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FAQs on Betta species other than Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish


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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner


Hybrid and Betta imbellis      5/3/17
I wonder whether you can help.
<Will try.>
I had a pair of Betta imbellis that I got in January. They went into a cycled tank. Ph 7.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate 30. They were put in a 57 litre Fluval Flex. After a few days they spawned. The babies were removed as the tank was not suitable for them and I was not expecting them to spawn straight away. The babies had a high die off and I am left with 3 healthy looking 10 week old babies.
<Various reasons for problems with Betta fry; cold air perhaps the commonest. Do also review the usual suspects like airborne pollutants, non-zero copper levels in tap water, ammonia spikes, etc.>
After a couple of weeks of having the Imbellis the female died. She was active and swimming around and then I noticed she was struggling. I went to get a bowl to float her in. Came back and she was dead. My male got very
depressed and was recommended that I got another female. I did that and he perked up. One day she did the same thing and died with no outward signs of sickness. I chose not to get another female without knowing the cause of the deaths and as to whether the male was doing something and killing them off without me noticing. He again became very withdrawn and died a week later.
<Oh dear. Shame, as these are nice fish!>
I also have hybrid Bettas which are a cross of Stiktos x Samaragdina guitar x Mahachaiensis.
<That's quite the hybrid. At what point are they simply mongrel Betta spp.?>
The water parameters are the same as above and both have consistently stayed the same and have had the water tested weekly before a water change.
My male on one pair a few days ago became lethargic and started breathing heavily. He was put in a tub so that he could reach the surface and has died today. No fungus, no bloating or signs of constipation or parasites.
No marks on the body. The two tanks are in separate parts of the house and no equipment is shared.
Does it seem that there is something that I have done wrong or are these fish generally weaker?
<Hybrids can be weaker, yes. With Bettas, I've no specifics on this. Often we talk about hybrid vigour, but that isn't always the case. Some crosses aren't viable (fail to fertilise eggs, or the fertilised egg fails to form a healthy embryo, or the development of the foetus fails in some way). But I'm sure there are situations where hybrids are born but aren't as vigorous as either parent species.>
I do not want to loose my imbellis baby or the female to the pair that died or my other pair of hybrids. All tanks have IAL kept in their tanks, kept at a temperature of 28, filtered and 30% water changed weekly. They are fed
on Spectrum pellets, frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms and daphnia.
<Which all sounds fine.>
I am not new to Betta keeping and have over 50 plus tanks of fry and cannot see that I am doing anything different that I know of that can be making them sick.
I also wondered if you knew whether the remaining female hybrid could live with the other pair of hybrids I have or is that likely to cause aggression between the two females and need the same ratio as a sorority tank?
<Hard to know. In theory females should all get along. But a male of one Betta species will certainly view most, if not all, other Betta species as a potential threat, and this of course includes females since the males alone guard the eggs. Now, Bettas in one species can communicate, and understand things like threat displays, but hybrids or different species may not understand the signals sent by a male from one particular species.
In short, there are so many variables here that you might want to err on the side of caution, at least while you're down to a small number of valuable fish. As/when your breeding population is replenished, some experimentation may be worthwhile.>
Thank you for your time
<Welcome. Neale.>


