Siamese Fighting Fish Facts – Tank Mates, Diet, and Care

You may have heard an aquarium owner talk about the Siamese Fighting fish or the “Betta Fish“.

Are you planning to own an aquarium soon and you’re wondering what kind of fish you can put in that aquarium? Do you own one already and you want to know more about it or you’re just curious?

In this post, we will talk extensively about a fish that is exceptionally different from other species. The fish has special qualities and fighting skills (or should we say aggressiveness). The Siamese fighting fish, also referred to as Betta splendens or the Betta, is a popular fish in the aquarium trade.

They are among the most popular home aquarium pets (second only to goldfish), thanks to their wide variety of stunning Betta colors, shapes to choose from, and their spectacular fins.

If you’re wondering where the ”Siamese fighting fish” tag comes from, it’s due to the male Betta’s extreme aggressiveness toward other Bettas.
What else do you need to know about the Siamese fighting fish?

Fighting Fish
Fighting Fish

The History

The Betta was first discovered in the rice paddies, drainage ditches, and the warm floodplains of the Southeastern region of Asia. During the time, the Betta acclimatized to the regular storm flooding and devastating droughts.

Adapting to the environment helped the fish to become a true labyrinth fish; Regarding betta fish anatomy: it has the unique ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air and also take in oxygen from its gills.

As a result, Bettas and other labyrinth fish can survive for short periods of time out of the water and if needed, can inhale the air around them (provided they stay moist.)

Siamese Fighting Fish Facts

Apart from being able to survive in water and also without it, what other characteristics does the Siamese fighting fish possess?

Siamese Fighting Fish Facts
Siamese Fighting Fish Facts
  1. Being anabantoids (labyrinth fish), a Betta can sustain itself in stagnant, oxygen-deficient water and will do well in water with a temperature ranging from between 72-82 degrees F.
  2. Anabantoids possess a special organ that allows them to breathe air. This organ is necessary for survival in habitats that often become too polluted or are oxygen-poor to survive in.
  3. Although Bettas can tolerate small spaces and poor water quality, it’s best to put them in a larger aquarium.
  4. If you’re thinking of getting more than one Siamese fighting fish, you should either consider getting a large aquarium or two aquariums.
  5. A Male Betta will attack another male Betta or any similar-looking fish and fish with flowing fins. Female Bettas have also been known to attack themselves too.
  6. These fish are easy to care for, but they are not especially long-lived, with an average lifespan of about 4 years.
Betta fish in falls tank
Betta fish in falls tank

What Does Siamese Fighting Fish Eat?

A typical Betta is carnivorous. They feed on meat. The ones in the wild can be found feasting on blood-worms, shrimp, and smaller insects like grasshoppers. Those kept as pets are usually fed freeze-dried blood-worms.

If you already own one or you plan to get one, you should consider feeding them a variety of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms and frozen food to ensure complete nutrition.

The name Betta is not used for just one fish species. It is the name that encompasses dozens of different fish species. Although when people say “Betta,” they’re most times referring to Betta splendens, aka the Siamese fighting fish.

Male And Female Betta

Have you been wondering how you can differentiate a male Betta from a female? Because of their strong sexual dimorphism, male Bettas are typically larger than females and display brighter colors.

This, in part, may be the reason why most Bettas being kept as pets are male. The smaller, less visually striking females are usually purchased by those who have the intention of breeding Bettas

White halfmoon betta fish
White halfmoon betta fish

A typical Siamese fighting fish is an intelligent fish. They can be taught to perform simple tricks like recognizing their owners, following their fingers around a bowl, swimming through hoops, or even pushing a ball.

This is yet another intriguing fact that makes the Betta a preferred fish for aquarium owners.

Shape And Color Of Bettas

Bettas come in a wide variety of types, shapes, and colors. Their tails, in particular, can be found in endless styles.

