You may have seen these gorgeous fish separated swimming around in their own personal “drinking cups” at your local pet retailer. We know them as the Betta fish or even the Siamese Fighting Fish—hint, this is where the solitary confinement comes in—but the Betta has a lot more than just good looks and a bad attitude going for it. Read on to discover 44 fun facts about the beloved Betta.
Swimming in History
It’s weird to think about a fish as having a history, but guess what? The Betta is swimming in it!
1) The Siamese Fighting fish is originally from Siam (now Thailand), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and parts of China.
2) These fish could be found in rice paddies, slow-moving streams, watery ditches and even stagnant ponds.
3) Oftentimes the Betta had to withstand temperatures of above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius), which may be why they are such a hardy fish today.
4) Before the 1800s local children of these areas would capture up to 50 Betta fish per hour. These were then used in fighting competitions (usually the biggest strongest fish would win), giving bragging rights to the owner of the triumphant Betta.
5) The winning Betta would go on to fight again and again until it was defeated (died).
6) The technical name for this fighting fish is the “plakat,” which mean tearing or biting fish.
7) When Betta fighting first began, the fights would only last a few minutes. Soon however, these fish were bred to be bigger and more aggressive.
8) This new strain of fighting fish could last for hours in the fighting bowl, with the winner being determined by its willingness to continue the fight, despite its wounds.
9) The match was officially over when the weaker fish retreated.
10) According to Betta Fish Center, this sport was serious business. Men would risk it all on a Betta fight and would sometimes lose everything including his money and home—and sometimes even his wife and family members!
11) Because of the popularity of the Siamese Fighting fish, the King of Siam began collecting these species. In 1840, the king shared some with a man who in turn gave them to a medical scientist from Bangor, Dr. Cantor. This doctor named the fish Macropodus Pugnax.
12) In 1909, Mr. Tate Regan renamed the fighting fish Betta—likely derived in honor of a warrior-like tribe called “Bettah”.
13) There are actually more than 70 species of the Betta fish, but the most common and recognized is the Betta Splenden.
14) Later into the 1800s the Betta Splendens (used both for fighting and show), were introduced into France and Germany. By 1910, these fish were making their way into the United States.
15) Today, the Betta Splendens are still used for both fighting and show in Japan with breeding farms located in Malaysia and Singapore. Unfortunately, the fighting Splendens still produce the most revenue.
Fin-Tastic Betta Facts
We can almost guarantee you didn’t know these astounding facts about the Betta fish. Really, they’re Fin-tastic!!
16) Bettas are intelligent fish that can recognize their owner’s faces and can even be taught to do tricks, like following your finger around their aquarium, swimming through hoops or even pushing a ball into a goal!
17) Male Bettas are awesome daddies. Once the female lays her eggs, the male chases her away, then takes charge of protecting and tending to the eggs.
18) Betta dads will often create bubble nests in their home aquarium. These “nests” consist of layers of bubbles at the top of the tank or bowl. Although, it is a natural instinct used for protecting their eggs, happy and healthy Bettas will perform this task even with no mate present.
19) The Betta is an “anabantoid,” meaning it can breath out of water (and of course, in water as well). There’s a special organ located in the head of the Betta, just behind its gills that allows it to live outside of water for several hours as long as it stays moist. Don’t try this at home though, as it’s very stressful on the fish.
20) The average lifespan of this species is 2 to 3 years-of-age; however, in optimal water conditions, with plenty of room to swim around, the Betta can live up to 9 years-old!
21) The Betta has what is considered a “superior mouth” when it comes to fish. This means the mouth of the fish is faces upwards, allowing it to slurp food from the surface of the water, like mosquito larvae and other insects.
22) The fins of the Betta are not only beautiful, they’re useful. According to Top10Zen, their fins contain nerve cells, muscles and even taste buds!
Just Look at Those Fins!
There’s a good reason why the Betta is fondly referred to as the “Jewel of the Orient.” It is even the second most popular fish out of all the aquatic pals (Goldfish are first). Check out these “stunning” facts about the appearance of the Siamese Fighting fish.
