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10 Betta Fish Facts You Should Know (Vet Reviewed)

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

Betta Fish in a Bowl

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The Betta Fish, or Betta splendens, are common pets that you can find in most pet stores. These beautiful and vibrant fish have many fascinating and interesting qualities. They’re intelligent fish that have unique care needs and don’t necessarily make good pets for beginner fish enthusiasts.

There’s a lot to know about Betta Fish! Here are some of our favorite Betta Fish facts that can help you determine if a Betta Fish is the right pet for you.

The 10 Betta Fish Facts

1. Betta Fish Originate from Southeast Asia

Betta Fish are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. They prefer still, shallow waters and can be found dwelling in rice paddies, marshes, and floodplains.

Betta Fish are also referred to as Siamese Fighting Fish and are the national aquatic animal of Thailand. They’ve been embedded in Thai culture for many centuries, and all species of Betta Fish originate from the wild Thai Betta fish.

green betta fish
Image Credit: Digital Art StudioTH, Shutterstock

2. Betta Fish Have Been Pets for Over 1,000 Years

Evidence of Betta Fish can be found in documents dating as far as the 13th century, making them one of the oldest domesticated fish. They were originally bred for fighting purposes, and people would gamble on Betta Fish fights.

Eventually, the Betta Fish’s popularity spread beyond Thailand and Southeast Asia when King Rama III gave them to zoologist Theodore Cantor. Around the late 1800s, Betta Fish were introduced and circulated around the West.

3. There Are About 70 Different Species of Betta Fish

Betta Fish were originally bred for aggressive qualities, but breeders soon started developing different kinds of Betta Fish. They focused on body shapes, tail shapes, colors, and patterns. Eventually, five varieties of Betta Fish were bred in Thailand:

  • Plakad Pak Klang
  • Plakad E-sarn
  • Plakad Pak Tai
  • Plakad Mahachai
  • Plakad Tawan-ork

Many other varieties of Betta Fish stem from these early five varieties. Today, you can find Betta Fish of all kinds of bright colors and fin types. The domesticated varieties tend to be much more vibrant in color than wild Betta Fish.

red betta fish on black background
Image Credit: UNIKYLUCKK, Shutterstock

4. The Plakad E-Sarn is the Most Common Type of Pet Betta Fish

The most common Betta Fish bred and sold as pets are the Plakad E-Sarn. Wild varieties of this fish can be found in northeast Thailand and Laos. Plakad E-Sarns, or Betta smaragdina, have long and sleek bodies that resemble a snake. They have fan-like tails and striking green and blue scales.

This species was eventually introduced to German researcher, Werner Ladigas. They were then recognized as a new and distinct species in the 1970s by German researcher Werner Ladigas.

5. Male Betta Fish Create Nests for Their Young

Male Betta Fish will create bubble nests when they’re ready to mate. So, if you have a pet male Betta Fish, you may see it start to blow bubbles at the top of its tank. Once the Betta Fish have mated, the male Betta Fish will move the fertilized eggs to the nest. Then, he will guard the nest until the eggs hatch.

Betta Fish do not parent their young. Once the eggs hatch, the young Betta Fish swim away and live independently.

betta fish
Image Credit: nicefishes, Pixabay

6. Betta Fish Can Jump Out of Water

Betta Fish were named after an Asian Warrior tribe known as the Bettah. They have a fighting spirit and are also hardy and athletic. Betta Fish can jump out of the water to get from place to place. When the conditions are right, wild Betta Fish can survive for several hours outside of water. However, most pet Betta Fish that land outside their fish tank won’t survive for even 30 minutes.

So,as Betta Fish are known to be escape artists, it’s important to place them in a tank with a secure lid.  Their tanks should also never be completely filled to the brim, and foliage shouldn’t reach the top of the tank. It is also important to make sure there is no underlying reason that your Betta is trying to jump out, such as poor water conditions and not enough space.

7. Betta Fish Take Frequent Naps

Despite being fighters, many Betta Fish are also frequent nappers. They have spurts of energy and then prefer to rest throughout the day. You may see them lying on top of leaves or hiding amongst aquatic plants to rest.

New Betta Fish owners may be alarmed at first and think their fish is either sick or has died. Betta Fish and many other vibrantly colored fish can have their colors fade momentarily while they sleep as a natural form of self-defense. As long as their gills are moving and you don’t notice any other changes in their behavior when they’re awake, your Betta Fish is probably just wanting to rest a little bit.

betta fish
Image Credit: Armacus, Shutterstock

8. Betta Fish Are Intelligent

It’s a shame that Betta Fish are often sold in small containers and kept in small tanks. These fish are actually quite active and thrive in a tank that can hold at least 5 gallons of water. Betta Fish are known to be able to learn simple tricks, like swimming through hoops. They can also recognize their owners.

So, pet Betta Fish will appreciate a well-decorated tank with plenty of hiding spaces and foliage. Tanks should also have a filter and a thermometer to ensure that the water temperature stays between 75°F–80°F.

9. Betta Fish Can Be Aggressive

Because they were bred for fighting, Betta Fish can be quite aggressive and competitive with other tankmates. They’re omnivores in the wild and can attack other fish. Betta Fish are also territorial and will fight amongst themselves if their tank space is too small.

Male Bettas are solitary and aggressive towards each other. Females are generally less aggressive and territorial than the males. If you do want to mix Betta Fish with other fish, make sure that you have a large enough tank and plenty of foliage to reduce stress and competition between fish and supervise their interactions.

male mustard gas betta fish inside the aquarium
Image Credit: happymay, Shutterstock

10. The Betta Fish Population Is Decreasing in the Wild

While there’s an abundance of Betta Fish in pet stores, the wild Betta Fish population is actually in decline. The reduced population of wild Betta Fish can be attributed to climate change, pollution, and habitat loss.

Wild Betta Fish live in small and localized areas, and as territorial fish, they already compete with each other for space. So, negative environmental impacts only drive their population to a significant decline. Some species of wild Betta Fish are currently critically endangered.


Betta Fish have a long and fascinating history with humans. It took many years of selective breeding to develop the beautiful varieties of Betta Fish we see today. Betta Fish aren’t just meant to be admired. They require a responsible owner that can provide ample tank space, monitor their tank properties, and offer plenty of mental stimulation.

Betta Fish often show unique and spunky behaviors. So, they make fascinating pets, and there’s always so much more to learn about them as you care for them.

Featured Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

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