Siamese Fighting Fish

Betta Splendens

Siamese fighting fish have the ability to breathe oxygen from the atmosphere. This is possible because of a specialised breathing organ known as the labyrinth. As an air breather Siamese fighting fish can be kept without the need for water oxygenation.

In the wild Siamese fighting fish may be confined to small water bodies for most of the year but gain a wider swimming range during the wet season.

Siamese Fighting Fish Variations

A range of colour variations have been developed from the original drab betta form. Fish can be found with one solid colour or a mix of vibrant shades and tones. Red and blue always seem to be the most dominant colours available but a good pet shop will stock many other choices.

Many Betta splendens fin shapes have been also developed. The most frequently found is the veil tail. These Siamese fighting fish have long flowing tail fins that look like a satin sheet blowing in the breeze.

Crown tail Siamese fighting fish have extended filaments likened to the alternate spikes and depressions seen in a king's head piece. The individual rays of the fins extend evenly in a good quality crown tail betta.

Delta tails, half moons and full moon betta varieties all have tails shorter and rounder than the veil tail fighting fish. The main difference between these betta varieties is the angle that the extended tail protrudes from the body.

Double tail fighting fish are also bred. In such specimens the tail is split into a pair of club shaped lobes.

The tail fins of some varieties of Siamese fighting fish can open up like a fan. This tail posture will be shown when courting female fish or when stimulated by male fighting fish. Do not do this for prolonged periods as it is stressful for the betta fish.

Veil Tail Siamese Fighting Fish

This betta splendens has a dappled combination of colours. It is a veil tailed variety with long flowing fins. The veil tail is one of the original selectively bred varieties that was further developed into the other fin formations available today. Veil tail Siamese fighting fish have the longest fins of any betta splendens. This can make them especially susceptible to fin biting fish.

More Siamese Fighting Fish Varieties

Close up betta splendens front view   Double tail betta   Blua and red betta   Betta splendens crown tail

Half moon  betta   Cambodian betta fish   White and blue betta splendens   Orange siamese fighting fish 

Female siamese fighting fish    Blue siamese fighting fish   Apricot bodied betta splendens   Blue crown tail betta

Buying Your Betta Splendens

When looking at the bettas for sale in most pet stores they will have been imported from overseas. Depending on your country, Imported fish have to pass a number of inspections and time in quarantine will take place before a fish is offered to the public.

Choose a lively fighting fish with fins displayed well. If the water is not clean consider visiting a different pet shop. Ask the seller what the betta has been fed on and duplicate it's diet for easiest transition. Also observe for any symptoms of health problems.

Feeding Siamese Fighting Fish

A wild fighter fish will enjoy a diet consisting of live aquatic insect larvae and flying bugs that stray into the water. This diet should be duplicated using similar foods such as frozen bloodworms. Dry pellet foods designed for bettas are also available. These are usually fed at the rate of 3 or 4 pellets a day. Some contain vegetable extracts that can increase the colour intensity of red fighting fish. If kept in an unfiltered container pay close attention to removing uneaten food as it can quickly spoil the fish's water.

Siamese Fighting Fish Health Problems

betta fish with white spotSiamese fighting fish are highly susceptible too ammonia which accumulates faster in smaller containers. Prolonged exposure can weaken the fish and lead to bacterial infection. Visible symptoms may include a swollen stomach, lethargic behaviour and a lack of interest in food.

Fighting fish are a tropical fish and thrive in a constantly warm environment. Undersized betta containers are also prone to rapid temperature changes in comparison to larger containers. An aquarium makes the best home for a Siamese fighting fish to live. When using betta bowls they should be large and kept at a reasonable temperature.

Another disease encountered by bettas is white spot. Also known as freshwater  ich, this disease can be fatal if left untreated. The ich spends part of it's lifecycle in the aquarium water and is highly contagious. This disease can start as a single spot. Careful inspection of your betta can catch the disease before it become more of a problem. Treatments can weaken the betta fish leaving it susceptible to other disease. Prevention is as easy as not sharing the betta's net with new fish which have not passed home quarantine. The Siamese fighter fish in the above photograph has one single spot between it's eyes.

