The Siamese fighting fish, more commonly known as the betta fish, is one of the most popular aquarium fishes kept today. They are known for their elaborate fins, their easy care, and their extreme aggression towards any fish they perceive to be a male. Many myths surround the betta fish, which can lead to inproper care and pre-mature death.
Betta fish have a lot of character and if you own more than one, you'll discover they have very different personalities- for instance, some are more aggressive and others more peaceful.
Below, you'll find some basic facts you need to know before you get a betta fish, including their natural habitat, diet, housing, compatible tankmates, and equipment you must have.
Lifespan: Up to five years, occasionally longer
Adult Size: 3 inches
Tank Size: 2.5+ gallons
Temperature: 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Scientific name: Betta splendens
Distribution: Thailand and Cambodia
Temperament: Males are aggressive towards fish that resemble other male bettas. Females are more peaceful, but if kept in groups, they will establish a hierachy.
Bettas in the wild are distributed around Thailand and Cambodia, where they inhabit rice paddies and shallow waters. To survive in these low-oxygenated waters, they have developed a labyrinth organ that allows them to draw oxygen directly from the air, rather than relying solely on their gills. They live in a warm, tropical climate and bettas in captivity should be supplied with a heater. The rice paddies of Thailand and Cambodia are shallow, but vast, accommodating hundreds of gallons of water.
Tank size- Bettas are not the most active of fish, and they don't need a very large tank to stay healthy. However, they still need swimming room and space for a heater, filter, and hiding place. I recommend you keep them in a minimum of 2.5 gallons of water.
Decor- Bettas often like to perch upon aquarium decorations. They should be supplied with a place to hide if they are stressed, whether it is an aquarium plant or some other form of shelter.
Substrate- There are a lot of substrates suitable for bettas- sand, gravel, or bare-bottom will do just fine. However, if the gravel is small enough, the betta can swallow and choke on it when foraging for food, so rocks larger than the fish's mouth is recommended.
Lighting- Lighting is optional; however, you should provide some way of letting them know when it's day and night. Also, the lights should be turned off at night so the betta can get some rest as well.