23) Wow! This fish comes in a wide variety of tail-styles including: comb, delta, crown, spade, double, feather, half-sun, half-moon, plakat, round, rose and veil. Plus, each one of these has separate subtypes and hybrids!
24) If you think their tails are amazing, just check out their coloring options: marbling (usually blue and red with a pale base color), “butterfly” coloring (body is a solid color, but its fins are divided into two distinct colors), and metallic colors such as copper, gold, rust and platinum.
25) Male Bettas are the real “lookers’ of the two, as females are smaller finned and bodied, and are a dull grey-ish green in color.
26) The beauty of the Betta is all due to selective-breeding. Wild caught Bettas have smaller fins and are usually dull brown or green, with red on the bottom of their fins.
27) Depending on the species, some adult male Betta fish (the Akar) can grow as much as 5 inches in length (12.5 centimeters). The average length of a male Betta is 3 inches long (8 centimeters).
Caring For Your Betta Fish
Although these fish may be kept in tiny containers in the pet retailers, it’s always best to have a roomy setup for your new aquatic friend. Here are some basic caring tips for your Betta:
28) Since fish cannot regulate their own body temperatures, your Betta will need a constant tank temperature of approximately 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5 degrees Celsius). A couple of degrees higher or lower is fine as long as it remains the same (extreme rise or drops in water temperature can cause stress and illness).
29) Bettas tend to eat like pigs, so it is recommended to only feed your pet as much as it can eat in 3 minutes, about twice-a-day. This is approximately 3 or 4 small Betta pellets or bloodworms at-a-time.
30) Bettas are carnivores (eat protein), so their diet should consist of freeze-dried bloodworms and pre-made Betta pellets. In the wild these fish also eat insects like crickets, flies and grasshoppers. Be sure to offer your Betta a variety of food to keep it healthy and happy.
31) Freeze Brine Shrimp into small ice cubes as a special treat for your Betta fish. Plop one cube into its tank and watch it poke away at this yummy surprise.
32) For the optimum health of your Beta fish, it should be housed in a filtered aquarium with a heater and a light source. This keeps the toxins to a minimum and allows the tank to be properly heated. If you keep your Betta in a bowl, daily water changes with chlorine-free water, heated to room-temperature is paramount for the health of your fish.
I Don’t Like That!
We all have pet-peeves that tick us off! Here are some things your Betta fish will not like!
33) Other male Bettas. As we have listed before, this species of fish is very aggressive and territorial to its own male species. Keep them separated at all times!
34) Male Bettas will also try to fight themselves if they see their reflections in a mirror, so make sure you don’t place its bowl in front of a mirror.
35) Dull-colored fins on your Betta are a good indication your fishy-friend is ill.
36) Bloating in your Betta is caused by overfeeding and constipation, which can lead to death. Smaller meals fed a few times a day—rather than one big meal—are the best precaution you can take to protect your Betta from this.
Betta Fish in the Media
Just like folks like to brag on their cats and dogs, the Betta fish has also taken its rightful place on social media. Plus, it has even added some movie-fame to its name!
37) Disney Channel series Fish Hooks features Milo, a Siamese Fighting Fish.
38) The Betta has been used as backgrounds and screensavers for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems.
39) Betta Fish Center on Twitter is swimmingly fun!
Betta Tip pic.twitter.com/JNrPeyIuKp
— Betta Fish Center (@BettaFishCenter) November 3, 2015
40) Bettas.and.tanks on Instagram takes the Betta home to another level!
42) Lovely Bettas on Instagram shows a different variety of these cool fish.
43) Fish Tank Girl has captured the beauty of her Betta on YouTube.
44) Two Bettas, one tank! See how to do it the right way in this YouTube video.
Betta’s Over and Out!
There you have it! Forty-four amazing reasons why the Betta fish is so much more than just a pretty fish floating around in a tiny cup. If you’ve been persuaded to embark on the journey of Betta ownership, take a look at your retail pet store for one of these aquatic pals to add to your home.