Fighting fish, or Siamese fish (now Thailand) originating from Southeast Asia, I am found in more or less swampy humid regions, my natural habitat merges with rice fields, shallow with brackish water which makes betta fish a rather resistant fish, hence an ideal fish to start the aquarium without having a great experience in this field.
However it is essential to respect certain conditions for my well being and my survival, I am rather a solitary fish and which tends to have an aggressive behavior towards my congeners especially males.
I am renowned for performing courtship displays by displaying my magnificent colored fins in front of my suitors, which has made my success with collectors of exotic fish. I was adopted by humans in the first place for my aesthetic criteria, I thus become a very popular symbol of wealth. However, the trend made me become a fighting fish in order to entertain the bourgeoisie of the time. In 2019, I end up becoming the national totem of Thailand.
There are several varieties of betta fish that have evolved from breeding-induced artificial selection. The selection not having occurred in a natural way, it results from it pedigrees in conformity with the human conveniences in particular on the level of their colors for the pageantry and on the level of their aggressiveness. The latter tend not only to be hostile towards males but also towards females. This is seen even after mating, hence their reputation as non-gregarious fish.
For now, we are going to look at the different varieties that can be found on the market, and base ourselves more on the appearance criterion than on the character criterion, while admitting that the aggressive character is ubiquitous in this species (we will discuss more far the possible cohabitation with other fish).
- kingdom: animal
- phylum: chordate
- class: actinopterydian
- order: perciform
- family: osphronemidae
- genus: Betta
- species: betta splendens Regan
- Plakat: This is a short-finned betta. The caudal fin is rounded. Plakats are generally more active than other fighter varieties because they don't have long fins that slow their movement. They are the ancestors of all types of fighting fish. These more resilient and aggressive bettas are less prone to injury and disease.
- Veil Tail: This is the most common form of betta splendens. The dorsal fin and the caudal fin are long and drooping when the fish is stationary. When in motion, the caudal fin takes on a more or less pointed round shape at the tip. This is the form that is most often found in commerce.
Crowntail: Crowntail bettas or crown-tailed fighters are so named because of the shape of their pointed fins like a crown.
Its spiky tail and fins give the crowntail its regal look.
The fins have larger rays than those of other varieties. The tips are almost half of the fins.
Halfmoon: The halfmoon betta is so named because of its large, fan-shaped tail fin with a 160° to 180° angle that looks like a “D” when fully flared. The dorsal, anal and pelvic fins are also long, ideally the same length as the caudal.
One of the prettiest varieties of betta, this fighter has unusual coloration.
- Rosetail: A rosetail betta is a type of halfmoon betta that also sports a fan-shaped tail with excessive branching on the caudal fin , resulting in a ruffled appearance that resembles a rose. The rosetail characteristic can be found on a betta halfmoon or on a betta plakat.
- Doubletail: As its name suggests, the double-tailed betta has a caudal fin divided into two separate equal lobes, each shaped like a half moon. This sets them apart from similar bettas, which have only one split tail. Their body is more compact than other betta varieties and their dorsal fin is wider, which is why they are more often crossed with other forms.
- Combtail (combtail) or halfsun: Resulting from a cross between a combtail betta with a crowntail betta, the combtail betta boasts a slightly less bristly tail than the crowntail. The tips of the fins are shorter than those of crowntails.
- Elephant ear: this betta is so named because of its large pectoral fins which resemble the ears of an elephant.
To guide us on the living conditions necessary for the Betta in a private aquarium, we will first present the natural habitat.
As mentioned above, the betta fish is a fish that proliferates in the swampy areas of Southeast Asia, a tropical environment. Preferring temperatures around 24 - 28 degrees Celsius, having no choice but to live in shallow waters subject to predation by larger fish and especially birds and not having the depth to escape, the betta fish plays the strategy of immobility and makes sure not to be spotted, so it is used to spending its day in static mode. Added to this periods of drought greatly reducing its habitat and limiting it to small puddles for the dry season. However, these puddles undergo what is known in ecology as eutrophication, i.e. an increase in the concentrations of organic matter in small volumes of water, leading to a lack of oxygen and a decrease in pH, thereby the Betta fish has been able to adapt to its environment while developing strategies to remedy this, such as adaptation to acidic water (some Bettas can survive in a ph equal to 3), added to this air breathing via an organ called the labyrinth, which is located above the branchial cavity and which allows the Betta to breathe in the dioxygen contained in the air in order to compensate for the lack of dissolved oxygen in the water, hence its great resilience. This organ is specific to fish belonging to the labyrinthidae family (ex: Betta, Colisa, Gourami, etc.).
