You might be an enthusiastic keeper of fish and be loving it as a hobby but bet you didn’t know that keeping fish ranks third most popular pet to keep after dogs and cats. A survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) revealed that around 2.5 million people keep saltwater fish and around 12.5 million US households keep freshwater fish – amazing isn’t it?
However, new trends in the fishkeeping hobby are creating an increase in interest for wild type betta fish.
Keeping are known to have health benefits such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and even Alzheimer’s diseases. They also make great starter pets for children with not too much maintenance; so pleasing to the eye. Fishkeeping isn’t just all fun and games. Many fish owners will admit that the most common ones are keeping algae at bay, cleaning the tank regularly, and health problems.
Have you heard of betta fish or thinking of adding them to your tank? Here are 8 colorful critters you to consider adding to your aquarium:
Betta Imbellis, also known as the peaceful betta or the crescent betta, is native to South East Asia. The specie is one of the most popular wild betta fish in the fishkeeping hobby.
HABITAT The species is found in swamp waters, ditches, rice paddies, and pools. Populations generally occur in freshwater, however, some are also found in brackish coastal swamps.
LENGTH 50-60 mm
TANK One male fish / 5 gallons of water.
Imbellis will thrive in a planted aquarium with provided shelter, like clay plant pots and leaf litter.
Since they inhabit sluggish water, there shouldn’t be a strong water movement.
The Imbellis liked to have access to humid air, it is therefore recommended that the aquarium not be filled to the rim. And since the Imbellis are really good jumper, this will prevent that your fish jumps out of it’s tank.
The Imbellis, who is from Southeast Asia, should be placed in heated water. The temperature of the water should be about 20-28°C. The pH level should be slightly acidic, between 5.0-7.5, and water hardness is preferable between 18 and 179 ppm. Note: The females aren’t as colorful as the male fish.
The Betta Hendra was named after Tommy Hendra who discovered the species. This is hands down, my favorite wild type betta fish.
NATIVE TO Borneo, Indonesia. They are known from the Sabangau swamp forests.
HABITAT The species is generally found in peat swamps with little to no water currents. The natural habitat of the Hendra is typically shaded by bushes, trees, and aquatic and marsh plants. Studies have located in still water that is between 5 and 50 centimeters deep.
LENGTH 30-45 mm at maturity
TANK The aquarium size should be around 45 x 30 cm, to suit a pair or a small group. In the aquarium, roots and branches help to provide shade along with plant pots for extra shelter. They appear to enjoy fairly dim lighting best. Because this fish usually inhabits sluggish water, the filtration system shouldn’t be too strong, keeping the tank well covered. This fish also like access to the humid air that forms above the water surface of the tanks and it jumps well too. The temperature should be 22-27°C, with a pH balance of 4.0-6.5, and hardness of water around 18-99 ppm. These fish enjoy mostly insects in nature. Captive fish will enjoy dried products, but plenty of small live or frozen foods are needed so they develop their best color and condition.
NATIVE TO The East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, Borneo, where it inhabits forest streams with a moderate flow. It lives in shallow water only 5-10 cm deep among the plant roots and leaf litter.
LENGTH 25-30 mm.
TANK Should be a minimum of 57 liters. These fish enjoy driftwood branches and roots for shelter. Clay pots provide further shelter. They do best in fairly dim lighting. They also enjoy the more sluggish type water so filtration shouldn’t be too strong. The tank should be well covered. The fish also like access to the humid air that forms above the water surface. They, too, are excellent jumpers. The temperature of the water should be 23-28°C with a pH balance of 4.0-6.5 and water hardness 18-90 ppm. They enjoy insects and zooplankton in nature. They will eat dried products with an offering of small live or frozen products to keep them in good condition. This fish is best kept alone or with other peaceful species. Bigger, more vigorous fish in the tank will intimidate it.
