Siamese Fighting Fish, also known as Betta, Bettas or Betta Splendens, are found in the wild in Thailand. The wild versions of the Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta do not have the long flowing fins or as wide range of colours that you see in your local pet store. The longer fins are characteristics of the male Betta only, the female Betta has the short fins. Colouration of female Bettas are exactly the same are the males, especially when bought from a private breeder. Many female Bettas obtained from local pets shops are bought from wholesalers and their colouration may not be as clear. Female Betta’s fins come in the same wide variety as the males but in a shorter version.
The Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish is territorial, giving rise to their name. A male will defend his territory to the death, which in the wild is an area approximately the size of a 2ft cube (60cm cubed). Due to this characteristic it is strongly recommended that males be kept individually. Female Bettas on the other hand may be housed in community tanks, though it is recommended to keep the number of females housed together no less than five. The reason for this is that the females will establish a pecking order within the tank. With three or less in the tank you will find that the dominate female betta will continually pick on the other female bettas which will result in injuries or death. If possible, selecting spawn sisters will help reduce the in house fighting that occurs while the pecking order is established.
A Siamese Fighting Fish does not need a filter for oxygen as it is what is called a labyrinth fish. Labyrinth fish breath like you and I, taking oxygen from the air. Therefore if a Siamese Fighting Fish cannot get it mouth clear of the water line to breath it will die. It does not matter the depth of the tank, a healthy Betta can survive in a tank depth of 2ft (60cm). But a filter does help maintain good water quality which is discussed in more detail in Care of Bettas.
Over the years, due to selected breeding by breeders and the increase number of hobby breeders, there are many different types of caudal fins available on the market today. It is by this caudal fin, that the different types of Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish are referred to.
The most popular is the Veil Tail(VT) male with it’s asymmetrical caudal fin spread (the fin does not divide evenly if folded in half). As it is one of the easiest to breed and it is genetically dominate over all over tail types expect the Plakat, this type of Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish is the most economical to purchase and readily available from Pet Shops. The only other variation of the Veil Tail is the Double Tail Veil Tail (DTVT). With a Double Tail Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish, the caudal fin is divided into two and is symmetrical in shape. Both lobes of the Double Tail should be nearly the same size, in most cases the top fin is slightly larger and the split that forms the two lobes should start near the base of the caudal fin. Double Tails tend to be a Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish that people either like or hate.
The Plakat (PK) or short fin, closely resembles the traditional or wild caught Betta. The short fins are genetically dominate over all the available fin types but it is the lack of flowing fins that reduces it’s popularity. The caudal fin of a Plakat is symmetrical ( the fin does divide evenly if folded in half), but what they lack for in fin spread, they make up in personality. As described by one breeder, they are pocket rockets, they just go and go. Within the Plakat family there are Double Tails, Crown Tails and Halfmoons.
Crown Tail Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish (CT) have a reduction in the webbing between the rays in all the fins. This reduction produces a spiky look in the fins and also allows for a better caudal fin spread. A good quality Crown Tail should have the ability to spread it’s caudal to 180 degrees or half a circle. Hence there is not really a Halfmoon Crown Tail Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish, just better quality Crown Tails. However, there are Double Tail Crown Tail, Double Ray Crown Tail, Double Double Ray and as mentioned above Plakat Crown Tails. The Double Ray and Double Double Ray refer to the number of sections each caudal ray divides into at it’s end without the webbing.
Delta Tail Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish(Delta) have a symmetrical caudal fin that spreads to approximately 90 degrees.
Super Delta Tail Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish (SD) are also symmetrical with a fin spread from 90 degrees to 179 degrees. Super Deltas with the larger spread have usually come from a Halfmoon spawn but have failed to meet the standards of a Halfmoon. Super Deltas Double Tails are also available. The Double Tail Gene is used by breeders to help increase the fin spread of a spawn.
Halfmoon Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish (HM) are the cream of the crop, with a caudal fin spread of 180 degrees or more. At full flare, the back fin is a perfect half circle. Any Siamese Fighting Fish with a spread over 180 degrees is referred to as a Over Halfmoon (OHM). A good quality Double Tail Halfmoon at full flare will resemble a nearly perfect circle. Because of the extra volume of fins on these types of Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish, extra care is required to maintain the fins in perfect condition.
With the many choices within the Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish family, it is easy to see why they are so popular. And in some cases, why one is just not enough. It is important to remember however that if you wish to keep the larger fin Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish, more time and care on the owners behalf is required to ensure that the Betta remains in tip top condition.
The female counterparts of the Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish family, are often overlooked and under rated. This is partly due to the fact that most females that are sold in Pet Shops are very indistinct in colour. From experience, pet shop females, are pot luck, as most carry the genes of at least two colours. Female Bettas obtained from hobby breeders are clearer in colour, usually the same colour as the males.
Female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish , unless conditioning them for spawning, can be kept in community tanks that are well planted and has lots of hiding places. This ensures that a pecking order is established with little damage. Spawn sisters will cohabite together more readily than females from different spawns. This does not mean that you will have a tank with just one colour. Depending on the genes of the parents, spawns can vary in colour. Blue/Green spawns will produce royal blue, green and steel blue female bettas. Cambodian Red spawns can produce red and yellow female bettas.
The fins on the female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish are the same as the males just shorter in length. So there are plakat, crown, delta, super delta, double tails, halfmoon and over halfmoon females. The difference between veil tail, delta, super delta, halfmoons and over halfmoon females is the degree their caudal fin spread when fully opened and also the number of branches each ray divides into at the end. Veil Tail and delta tail female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish will be 2 ray branching. Super Delta, Halfmoons and Over Halfmoons will be 4 to 8 ray branching.
Female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish grow to as big and in most cases larger than males. This is part of the reason that breeding females at the age of four months is recommended. The older the female, the larger they grow and the more difficult it is for the male to wrap her when spawning. Female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish will jump, just like males, so it is recommended to have lids for any tanks.
A community tank of female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish is just as peaceful to watch, as a tank of tropical, but you are limited to tank mates. I have housed cherry shrimp, glass shrimp and bristle nose catfish with female Bettas with no problems. The shrimp even managed to breed quite well with the females. So if you ever have the opportunity to purchase some good clear colour female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish, give some thought to a community tank. Just check that they are really female Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish and not short fin males or males that have not reached maturity. Look for shorter ventral fins, an egg spot between the ventral fins, horizontal line of stress on the body, rounder/fatter body and in white body females look for the egg sack. If the fish has none of these traits then it is a good chance it is a short fin male, or a runt of the spawn.
The more you look for information on these beautiful fish, the more you will find that the information varies, especially when it comes to spawning Bettas. The only suggestion or advice I can give is to read everything and then trial what you think may work for you. And this is not an easy task, as a lot of breeders do not tell you all their secrets to success. When I first started spawning Bettas, live food cultures were not popular and very difficult to obtain. Many people told me that I did not need them, but when I questioned them further, their survival rate was only between 10 to 20%. I uncovered several of these omission in my first couple of years of spawning Bettas that could have saved me a lot of heartache. The products below are options for you to consider, and would like to hear your opinion about them if you have already have them.
Betta Lovers Guide Click Here!
Caring for Siamese Fighting Fish Click Here!
Halfmoon Betta Fish Guide Click Here!
Taking The Mystery Out Of Betta Breeding Click Here!