The Siamese Fighting Fish – Betta Splendens

Fast Facts

Name: Siamese fighting fish
Other names: Betta fish
Scientific names: Betta Splendens
Size: 3 inches (6.5cm)
Age: 3 – 5 years
Appearance: Wide variety of bright colors
Food: Pellets, granules, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, black worms, and daphnia
Water Temperature: 75 – 82F (24 - 28°C)
Water PH: 5 - 7
Tank Size: 5 Gallon (20 L)
Natural Predators: Larger fish, newts, salamanders, and birds
Mating season: Rainy season
Size of eggs: 10 - 40

The Siamese fighting fish (Betta fish), was first bred in captivity in Southeast Asia around 1910. They were first initially bred for shows and competitions due to their colorful exterior. In Nature, they are in flooded rice fields, irrigation channels, and marshy areas in Thailand. They were also originally captured and used for fighting competitions due to their very aggressive nature towards their species.

In the wild betta fish are loners and only meet for mating purposes. This aggressive nature is an important fact to note as two males should never be together under any circumstances.

Size & Life Expectancy

The life of a fighting fish, when kept in a small bowl, is significantly reduced. This misconception can be seen in the small bowls they are sold in. If properly cared for they can live up to 5 years in captivity. Additionally, betta fish grow up to a size of approximately 3” (6.5cm).

Characteristics

Male Fighting Fish
Male fighting fish close up

Although both the males and female are beautiful fish, the male is the most ornamental. The males have beautiful, deep pigments such as red, black, orange, blue, turquoise, and pink. The males also have much larger, richer fins than the female counterparts.

There are many different colors siamese fighting fish can come in but, yellow is the brightest and appears gold, almost transparent. Pure black betta females are more likely to be sterile, and because of this, it makes them very expensive and attractive to collectors.

Below are some of the more common colors Bettas come in:

  • Pastel – any color pastel or white pastel colored fins
  • Chocolate – usually a brownish color, which is a mixture of black and yellow
  • Melano – black and very difficult to breed because most females are sterile
  • Royal Blue – Blue is darker, almost it appears purple
  • White – both solid and opaque; Most have black eyes
  • Mustard gas – blue, green and blue steel body, which is two-colored
  • Red – Red is one of the most coveted, but other variants are red/brown and deep purple
  • Orange – that looks red
  • Steel blue – blue fresh with a hint of gray; Sometimes also known as metallic blue
  • Cellophane – no pigmentation, transparent lamellae, almost clear
  • Yellow – various shades of yellow, gold is rare
Melano Betta
Melano Betta” by Sandra Miller licensed under CC BY 2.0
Red Betta
Red Betta
Cellophane Betta
Cellophane Betta” by Kelsey VC licensed under CC BY 2.0

Behavior

Although the siamese fighting fish is quite a popular fish, it got the name for a reason. They are aggressive by nature, and the males will often fight each other. Males are very territorial and will fight to the death if contained in a small space.

Contrary to this fact, there are certain criteria where they will not be aggressive with each other.  A male with several females can be put together, if the tank is large and if the water level is not above 77F (25°C). The lower water temperature will hamper their breeding instincts and reduce the aggressive potential of the males.

Nutrition

Siamese fighting fish should be fed three pellets of flakes once a day or one pellet twice a day. Betta fish are carnivores and can be fed brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms, and pieces of cocktail shrimp.

Siamese fighting fish
Siamese fighting fish eating pellet food” by Sarah Beth licensed under CC BY 2.0

Furthermore, they are susceptible to constipation, and regular inspection for constipation should take place. The stomach should be the size of its eyeball. If the stomach is larger than the eye, there is a chance of digestive issues.

Bettas can survive a week without food if they are well-fed prior. Furthermore, It is important not to overfeed them as they will eat until they die.

Betta Care

Betta are one of the most popular fish for beginner aquarist. They prefer water that is soft and have a pH level that is slightly acidic (5 – 7). It is important to note that they prefer warmer temperatures above 75F (24°C).

If temperatures fall below this, they will become stressed. Bettas can live in a low dissolved oxygen environment due to their unique respiratory organ is known as a labyrinth. This labyrinth allows the fish to breathe little air concentration and oxygen directly from the air.

The fighting fish do not manage well with other aggressive fish such as cichlid or fin nipping fish such as Danios, Tetras or barb. There must be only one male kept in an aquarium or the very least be separated by a barrier. Also, Females can be kept in a group of up to 5 as they do not have the same aggressive behavior as the males.

Moreover, keeping the male betta with other fish, they should not have colorful fins like a male guppy as the betta will mistake them for a betta and kill them.

Tank Care

The aquarium should be filled with sand, gravel and live plants such as pistia stratiotes or Cabomba caroliniana. Plastic plants with sharp edges can damage the males’ large colorful fins.

Pistia Stratiotes
Pistia Stratiotes” by Latour Marliac licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cabomba caroliniana
Cabomba caroliniana” by Andrej Jakubik licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

The tank should be cleaned thoroughly and often to ensure a healthy betta. In addition, when cleaning the tank soap must be avoided as it will be fatal. Using elbow grease, clean, warm water, and an abrasives brush will work like a charm.

In conclusion, Bettas like any other per requires food, attention, and love from their owners to create a stress-free environment. When cared for they will live for a long time to come.