Depending on your preferences, you can find a Siamese fighting fish with comb-like, crown-like, delta-like, Halfmoon-like, feather, round, spade, and veil tail shapes. Most of these types have their own sub-types, and they are often combined into hybrid shapes. Speaking of hybrid,

Popular for their variety of colors, most Bettas don’t exist that way naturally. Wild-collected Siamese fighting fishes are colored dull brown and green with red on their fins, and their fins are much smaller.

It’s not to say their natural appearance is not as glowing or colorful, but it doesn’t come close to the kind of Bettas that come as a result of selective breeding. Thanks to the breeders, Bettas are now available in bolder and brighter Betta colors, patterns, and different shapes.


Why Do Betta Fish Make Bubble Nest?

When you eventually get your Betta, don’t be puzzled when you see a layer of tiny bubbles on the surface of the tank’s water. This is called a bubble nest, and the behavior is not only normal but a sign of a happy and healthy Siamese fighting fish.

In the wild, Bettas create bubble nests for mating purposes, and subsequently to protect eggs and newly hatched Bettas. Being an instinctive behavior, a Betta will create a bubble nest even when in an aquarium.

In the animal kingdom, the female species is known for caring for the offspring. But the opposite is the case when it comes to the Siamese fighting fish. Once the female Betta lays her eggs, her mate chases her away and corrals the eggs into his bubble nest, where he tends to them until they hatch. Betta fathers nest and care for their offspring while the mothers don’t participate.

Betta Fish Tank Mates

Good tank mates for pretty much any betta usually snails work great. If you do decide to do a community tank with other fish then I would recommend a minimum of a 10-gallon tank or pond, and you want it to be well planted with lots of spaces to hide for the fish.

Now betta fish have very long flowing delicate fins, so you don’t want to put anything in there that’s going to be nipping at their fins and bothering them.

Fish like platies, neon tetras – these tend to be pretty peaceful fish and tend to leave the betta fish alone for the most part.

There’re always exceptions, I don’t recommend doing community betta fish tanks for someone who is a beginner, unless you’re talking about just adding a couple of snails, which bettas always seem to just completely ignore them and the snails not really gonna do anything to the betta because they’re always suctioned on to the side of the tank or the bottom of the tank, they can’t really swim around.

Other good tank mates are things like Cory catfish. Cherry shrimp are always really lovely. There is always the risk that your betta might decide that those shrimps are lunch, so just keep that in mind as something if you’re going to add shrimp into the tank then maybe some ghost shrimp since they are cheaper and considered a feeder.

Why Do Betta Fish Fight?

Siamese Fighting Fish have good color vision, which enables them to spot rivals with relative ease. Even when faced with its own reflection in a mirror, as here, the male responds by adopting an aggressive posture.

Aggression is one of the traits developed in this species over the centuries, and most modern strains are far more belligerent than their wild ancestors.

However, actual conflict is still a last resort, and the fish initially try to deter one another with ritualized displays, notably raising the fins and flaring the gill covers to make themselves look bigger.

How do I know if my betta fish is stressed and what should I do to help?

Most illnesses found in aquarium fish result from stress caused by poor environmental conditions. Disease organisms and parasites may lie dormant until the Betta has become weakened by fluctuating environmental factors.

In the home aquarium, your Betta lives in an enclosed ecosystem that is vulnerable to imbalance. Given the relative stability of its native environment, the Betta’s ability to adapt to change is limited. If you do notice warning signs of illness, don’t panic.

Take time to check on the efficiency of the equipment, test the water conditions, and rule out other stress factors, such as harassment by other fish. Once you have analyzed all of this information, you will be able to make a sound decision about the proper course of action.

Why is my betta turning white and what should I do?

If your betta fish turns white on its body or fins, it could have a fungal infection. The growths occur in regions where the mucus or slime coating has been damaged by parasites or suffered injury. Most of the time, the cause is not a fungus but a bacterial infection. If the infection is severe, water molds, such as Saprolegnia and Achyla, may produce a secondary infection.