Betta brownorum (Brown’s betta)
NATIVE TO This fish is endemic to the island of Borneo – found at the southern and western parts of Sarawak, Malaysia – some can be found in Indonesia. It likes to inhabit peat swamp forests that have black water streams – usually in dense forests that don’t offer much light. The water is usually dark from the humid acids and other chemicals that get released from decayed organic material.
LENGTH 25-30 mm.
TANK A pair of these fish will do in a 5-gallon tank, but if it’s a group, a 20-gallon tank will be required. The tank can be fully decked out with branches and driftwood to give it shady spots. Extra clay pots will add extra shade. Adding dried leaf litter also provides the fish with secondary food. The fish need fairly dim lighting. This fish species require acidic conditions. The filtration should not be too strong as it is used to sluggish water. The tank should be well covered without filling it to the top as they like access to the humid air that forms above the water surface. It is also an excellent jumper. Water temperature should be 24-30°C, with the pH balance being 3.0-6.0, and water hardness being 18-90 ppm. They usually prey on insects in the wild, so captive fish will accept dried products. They will still require plenty of small live and frozen foods to keep them in optimum health and condition. They are best kept alone or with other peaceful fish species to prevent them from being intimated or outnumbered.
NATIVE TO Bangkok, Thailand, with most habitats being relatively close to Bangkok.
These fish are actually considered to be under threat. Some surveys don’t even confirm that this fish is still around in certain of the habitats. They like brackish water or tidal and coastal swamps. They also enjoy nesting between Nypa fruticans palms which adapt so well the estuarine environment.
LENGTH 50–60 mm.
TANK The aquarium size should be around 45 x 30 cm, suitable for a single pair.
In the tank, this fish does best in a well-planted shady tank that has lots of surface cover and floating plants. They enjoy sluggish water, so filtration shouldn’t be too strong.
Keep the tank well covered, not filled to the top. Like the above species, these fish also like access to the layer of humid air that forms above the water surface. It is also an excellent jumper. Water temperature should be 22-28°C with the pH level of the water being 7.0-8.5 and water hardness being 90-357 ppm. In nature, they would prey on insects and other small zooplankton. Captive fish will eat dried products but need to be offered live or frozen foods as well to keep them in good condition. They are best kept alone or with other peaceful species to avoid competition and intimidation. The presence of other fish can distract these fish. It is possible to keep more than one male in the tank, but better to isolate a pair when they are in the breeding season.
The Betta Picta is also known as the Spotted Betta or the Java fighting fish.
NATIVE TO Known to be from the Island of Java, Indonesia. It enjoys clear flowing streams and also still pools that contain rocks and leaf litter. Sometimes you might find the fish in roadside ditches; even water tanks.
LENGTH 40-50 mm.
TANK The tank should be around 60 x 30 cm, large enough for a small group or just a pair. The tank can be fully decorated and branches and driftwood are welcomed to form shady spots. Clay pots make for more shelter and variety. This species does best in lighting that is quite dim. They require acidic conditions. Because they normally inhabit sluggish type water, filtration shouldn’t be strong. Keep the tank well covered; allowing the fish to get access to the humid air that forms above the water. They are excellent jumpers. Water temperature should be 22-28°C with the pH balance being 5.5-7.5 and water hardness is 18-90 ppm. Usually, they like to eat on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates in the wild. Captive fish will eat dried products, and live or frozen foods will need to be offered for optimal health. They should be kept alone in the aquarium or with peaceful other species – it is not an aggressive fish.
Betta pugnax (Penang betta)
Pugnax – in Latin, it means ‘combative’.
NATIVE TO Found in much of Peninsular Malaysia – also known to come from Singapore. It has been shown to like shallow flowing sandy water streams with little aquatic vegetation. The fish like to be submerged in leaf litter or under vegetation and tree roots. Some inhabit forest swamps and streams, shaded from the sun. It can also be found in ditches and channels of cultivated areas.
LENGTH 60-70 mm.
