Betta Fish: Species Profile

Category: Betta

Common Names: Betta, Siamese Fighting Fish

Scientific Name: Betta splendens

Family: Belontiidae

Minimum Tank Size: 2.5 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Max Size: 3 Inches

Temperature: 74-86 F

pH: 6.0-8.0

Tank Level: Middle to Top

Colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Orange, Black, Purple, Pink, Green

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult

Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish with green plants and blue background

Betta Fish Species Overview

The Siamese fighting fish, more commonly known as a betta, are freshwater fish that come in many vibrant colors with many different ornate fin profiles. Betta fish are one of the most popular fish species people look for because of their unique and elegant look.

Although beginners love to purchase these stunning fish, they have an intermediate care level. They’re easy to care for when they have the right environment, but you’ll need a bigger tank and a few more gadgets than what’s typically advertised.

Distinguishing Features of the Betta Fish

You’ve probably seen betta fish swimming around in small tanks or even vases. Although this is the norm for many, small-sized tanks aren’t ideal for a betta fish to thrive.

Betta fish are well-known for their bright colors and long,l1 delicate fins and tails. These graceful fish have various flowy fin types, including delta, half-moon, crown-tail, and veil, to name a few.

You can find them in an abundance of colors and color combinations. Although deep blue and dark red are the most common, they may also be white, red, orange, yellow, blue, gold, black, gray, and violet. However, wild betta fish have duller colors and differently shaped fins.

Betta fish have a torpedo-shaped body and upturned mouths, whether captive or wild. They don’t get very big, only reaching about two and a half inches in length as adults.

When choosing to purchase a betta fish, you’ll have a selection of tail shapes. Each tail shape gives the betta a unique look, and choosing the right form depends on your personal preferences.

Tail Shape:

  • Veiltail: This betta with long, sleek fins is the most common.
  • Comb tail: Comb tail bettas are similar to the veil tail, but their fins and tail taper off to a point, giving it a comb shape.
  • Crowntail: Like comb tail bettas, crown tails have a comb-like fin shape, but their webbing will be about two-thirds down the fins.
  • Halfmoon: Halfmoons are showy fish with fins that fan out, creating a flowy half-circle (aka a “half-moon”) shape.
  • Double tail: Double tail betta fish have two tail fins, appearing like a mermaid tail.
  • Delta: Deltas aren’t as common as other types. Its fins narrow towards its head and fan out toward the tail. They look similar to half moons, though the shape isn’t a full 180 degrees.

betta fish half moon


Betta fish are native to Thailand and other parts of Asia, where they spend their days swimming in shallow, vegetated waters like rice paddies, ponds, marshes, or slow-moving streams.

Their native habitat usually has low oxygen content, but because betta fish has a labyrinth organ, they can gather the necessary oxygen at the surface.

These fish are used to having plenty of plants to hide behind in their native waters. They prefer environments with plants, particularly overhanging, to get some shade or even nap on the leaves.

Underneath the water lies fine, muddy silt that’s usually topped with rotting vegetation. Although their water can be murky in the wild, they do better in clear, soft water when in captivity.

Betta fish are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and go to sleep at night; it’s easier to enjoy watching them swim around their tank.


Whether in the wild or captivity, betta fish will reach about two and a half inches in length. At most, they’ll get up to three inches.

Male betta fish usually have slimmer bodies and are a bit longer than females.


Bettas typically only live for around two years in the wild due to their small and stressful environment. This may be why people try to put them in smaller settings, though you don’t want to replicate it.

When given an appropriate two and a half gallon tank with a heater and filter, bettas can live up to five years. They do even better if they have a bigger tank.

If you place your betta in a tiny decorative fish bowl, vase, or other small containers, they will often live less than two years. So although it’s helpful to replicate their native environment in many ways, you don’t want to give them a stressful and small environment.

Male vs. Female Betta Fish

Male betta fish can be aggressive toward their own species, specifically other male bettas. As carnivores, they’ll even eat any smaller fish or any fish that doesn’t eat them.

If you choose to purchase a male betta fish, they do best with a tank all to themselves. Although there are some potential tank mates, there is always the risk of a male betta showing signs of aggression.

Despite their solitary life, many people enjoy owning male bettas because of their long and flowy fins. They use their showy fins to attract females. Unfortunately, their beautiful fins also make swimming more of a challenge, causing them to swim more slowly.

Females will typically have the same vibrant colors as male bettas, though their fins aren’t as showy. They’re a bit smaller than their male counterparts, allowing them to swim more quickly around their tank.

Females have an “egg spot” behind their ventral fins. It’s hard to see unless you’re looking for it, but it’s one of the main ways to determine the sex.

Unlike male betta fish, females can live with other fish that aren’t bettas. They can become territorial and try to show dominance to one another. However, female betta fish should never be in a tank with aggressive species; their longer fins make them an easy target.

White Betta Fish Over Gravel


Bettas get the nickname “fighting fish” for a reason. Both male and female betta fish can be aggressive and look at other fish as prey.

