What Is Betta Fish? Origin & History

Posted on

The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), also known as the betta, is a freshwater fish indigenous to Southeast Asia, specifically Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. While the genus Betta contains 73 species, only Betta splendens is eponymously known as “bettas,” owing to its global popularity as a pet: they are among the most widely available aquarium fish in the world, owing to their varied and vibrant color, diverse morphology, and relatively low maintenance.

Siamese fighting fish are endemic to Thailand’s central plain and have been domesticated for at least 1,000 years, making them one of the longest-lived fish.

They were originally bred for aggression and subjected to cockfighting-style gambling matches. Bettas were introduced to the rest of the world by King Rama III (1788-1851), who is rumored to have given some to Theodore Cantor, a Danish physician, zoologist, and botanist. They first appeared in the West in the late 1800s and became popular as ornamental fish within a few decades. Because of their long history of selective breeding, they have a wide range of coloration and finnage, earning them the moniker “designer fish of the aquatic world.”

Bettas are well known for being highly territorial, with males prone to attacking each other if housed in the same tank; this will usually result in the death of one or both fish if there is no means of escape. In confined spaces, female bettas can become territorial of one another. Bettas are exceptionally resistant to low oxygen levels and poor water quality due to their special labyrinth organ, a feature unique to the suborder Anabantoidei that allows for surface air intake.

Aside from its global popularity, the Siamese fighting fish is Thailand’s national aquatic animal, and the country remains the primary breeder and exporter of bettas for the global aquarium market. Despite its popularity as a pet, B. splendens is classified as “vulnerable” by the IUCN due to rising pollution and habitat destruction.

Also Read : 8 Easy Steps Tutorial on How To Breed a Betta Fish

What does a betta fish look like?

Here is an example of how a betta fish will look like.

Example How A Betta Fish Would Look Like

How to pronounce betta fish

The name Betta (or betta) is pronounced /ˈbɛtə/; the first part is the same as the English word bet. The name is often pronounced /ˈbeɪtə/ in American English, and may be spelled with one ‘t’. The name of the genus is derived from the Malay word ikan betah (“persistent fish”).

Also Read : Complete List Of Betta Fish Names & Types

This video below will show you how to pronounce betta fish correctly:


Where do betta fish come from?

Betta fishes originated in Asia because it was the first place where they were discovered. According to the records, Cambodia and Thailand, among other parts of South Asia, were the first to have the species. Betta fishes used to live in the shallow waters of various paddles and ponds back in the day.

Also Read : Other Fish That Can Lives With Bettas


Betta keeping dates back more than 150 years in Thailand (formerly Siam). Children would collect these territorial fish in rice paddies and group them together to watch them spar, thus the name Siamese Fighting Fish. Betting on these events quickly became commonplace. Because of their popularity, the King of Siam decided to regulate and tax them. In 1840, the King gave some fish to a man, who then gave them to Dr. Theodore Cantor, a Danish physician. The doctor bred and studied them, eventually identifying them as Macropodus pugnax in a scientific paper. When it was discovered that there was already a fish with that name, Charles Tate Regan renamed them Betta splendens, which means “beautiful warrior,” a name that is still in use today. Bettas were first imported into France and Germany in the 1890s, and the first bettas were imported into the United States in 1910 by Mr. Frank Locke of San Francisco, California.

Americans sometimes pronounce the name “bay-tuh” after the second letter of the Greek alphabet, but it is thought that these fish were named after the ancient Asian Bettah warrior tribe – pronounced “bet-tah.” (Imagine, “My fish is better than yours!”) In Thailand, they are known as “plakat,” which translates to “biting fish.”

Habitat and distribution

Betta splendens is native to Southeast Asia, including the northern Malay Peninsula, central and eastern Thailand, Kampuchea (Cambodia), and southern Vietnam, according to Witte and Schmidt (1992). According to Vidthayanon (2013), a Thai ichthyologist and senior biodiversity researcher at WWF Thailand, the species is endemic to Thailand, ranging from the Mae Khlong to the Chao Phraya basins, the eastern slope of the Cardamom mountains (Cambodia), and the Isthmus of Kra. Betta splendens is also native to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to Froese and Pauly (2019). They are also found in the neighboring Malay Peninsula and adjacent parts of Sumatra, most likely as a result of human introduction.

