Where Do Betta Fish Live in the Wild?

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The Splendid Battler, Betta Splendens are the ultimate rulers of the aquarium trade. They are also known as ‘Betta Splendens’ which means, “A beautiful warrior”. Thailand, the native land is where the Bettas go by different names.  Plaka, The Jewel of the Orient & Ikan Bettah- The Biting Fish are one of the different Betta fish names. Its average length is not more than 6-8 cm. The labyrinth organ allows the fish to breathe from the water surface. This happens when the oxygen content of the water has reduced. They also have vascularized chambers in the caudal region of the head. This helps in oxygen extraction from the air in exchange with other gases. As rice paddies have a low content of oxygen, this adaptation is necessary for survival. In this article, you will find out where betta fish live in the wild. So let’s get started.

Where Do Betta Fish Live in the Wild?

Betta Splendens was first discovered in the waters of Thailand. The male fish bred for fighting became a sport until King of Siam, Rama III taxed these fights. He was fond of these fish. Once the gifted some of these to a visitor who passed it on a Danish Physician, Dr. Theodore Cantor. He studied these species with a keen eye and bred. Russia and various countries from Europe import it ever since.

Some areas of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand are the hub for Betta Fish. 90% of Bettas are present in Laos, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Wild Betta Fish is also a native of the Mekong Basic Area. It was first discovered in Far East Asia. Later on, it got introduced to the other Asian countries. The fish also has a huge demand in the United States and Australia.

The dense vegetation helps in protecting the fish from fish-eating birds. Asians kept the Siamese fighting fish in their captivity in A.D 1200. Today, IUCN has listed these vulnerable wild Betta fish in the red list of threatened species. Recently, a huge number of Betta Fish are present in the Adelaide River in Darwin. To hunt this fish, you need to look into the shallow bodies of water stuffed with vegetation.

Betta Fish is also present in the standing waters of the Dominican Republic. Rice paddies and flood plains are Betta Fish’s favorite habitat.  Canals, drainage ditches, and slow-moving streams are also a natural habitat. The brackish water in these areas helps this Siamese fighting fish to thrive. The nesting water is low in dissolved oxygen, pH, and salinity but high in carbon dioxide and heat. The warmth of shallow waters helps Betta fish to thrive. They also love low-light environments.

Betta fish hide at the bottom of the dried habitats. This is until the water fills the depression during the dry season.

Betta Fish  are unique species living in the Wild

Betta Splendens are among those unique species of fish that interact with humans. Like dolphins, they recognize their human companions. Humans have taken advantage of this ability and cashed it well. They train this fish to perform various tricks and entertain spectators. Betta Fish that are pets follow the tips and tricks of its owner across the water tank.

The streamlined body of Betta helps it to slip and swim in the water. This beautiful warrior is happiest when swimming in its natural habitat. Yet, some pet stores sell them to ignorant families, who have no idea about the basic care of Betta fish. There are transparent scales with thin and transparent plates present on the body. These protect it from minor injuries. An extra mucus layer helps to fight against parasites and infection. This helps to manage a smooth swim across water.

Signs of Betta fish which Live in the Wild

Betta fish living in the wild develop brown camouflage scales that help in its survival. It doesn’t have the flashy ornamental fins.  The dull brown colored scales have a darker dorsal stripe to avoid predators. Wild Betta fish reaches maturity at the age of 2 and their length is approximately 2.5 inches at that time.

Fins make them vulnerable. The Fighting Fish of the wild is usually duller without any exaggerated flowing fins. Betta fish always marks its territory as fighting has been in its genes. In the wild, whenever they see another fish as a threat they fight until and unless the other retreats back.

Wild male Betta does not have the same fin length as that of a commercial Betta. Large fins are costly when two male contemporaries fight inside the waters. These flowy fins help them to lose. This is why male Betta fish cannot survive in the wild for longer time periods. Their life span is less than that of the domesticated Betta fish.

The appearance of a Betta Fish grown in the wild is different from that of the one bred at farms. They are dull grayish-green in color with short fins. Whereas aquarium betta fish has flashy and dark colors. But, that is because of the cross-breeding and natural selection methods. This selective breeding has made them look colorful but even more aggressive.

Betta Fish have Unique Tail

The tail shape of Betta Splendens is unique. These are different types of tails. Veil tail, half-moon double tail, crown tail, Delta tail, and Spade tail are some of the tail styles. Bettas with elephant ear and the short-finned fighting-style tail are also quite popular.

Betta fish loves to Move Around Besides the Wild

After every two years, Betta Fish jumps from one puddle to another in search of large bodies of water. During this search, they can survive without food for fourteen days. This procedure takes place in the summers. Though the fish is not completely healthy, it can manage without food all these days. A domesticated fish does not need to work in the same way because it is not functioned or trained to starve for days.

The myth about Betta Fish Living in the Wild?