Males are usually more aggressive than females and need to be in a tank alone. When choosing tankmates for a female betta fish, you need to choose carefully.

Tank Parameters

Unlike the common misconception, bettas need a large tank to thrive. They do best with plenty of plants and decor, a filter, and a heater.

Minimum Tank Size

The minimum tank size you should get for your betta is at least two gallons. Tiny fishbowls or small decorative containers are not sufficient for betta fish (or any other fish).

Water Parameters

Bettas require a freshwater environment with plenty of places to explore, hide, and get rest. They can tolerate poor water quality but will do much better with a regularly cleaned tank.


Betta fish like warm water, precisely a temperature between 72 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.


The pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.


As freshwater fish, there should be no salinity (0 ppt).

Tank Setup

Although betta fish need a large tank with plenty of places to swim, they like to hide in caves or behind plants. Without decor and plants, they can become distressed and may even attempt to jump out of their tank.


Bettas swim all over the tank, even along the bottom. To keep their delicate fins safe, make sure that the substrate is smooth, like gravel.


As previously mentioned, wild bettas have plenty of plants to hide behind, and they prefer a similar captive environment. They’ll even use leaves to lie on and get rest.

Caves make great decor for bettas because it gives them a safe space to hide behind. Other decorations are incredible for bettas to swim around and hide behind too.

The only decoration you should stay away from are pieces with sharp edges. You betta may glide around and up against anything you add into the tank, and rough spots can damage their fins.

Orange Betta


Both live and fake plans make great options for a betta aquarium. However, both have pros and cons, so you need to choose something that suits your needs.

Fake plants are generally low maintenance when compared to natural plants. You can also choose bright colors and create a unique, aesthetic environment.

Natural plants will require specific placements to thrive. After all, your plants are living beings that have their own requirements.

On the other hand, live plants can help to cleanse and oxygenate the water naturally. Some plants even inhibit algae growth, creating a healthier environment.

Best plants to add to a betta fish tank:

  • Anacharis (Brazilian Waterweed)
  • Java Fern (Microsorum Pteropus)
  • Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana)
  • Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Bleheri)
  • Anubias (Anubias Barteri)
  • Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)
  • Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)


Like humans, betta needs bright light during the day and darkness to fall asleep.

Buying a light is optional, but it can help keep your betta fish on a regular sleeping schedule. LED lights are great because you have control over the light intensity, and some even have automatic timers.


Even though bettas live in calm waters in their natural environment, they thrive in tanks with a filter. Adding a filter to your aquarium will keep it nice and clean, allowing your betta to stay healthy and disease-free.

Because bettas struggle to swim in strong currents, you’ll need a filter that doesn’t have a heavy flow. You can also purchase an adjustable filter, which allows you to choose a gentle setting.

Gold and Yellow Betta


Originating in the warm water of Thailand, bettas need a heater added to their tank for optimal temperatures. You don’t need a heater if you keep your place warm enough for them or if you have a tank smaller than five gallons.

The heater should be submersible and allow you to set the temperature to at least 72 degrees Fahrenheit, but around 78 degrees is best.

If your betta experiences a temperature drop, it will be more susceptible to disease. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, this could cut down the betta’s life expectancy.

Purchase a heater with a thermostat to keep an eye on it. You can also get an additional thermometer to ensure good readings.


Bettas are carnivores; therefore, they need plenty of protein sources to maintain a healthy diet. They naturally have an upturned mouth that allows them to quickly grab insects floating on the water’s surface.

It would be best to feed your betta fish plenty of freeze-dried or live foods or fish foods high in crude protein.

The fish food flakes you can find at pet stores are not suitable for betta fish. Some places have betta-specific fish food, which usually has the right amounts of protein and nutrients for this species.

The best foods for bettas include:

  • Frozen bloodworms
  • Live blackworms
  • Betta pellets
  • Freeze-dried brine shrimp
  • Insect-based pellets

You should feed your betta fish two to four pellets, once or twice per day. For freeze-dried or fresh food, feeding should be one to two days per week.


When breeding these incredibly territorial fish, you’ll need to take proper care to prevent injuries.

You’ll need a large aquarium for your betta fish breeding tank. Ideally, choose a tank that’s around ten gallons.

Like your standard betta tank, the breeding tank will need plenty of places for your betta fish to explore, hide, and sleep. Avoid adding any substrate to this tank.

The male betta fish will attempt to attract the female by creating a bubble nest. For him to do this, you should add something to the water’s surface.

One excellent option is to add plants containing leaves that touch the top of the water. The bubble nest not only attracts the female but protects the betta fry. So, it’s essential not to forget this step.

Because males can be aggressive toward other betta fish, you may want to have a few males for mating. Then, if one male isn’t interested, or the female isn’t interested in him, you can try another.

Common Diseases

Because of the betta’s beautifully delicate fins, they are prone to a few diseases. If you keep your tank clean and free of harm, you should be able to house a healthy betta fish. However, there are a few diseases to be aware of.

