Aquarium Fish

Betta Fish

Of all aquarium fish the Betta is probably the second most popular fish kept with it being only slightly less popular than Goldfish. This fish is a favorite because of its beauty, its long flowing fins and because they are relatively easy to care for. The male sports deep beautiful colors whereas the females are for the most part less colorful. Their stunning colors and flowing fins are some of the reasons for their popularity and the low purchase price helps too (usually less than a few US dollars). However, due to this fish being such an easy sale it has led to some deplorable conditions in which they are kept while waiting to be sold. It really is sad to see how they are kept in many chain pet stores in small jars or small cups, often in very soiled water that is rarely, if ever, changed.

It is called the Siamese Fighting Fish because of its behavior towards other males of the same species. You cannot keep two or more males in the same tank. If more than one male is placed in the same tank, they will fight until only one of them remains. They will flare out their gill covers and erect their fins showing the other fish their fighting posture. This behavior is also why they are kept separated in small containers at the store.

There are ways to see this flaring behaviour without introducing another male. One way is to use a small hand mirror and place it up against the tank glass so that the male may see his reflection. The male will mistake his reflection as another male and the fighting posture should then be displayed. Doing this too often may lead to an overly stressed fish though.

You can get small tanks that come with dividers which will allow you to keep two in the same tank. Many keep them in a small fish bowl and they may live for a while in these small bowls. However, to get the most beautiful colors and optimal health for your fish, they will do better in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium with a heater that can maintain a constant temperature in the aquarium. If you plan on keeping yours in a small aquarium, please read the small tank setup page for ideas on equipment needed. Also check out the Betta Aquarium Setup article written by COBC for the magazine that lists the equipment needed to keep them.

Below are some examples of tiny tanks or bowls you do NOT want to use for your fish! You will see these small tanks at the store and probably right next to the tiny cups they are kept in. Don't be fooled though! They need at least several gallons of water, with a filter and heater too. The images below are from products on Amazon but examples like the ones below are found in nearly every pet store around and should be avoided! The volume of water is too small, they lack heaters and filters and are in general no better than the tiny cups they are kept in at stores waiting for sale.

Do NOT use a tank like this.
Bad Tank

The following is a much better option for keeping them! Click image to see reviews:
Good Tank

If you are looking for one to purchase the prices on this fish can actually get kind of high, especially for show quality. At your local fish store they are usually around $2 to $5.

Betta Male Female Betta splendens Blue and Red Variety

Tail Types Video

To determine the fin type you have, read the forum thread (with pics) Male Tail Types. For figuring out they type of female you have, check out the following thread Female Tail Types.

Fish Care Details

Scientific Name : Betta splendens

Common Names : Siamese Fighting Fish

Care Level : Easy, excellent fish that is good for freshwater beginners and can be just as hardy as goldfish.

Size : 2.5 inches (6 cm)

Water Parameters : ph 6 - 7.5 | Temperature 75°F - 80°F | Water Hardness 5° to 20° dH

Life span : 2 - 3 years, possibly longer

Origin / Habitat : Thailand

Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful if given the right tank mates. They will become aggressive with other males and females. They may also become aggressive towards other fish with large fins such as guppies, angelfish and others.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : Can be difficult since the male will fight the female if not introduced at the right time. For more information please read the breeding and general info article or this one on breeding them.

Tank Size : Can be kept in small tanks as small as 2 gallons but they do best in larger tanks.

Tank Mates : Not many because of their temperament and because of this betta fish fighting is an unfortunate "sport" in some parts of the world. Tropical fish with regular size fins may do well, but avoid tropical fish with larger fins like guppies or angelfish.

Fish Diseases : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Fish Food : Carnivore primarily, but will take flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Blood worms and brine shrimp can be used as well as foods made specifically for them. Check out the food below for more info:

Tank Region : Top

Gender : The male has much more color and bigger fins than the female.

More Information : Mahachai Betta

References :

Forum Avatars :
Male Female Watermelon Type Red Male

More Information

Member's Photos
Another Care Guide
Breeding Guide
Betta Forum
Important Topics


From: D via email
Hello, I was wondering what fish are good tank mates for mine. And if it makes a difference if it is a female or a male.
Hi D. I don't think it will make a difference if it is male or female. If you have a heater and filtration in your aquarium, some good tank mates for them are Plecos, Corydoras and Neon Tetras. We would not recommend Angelfish, Gouramis, Silver Dollars, Tiger Barbs,and some of the larger Tetras. Also, don't have more than one in your tank, otherwise they will fight constantly.

From: Carol - life span
Approximately how long do they live?
If they are well cared for they can usually live for 2 or 3 years.

From: Maggie - tank mates
Just bought a male, I have other tropical fish in the same tank including a serpae tetra. Will these live together ok?
Your Serpae Tetra may not be the most hospitable tank mate for your fish. Serpae Tetras are prone to fin nipping if they are not kept in a small school of maybe 4 to 6.