Betta splendens inhabits shallow bodies of water with abundant vegetation, such as marshes, floodplains, and paddy fields, wherever they are found. Bettas were discovered and domesticated by humans due to the historical prevalence of rice farming across Southeast Asia, which provided an ideal habitat for them. Because of the shallow water and high air temperature, gases evaporate quickly, resulting in a significant lack of oxygen in the betta’s natural habitat. This environment most likely resulted in the evolution of the lung-like labyrinth organ, which allows Siamese fighting fish, like all members of the Anabantoidei suborder, to breathe directly from the air. As a result, bettas can survive and thrive in harsher environments than other freshwater fish, leaving them with fewer natural predators and competitors.

The betta’s natural habitat has a tropical climate with abrupt and extreme fluctuations in water availability, chemistry, and temperature. Water pH can range from slightly acidic (pH 6.9) to highly alkaline (pH 8.2), while air temperatures can drop to 15 °C (59 °F) and rise to 40 °C (100 °F). As a result, Siamese fighting fish are highly adaptable and durable, able to tolerate a wide range of harsh or toxic environments; this explains their popularity as pets, as well as their ability to colonize bodies of water all over the world.

Bettas in the wild prefer bodies of water rich in aquatic vegetation and surface foliage, such as fallen leaves and water lilies. Plant abundance protects against predators and acts as a buffer between aggressive males who coexist by claiming dense sections of plant as territory. This type of vegetation also protects females during spawning and fry during their most vulnerable stages.

Invasive species

Because of the betta’s global popularity, it has been released and established in similarly tropical areas such as southeast Australia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, southeast United States, and Singapore.

A large population of bettas was discovered in the Adelaide River Floodplain in the Northern Territory of Australia in January 2014. They are an invasive species that threatens native fish, frogs, and other wetland wildlife. Bettas have also become established in subtropical areas of the United States, specifically southern Texas and Florida, despite a US Fish and Wildlife Service assessment concluding that they pose no threat to natural ecosystems.

Conservation status

Siamese fighting fish are abundant in captivity due to their popularity. The IUCN, on the other hand, classifies wild specimens as vulnerable, indicating that the species is likely to become endangered in the absence of conservation efforts. The primary threats are habitat destruction and pollution, both of which are being caused by urban and agricultural development in central Thailand.

Size and weight

Betta fish reach a maximum length of 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) when fully grown. A betta fish can grow to be as long as 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length under the right conditions. The size of your betta will ultimately be determined by its age and how well it has been cared for.

The average weight of betta fish varies depending on the species. Betta Splendens and similar wild Bettas such as smaragdina, imbellis, and mahachai weigh about 1.2 grams.

Domestic veiltail and halfmoon Splenden types weigh about 1.9 grams, while the new Giant Betta Splenden strains weigh about 8.8 grams.

Weights will vary from fish to fish and depending on when they were last fed, so this is only a rough estimate.

How big is a betta fish stomach?

Because the Betta fish has a stomach the size of its eyeball, it is easy to overfeed if you are not paying attention.

How smart are betta fish?

Betta fishes are exceptionally smart. They can recognize their owners and perform a variety of tricks if properly trained. Some of these tricks include swimming through hoops and shooting a ball into a goal. Not only that, but they also exhibit some survival-related behaviors.

Are betta fish smarter than humans?

Bettas are fish. Having said that, most other forms of life live “smarter” than humans because they exist consistently as particles of nature. All forms of life are subjected to physiological constraints as a result of evolution. The characteristics of species are determined by genetics. Humans are chaotic and inconsistent.

Can betta fish be trained?

Betta fish can be easily trained. Intelligence and training have always been linked. Animals that are not intelligent cannot be trained. Semi-intelligent fish can be trained, but it is difficult. Bettas, on the other hand, are very easy to train. So now you know where Betta’s judgment stands.

How long do betta fish live?

What is the Oldest Betta?

Bettas can live for 6 or 7 years or more if they have the right genetics, environment, and care from the start of their lives. Several owners have reported betta lifespans of 9 to 10 years, but this is not realistic for all bettas.

Because there are so many misconceptions about how to properly care for this species in captivity, their life spans are drastically reduced, almost always being cut in half. Bettas are a popular choice (or gift) for first-time fish keepers due to their resilience and beauty. This frequently results in betta keeping before conducting proper research on how to care for them.

Should i acquaire a betta fish as a pet?

Bettas are charming and attractive. There are numerous reasons why you should consider getting one as a pet. They do, however, necessitate the same level of care and equipment as other types of fish. They should not be thought of as low-maintenance options.

Reason not to acquaire a betta fish as a pet?

Bettas Are Not ‘StarterPets. Many people who purchase these fish on a whim are unaware of how to properly care for them, which is more complicated and expensive than they realize. Betta fish (also known as “Siamese fighting fish”) are fighting for their lives in the cruel pet trade. Pet stores, discount superstores, florists, and even websites sell betta fish that are confined to tiny cups, small bowls, and even flower vases. It is acceptable to acquire betta fish as a pet, but you must also learn how to provide the best possible care for that animal.