Breeding Wild Bettas     11/22/14
Hello! I acquired a wild caught pair of Betta albimarginata in late June of this year. They live in a planted ten gallon aquarium with a couple of Oto cats, three phoenix Rasboras (I'm selling them, which is why there's only three) and two bamboo shrimps. ph is about 7.2, zero ammonia/nitrite and 5-10 ppm nitrate.
<As always, hardness is more important than pH. You do need soft water for this species, which should allow you to keep the pH at some steady value between 6 and 7 using commercial Discus buffer.>
The pair have bred a lot since June (at least twice a month), but the problem is that the male *immediately* swallows the eggs (I've witnessed it).
<He is of course a mouthbrooder, so swallowing the eggs is part of his job!
But he should thereafter incubate them for a couple of weeks or so before releasing them as free swimming fry (at which point he stops caring for them).>
He gets food daily (either frozen or good quality flakes), so I know its not from hunger. Since I don't know the age, could I assume this is just inexperience (even though it's been several months now)?
<Possibly, but usually fish "get it right" after a few practise attempts, and after, say, 5 or 6 breeding attempts, if he's still not doing it right,
I'd look into other explanations.>
I know my pH is higher than the wild, but I've heard alibis are rather lax about pH levels (even wild caught ones), could that be a potential problem here?
<Again, it's a possibility, but I'd expect incorrect water chemistry to cause other problems as well, such as a failure to breed altogether.
Nonetheless, the wrong water chemistry can cause eggs to fail to hatch or become fertilised, at least with other species, so it's possible he knows the eggs weren't doing the right thing, so consumed them to recycle the energy.>
Could the presence of the other fish be throwing him off?
<A definite possibility, but netting out other fish can introduce another stress that causes incubating males to swallow their eggs, or conversely, not releasing the fry when he should do so. So while removing non-Betta tankmates makes some sense if you can, removing the female after mating is often counter-productive.>
Is there anything else I could be missing, or could it be that he is just a horrible dad?
<Yes, it's possible for fish to be genetically lacking in some instinct, and consequently unable to rear offspring the natural way. Heck, with farmed Angels this is practically the default! That said, because Betta albimarginata can't be bred any other way than by allowing males to rear the eggs, this risk is very small, since your male must have had a competent father, whereas farmed Angels have all been reared by humans, not mated pairs of Angels, so can very easily have had fathers that lacked proper egg-care instincts.>
Thanks a lot!
<So, a variety of things going on here. Since mouthbrooding Bettas come from different habitats than Bubblenest-building species, the first thing to do is review the tank. They appreciate moderate water current, so check there's enough water movement and oxygen for them to be settled. (Mouthbrooding seems to have evolved specifically because they weren't living somewhere a Bubblenest could be built, like a pond or swamp.) Check water chemistry, in this case 1-10 degrees dH, pH 6-7. Because you'll be running at an acidic pH, biological filtration will be handicapped, so take precautions not to over-tax the filter by understocking and moderate feeding. Don't keep these fish warm, 25 C/77 F tops. Again, they come from streams, not swamps, so don't like very warm water. Floating plants or plants with tall, bushy leaves will provide line-of-sight barriers that will help incubating males feel more secure and able to hide away from other fish if they want to. You said your Bettas are feeding well, but check the diet is sufficient and varied. Bloodworms for example will be taken readily enough but aren't especially nutritious, and brine shrimp even less so. Daphnia are rather better, as are newly hatched brine shrimp. Don't overfeed though. Too much fat inside a Betta seems to cause all sorts of problems. Finally, do go online and read other breeding reports. You'll find a bunch. Sometimes there are differences, and it pays to try out different things to see what works for you. Cheers, Neale.>


help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip.   Other Bettas sys. f'  8/13/13
My wonderful wild caught pureblood Betta stiktos is stupid. It jumped out of a perfectly clean tank (where I am keeping happy neon tetras) and is now fairly dry. I picked it up and put it in water fast. Is there anything I can do to help it? I read somewhere opening the gills will help. Is that so? I need the answer 5 minutes ago lol as from what I know, seconds count.
<Since it's the morning here in England, I'm guessing you've had either a good or bad resolution to this situation. Because they can breathe air, labyrinth fish like Bettas have fairly good survival rates when the jump out of tanks. But what matters is how dry the skin becomes. If the fish is alive, when returned to the aquarium it should get back to normality without any further input from you, unless of course it was so damaged (dried out) that its skin becomes subject to skin infections. All Bettas are notoriously jumpy, so NEVER, EVER keep them in open-topped tanks. Hope things worked out! Neale.>
Re: Need help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip.     8/14/15

She died. :( I have a lid, but there's a hole by the filter. She was fairly dried, but the tail wasn't completely dry. Gills weren't moving and I couldn't get them to. I bet she was just past recovery. Thanks!!!
<Sounds likely she was indeed too far gone. Too bad. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Need help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip.

