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Betta Splendens: An Overview of Siamese Fighting Fish and Images of Different Types

Updated on October 3, 2011

Some of the prettiest bettas on the market:

Betta Splendens, or the Siamese Fighting Fish, is one of the most popular fish in the fishkeeping world. This is largely due to misconceptions regarding the betta's needs and housing requirements, as many are led to believe they are no-maintenance pets or decoration. When properly cared for, the betta is an extremely rewarding pet for hobbyists looking for single exhibits or a good community fish. That's right, I said a community fish - the reputation of these fish for aggression is not entirely accurate, as will be discussed later.


Bettas originated in Thailand, though their distinctive colors and features do not exist in the wild. These fish can adapt to short periods of time in very small quarters, an adaptation to periods of drought or dry seasons in which the fish had to be able to live in mud puddles or other areas of very little water. However, this is only a short-term ability; wild bettas generally live in vast rice paddies where they have plenty of free swim space.


Colors of bettas vary widely from the solid colors to marbled, butterfly, dragon and more. While most pet stores sell veiltail bettas, with their flowing spade-shaped tails, these are far from the only ones available. Some of the other types of bettas include:

Crowntails - Good crowntails have at least a 180-degree spread of their tails with a serrated edge. There are several varieties of crowntail, determined by the different types of serrated edge.

Deltas and Super Deltas - These fish have a split, rounded tail fin with smooth edges.

Plakats - Both male and female plakats have short fins, though the fins can vary in type and shape. These are often seen with a rounded smooth or crown tail, but spade-shaped tails are also common.

Halfmoons and Over-Halfmoons - These fish have gorgeous flowing, rounded fins. halfmoons have a 180-degree fin spread, while over-halfmoons are classified by the over-180 spread. A good over-halfmoon will have fins around its entire body, except directly in front of its head, when fully flared. One popular variety of halfmoon is the rosetail, an attractively ruffled tail.

There are other types available on the market, especially through individual breeders, though these are some of the most popular.


Veiltails, of the quality generally peddled by fish farms, are widely available in pet stores for around $3-$5 each. These are generally a very poor quality of fish that should not be bred for private sale. Anyone wishing to breed their fish should seek out a quality pair from a reputable breeder, as well as thoroughly research all requirements for keeping the resultant fry healthy.

Many of the other varieties are available through breeders, on online forums, and on auction sites such as Most of these varieties start at about $15 for a pet-quality fish and go up from there, sometimes into the hundreds of dollars for top-quality breeders. Often, the best stock can be found from breeders in Singapore, Thailand, and other such countries with a high breeding standard.


Contrary to popular belief, these fish can NOT thrive in tiny cups or the ever-popular betta vases. These fish should have no less than a gallon apiece and should have good filtration. In one gallon of water, partial water changes will be required every two or three days. Not only do these fish not require bottled water in their bowls or tanks, it is not recommended. Bottled water has no minerals (unless they have been added or intentionally left in) and is drastically different from the water the fish has been in up to that point. Research proper cycling methods and use de-chlorinated tap water to ensure the fish has the same kind of water it's used to, or as near to the same kind as possible.

Plants are attractive decoration and appreciated by the bettas. Because these fish are air-breathers (they breath off of the surface of the water, as opposed to many other kinds of fish that absorb dissolved oxygen in the water) they appreciate plants near the surface that they can rest on at times. These should be either real or silk plants, the plastic plants commonly sold for aquarium decoration can snag the betta's flowing tail and tear it.

Care and feeding:

Aside from partial water changes, bettas require little beyond regular feeding. These fish are generally fed very small amounts two or three times a day, though some fish can successfully be fed less. Juveniles and fry will need to be fed at LEAST once a day.

Many pet store fish will only eat the betta pellets they've been raised with, though if at all possible your fish should be fed a variety of foods. Though notoriously finicky eaters, bettas almost always learn to accept different kinds of food. A balanced diet of pellets mixed with live food such as moina, micro-worms, bloodworms, grindal worms, or brine shrimp will keep your betta healthy, active, and brilliantly-colored.


Depending on the feeding and housing conditions, bettas can live for about 3-4 years. Bettas kept in less-than-ideal conditions such as betta vases, small cups, or so-called "betta bowls" are lucky to live an entire year, and most die well before that.


Male bettas are territorial and aggressive with other males of their kind, and occasionally with females of their kind. While it is true that great care should be taken when putting a betta in with any others of its kind, it is equally true that they make excellent community fish.

Female bettas are less territorial, but still have the potential for aggression with other females. Sorority tanks, or all-female betta tanks, are often successful, though care must be taken while they're being set up to make sure that there is no excessive aggression amongst the fish.

Tank mates:

Bettas go well with just about any small, non-aggressive community fish such as platies, guppies, smaller tetras such as neons and cardinals, medium-sized non-aggressive tetras such as ghost tetras, and smaller danios.

Swordtails can sometimes cause problems in a betta tank. Because of their similar size and bright coloring, male bettas sometimes see swordtails as rivals. Nippy fish such as barbs (except cherry barbs), larger danios, and anything else that might try to chew on the betta's fins are not good choices.

Care should be taken if you're mixing bettas with any kind of fry as well as invertebrates such as snails or shrimp, as the betta may pick on these.


While bettas are one of the hardiest, most attractive fish in the fishkeeping hobby, they are still a living thing. As such, due diligence must be given to research and care to ensure your fish's health and safety. This may seem like a lot of information and it is just the tip of the iceberg in all there is to know about these gorgeous fish, but once learned can lead to some of the most rewarding experiences imaginable.