Interesting Facts

  • Bettas prefer water that is slightly acidic (pH 6.5 to 7) and warm. Cold water has been shown to suppress the immune system and contribute to illness.
  • Bettas have a variety of tail shapes, the most common of which is the “veil tail.” The “half-moon,” “double tail,” “short-finned fighting-style tail,” and “crown tail” are additional tail shapes.
  • Bettas typically live between two and three years, but some have been known to live well into their teens.
  • there are many betta fish name and types that have been known

What Do Bettas Eat?

Betta fish are carnivores that feed on insects in the wild. The best betta food replicates these specific dietary requirements without the use of unnecessary and indigestible fillers. Most betta keepers may not be able to source or provide live foods as the primary diet for their betta fish. Bettas can eat some human foods, but only to a certain extent. They will eat small amounts of greens such as cucumber, lettuce, or zucchini, but it is always best to boil these first to melt them up.


Betta fish are notorious for their aggressive behavior, especially when mixed with other fish. Bettas can be quite brutal when agitated due to their ancestors being male Siamese Fighting Fish protecting their territory.

Some Betta owners believe that male Bettas are the only ones who are aggressive. Actually, both male and female Bettas can exhibit antagonistic behavior, but males are more likely to do so. According to some sources, if a Betta aquarium contains only female fish, one will emerge as the pack leader and the others will become docile in deference. As long as no new fish are introduced into the tank, there should be no conflict.


Each Betta has a distinct personality, and caring for your Betta necessitates an additional dose of love and care! Betta aquarium inhabitants are generally friendly, and in some cases, Betta fish will enjoy being stroked, petted, or lifted out of the tank. Betta fish, despite their aggressive nature, are quite social and can become depressed and even starve to death if they are neglected.

Although Bettas are known to be loners, they can coexist in an aquarium with other fish as long as the newcomers are peaceful. Bettas can coexist with other fish in an aquarium. However, you must first determine which fish make the best Betta tank companions.

Choose breeds that are not:

  • Aggressive
  • greater than average
  • It is related to the betta.


The betta fish’s body, like that of 95 percent of fish, is covered in scales as well as a thin “adipose film” that protects it from the elements. Their fins keep them straight and provide them with power, speed, and direction while swimming. They use a swim bladder, which is located at the back of the head and extends about a third of the way down the body, to stay in certain positions.

However, the most distinctive organ of the Betta Splendens is undoubtedly the so-called «labyrinth, which is an auxiliary respiratory organ located above the gills and made up of many very fine sheets with a lot of blood supply and through which they can take oxygen.

They come to the surface every few minutes with the help of this organ to breathe atmospheric air from which they extract the necessary oxygen for proper blood flow.

Another important aspect is the palate and smell. Betta fish have the ability to “smell” food from a distance. A sensitive-receptor sense, in conjunction with the palate organ, enables them to «analyze» dark areas (mud, suspended sand, algae) in order to detect food.

However, the most interesting and distinguishing feature of the Betta fish is its striking fins and incredible colors, which vary depending on the individual. Later, we’ll go over each species in this dazzling family in detail.

Flaring – Sign Of Aggresion

Betta fish look their best when they’re “flaring” and flaunting their colorful fins. However, if there are other fish in the tank, this behavior is a sign of aggression and indicates that trouble is on the way.

Betta crowntail looking for Betta fish fights can be sudden and brief, resulting in a torn fin or two rather than a dramatic death. Bettas, both male and female, may fight each other, especially before mating. Although Betta fish were originally raised to fight, intentionally inciting a fight between two males by placing them in the same Betta aquarium for that purpose is animal cruelty. It is also worth noting that Betta fish become more aggressive as they age.

If you’ve ever seen a male Betta “flaring,” you’ll understand why these fish are so appealing. Flaring is a form of aggression that occurs when a male Betta believes his territory is under threat. Bettas also become more aggressive as they grow older.

Many Betta owners prefer to keep a single Betta fish in their aquariums rather than risking fighting amongst Betta tank mates. A single Betta can live in a small space without a filtration system, but this is risky and not recommended. It is critical to set up the tank correctly. Bettas actually prefer stagnant water because it reminds them of their ancestral home in Asia’s rice paddies.

Betta Fish Tank

One of the most important considerations when purchasing a betta is ensuring that he has a tank in which he can thrive. Having said that, you may be wondering what is the best tank size for betta fish. There are many articles and people who claim that bettas can live in tanks as small as one gallon. And, while this is true, what they don’t tell you is that your betta won’t live very long, and he won’t be happy!