<PS. Filter wool can be quite useful for blocking up "escape routes". Push a lump in loosely so air can still move in/out. Cheers, Neale.>


Betta stiktos 4/23/13
I currently have a pair of pureblood Betta stiktos. After looking on your site and not finding anything, I decided to email you guys. I was wondering what you guys know about this species? I read that it may be brackish. Is that true? How abundant are they in the wild? Thanks!
<A quick internet search brings up this page from the international Betta conference:
A read through indicates that the species was found in the Mekong River basin in Cambodia.
Since the Mekong River Delta where brackish conditions would occur is in Vietnam, that means the B. stiktos were found upstream, so almost certainly fresh water. I do not see anything on the web to corroborate keeping the fish in brackish conditions.>
<Regards, Rick>
Re: Betta stiktos, sys.        4/25/13

I was reading about the Mekong basin and it said that it sometimes has decent levels of salt in it and that sw crocs live in it. I am still debating whether I want to try brackish with my beloved pair.
<If you try, I would acclimate the fish very slowly over the course of a few weeks, and be ready to abort the experiment if the fish shows any sign of stress.  Please let us know how it goes. - Rick>
<Welcome. Good luck with them.>
Re: Betta Stiktos     4/26/13

Okay! Btw, you should join wetwebmediaforum.com. Needs experienced fish keepers. Not too many people active either.
<I actually do have an account there but it's very easy to spread myself too thin. - Rick>


Betta pugnax, Spawning, Behavior - 11/04/2012
Dear Sir/Madam,
<Hi, Akshay.  Sabrina here.>
Have a acquired a male and a female Betta pugnax for almost a month. Have been conditioning them on blackworms, freeze dried bloodworms and a local brand's sinking pellets (shrimp based). The problem I'm facing is when I introduce them both, there is a lot of aggression towards each other and this at an instance converts in a fight which lasts for around two hours at
least wherein either of the fish surrenders and goes into hiding and never comes out!!
<Uncommon.  This is a typically peaceful Betta species....  Of the mouthbrooders, purportedly one of the easiest to breed; can even be kept in groups.>
Can you help as to how do I introduce them in any other manner in order that they will breed?? Have tried many forums but didn't get any answer to this nor did I get to see any similar incidents.
<It is surprising behavior for this species.>
Here's a link of them liplocked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2ztMyQKf5c 
. I am keeping these separate in two 1.5x1x1 about 40liters. Any tips breeding these?
<I've got some ideas you might try, sure.  Can you consider keeping them in the same tank, just separated with a mesh divider that will allow water to pass through?  Some of the more difficult/aggressive Betta species can be conditioned in this way....  Something about the male "smelling" the female, being in the same water but unable to have contact, will more
readily get him "in the mood".  If you can do this, and then observe their behavior, watch for the female to be interested in the male, and for the male to display but not attack at the mesh.  Then try removing the mesh and see how things go.  This may take several tries.
Some thoughts about why this might be happening....  If the male is young, he may have not "figured out" exactly how to spawn, or what females are all about.  It may have just not really registered with him that there's anything else to do with another fish but defend his space.  Hopefully as he becomes more accustomed to the female's presence, he will be more
amenable to breeding.
One last thought.  Male and female B. pugnax are pretty similar in appearance.  The video was not clear enough for me to have a really good look at both, but try to be sure that you do in fact have a female, not a young male instead.>
<Best of luck to you, Akshay.  Mouthbrooding Bettas are a great deal of fun.  Though I've never kept pugnax myself, I am partial to B. albimarginata and B. unimaculata, and have spawned B. macrostoma....  In my opinion, these are far more interesting in behavior than the bubblenesters.
 Good luck!  -Sabrina>
Betta pugnax, Spawning, Behavior - II - 11/04/2012