Breeding Bettas

female siamese fighting fishFeed and condition the parent fish on live food and frozen bloodworms. When the female fighter is ripe a small white egg tube will become visible between the front fins. The male betta will have built a large foamy bubble nest after reaching breeding condition.

The male Siamese fighting fish should be housed separately in a fairly shallow aquarium. No more than 20cm of water is needed. A water lily or piece of bubble wrap floating on the water surface can help reinforce and protect the bubble nest. The clear plastic bubble wrap is useful because it lets you view the developing eggs and emerging fry.

male siamese fighter fish with bubble nestIntroduce the pair of bettas and they should begin spawning in as short as a few minutes and sometimes several hours later. Observe the female  for damage and remove her if she is showing injury to her body. Fin damage is unavoidable when breeding Siamese fighting fish but these tears will quickly heal.

Spawning Betta splendens involves the male chasing the female until she allows him to wrap her in his fins. She then expels a batch of eggs which gently drop to the bottom. The male will release his milt during the embrace then catch and collect the eggs. After depositing the eggs in his bubble nest the male fighting fish will repeat the chase and embrace behaviour. Several hundred eggs can be expected.

Siamese Fighting Fish Spawing

For an interesting breeding cycle you cannot go past the Siamese fighting fish as this footage of the egg laying shows. Spawning Siamese fighting fish deposit eggs within the bubble nest. These fish have been offered some floating plastic to strengthen and protect the nest. Using a clear plastic film allows the eggs to be viewed while the male cares for them. The film can prevent the bubbles from bursting.

Sometimes a female betta will not spawn the first time. Such reluctant females will often lay after another fortnight of conditioning. You can sometimes tell how eager a female fighting fish is to breed by placing her in a jar inside the breeding aquarium. If she seems keen to make contact with the male she will probably be ready to spawn.

The male fighting fish is responsible for all maternal duties. For the next 48-72 hours he will hover beneath the nest catching any fallen eggs and replacing them in his bubble nest. When the eggs begin to hatch he will frantically collect the tiny fry and place them back in the oxygen rich bubble nest. The male Siamese fighting fish has a hectic time as the small fry usually swim very randomly.

Raising Siamese Fighting Fish

The newly hatched Siamese fighting fish are exceptionally small. After the yolk sac is depleted and the fry are free swimming microscopic food stuffs should be offered. Paramecium followed by microworms are both useful foods. Remember to prepare cultures in advance to assure a steady supply. A sponge filter in the breeding tank can also provide some microscopic nutrition but is impractical while the fragile bubble nest is required.

Upon hatching Siamese fighting fish will uptake oxygen through the water but at the second or third week fry will begin transformations within their breathing apparatus. This change will allow the adult fish to breathe atmospheric air but comes at a cost for the young fry. Unless the air at the top of the tank is kept at the same temperature as the water, huge losses will occur. This is due to the developing labyrinth organ becoming congested with mucus and consequently asphyxiating the fry.

To prevent large fry losses the aquarium should be fitted with a tight sealing lid. If draughts can enter through cracks at the edges of the lid it is advised to seal the entire aquarium with plastic film and allow only a minimal amount of ventilation.

The next challenge in Siamese fighting fish husbandry arises when males begin aggressive behaviour toward their brothers. At this stage each male Siamese fighting fish will require it's own container to prevent fin damage and death.

Family - Anabantidae

Size - 6-7 cm

Fish Origin - Malaysia and Thailand (formerly Siam)

Water - Tolerates wide 6.5 to 7.5 pH range but prefers water on the soft side

Temperature - 24-30°C but best around 26-28°C for every day temperature

Feeding - Dried and live bloodworms and similar foods

Sexing - Male has showy long fins, egg tube visible in female

Breeding - Bubble nest builder - male cares for eggs and fry

Aquarium - Single male per aquarium

More Siamese Fighting Fish Video

White Siamese Figter Fish

Purely white Siamese fighting fish are highly prized because of their scarceness. Most will show some spots or patches. Finding a quality pair to breed from can be very difficult. Contact a betta club for good specimens. This white betta is being kept in an aquarium with some freshwater shrimp and a catfish.

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