Fin Rot

Betta fish can get what’s called “fin rot,” which is a harmful bacterial infection that attacks their body.

The first sign of fin rot is if the betta fish’s mouth or fins may look damaged. Once a betta fish has some damage, they are susceptible to fin rot.

Usually, betta fish will get fin rot in poor water conditions that stress your fish out and lower their immune system. This infection will grow throughout the body and kill them if left untreated.

If your betta fish has fin rot, they’ll need a complete water change and medication for the infection.


Like other small fish, bettas can become constipated if they are overfed. Signs your betta fish is constipated include a swollen abdomen, lack of appetite, and infrequent bowel movements (you’ll notice fewer feces in the tank).

To treat a betta fish with constipation, you’ll need to allow them to fast for a day or two. Some people feed a frozen pea (remove the skin first) to let the fiber help move the blockage.


Ich is another somewhat common infection that fish, including bettas, can get. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is an ectoparasite that imbeds itself into white patches on a betta’s skin.

Without treatment, ich can affect their entire body and kill them over time.

The dreaded white spots along betta’s scales are the first sign your fish has ich. These parasite-housing cysts have a cotton ball-like look to them.

Betta fish with ich may excessively rub against surfaces in the tank to try to dislodge the parasites.

You’ll need to remove your filter, add treatment, and raise the temperature to 85 degrees to treat this infection.


Like ich, velvet is another parasitic infection that affects many aquarium fish. Unfortunately, many fish owners don’t realize what’s happening until their fish die.

This parasite can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish. Betta fish with velvet will have a golden-gray coating over their body. You may miss it at first glance, but it becomes more apparent with good lighting.

Treating velvet is similar to treating ich.

Betta Fish Fungal Infections

Fungal spores can be found in almost every aquarium setting. Fungal infections are prevalent in aquariums due to these spores.

They can take hold any time there is damage to a betta’s slime coat. An affected fish looks as though they are wearing cotton.

To treat an affected betta fish, you’ll add fungicide to their tank.

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease will affect your fish’s swimming ability. If a betta has swim bladder disease, you’ll notice that they are swimming unusually.

They may struggle to balance and glide on one side or upside down. Bettas may also struggle to swim to the top or bottom of the tank.

To treat swim bladder disease, you’ll need to remove the affected betta to a shallow tank. Treat the water in their new tank with an antibiotic. Then, change the water daily until you see signs of recovery in your betta fish.

Potential Tank Mates

Because betta fish can be aggressive and are carnivorous, you need to be careful when choosing tankmates. As previously mentioned, only females should have other fish with them.

Male betta fish do best when they have a tank to themselves. However, females can do okay with other female bettas or certain other fish.

Regardless of the tankmates you choose, you’ll need to ensure that the tank is large enough for your betta fish and new fish friends to coexist.

Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli loaches look like eels and are neat little pets to add to your aquarium. As adults, they’ll reach about three and a half inches long.

They make great tank mates because while your betta fish is swimming around, your kuhli loaches will be fast asleep. Additionally, they’re excellent scavengers who will eat any leftover betta food.

They’ll need plenty of food that floats to the bottom as bottom feeders. Feed them after feeding your betta so that you can see how much leftover food they’ve already eaten.

Ember Tetras

Ember tetras have a stunning orange-red color for betta fish lovers who love a vibrant fish. They’ll need a large tank that is at least ten gallons.

They are community fish, so you’ll want to add at least five of them. By creating a small community of tetras, your betta will be unable to single out any fish.

These bright fish tend to float around the tank’s center and feed on the same foods your betta does.

They pair well with an aquarium with bright blue betta fish with their luminous red bodies.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Malaysian trumpet snails make excellent tank mates for bettas because they’re nocturnal. During the day, when your betta fish is active, these snails will burrow in the tank’s substrate.

One outstanding attribute of these tiny snails is their natural ability to clean algae off your glass. This allows you to keep your tank clean with more ease while enjoying having another pet in your tank.

The only potential downside to Malaysian trumpet snails is their reproduction abilities. To reproduce, all they need is a good feeding, and they will quickly repopulate.

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras are easy-to-care-for fish with bright orange bodies and a distinctive black triangle-shaped patch on their sides.

Like ember tetras, they need a school of their own to socialize and protect one another. They’re peaceful fish that will stay out of your betta’s space during feedings.

Your betta may attempt to chase them around, allowing your betta fish to get extra exercise.

Cory Catfish

Last but not least, cory catfish are an excellent option for betta aquariums. These bottom-dwelling fish like to swim in a school, so you’ll need at least three of them.

Corydoras only grow to about three inches, so don’t worry about them getting as big as catfish you find in a lake.

This type of fish has various species to choose from, so you can choose to get all the same or a few of each type.

Although these fish will scavenge the bottom of the tank for leftover betta food, they’ll need their own specific type of sinking food.