Hi Sabrina thanks for your advice and reply !!
<Glad to be of service, Akshay!>
After intense forum scouting and going through articles, I finally got a post which said - after both well conditioned, do a water change and then introduce the female, did the same and worked out quite well the pair fought for a couple of minutes but soon stopped and the female turned into her beautiful breeding color, now just waiting for them to spawn.
<Perfect.  May you have many happy Betta fry soon!>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome.>
<Best wishes,  -Sabrina>


Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis   9/13/12
Hi Bob! It's me again. (from Sacramento aquarium society) My fish got better from velvet, and I haven't lost any, but today, I noticed that one of my male Bettas is pineconing, and is bloated looking. I've had dropsy in my tanks before, but that was a year ago. I'm not sure what type it is, but the last fish with dropsy had something like Ichthyophonus, and ended up popping before I could euthanize it. (terrible death!)
<I'll say>
This one is lying on his side, breathing rapidly, and has other symptoms of dropsy. I'm nervous about it because a female in another tank looks bloated. (could be from over feeding, as feeding can be tricky with Bettas ) I also just bought some Betta imbellis online, and my package was shipped today. (uh oh!) I was going to prepare a tank for the females, but that tank now has dropsy in it. So right now, the space I thought I had is gone, and I have more fish then I have room for. My questions are, A. how long should I quarantine my fish that looks bloated?
<Indefinitely... until it is NOT bloated... I would treat w/ Oxytetracycline... 25 mg./gallon, changing the water out every three days and re-treating... for three times>
B. Are there any ways to painlessly
euthanize a fish without crushing it and without clove oil?
<Quite a few... I am a fan of freezing... as in a bag w/ some water... in the freezer>
C. Can I keep male Betta imbellis with female splendens without them spawning?
<Don't know>
The tank is planted part way and has plenty of hiding places, and the imbellis are 3 months old. D. If I get more males then I had anticipated, can I keep them in jars in my closet if they're used to warm water?
<Yes; I think so>
I have one splendens in there, and he's doing well. E. Will Methylene blue help cure dropsy?
(I'm stopping with the abc thing as I'm going to run out of letters if I continue)
Also, is there a good way to get Methylene blue out of carpet or off the wall without damaging either?
<Mmm, yes; spot cleaner... I use one from Costco>
(just asking in advance as it likes to spill on its own!) After my fish dies, is there a way to kill the dropsy without killing my snails?
<Won't affect the snails>
I have a fish floating in a jar in the infected tank, is it safe as long as no water gets in except through evaporation?
I know I have a lot of questions (and problems) and it would be much appreciated if you could give me an answer ASAP as my imbellis are getting here tomorrow.
Thanks so much!
<Welcome Josh. BobF>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis    9/14/12

Thanks, but the male died. How do I tell if the male had tuberculosis?
<Mmm, through culture mostly... perhaps through microscopic examination>
 I know it's contagious to humans... Will raising the salinity help?
<It might>
 I think I'm going to empty the tank a bleach it.
<This is what I would do as well>
 Are there any special things I should be worried about? I'm going to quarantine my female. Is there any way to tell if it's dropsy or over feeding?
<... see WWM re>
I had a female that was bloated for a while, and finally started pineconing. Another non related question is about feeding my fish salmon eggs. I am a salmon fisherman, and was wondering if that's good food. I know salmon carry Ichthyophonus, so I
don't know...
<I wouldn't feed these or other fish eggs... for a few reasons. B>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis    9/15/12

"<... see WWM re>" I don't see it. Should I wear gloves?
<Yes; I would. B>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis     9/15/12

Thx. Will nuking the tank with hydrogen peroxide
<I'd use chlorine bleach per the protocol posted on WWM. B>
 before I syphon it out (just to be safe) be good? I was thinking, and was wondering how well it would work to dump a lot of hydrogen peroxide in the tank, and leave it for 48 hours while the hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water, and I wanted your opinion on it. Do you think it will work?
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis

