. However, these small fish must not be kept in a tiny jar, bowl, or vase. A betta will establish a territory of up to 3 square feet in the wild. So, you can see that a tiny vase is not at all suitable.
It’s also not true that betta fish don’t need a heater or filtration system in their aquarium. Bettas are tropical fish that need a stable water temperature and clean water to thrive. So, your betta tank needs a filtration system and a heater.
A Superman betta should be kept in a minimum tank size of 2 to 5 gallons, although a larger tank is better. Since bettas gravitate to the upper area of the water column, you need a long, shallow tank so that the fish have easy access to the water surface.
Bettas of all species are tropical freshwater fish that require warm water between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining the correct water temperature is vital for bettas. It’s also essential that the room’s ambient temperature in which your Superman’s tank is kept is very close to the water temperature. Your pet’s labyrinth organ could be damaged if there’s a significant discrepancy between the two temperatures.
The water pH needs to be between 6.0 and 7.5, with the water hardness in the range of 2 to 12 dKH.
Ensure that you monitor the water conditions in your betta tank and keep them stable. Fluctuations in the water parameters will stress your Superman betta, compromising the fish’s autoimmune system and potentially leading to health issues.
Your Superman’s tank must have a biological and mechanical filtration system installed. Bettas are highly sensitive to excessive amounts of nitrates in the water, so efficient filtration is essential to keep the water clean and healthy for your precious fish. You will also need to perform partial water changes of between 15% and 25% every week to remove excess nitrates from the water.
You can also help to keep the environment healthy and clean by using an aquarium vacuum to remove fish waste, plant debris, and general detritus from around the base of plants, under decorations, and in the tank corners.
Wild Plakat bettas live in an environment where the water has little to no flow, and the fish are not especially strong swimmers. For that reason, you’ll need to choose a filter system that doesn’t generate too much current. Buffer the flow with decorations and plants, or choose a system with a built-in flow direction attachment or an adjustable pump.
Even Superman needs to take regular naps, and your betta fish is no different. Good resting places for betta fish include broad-leaved plants. Bettas need places to adopt as a territory, so provide your fish with caves, driftwood, and rockwork. Floating plants can also make a good addition to the tank, offering shelter for fry and shy bettas.
Bettas need easy access to the water surface to feed and breathe through their labyrinth organ, so ensure that you leave plenty of accessible surface area for your fish.
Tankmates For Superman Bettas
Remember that Plakats are bred as fighters, and Superman bettas are strong, powerful fish. So, it goes without saying that you must never keep your Superman betta with another male betta, as that combination would surely result in carnage!
That said, betta fish are usually peaceful with many other fish species, and they actually seem to enjoy some company in their tank. However, there are a few fish that you’re best to avoid, as these guys don’t make suitable tank mates for Superman bettas.
- Large, aggressive fish that might try to eat your betta
- Very shy fish that could be intimidated by the betta
- Fish with long, flowing finnage that might be mistaken for another male betta
Since betta fish like to spend most of their time swimming in the upper part of the water column, we recommend that you avoid species of small schooling fish that would encroach on Superman’s territory and trigger aggression.
Although very small invertebrates might be viewed as prey, you can include a few shrimp and snails in your setup to add variety. The betta won’t bother them, and many species make a good cleaning crew, eating algae and general detritus and helping to keep the tank tidy.
As previously mentioned, male bettas can’t safely be kept together, as they will definitely fight. However, you might keep a small group, or sorority, of female betta fish with your male. The male will most likely build a bubble nest and encourage one or more females to spawn with him if the tank conditions are correct.
What Do Superman Betta Fish Eat?
Like all betta fish, Superman bettas are primarily carnivorous. The fish feed on mosquito larvae, water-bound insects, tiny invertebrates, plant matter, and algae in the wild.
In captivity, you can feed your fish frozen and freeze-dried meaty foods, as well as betta pellets. Live food is also a great option for your fish, especially brine shrimp and bloodworms. However, make sure that your supplier is reputable, as bacteria and parasites can find their way into your fish tank via live foods. Also, for the same reason, you must never take live foods from the natural environment.
Feed your Superman betta twice a day, offering him just enough food to keep him busy for a couple of minutes. Don’t overfeed your fish! Bettas are prone to health conditions such as constipation and bloating, both of which can be fatal to your fish if not treated promptly.
Health And Disease
Superman Plakats were traditionally bred to be robust, strong, hardy creatures that could survive bouts of fighting and any minor injuries sustained during fights. The Superman’s average lifespan is around four years, although some fish live longer than that.
However, like all fish, your pet’s health is heavily influenced by the conditions in which he’s kept and the diet he receives. So, be sure to keep your betta’s tank clean, provide lots of decorations and toys to keep your pet mentally happy, and feed him a varied, high-quality diet.
Common problems that affect betta fish include digestive disorders, as mentioned above. However, if your pet’s diet is correct and you don’t overfeed him, issues such as constipation and bloat shouldn’t be a problem.
When stressed, betta fish can suffer from attacks by parasites, such as Ich. Again, provided that your fish has a clean, comfortable tank and isn’t housed with unsuitable tank mates, these common fish diseases shouldn’t be a problem.
Most common fish diseases can be treated with over-the-counter drugs that you can buy in your local fish store or online.
Is A Superman Betta A Good Choice For My Tank?
If you have a long, shallow tank over five gallons in size with a community of peaceful fish that don’t inhabit the upper area of the water column, you might want to add a beautiful Superman betta fish to your collection.
These feisty fish can also be kept alone with a few shrimp and snails for company and will happily interact with you every day. You can even teach your fish a few simple tricks to impress your friends!
Keep your betta’s tank clean and offer him a varied, high-quality diet to keep him healthy, and you can expect to enjoy your Superhero fishy friend for up to four years!