Species guides

Betta fish’ natural habitat

betta fish' natural habitat

Betta fish are extremely popular in the aquarium hobby with many aquarists still arguing over tank size and care. In this article were going to take a quick look at where the Betta comes from so that we can better understand its required care.

Betta fish’ natural habitat

Betta’s, also known as ‘fighting fish’ are a common talking point amongst aquarists. They are popular for both their stunning good looks and for their character.

The Betta has become commonly known as the ‘fighting fish’, this dates back many years to their native Thailand where they were bet upon in fights in small pools. This was so popular at the time that the government imposed a specific tax on Betta fighting.

Despite the Betta’s popularity in the aquarium hobby, there are still many disagreements on its care.

A popular topic of the debate seems to be on what size aquarium is the acceptable ‘minimum’.

The most common argument seems to be whether it is 40litres (10 US gal) or 20-25 litres (5 US gal). However, there are some who think that it is perfectly acceptable to keep a Betta in a jar/bowl, with some shops (the usual big chain offenders) stating that the fish ‘prefer’ this tiny environment.

While I agree that a minimum aquarium size is an important figure, I have always believed that you should give a fish as much room as possible and aiming for an acceptable minimum should never be the goal.

Whilst Betta’ stay relatively small and aren’t the fastest of swimmers, 45 litres still isn’t a lot of space to live your entire life in (or most of it), even if you are a little Betta fish, but its a lot more than 20 and a lot more than a jar. Please don’t keep your Betta in a jar!

betta fish' natural habitat

Betta fish are extremely popular in the aquarium hobby and whilst the fish we buy in shops tend to differ slightly from their wild counterparts, I feel it is always useful to know where our fish’ come from and what conditions they naturally live in.

Knowing where your fish originate gives you advantages in recreating a similar environment within the aquarium. Fish’ tend to thrive within their natural conditions as this is what they have spent many years adjusting to through evolution.

So, in this article were going to take a quick look at the Betta fish’ natural habitat and where they come from.

red betta fish' natural habitat

Where do Betta fish come from?

Betta’ originate in Thailand, Asia where the Betta fish’ natural habitat includes ponds and rice paddies with very little flow, often with very low oxygen content.

The Betta has a labyrinth organ that enables it to live within these conditions as it is able to breathe at the surface.

Betta’ populations have since been introduced to various countries worldwide, including Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and even Australia.

The Betta fish’ natural habitat is another common cause for debate that leads back to aquarium size. Many have been led to believe that Betta’ live their whole lives in what equates to a puddle.

This isn’t the case. Whilst some unfortunate Betta’ may find themselves in this predicament during the dry season, monsoon season expands these waterways and allows them access to far more real estate.

Think about it, if each Betta lived in a tiny puddle for their whole lives, they would have become extinct long ago. Living in tiny puddles would not allow them to find mates and breed.

So, the Betta cannot, and does not live in a puddle.

Betta Care – replicating Betta fish’ natural habitat

Betta’ are carnivorous in the wild, feeding on insect larvae, invertebrates and plankton amongst other things.

They prefer soft water, tannic water which somewhat replicates their natural habitat. You can create tannic water by adding wood and other botanicals to the aquarium. This softens the water, lowers the pH and has many other benefits.

That being said, they are adaptable and their natural waters do vary slightly.

Preferred water conditions of the Betta Splendens:

  • Temp: 22 – 30°C
  • pH: 6 – 8
  • Hardness: Soft – Moderately hard.

Betta’ come from waters with very little flow, they don’t do well with powerful filters. This makes air-driven sponge filters an ideal solution for a Betta tank.

Another great idea when setting up a Betta tank is to add live plants. Live plants create lots of hiding places to make your Betta feel safe whilst helping the slow-flowing filtration to remove any toxins from the water.

For more on Betta care, Click here.

For a video guide on setting up a Betta aquarium, Click here.

betta natural habitat

Betta fish’ natural habitat – by Franks Bettas

Franks Bettas is a Youtube channel focusing on Betta’s and their conservation.

Betta populations can struggle in the wild as they are often collected and sold into the aquarium hobby. Many also suffer at human hands via pollution and destruction of their habitat.

Franks Betta’s often collect wild Betta’ to breed them. They then release the offspring back into their catch locations. This helps to preserve these wild populations.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so a video must be even better.

Here is a recent video from Franks Bettas which shows some of the natural habitats that Betta are found in. As you can see, they live in more than a puddle, certainly more than 22 litres:

For more videos from Franks Bettas, you can find the channel HERE.

The channel is filled with first-hand experience on wild Betta’, don’t forget to hit subscribe!

Betta fish’ natural habitat

So there was a quick look at where these very popular aquarium fish live in the wild. They do have quite a lot of space for such small fish and whilst they will often choose a small area to call home, they are not confined to the space of a jar.

So, if you’re looking to set up a Betta tank yourself, we recommend 45 litres as a minimum size, this will ensure that your Betta has space to swim, exercise, and ‘hunt’, mimicking its natural behaviours and environment in the wild.

Adding plants and foliage is a great idea, again mimicking the natural environment of the Betta. This will help to provide lots of hiding spaces and leaves to rest on. Live plants will help to keep your water clean too!

Filtration needs to be chosen carefully. Powerful filters and Betta don’t mix well. Sponge filters are a great choice, they are low flow, easy maintenance and are easily hidden within the tank.

Show us your Betta set up by adding #seriouslyfishyclub to your next Instagram post! We can’t wait to see them!

Check out our Betta Splendens profile HERE!

betta fish' natural habitat




Franks Bettas

About the author

James @Seriously Fishy

I am a fish keeping enthusiast with over 20 years experience. I currently keep American Cichlids (CA) which are my favourite fish to keep so far. I started Seriously Fishy as I noticed a large volume of people on various web pages looking for help with Aquarium basics. I created the first Seriously Fishy book to solve the issue in 28 pages, that led to the Seriously Fishy UK fish forum and blog.

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