I'm not going to risk my life with bleach as if I spill a drop, my mom will kill me.
<Heeeeee! Could you drain the tank, move it outside or in the garage to bleach, clean?>
 Would alcohol work? I don't want to kill my imbellis, but if it evaporated in the air, would it kill my fish? Are there any other treatments that don't really stain? I think I'd rather risk it with siphoning it out, then with bleach.
<I would go w/ the H2O2 if the bleach can't be used. B>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis

I could bleach it in the backyard. I think I'll dump H2O2 in, siphon it out, then bleach it, and after that, leave it for U.V, sterilization.
<Sounds good Josh. BobF>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis, Betta forums    9/17/12

Thanks so much for all the help!
P.S. How active is your forum? I have tired of a different forum, and am looking for a new one.
<Not very active... I'd search, seek out a specialty one on Bettas. B>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis

Btw, I joined under the username Betta man.
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis
The 3 that are out there, are ultimate Bettas (which is a VERY unfriendly forum and I have a -19+ reputation there as I said stealing is wrong) bettafishforums.com which is currently down, (I'm a member there, and it's a really nice forum) and there's also bettafish.com which has some inappropriate adds. I was thinking of creating my own Betta forum, but I decided against it and decided on an aquarist's version of YouTube. I have a feeling that'll flunk, but it's worth a try. :)
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis    9/17/12
btw, what's your username on that forum?
<I don't participate on bb's/forums... BobF>
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis    9/17/12

It sure could use you. So far, mine is the last post.
Re: Another sick fish/question about Betta imbellis    9/18/12

Someone finally responded.
<Yippy Skippy>


Betta channoides with cloudy eye   3/30/12
I've been treating a Betta channoides with cloudy eye using Acriflavine and erythromycin.  It will not go away completely, it's been about ten days of treatment.
<Mmm, no more exposure is of worth here>
Will using a uv filter give the fish a chance to fight off the disease, or should I try another medicine?
<You could... is it just the one eye, unilateral? I'd try Epsom Salt>
I thought that it had finally cleared yesterday, but saw that there were still small white tufts on its eyes today.  I know antibiotics are easily misused, so I don't know if I should keep using the same dose of erythromycin (three API packets for a tank slightly under 30 gallons) or increase it, or use a different medicine, or if I'm in the process of making the bacteria I'm trying to kill even stronger and harder to treat.
<Can be very persistent>
It was much worse looking before I medicated, but it just won't clear completely. 
All the other fish in the tank have no sign of disease, only the Betta.
Thanks for any help.
<Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Betta channoides

The substrate in the tank is either or bare or made up of decaying plants. 
There are blackworms living in the plant matter and the water is clean, but is that liable to get the Betta sick?
<Could be indicative of a contributing cause... I'd vacuum them out>
  The possible bacteria in all the decaying plants?
<Maybe also>
There are Corydoras and Crenuchus spilurus which don't seem to mind it but I wonder, if the slow moving Betta might be at risk of spending too much time in close proximity to the rotting plants.
Even with antibiotics could that keep aggravating its eyes?
<... can't say. BobF>
Re: Betta channoides with cloudy eye   3/30/12

It doesn't look like PopEye, it is cloudiness and some tufts of white on both eyes.
<Yes... one-sided... likely resultant from a physical trauma... a "bump" into something. Can/will heal with just "good conditions", nutrition over time (or not)>
  I was told it's bacterial, there was a large mass on the eye and a water change made it temporarily disappear completely- evidence it's bacteria I was told.
Even if it's cloudy eye and a bacterial infection, not PopEye, should I use Epsom salt? 
<Yes I would>
Epsom salt and not normal aquarium salt? 
Sorry to be so redundant, thanks for the advice.  I will read the PopEye entry.
<Real good. BobF>


