Wild Betta Fish Species Profile and Care

Wild betta fish is the name given to any of the true Betta splendens  species found naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. There are five commonly kept species of bettas with wild counterparts: Betta splendens , Betta imbellis , Betta smaragdina , Betta picta , and Betta foerschi . Bettas are members of the gourami family (Osphronemidae).

Wild Betta Fish Characteristics

Black Betta Fish Characteristics

The bettas found in their natural habitat have a lifespan of approximately 2 years. Their environment is much more forgiving than a home aquarium, and as a result they do not need to adapt as greatly to changes in water parameters. Bettas are well adapted for oxygenating their gills through buccal (mouth) pumping. This mouth-powered breathing evolved to allow them to survive in low oxygen environments, such as shallow streams and small puddles.

Wild Betta Fish Origin

Wild bettas are a naturally occurring species that have been evolving independently of captive bettas for thousands of years. They can be found throughout southeast Asia, most commonly in Thailand and Malaysia with smaller populations in Indonesia and Singapore. Compared to their domesticated counterparts which are almost always fully colored, wild bettas (of all five species) will occasionally display varying degrees of natural iridescence, ranging from yellow-green iridescence on the fins to blue iridescence on the body. Bettas with this type of coloration are rare both wild and domesticated bettas.

Wild Betta Fish Size

In the wild, bettas grow to around 2 inches (1-2.5 inches). They are a small fish and thus more suited towards smaller aquariums than their domesticated counterparts. Compared to other common pet fish such as goldfish which can grow up to 18 inches, bettas are on the very low end of average size range for common aquarium fish species. Therefore terrariums or nano tanks would be ideal for housing them.

Wild Betta Fish PH

Wild betta’s natural water parameters depend on where they originate from and these will vary somewhat depending on location but it is generally accepted that most wild bettal habitats fall within this range: pH: 6 – 7 .2  Hardness: 5-19 dGH

Wild Betta Fish Colors and Markings

In addition to natural iridescence, wild bettas display a wide range of colors and patterns depending on the species. Bettas are naturally adapted to almost any environment they find themselves in, be it fast flowing water or still puddles. They will often take on coloration that helps them blend into their surroundings. However these colors can also be brightly contrasting with vivid markings. In the most commonly found pet varieties of betta (the ones typically sold as “Siamese fighting fish”) we have selected for those with high contrast patterns and full bodied coloration which is atypical of wild counterparts found in nature. The majority of wild bettas will display some degree of natural iridescence on their fins, but subdued coloration.

Wild Betta Fish Aquarium

A fish tank only provides the minimum requirements for betta fish to survive in captivity (water, oxygen and food). To maintain a happy pet betta it is recommended to keep the aquarium size no smaller than 5-10 gallons for 1 male/female pair or 10+ gallons for several males. Bettas are members of the gourami family (Osphronemidae) which means they are labyrinth fish . This means they have an organ called a labrynth organ which allows them to extract oxygen from air above the water’s surface via gulping air at the surface. Because of this, in an aquarium where the surface of the water is not exposed to air (for example if it is covered with a lid), betta fish require some other form of internal or external aeration. This can be provided by either very small bubbles from a bubble wand placed near the surface, an airstone at the bottom of the tank or by adding live plants which will provide for better oxygenation. Wild bettas are far more dynamic and active swimmers than their domesticated counterparts which makes them unsuitable for small tanks that lack adequate areas to swim horizontally.

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Wild Betta Fish Tankmates

Because they originate from densely populated regions wild bettas have evolved a natural wariness towards any fast moving object in their environment including other fish. In an aquarium setting, adding other tankmates to a wild betta will reduce it’s movements and therefore stress the fish out. Bettas prefer solitary lives and thus would do best in either a single species tank or as a pair (in tanks at least 10 gallons). However if you choose to keep them with other fish, they should only be kept with small non-aggressive schooling fish such as tetras or neons. I would not recommend keeping them with goldfish as the betta’s fins are too long for its usual fin nipping habits and can end up getting shredded by bigger fish.

Wild Betta Fish Care

In terms of maintenance wild bettas don’t require much special care that isn’t already covered under basic aquarium maintenance. They prefer a clean tank and clean water and at minimum require a once weekly 25% water change with unchlorinated, unfluoridated water. In addition to this most people choose to vacuum the substrate every few weeks or so. Wild bettas can be fed most basic fish foods such as tropical flakes or pellets but may need some supplementing with live food such as mosquito larvae, brine shrimp or blood worms.

Wild Betta Fish Lifespan

In terms of lifespan wild bettas have been reported to live for up to 5 years in captivity though 2-3 is more common if proper care standards are met. Given how short their life spans tend to be in captivity it’s that breeding them is done only by the most advanced hobbyists who understand betta care requirements.

Wild Betta Fish Species Profile and Care

Wild Betta Fish Diet and Feeding

Wild bettas are carnivorous opportunistic feeders. This means they will eat whatever meaty foods they can get their fins on, including live insects which is why in the wild mosquito larvae are a primary food source for them. However in captivity it is recommended to offer them frozen or freeze dried bloodworms (which has its own unique advantages), mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, tubifex worms or any other commercially available sinking tablet/pellet fish food. It’s important to note that while these are their preferred meats other flake/pellets may be more appealing to them depending on often they have been fed live foods in the past.

Wild Betta Fish Differences

One of the main differences you will notice between wild bettas and their domestic counterparts is that wild bettas are more stocky, deep bodied fish with shorter fins. Their fins are also less likely to be ragged or torn because they have not been selectively bred by aquarium fish breeders for these specific traits, though some domesticated betta strains do have them . Wild bettas can also breed 20-30 times a year while domestics only breed once or twice a year due to being fed high protein pellets high phosphorus foods which suppress reproductive hormones.

Wild Betta Fish Breeding

Because of their short life spans breeding wild betas is done only by very dedicated and experienced betta keepers. Like their domesticated cousins wild bettas spawn in pairs, usually during the morning hours though they can spawn at any time of day or night. When first breeding them it’s not advisable to set up a separate breeder tank as this will stress out the fish and make it harder for breeders to distinguish between male and female fish (which is important when trying to breed them).