The Betta Splendens Complex: A Comprehensive Guide to Identification, Keeping, and Breeding

The Betta Splendens Complex holds a particular allure for aquarists worldwide. Characterised by their flamboyant colours, unique personalities, and captivating behaviour, each species in this complex is nothing short of enthralling. Let us dive into the depths of understanding these wonders, exploring their natural habitat, breeding conditions, and distinct characteristics.

1. An Overview of the Betta Splendens Complex

The Betta Splendens Complex refers to a group of closely related Betta species, distinguished primarily by their fin shapes, colours, and territorial behaviours. They hail from Southeast Asia, adapting to a variety of freshwater habitats such as rice paddies, shallow ponds, and slow-moving streams.

2. Species Descriptions


Betta imbellis

  • Habitat and Origin: Predominantly found in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, they inhabit shallow, acidic waters with plenty of plant cover.
  • Appearance: Exhibits more subdued colours compared to other Betta species. Males have elongated fins and may present blue or green iridescence.
  • Temperament: Relatively peaceful; can coexist with other fish in larger tanks.

Betta mahachaiensis

  • Habitat and Origin: Native to the coastal areas of Thailand, they’re often found in brackish water environments.
  • Appearance: Their bodies exhibit a blue-green metallic sheen with red or copper undertones. Fins tend to be blue with a red margin.
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful but can be territorial during mating.

Betta siamorientalis

  • Habitat and Origin: Found in the East of the Malay Peninsula.
  • Appearance: Males possess dark horizontal stripes and a green-blue iridescence. Females are paler with shorter fins.
  • Temperament: Among the most peaceful Bettas, ideal for community tanks.

Betta smaragdina

  • Habitat and Origin: Native to Northeast Thailand and Laos.
  • Appearance: Recognised for their emerald green and blue colouration with males showcasing a vibrant shimmer.
  • Temperament: Moderately aggressive; caution is required when keeping them with other fish.

Betta splendens

  • Habitat and Origin: The most popular and commercially available Betta, native to Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.
  • Appearance: Comes in a spectrum of colours with flowing fins. The variety has been enhanced due to selective breeding.
  • Temperament: Known for their aggressive nature, especially males. Solo tank living is often recommended.

Betta stiktos

  • Habitat and Origin: Found in Malaysia and Thailand, inhabiting slow-moving waters.
  • Appearance: They possess a steel-blue body with hints of green and dark bands.
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive, especially during breeding.

3. Keeping Conditions

Regardless of species, there are common requirements for Bettas within the Splendens Complex:

  • Tank Size: Minimum of 5 gallons for a Betta pair. Larger tanks are recommended for community living.
  • Water Parameters: Soft to slightly hard water with a pH level of 6.0-7.0. Temperature should be maintained between 24°C to 28°C.
  • Decoration: Bettas thrive in tanks with plenty of hiding spots. Plants, dead leaves, caves, and driftwood are ideal.
  • Diet: Primarily carnivorous. High-quality live foods like Daphnia, Artemia, or Cyclops, are recommended.

4. Breeding Conditions

Bettas are bubble nest builders. Males create nests using air bubbles. The following are general breeding guidelines:

  • Preparation: Separate the male and female. Feed a protein-rich diet to induce spawning.
  • Introducing Pairs: Once the male builds a bubble nest, introduce the female. Monitor closely as male Bettas can become aggressive.
  • Post-Spawning: After eggs are laid, it’s advisable to remove the female. The male will guard the nest and take care of the fry.
  • Raising Fry: Feed live Infusoria for the initial days, transitioning to brine shrimp or microworms as they grow.

In Conclusion

The Betta Splendens Complex offers aquarists an enchanting blend of colours, behaviours, and unique characteristics. By understanding each species and catering to their specific needs, one can cultivate a thriving aquatic environment that showcases the splendour of Betta fishes.


Note: This article provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the Betta Splendens Complex. For those desiring a deeper dive into each species’ intricacies, extensive research and consultation with aquarium specialists are recommended.