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Siamese Fighting Fish Care
by Mel April 2nd 2010, 07:53 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 3, Issue 8 (February 2010).

Siamese Fighting Fish Care
by Charlie (x-gothic-princess-x)

The very common Siamese fighting fish, also known as Betta, is a colour fish to the freshwater aquariums. They come from rice paddies in Thailand and Cambodia. They are called "pla-kad" or "trey krem" which means "fighting fish" in native Thai. The fighter fish came from the Belontiidae family of fish. They come in many different colours and tail types and also have their own unique personality. Because of their colour and different tails, this makes them very popular in fish keeping and shops. A fighter fish is one of the well known fish, and someone with no understand of this fish could still know the name of it. Even though the fighter lives in small rice paddies and slow moving streams, this does not mean they like to be kept in small containers in homes.

Habitat & Care

Most people overlook filters and heaters, things which regulate tank temperature. The fighter fish live in shallow streams, which means the temperature is going to reach a high degree, whereas most people keep them in cold water. The waters that the fighter fish lives in often reaches 80F. Fighting fish love being in warm water, and without it can become ill, lifeless or even dull in colour. These fish will change into a lifeless state if the water temperature drops below 75F. Water temperature is often the biggest problem and argument within keeping this fish, as most people keep these fish in a bowl which makes it hard for the temperature to be kept at the right level. Fighters prefer the temperature to be around 75-86F (24-30C). You can buy heaters from any good fish shop; you should always make sure the heater you buy if right for the size tank you have.

Fighting fish do a lot better in waters low in dissolved oxygen, but this doesn't mean that they need less oxygen than any other fish. Fighting fish have a special air breathing respiratory organ that allows them to breath air straight from the surface, without causing them problems like other fish would have. The fish has to have this, or else they would die from suffocating. Because these fish are an air breathing species, they must always have access to the water surface.

The water should be warm and soft flowing for these fish to be as happy as they can be. Fighting fish prefer a slightly acidic pH level, around the 6.8 - 7.4 mark. Water movement should also be kept to a minimum; this means that filters or air pumps that produce a current should be avoided. These fish should be kept on their own and not mixed with any other fish since fighting fish might kill the other fish or other fish will tail nip and stress the fighter out. If you are thinking of keeping a fighter fish in with other fish avoid any brightly coloured or long finned fish (Guppies, Platties), since this will confuse the fighter in thinking itís another male. Also avoid any fish that might chase or tail nip the fighter fish (Barbs, Tetras) as this will stress the fighter and may cause death or illness. Keeping them in a community tank can be done, but itís a very risky idea and can cause more problems than it's worth. However you can never keep a female and male together, or two males together, because they will fight to the death. You can keep males together if there is a separated plate to keep them from reaching each other. Females can be kept together if the tank is big enough.

Fighters can be kept in floating boxes or breeding boxes if they are ill or have turned aggressive lately, or if other fish nip them. They are also used for keeping more than one male in the same tank without a separated plate. Though these do have their downfalls, they can cause stress upon one of the males, resulting in illness or death. Many people keep fighting fish in flower vases, which are small and not ideal for the fish as they don't have the room to move around in, and will become very depressed.

In nature fighting fish would mostly feed on small insects and bugs on the water surface. Their upturned mouth helps them snatch insects quickly and faster that fell onto the water surface. The fighter fish's digestive system, an alimentary tract much shorter than those of vegetarian fish, is made for meat. Because of this, live foods are great for the fighter fish, however these fish will adapt to eating frozen blocks of food or flakes. Live foods can be brought from most fish or reptile shops for a low amount of money and contain brine shrimp, blood worms, black worms, plankton, dalphina. You can breed brine shrimp if you have the right things. Fighting fish will also eat small cut up parts of beef heart, which can be found frozen or alive. If flake food is fed to these fish, you should try to give them a frozen block once a week or a mixture of different things. You can buy special Betta flakes, some of which contain freeze dried brine shrimp.


Fighting fish have a lifespan of about five years. Shop bought ones should not be breed as these tend to be slightly older and past the breeding age, causing problems with the fry produced. If you are looking into breeding go for a fighter around one year or less in age for healthy fry. Most shop bought fighters are around six months old, but you can never be sure. Also do not breed Veil Tail fighters as these are common enough and you will find these hard to sell as shops won't buy them from you.

While breeding fighting fish they don't need a big tank or any special equipment, since they make their own nests called bubble nests. Most commonly breeders will use a ten UK gallon tank with a bare bottom and a couple of soft fake plants for hiding. Smaller tanks will also work. When the fry is big enough for feeding they should be feed on live foods and nothing else. When the fry start swimming length ways instead of up and down, the father should be removed from the fry, or else he will eat them. After the breeding has been successful the female should be removed as soon as possible. The pH should be around 7.0 for the fry and the temperature should be around 80F or slightly higher.

Siamese fighting fish are very inexpensive to keep and can be kept easily if you know how.

Last edited by Mel; April 4th 2010 at 09:35 AM.
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