Help choosing Betta! (personalities). Varieties and species!    1/12/12
Hello, I recently brought a 12 gallon eclipse for a Betta fish but am now stuck on what variety to get. My problem is that I am stuck between a veiltail or a Halfmoon, and my main concern is behavioral. Are half-moons less active than veiltail, or does it not make any difference?
<More individual variation... health...>
 Similarly, I have read somewhere that veiltail have the most
"personality". Would you say that there is any truth to that statement?
<Not necessarily, no>
Also, if I were to get a different species of Betta, would the care be more difficult?
<Some are more difficult to be sure, requiring a narrow/er range of water conditions>
Would it be less likely to be interested in people/personable than Betta splendens?
<The "real" Betta is about the most outgoing>
 It seems to me that it may be, seeing as it wouldn't be domesticated...
Are the giant varieties as easy to care for as regular sized ones?
<A bit more; some quite a bit>
Could they go longer without food? (not that I plan on starving my fish, but hey, things happen and it's good to know this stuff)
<Mmm, no... and some more-wild stocks generally require live foods>
What heater would you recommend for a twelve gallon eclipse? I'm having trouble deciding on that, too.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwheat.htm
and the linked files above, the FAQs and Steve's heater review>
If I tapped lightly on the tank
<Don't Do This! Very damaging to the life inside>
in a certain order to give my fish commands, would that stress it? Or would I be better off signaling with a flash light? (yes, this is a serious question...it's for a senior project...)
&<The light or even just an outside "clicker"... a classical behavioral study signaling tool>
Thank you for your time :)br /> Maggie Harris
&<Welcome. Bob Fenner>


Wild Bettas, sourcing     11/26/11
Hi WWM crew, let me start off by saying this is my favorite website for anything aquarium related, thanks for all your help. Now for the question; I know some of you might be from Southern California, and more particularly Orange County, CA. I was wondering if any of you know where I might be able to find wild caught Bettas offered for sale locally. Any information would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance.
<I do live in S. Cal. (San Diego), and know how I'd set out to find/purchase Betta spp., including other than splendens.
First off, search the Int'l Betta site: http://www.ibcbettas.org/pages/
Further, I'd contact the local "fish clubs"... there's a few in OC and environs, and ask whomever is listed as principal contact if they know of members who husband these Anabantoids.
Lastly, am cc'ing Sabrina Fullhart here re... She is also keen on this group... and very likely has valuable input to offer. Cheers, and good hunting.
Bob Fenner> 

Betta sp. Habitat - 6/11/10
Hello, I'm a big fan of your site and go on all the time, it's basically the reason I started saltwater fish keeping, but I'm off topic. I recently reaquascaped my in-bar mounted forty gallon tank filling it with lots of bamboo my neighbor grows for his clients and rock work, truly a gorgeous tank I would send pictures if I knew how lol. but any ways I wanted to stock it full of Bettas and was wondering how many and what gender I could get also any opinions on what species ya'll (a true Texan) prefer I was thinking half moon but if you know a better one please tell. Filtration and lighting is no problem I'm also a reefer so I know my game, it has a cascade 1500 and 162 watts of VHO on it to grow plants. Any help would be great :)
<If you're talking about Betta splendens, then one male, and possibly 2-3 females would be okay in 40 gallons, assuming lots of floating vegetation. But really, Betta splendens is not a gregarious species and males can, will
kill other males and unreceptive females. So even that would be chancy.
They're not called "Siamese Fighting Fish" for nothing. Of course, if you're able to get other Betta species, such as Betta imbellis or Betta pugnax, then yes, these may be kept in larger groups. Betta pugnax works well in pairs, male Betta imbellis do display fights, and tolerate females, Betta fasciata form pairs and are belligerent only when spawning, and so on. Information on particular Betta species can be obtained in any decent aquarium encyclopaedia, e.g., Baensch, but Vierke's "Bettas, Gouramis and other Anabantoids" is a good place to start. I can't speak for Texas, but here in England these other Betta species are fairly widely traded if you know where to shop. They also tend to be sturdier, more interesting, and far less inbred. Cheers, Neale.>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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