It is a myth that Betta Fish lives in puddles. They shift to puddles only when their territories have dried up. In the wild, it becomes less territorial due to the large space available. This explains the aggressive and insecure Betta’s behavior in small water tanks. Betta Fish are typical insectivores in their wild habitat. It survives on midge larvae, species of larva and mosquitoes. They also consume small fish. The invertebrates and the small fish are the most exquisite meal for the Betta Splendens. Diet also includes dried blood worms, algae, brine shrimp and daphnia.

The commercial food for domesticated Betta fish helps to improve its color and life span. The minerals and vitamins included in it are good enough for the fish. A diet enriched with protein and fiber is a need of the fish instead of the plant roots or peace lilies.

Trained to Fight

This favorite pet fish of every child still possesses its ancestral territorial behavior. Pet owners train Bettas to fight for gambling purposes. The legacy still continues today. One cannot take the risk of putting two male betta fish in the same tank. Some researchers suggest that female bettas can survive in a tank as groups.

The feisty attitude and flowing fins of Betta Fish mark its own unique identity. The beauty of this species is captivating. Those colored fins and various tail types are enough to lure any fish-lover. They are available in all kinds of rare colors like metallic, copper, turquoise, etc.

Demystifying the Betta

Researchers believe that Betta Fish is a social animal and it is a myth that they cannot survive in groups. It becomes territorial after experiencing courtship and isolation, particularly from the breeders. Like humans, Betta fish can experience depression and frustration. It usually happens when they are not provided with an enriched environment. They need caves, plants, and enough room to explore the surroundings.

Aggressive in Nature

The breeding style of Siamese Fighting Fish has made them hostile and aggressive. It is impossible for two Bettas to stay alive in the same aquarium or they will kill each other. This aggressive trait becomes interesting when it gets furious, seeing its own shadow. It then flaps its fins against the water tank.

You can calculate the Betta Fish’s aggressiveness from the intensity of its body color. Other indicators include the expansion of fins and opening of gill covers. Male Betta fish are more attractive due to its flashy fins. It catches the attention of buyers and sellers.

Breeding Cycle

A Betta Fish breeds throughout the year and they have no specific breeding clock. They need a temperature close to 26.7-degree Celsius to breed. The female fish lays almost 10-40 eggs on average. The male fish protect the eggs. Both male and female Bettas are particularly choosy when it comes to mating. Female Bettas choose their mating partner on the basis of visual cues like size, vigor, length of the fins.

Male & Female Bettas

According to research, females prefer blue colored males over red colored ones! We can draw a clear distinction line between Male and Female Betta fish as well. Male has long fins and a body without any patterns. The female fish has short fins with a patterned body. A single betta fish can have many male partners too. The female betta fish who live in the wild choose the winner for mating. The female fish selects regardless of male’s physical appearance. It looks like, they eavesdrop well on happening’s marine life.

Life Span & Mating of Betta fish

The typical life span of a betta fish is from 2-5 years. The life span of Betta fish who live in the wild is less than the domesticated Betta fish. That’s because natural habitats are often polluted. There are fewer mating chances due to contaminated water. Contamination includes the presence of oil, chemical and sewerage waste in the water. The plants die due to the lack of oxygen and contamination resulting in the death of Betta Fish. Mating is further reduced when female Bettas die before their male counterparts. That’s when the male Bettas are only exposed to the male sex.

Understanding Bettas in the Wild

The export industry has domesticated Wild Bettas in large numbers for farm programs. It has transformed into a worldwide business over the years due to huge demand worldwide. It is not easy to handle and breed Bettas. You need extensive knowledge with deep understanding to study its behavior. You should also know its needs in the wild and aquarium to maintain diversity.

Taking Care of Betta

Domesticated betta is a hybrid. These wonderful fish will live in a tank of 2.5 gallons (min) and 10 gallons of the water tank (max) at home. Whosoever says that Betta fish can survive in a small cup is heartless because in that case, the fish will die soon. Please read our another article to know about the best tank size for betta fish.

In the wild, Betta fish requires warm temperatures. Heat the water tank to 75-80-degree Fahrenheit. Coldwater is vermin for betta fish, so be cautious especially in winters. The cold environment suppresses the immune system and they die due to the illness caused by it.

Buying The Bettas

During the export and import process, Betta fish suffer severe problems. Their containers lack enough oxygen and they often die due to suffocation. Before buying a Betta Fish you should be cautious. Keep in mind that a sick Betta Fish won’t have an attractive outlook, in fact, it will look pale with bulging eyes. Ensure its fins are not ripped or torn and there are no signs of injuries or scratches on its body. A healthy and stable Betta fish will always be responsive with crystal-clear eyes.


Our fighter fish is not completely endangered by climate change. Yet, its threatened number is due to excessive urbanization and industrialization in Thailand. The environment is becoming quite worrisome. Wild Bettas are under constant threat by developmental projects and farming. This causes the loss of natural habitat. I hope this article answers the question of where betta fish live in the wild. You can learn more about betta fish from Wikipedia.

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