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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Bungii has an apricot body with blue eyes and orange-blue tail-fins. is that good for a betta?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Bungii is always so happy ,i just love her .i also have a goldfish .Bungii is apricot male betta

    • wychic profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mikulin 

      7 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      No problem, I love to help :). The hard water shouldn't be any issue at all, I've bred bettas here in Wyoming and we have some really hard water too. The tank size is good, and the filtration sounds great. One thing I would suggest is that rather than doing a complete water change and wiping everything down, do about a 70% water change and only wipe things down if algae appears. A sponge dedicated to aquarium cleaning only (generally best to get one from a pet store to make sure there are no additional chemicals added in) works great for getting rid of the algae without leaving any particles in the water like paper tends to do. When everything is changed out and wiped down, it doesn't give the beneficial bacteria a chance to colonize so the tank never cycles, so you may be getting some minor ammonia spikes that have been enough to make him a bit sick but not kill him.

      For the filter, is it the hang-on-back type, or the type that has a plastic tray under the gravel and has tubes that come up with carbon capsules in them? If it's the first type, rather than completely changing the filter just rinse it off in a bowl of tank water (can be scooped out prior to his water change) and put it back in. It only really needs changed if you have to medicate the tank or if the existing filter gets too gunked up to rinse off. If it's the latter, change the carbon capsules on a different day than you do water changes so it doesn't take too much bacteria out of the tank.

      As for food -- bettas are extremely finicky eaters, and a lot of pet store bettas haven't been introduced to other types of food so you may not be able to get him to take anything else. Try some Hikari Betta Gold (as soon as I'm done with my comment I'll update this hub with a link to my review on that, you'll see that some of my bettas will take it while others won't) or decapsulated brine shrimp eggs. If you have room to keep a live culture, micro-worms, grindel worms, vinegar eels, or moina are all great food for them. Usually a starter culture can be bought online for about $2-$5, and then it just takes a little bit of baby cereal to keep them going. This is all dependent on whether or not he'll actually eat them :P -- if he won't, he should do fine on just blood worms, but a variety will likely extend his life a bit and give him brighter color. Hope this helps :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi, THank you sooo very much for your offer to continue helping. My friends are making fun of me but I really love my Betta named.. Betta. I've had him for 6 months from pet store bright red male with amazing personality! I have been doing complete tank changes, scrubbing tank with plain paper towel and cleaning all fake plants and glass beds for the bottom every week.... I thought this was correct. I don't know what a aclimation means or how to do it. I underdstand what it means for a new fish but not when u clean the tank and put him back in. I would have done it but this is the first I heard of it.

      I have two dif. flilters... one that blows bubbles under the water and another that sucks the old waste and food out. He seems to love the bubble one... these are both new sence he started to fade over past week or week and an half.

      I have tried every thing and he will only eat freeze dried blood worms, I don't over feed or under and clean excess food after 3-5 minutes.

      Your questions:

      It's a 2.5 gallon tank which he seems to love! He does not act happy frisky when i put him back in smaller 1 gal tank.

      I recently moved him to the kitchen well lite counter he had been on my desk but I was not there to keep him company as much as I had been in the past.

      The lid to the tank light broke so I was using the smaller light from 1 gal. tank. recently akalinity levels went off the charts after I added pink gravel that was supposed to be made for Betta's with micro living organizims in it. He has never had anything but freeze dried as I understank he could get sick from other food.... but I don't think tD blood worms are enough for his nutritional needs? dD you know or have any taste sugesstions? Two days ago he was on the bottom and barely moving.. changing more than half water and using all natural betta cure drops helped. Do I change all water at once and if so how often? I turned both filters on high and that seems fine. I have not got the larger light for the bigger tank. the ph is a tiny bit low and our water up here in Alaska is always on the hard side. But it's been that way since I got him. He's been living in 70 degree water and I check temp and test strip new bowl before change and put fresh clean fake plant in so he can rest. Any ideas or things I'm missing? Please let me know who often and how to and how much water I should usin g to clean tank..... THANK YOU FOR HELPING MY BABY!!!

    • wychic profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mikulin 

      8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Thanks :). The internal filters that come in most of the smaller kits work quite well for a betta, and the one that hang on the back aren't too strong for them as long as the water level stays near the top so it doesn't have a waterfall effect.

      The fish you're looking at would do well in a 5G, with the possible exception of the danio -- though that will primarily depend on whether you get one of the longer ones (like the ones I have listed in my Amazon ads) or one of the taller ones (like the 5G hexes). They need quite a bit of swim space and do well in the longer tanks, but not quite as well in the tall ones. I also like the long ones better for bettas because it gives them a shorter trip to the surface. However, if you want to see a little better schooling, a single betta with about four neons would give a great, colorful effect. I also listed a 2.5G kit that I've used in the past, which is a great one for a betta by itself.

      Hope this helps :). Sadly, I find that people at pet stores don't know what they're talking about most of the time -- usually they just happened to be the person to apply for that particular job, regardless of any knowledge or experience.

    • profile image

      the fix 

      8 years ago

      This is such a great hub! I am really interested in getting fish and I have been very drawn to the Bettas. I always want to buy the whole bunch in the pet store because they seem so miserable in those tiny bowls. I knew the pet store didn't know what it was talking about when they told me they were fine in there!

      Do they do well in one of those 5 gallon kits they sell? I worry that the filtration is too strong and they won't be able to get to the top easily to breath. I just want one Betta, 2 neons and 1 small but fat black danio. Will that work? If you recommend a kit from Amazon you should put it up so I can click through you!

    • jameelkhan01 profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for help

    • finatics profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article, it has good information. Voted up for usefulness. :)


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