From: Elizabeth - sick fish
I have a male that has become listless. If he swims up to the top of the tank he will drop back down to the bottom nose first. What could be wrong with him??
It sounds like your fish may be in the last stages of dying. Without more information it would be a guess as to what exactly caused this, but ammonia poisoning (see fish disease section) may be the culprit. Check your water parameters with a test kit and then perform a 50% water change with de-chlorinated water. Ideally, you want no ammonia in the water. If your aquarium has not cycled yet, you are likely to have high amounts of ammonia. Read up on the nitrogen cycle to learn more about this process. Good luck with your fish.

From: Amber - bubble nest
What does it mean when your fish has foam on the top of his tank?
The foam on top of the tank is most likely a bubble nest that your fish has built. This is a good sign that the male is ready to spawn. The bubble nest is used to hold the eggs from the female. The male would then guard this bubble nest until the eggs hatched. If you would like to read up on how to breed them, read the article on breeding them from the link above.

From: Melissa - when to introduce a female
When exactly is the right time to introduce a female to a male?
When the female's belly is getting large with eggs, you will know that the female is ready. Place a small see-through container with the female in it inside the tank with the male. Many stores keep them in a small container and that sort of container will work well for our purposes. Leave the female in this container for a few hours and watch the male. Often times, the male will start building a bubble nest. After the bubble nest looks good, introduce the female. Here is some more information on breeding them.

From: Emily - tank mates
I have a beta, I would like to get a Plecostomus (I think that is what they are called...the sucker fish that remove the algea & such from the tank) along with some tetras. Would this be ok? Thanks.
This arrangement of fish may work, provided that you have a large enough tank to keep them. Plecos can get very large and to keep them comfortable you would need at least a 55 gallon tank. There are Bristlenose plecos that get to be only about 5 inches or so as adults. If you have a smaller tank, try to get a Bristlenose pleco. Depending on the type of tetras, they may be troublesome for them. Fin nipping is common with many tetras but you can help alleviate the fin nipping by getting 4 or more of them to keep each other busy.

From: Duane - sick fish
Just got a Beta and he is the only fish in the aquarium that has things appearing to grow on him. It is white and feathery looking. What should I do? This started within a day of getting him. I tested our tank and the water is hard, the Alkalinity is high at 300 and the alkaline content is at 8.4. Thank you for any suggestions.
It sounds like your fish may have a body fungus. Try Aquarium Pharmaceuticals BettaFix Remedy. Unless you have fish in the tank that require the high alkaline levels you may want to consider lowering your pH. They prefer slightly acidic conditions but will tolerate anything in the 6 - 7.5 pH range.

From: Matt - sick fish
Regarding Elizabeth's post on her sick fish. I was in the same situation, and my fish has recovered and is doing better than ever! His color is back and he is very active. A month ago he was floating on his side (sometimes at the top, some time at the bottom-yikes). I didn't know about the Nitrogen cycle and I cleaned out his bowl (he had been fine). Then he got sick; So here is what I did: I got a 10 gal tank with live plants. The thank had to go through the nitrogen cycle, so he was VERY sick for two weeks. (Several times I thought he died). Anyway, I changed 10% of his water daily to keep ammonia level down while the bacteria could grow (mixed advice from people on this- some say it causes too much stress - they might be right???), used stress coat, seal salt, and enzymes. As I said, his color is back deep blue purple he has red on his fin tips that I had never seen before, and he love's evern fish that had recovered. So I'd thought I'd post this note for those in a similar situation.
My Beta is becoming aggressive towards my plecostomus that I bought today. Can you tell me if it is safe to keep them together or seperate them? They are about the same size.
It depends. Plecos are quite still for long periods of time and they may be curious. Plecos have a fairly tough exterior and I would only worry if they started to visibly injure the pleco. If you do see injury to the pleco, separate them. I would also worry if you had the pleco in a fish bowl or a small tank with no filtration. Common plecos can get very large (up to 18 inches) but a bristlenose pleco only gets to be about 5 or 6 inches. Still, no matter which type of pleco you have, you need a filtration system that will provide adequate surface agitation.

From: Chris - food
Our male doesn't seem to be interested in the flake food but loves tucking into the algae wafers for the Pleco, he also loves bloodworms. A placid fish who floats around not bothering anyone else. He often loafs in the plants and seems to spend the night on top of the filter pipe at the top of the tank. Very interesting and attractive fish.

More Tips: Tips 1 | Tips 2 | Tips 3 | Tips 4

Related Fish Profiles

Giant Gourami
Osphronemus goramy
Giant Gourami
Needs a very large aquarium and grows too big for most tanks.
Kissing Gourami
Helostoma temmincki
Kissing Gourami
Best to keep only one Kissing Gourami per tank because they will pester smaller Kissing Gouramis. The kissing action is actually an act of aggression.
Mahachai Betta
Betta sp. Mahachai
Mahachai Betta
The Mahachai is a wild caught betta. The Mahachai is one of the newest additions to the Betta world.

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