What Do I Need to Set up a Betta Tank?

Before you begin setting up your new betta tank, you should make a shopping list of the following items:


The tank itself is the first thing you should consider. Choose one that is at least five gallons in size – ten if you really want your betta to have plenty of space to roam!

The majority of fishkeepers use glass tanks, but a few prefer plastic. There are also various sets available that include some of the other accessories on this list, which may save you some time shopping. There are numerous fish tanks and kits to choose from (each with advantages and disadvantages), so take your time weighing your options and selecting the best aquarium setup for your betta fish (and you).


Substrate, which refers to the rocks, gravel, or sand at the bottom of a fish tank, serves a purpose other than decoration. Good bacteria grow on the substrate, supporting the tank’s ecosystem by removing waste from the fish.

There are numerous options to choose from, just as there are with the tank. Real rocks, fake rocks, colorful gravel, sand, and marbles: the options are nearly limitless.

However, when selecting which rocks or gravel to use, keep in mind that you should never use anything sharp. While exploring, many bettas like to skim along the bottom of the tank, and anything with a rough edge can cut their fins. Keep an eye out for waste that can get stuck between the rocks and gravel and clog your tank, making your betta sick.

More information on betta substrate can be found by clicking here.

Plants and Decorations

Personally, I believe that the most enjoyable aspect of setting up a betta tank is deciding which plants to use and how to arrange them. Bettas require hiding places and things to explore, and plants are an excellent choice.

Bettas can coexist with both live and silk plants (just never use plastic ones, as these can slice their fins). Live plants help to keep the water clean, but silk plants may be easier to manage because they do not need to be grown. You can make your own decision, but make sure to do some research on plant compatibility first.

More information: The 9 Best Plants for Betta Fish (Easy to Grow & Care for)

Other decorations, such as caves, treasure chests, or those little haunted mansion figurines you see at pet stores, can also be placed inside the tank. Just make sure they’re made specifically for fish tanks and don’t contain any potentially toxic substances for your fish. In addition, make certain that neither the decorations nor the plants have jagged edges. You don’t want a tank that is both beautiful and deadly!


Betta owners are divided when it comes to tank filters. Some argue that keeping the water clean is absolutely necessary, while others argue that having still water is safer for the fish. A general rule of thumb is that if a tank is five gallons or less, it is probably safer to clean it by hand. Anything larger would be unwieldy, so a filter could come in handy.

If you do decide to purchase a filter, make sure it has an adjustable flow rate. Many filters are too harsh for bettas and can either stress them out or suck them up into the mechanism and kill them. Yikes.


Bettas are native to the tropics, so they require water that is between 76 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t need to add a heater if you live in a house that is typically around this temperature. However, if you have a large tank and/or a cool house, you should consider getting one.

It should be noted that a heater should never be used in a tank that is less than five gallons in size. The smaller amount of water heats up or cools down too quickly, endangering your betta.


Lighting is the last item on the list. This item is optional unless you keep your betta tank in a basement that never sees daylight. Bettas require a consistent day/night cycle, but if you keep them in a room that is light during the day and dark at night, you’ll be fine. You can buy decorative lights if you want, but they serve no purpose other than to look nice (which could be nice too).

Those are some of items that you need to set-up betta fish thank, for more detail information you can read this complete guide on how to set-up and clean betta fish tank for beginner.

Betta Fish Care

Making sure your betta fish is happy and not stressed is a big part of caring for them. The best way to accomplish this is to mimic their natural habitat. Bettas like to hide in places where they can feel safe, especially while sleeping. Consider hiding places to be similar to their homes.

Common Disease

Velvet disease is one of the most common diseases in betta fish and can also affect other cultured fish. This disease is also known as Rust of Gold Dust Disease due to the appearance of an affected betta fish, which appears to have been sprinkled with rust, copper, or gold colored powder.

For more detail : 25 Common Disease in Betta Fish


We now know a little bit more about betta fish. Bettas have been bred as pets to produce bright colors such as red, light blue, yellow, and green, as well as different tail shapes. These are the types of fish you’ll find in pet stores, and they make interesting pets. Betta fish are prized for their vibrant colors and intricate fins, but they’re also intelligent and can be trained to perform tricks. Bettas are anabantoids, which means they can breathe atmospheric air through a special organ known as the labyrinth. Because their natural environment is frequently resource-limited, many Betta species have few food options. It’s fine to get one. They, like any other pet, require some time and effort to properly care for, but they are relatively low maintenance in comparison to others.