Treatment: Isolate the fish in a quarantine tank. Spot-treat with 50 percent mercurochrome, gentian violet, or methylene blue applied with a cotton swab directly to the injured area. Severe cases are usually untreatable.

Why is my betta fish not moving and what should I do?

If your betta not moving, have abnormal swimming patterns, or loss of balance this could be Bacterial infection, physical injury to the swim bladder from fighting or during transportation from a dealer, or poor water quality.

Treatment: Treat with an antibiotic in a clean, shallow tank. Change the water frequently. This disease is difficult to treat successfully.

Why does my betta fish stay at the top or at the bottom of the tank and what should I do?

The Betta’s body weighs slightly more than the volume of water it displaces, so it tends to sink. So, like much other fish, the Betta has a gas-filled swim bladder that functions as a flotation device.

By making minor adjustments to the gas pressure inside the swim bladder, the Betta can remain suspended (neutrally buoyant) with little or no effort.

If the Betta moves to the bottom of the tank, its swim bladder will be compressed and it will begin to sink. To correct this problem, the Betta must either add gas to its swim bladder to achieve neutral buoyancy again or use energy to swim upward.

The opposite is true when the Betta moves toward the top of the tank. There, it must release gas from the swim bladder or must use energy to return to a deeper depth. Gas enters or leaves the swim bladder via a specialized duct.

As the Betta moves about in its watery realm, small changes inside its body, unseen by the human eye, automatically maintain the proper buoyancy.

How To Breed Betta Fish?

Pairs of seven or eight months old are best for breeding. They need a relatively shallow spawning tank, about 8 in (20 cm) deep. It must be covered and include floating plants, among which the male will build a bubble nest.

Thai breeders often add the leaves of the Ketapang or Indian almond tree (Terminalia catappa) to assist with the conditioning of the water. These leaves are available in the West through specialist suppliers.

Raising the water temperature can trigger spawning, as can increasing the amount of live food in the diet. Check that the female is in breeding condition, because otherwise, the male may harass her.

Aside from her slightly swollen belly, one of the surest indicators of the female’s readiness to spawn is when she develops yellowish stripes on her body. She will actively seek out the male at this stage, rather than trying to avoid him. It is the responsibility of the male Siamese Fighting Fish to construct a bubble-nest.

Betta spawning

Spawning occurs nearby, with the pair wrapping around one another. The female will then float upside down, as though stunned, while the male collects the 15 or so eggs in its mouth and carries them to the bubble-nest.

Mating resumes once he has gathered all the eggs. This sequence is repeated until some 500 eggs have been produced, with the entire process lasting about two hours.

It is then best to remove the female while the male guards the nest, otherwise he may attack her. If the tank is very large and well planted, however, it may be safe for her to stay put.

Betta Eggs Hatching

Hatching occurs 48 hours after mating, and the young fry are free-swimming within a further four days. Rear them on fry foods at first, and gently circulate the water with an airstone to convey food particles to them.

Powdered flake and brine shrimp can be provided as they grow. A large number of fry means that gentle filtration is needed to maintain water quality, and partial water changes are required every three days.

Once the males in the brood can be identified, usually, at about two months of age, they should be moved to individual accommodation to prevent fighting. Prior to this, keep the aquarium covered to keep the young fish from becoming chilled, since this will impair the development of their labyrinth organs

Final thoughts

In Thailand, it is traditional to house Siamese Fighting Fish in small jars, but these provide little swimming space and make it difficult to maintain the water quality. The natural grace and elegance of the fish will be more apparent in an aquarium.

A single male can be kept in a tank with several females, or even as part of a community aquarium. However, avoid mixing these fish with fin-nipping species, which will attack the flowing fins, or with fish of a similar coloration, which may themselves be attacked by the Siamese Fighting Fish.

Surely, the Siamese fighting fish will be a perfect fit for your aquarium. Now that you know all there is to know about them, there’s no better time to get one than now.

Betta Fish Care – Infographic

Betta Fish Care - Infographic

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