The Betta Fish: A Complete Introduction

The betta is a beautiful fish, right? 😊

With its unusual colors and wavy tail, the betta is an aquarium inhabitant that often attracts attention.

But… a betta tank requires the right approach if you want to keep your brand new betta healthy. This article is therefore an introduction to the wonderful world of bettas.

Who or what is a betta…?

There is a difference between what a betta really is and what most people mean when they talk about a betta. Yes there is 😉

In practice, almost everyone who talks about bettas talks about “Betta splendens”.

But that’s actually an injustice to all those other beautiful betta fish, because there are over 70 different species of betta. They are freshwater aquarium fish belonging to the family Osphronemidae, also known as “True Gourami”.

The latter seem to be taken from a Japanese samurai movie, but in reality they do not belong to the samurai, but to the perch family.

You have bettas with different tails. Think of a very colorful fin, known as a crowntail, or longtails whose pelvic fin is almost as long as their already very long tail fin. There are also species that have crescent-shaped fins, or double tails, round tails, and even triangular delta fins.

But the best known are the damsel fish with their veil tail.

What species of betta exist?

As already mentioned, there are more than 70 species of bettas. Listing them all here would take too long, but it’s interesting to know that they can be divided into 13 groups (or complexes) (thanks to the International Betta Congress):

  • Akarensis Complex
  • Albimarginata Complex
  • Anabatoid Complex
  • Bellica Complex
  • kitchen complex
  • Dimidiata Complex
  • Edithae Complex
  • Foerschi Complex
  • Pictish Complex
  • Pugnax Complex
  • Splendens Complex
  • Unimaculata Complex
  • Waseri Complex

The popular Betta Splendens belongs to the Splendens complex, along with five other species.

All betta fish are relatively small, although there are big differences in size between them. B. Chanoides barely reaches 2.5 cm, while B. Akarensis reaches 14 cm.

A Siamese Kempvis reaches 6 cm as a male, females are slightly smaller.

What water values ​​are suitable for a betta aquarium?

One thing is for sure, these critters don’t like cold water! When the temperature in your aquarium drops below 20°C, there won’t be much to see of those graceful moving bettas. It seems as if they enter a kind of hibernation, or torpor.

As with many other species of fish, getting the water parameters right for bettas is not an insurmountable task. You just have to know what they like.

Here are the optimal values ​​for a betta tank:

  • pH: 5 to 7 (it is essential!)
  • Temperature: between 20 and 27°C (you can play with this to mimic the temperature fluctuations that occur in nature)
  • GH: between 3 and 6

Betta males: how to recognize them?

Betta males have lush colors and elegant fins that they use to impress their females. And yes, “size does matter” which is why his fins are larger than those of a female Betta. This is not the case in Betta Splendens Plackat, which can be mistaken for males with females.

A male betta is a true male who aggressively defends his territory against other males. As befits a male, a male betta also has a high libido.

For these reasons, it is not always easy to combine male bettas with other fish or shrimp (see below), even when it comes to their own species. Never put two males together or they will end up killing each other. If they are in the same tank, they must be stabled, without being able to see each other, because their temperament is such that even the stress of seeing each other will make them sick.

Similarly, if you put a male and a female together, you will almost certainly end up with an injured female. A pair of Betta splendens usually ends badly, if you don’t know how their reproduction works. I leave you here an article talking about it 👉🏼 Breeding Betta Splendens

And the female Betta?

Female bettas may have a slightly smaller veiled tail than males, but they’re still stunning looking!

Unlike one male betta, you can put multiple female bettas more safely with multiple bettas in the same tank. Not that a female betta doesn’t display aggressive behavior, on the contrary, but she doesn’t get out of hand as quickly as the males.😊

The trick is to choose a single female, or to suddenly put at least five female bettas together, if your tank size allows. Why at least five? Because a minimum number of betta females is needed to maintain the balance and that things do not go any further.

The best way to recognize them is to look at the ovary area, usually a lump is noticed behind the stomach.

How old can a betta get?

On average, a betta can be about 3 years old. Of course, it depends a lot on the environment, the diet and how well you take care of it.

Keep in mind that your betta is already a certain age when you buy it at the store, often a year old.

How can you ensure your betta reaches a beautiful old age?

  • Provide a healthy diet (see below)
  • Provide clean, healthy water and do regular water changes
  • Minimize stress as much as possible
  • Place it in an appropriately sized betta tank
  • Avoid fighting with other inhabitants

What do bettas eat?

Bettas will eat almost anything you give them. In fact, if care is not taken, they will also eat what is not meant to be food, including other aquarium inhabitants.

Choose “meat” foods and vary with them. Here are my tips on feeding bettas:

  • water fleas
  • dry food
  • Artemia
  • frozen food
  • Cyclops
  • black mosquito larvae

Bettas are very easy to eat, so when it comes to that, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

How Often Should You Feed Your Betta? Feed it once or twice a day with small food, such as small pellets. Do not overfeed or you could cause intestinal obstruction.

Can you have shrimp with bettas?

It is possible to have shrimp with your betta fish – depending on your betta’s temperament – ​​but there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, you should check if the parameters of the water and the environment are suitable for both your betta and your shrimps. Think, for example, of plants, water circulation, lighting,…

Second, most bettas will leave larger shrimp alone (eg Amano prawns) but will eat smaller ones, especially younger ones. Keep in mind that this can be bad for both your shrimp and your betta (eating too many shrimp can make your betta sick), remember about intestinal obstruction. 😉

Tips and tricks for your bettera

What are the most important tips when buying an aquarium for your betta fish? I will present them here briefly.

The bigger your betta’s tank, the better: even if you plan to have only one male, it is important that you give your betta enough space.

A 30 liter tank is really the minimum for a single betta. Do you want to keep more copies? So you have to count on at least 120 litres, and even that is not a very luxurious enclosure! In addition to the need to have them separated in the case of males.

It is advisable to have a cover. Bettas are great jumpers, so the last thing you want is to have to pick your beautiful fish up off the ground in the morning.

Another argument for choosing an aquarium with a lid is that bettas have a labyrinthine organ that allows them to breathe on the surface of the water. This causes problems when there are too large temperature differences between the air and the water.

Bettas are not very social (and that’s an understatement). Keep this in mind if you dream of a fish tank full of fish, because a betta tank is probably not for you.

Conclusion: is the betta right for you?

Few fish come close to the beauty, grace and color of a betta. This is why betta fish are becoming more and more popular.

As in everything, there are advantages and disadvantages and you will have to choose if you want to have healthy fish and enjoy your aquarium. You should know that a betta only lives for 3 to 5 years and you will have to choose the other inhabitants of your aquarium very carefully if you do not want to meet the aggressive character of your betta.

Can you live with that? So buying an aquarium for bettas is a great idea.

See you soon 😉 .

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