TANK The aquarium should be about 80 x 30 cm, large enough for a small group or a pair. The aquarium should be fully decked out. Branches and driftwood can be used for shade with the usual clay pots offering more shelter. They seem to do best in fairy dim lighting and floating vegetation is enjoyed by this fish. As its natural habitat is sluggish water, the filtration shouldn’t be too strong. Keep the aquarium well covered, not filling to the top as the fish enjoy coming up to the humid air that forms above the water surface. It is an excellent jumper. The temperature should be 22-28°C, with the pH balance of the water being 4.0-7.5, and water hardness is 18-179 ppm. This fish likes preying on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates in nature. That means captive fish will eat dried products but should be offered small live or frozen foods to ensure their wellbeing. They are best kept alone or with other peaceful species, as it not an aggressive species.
Betta macrostoma (Brunei Beauty)
NATIVE TO They are endemic to the island of Borneo. They like to inhabit pools with very slow-moving water in rivers and streams. They like the water to be shallow, usually at the top of rainforest waterfalls, and in the shade.
LENGTH 90-100 mm.
Minimum aquarium size: An aquarium sized 80 x 30 cm would be suitable for these fish. The tank can be fully decorated with driftwood and branches, to create shade spots for the fish. Clay pots give extra shading. This species seems to do best in dim lighting so you can add aquatic plant species that could survive here. Filtration shouldn’t be too strong. Keep the aquarium well covered, not filling it to the top as the fish like to come up to the humid air that forms above the water surface. They are excellent jumpers. Water temperature should be 20-25°C, with the pH balance being 4.0-6.0, and water hardness being 0-90 ppm. The fish feed on insects and other zooplankton in nature, and maybe even shrimp that shares their habitat. Captive fish will eat the dried food products but should also be offered small live or frozen foods to keep them healthy and colorful. They are best kept alone or in a pair, or with other peaceful species that will not intimidate them. The males can fight incessantly if they are housed with others and even the females will fight to achieve dominance.
Color your life
People also call betta fish “Siamese fighting fish”. Often discount stores, pet shops, florists, and websites sell these gorgeous bettas, forcing them to live in tiny little cups or bowls and flower vases, just because they look so gorgeous. This tempts people to want to immediately buy them, thinking they can just do the same with them.
Actually you shouldn’t ever buy bettas or any animal for that matter from a pet store. They aren’t just any fish – they are known to fascinate and intrigue with their beautiful colors and fin display. That means they require specific care to ensure their health and happiness.
One vet from an Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana says their environment is a top priority which means tiny little cups and bowls are out. It’s pretty fun decorating a fish tank because the bettas love swimming around and exploring – remember decorations should not have sharp edges to damage their delicate fins. Nor should they be injured by the suction of the filter which is also important to consider. With all the many varieties of family variations, they don’t all need to be fuzzy and fury, but they do all require the same level of care and treatment. There is a wonderful life to be had for the betta and they deserve it, after all, they bring color into your life, right?
While Splendens may have their charm, wild type betta fish are some of the most underated and beautiful fish you can have in an aquarium. You will find that wild betta fish are typically less aggressive than splendens, who aptly also known as fighting fish.
Since wild type betta fish are pretty rare in the aquarium hobby, it can be hard to find information on the species. We recommend that you do ample research before acquiring any, especially for wild type betta, who can be more difficult to keep than other fish.
Betta Macrostoma – Brunei Beauty, www.seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-macrostoma/.
Betta Hendra (Betta Sp. Sengalang/Palangkayara, Betta Sp. Sabangau), www.seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-hendra/.
1 thought on “Best 8 Wild Betta Fish for your Aquarium – You betta believe it”
The Betta Hendra is my absolute favorite wild-type betta fish. The eyes of the Hendra look like gemstones.
I have been trying to import a pair from Indonesia but due to pandemic, shipping has been stalled.
Meanwhile, I am making sure that my tank is prepared and cycled, I know how wild bettas can be a bit more difficult to hear. Preparation will be key.