So much for the presentation of the fighting fish biotope. These elements are only partially true due to the artificial selection imposed by man, thus moving away from the standards of wildlife, such as ph. The pH in which farmed fish live generally varies between 6.5 and 7, which is a neutral to very slightly acidic pH, the same for the size of the habitat. When we know that in Thailand the fighting fish are raised in glass bottles of 2L or even 1L, the volume of the habitat is perhaps minimal. But for the well-being of your companion, we strongly recommend an aquarium of at least 15L for a male Betta and 25L for a female (which is already little compared to other fish).
Knowing that Bettas are resilient does not make them immortal creatures. The time spent in an extreme environment (low pH, low oxygenated water, etc.) leads to selection, i.e. a high mortality rate. However, if your companion experiences repeated or long-term stress, you have a greater chance of seeing his life expectancy decrease...
The nutrition of Betta fish in the wild is essentially made up of small aquatic organisms found in ponds, (be careful with the food you give to your companion, just because it's swallowed doesn't mean it's is good for his health, briefly follow the food that is necessary for him).
Here is a non-exhaustive list of microorganisms present in the food profile of fighting fish:
- daphnia or literally freshwater flea (small crustacean, stagnant freshwater shrimp)
- artemia (saltwater crustacean, not present in the natural habitat, however can be a source of interesting proteins)
- banana worms
- grindal verse
- drosophila (fruit fly)
- mosquito larva (blood worms)
- paramecia (essential at the fry stage)
For better health, farmed fish need to have the most diverse nutrition possible, thus increasing their life expectancy. The more the diet is limited, the more the animal tends to have a failing and weakened immune system, thus opening the doors to many diseases (fungal infection, bacterial infection, etc.).
First of all, carefully measure the rations that you present to your companion, the goal being not to give too much. Yes, fighting fish eat as much as there is food available. Therefore, you should not rely on your satiety to measure your ration.
Knowing that the quantity of food necessary evolves according to the age of the Betta, we can measure the ration according to the volume of the eye of the latter. Indeed, the volume of the stomach is more or less equal to the volume of the eyeball of the fish. So to give you an idea, 3 Artemia worms are enough for a ration.
Do not hesitate to follow the evolution of the rations and to correct the situation with each new ration. If you notice that your Betta is swallowing its ration with some rapidity, consider increasing the quantity.
With practice and observation you will be able to identify the necessary ration, knowing that it can be different from one individual to another, even if they are part of the same species.
Another point to know, do not hesitate to use your landing net to remove the excess of uneaten food. This is part of the maintenance of the aquarium, thus avoiding rot and therefore potential diseases to your Betta.
As for how often you feed your fish, there is no absolute way to do it. In a wild environment, when the diet is essential, the animals adapt. For once, we advise you to feed your Betta 5 days a week or every other day. forget that this must remain occasional, note that a healthy Betta fish can starve from 15 to 20 days. On the other hand, long-term overfeeding can cause constipation in your pet, which is not fatal but can lead to other illnesses that are. Constipation is easily remedied. If you realize that he does not relieve himself regularly and that he no longer wants to eat, avoid giving him food for a period of 3 days. If the problem persists, give him a half-cooked pea in hot water in small pieces (avoid canned peas because of the added sugars). The Betta being a carnivorous fish, peas have a laxative effect, and therefore avoid including them in its diet otherwise. We strongly advise you not to test the limits of your fish, any stress suffered will affect its longevity.
Dry food can cause disease in Betta fish. Knowing that once wet, the food doubles in volume. If swallowed dry, the food can cause severe digestive problems and constipation, and often even death. So to avoid damaging your companion's digestive tract, do not hesitate to wet the food beforehand and then give it to the fish. However, if you do not have time to wet the food, do not hesitate to reduce the ration by half. Certainly, less nourished your fighter will keep an iron health.