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Betta albimarginata 060311 8.jpg
Betta albimarginata
Scientific classification e
Unrecognized taxon (fix): Betta
Type species
Betta trifasciata
Bleeker, 1850
  • Anostoma van Hasselt, 1859
  • Micracanthus Sauvage, 1879
  • Parophiocephalus Popta, 1905
  • Oshimia D. S. Jordan, 1919
  • Pseudobetta Richter, 1981

Betta is a large genus of small, often colorful, freshwater ray-finned fishes, known as "bettas", in the gourami family (Osphronemidae). The best known Betta species is B. splendens, commonly known as the Siamese fighting fish.


All the Betta species are small fishes, but they vary considerably in size, ranging from under 2.5 cm (1 in) total length in B. chanoides to 14 cm (5.5 in) in the Akar betta (B. akarensis).

Bettas are anabantoids, which means they can breathe atmospheric air using a unique organ called the labyrinth. This accounts for their ability to thrive in low-oxygen water conditions that would kill most other fish, such as rice paddies, slow-moving streams, drainage ditches, and large puddles.

The bettas exhibit two kinds of spawning behaviour: some build bubble nests, such as B. splendens, while others are mouthbrooders, such as B. picta. The mouthbrooding species are sometimes called "pseudo bettas", and are sometimes speculated to have evolved from the nest-builders in an adaptation to their fast-moving stream habitats.

A phylogenetic study published in 2004 concluded tentatively that bubble-nesting was the ancestral condition in Betta, and that mouthbrooding has evolved on more than one occasion in the history of the genus. However it was unable to establish a correlation with any of three habitat variables studied: whether a species was found in lowland or highland streams, whether it was found in peat swamp forests, and whether it was found in water with fast or slow currents. Mouthbrooding species tend to exhibit less sexual dimorphism, perhaps because they do not need to defend a territory as the bubble-nesters do.


Siamese fighting fish (B. splendens) are frequently sold in the United States simply as "bettas". In fact, as of 2017, around 73 species are classified within the genus Betta. A useful distinction is that while the generic name Betta is italicized and capitalized, when used as a common name it is usually neither italicized nor capitalized. The common name of B. pugnax, for example, is thus Penang betta.

Kampffisch betta splendenscele4
Betta splendens, the Siamese fighting fish, is often referred to simply as a "betta" in the U.S.

The name Betta (or betta) is pronounced the first part is the same as the English word bet. The name is often pronounced in American English, and may be spelled with one 't'. The name of the genus is derived from the Malay word ikan betah ("persistent fish").

The vernacular name "plakat", often applied to the short-finned ornamental strains, derived from pla kad which means "fighting fish", is the Thai name for all members of the B. splendens species complex (All have aggressive tendencies in the wild and all are extensively line-bred for aggression in eastern Thailand). The Thai phrase is not restricted to one specific strain. The term "fighting fish" is generalized to all members of the B. splendens species complex, including the Siamese fighting fish.


Wild Betta fish are hardy and eat almost any animal small enough for these small fish to consume, including worms, larvae of mosquitoes or other insects, and smaller fish. Their natural environment is often resource-limited, so many Betta species are generalist feeders.


While many Betta species are common and B. splendens is ubiquitous in the aquarium trade, other bettas are threatened. The IUCN Red List classifies several Betta species as Vulnerable. In addition, B. livida is Endangered, and B. miniopinna, B. persephone, and B. spilotogena are Critically Endangered.

The United Nations Environment Programme lists an unconfirmed species, Betta cf. tomi, as having become extinct in Singapore between 1970 and 1994. This likely refers to the extirpated Singaporean population of B. tomi, which continues to exist in the wild in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as in captivity; the Red List classifies it as Vulnerable.


Betta smaragdina pair1
A pair of Betta smaragdina
Betta tussyae (male) 2010-04-01
Male Betta tussyae

There are currently 75 recognized species in this genus. The currently described Betta species can be grouped into species complexes:

  • B. akarensis complex:
    • Betta akarensis Regan, 1910 (Akar betta)
    • Betta antoni H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
    • Betta aurigans H. H. Tan & K. K. P. Lim, 2004
    • Betta balunga Herre, 1940
    • Betta chini P. K. L. Ng, 1993
    • Betta ibanorum H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2004
    • Betta nuluhon N. S. S. Kamal, H. H. Tan & Casey K. C. Ng, 2020
    • Betta obscura H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta pinguis H. H. Tan & Kottelat, 1998
  • B. albimarginata complex:
    • Betta albimarginata Kottelat & P. K. L. Ng, 1994
    • Betta channoides Kottelat & P. K. L. Ng, 1994
  • B. anabatoides complex:
    • Betta anabatoides Bleeker, 1851 (giant betta)
    • Betta midas H. H. Tan, 2009
  • B. bellica complex:
    • Betta bellica Sauvage, 1884 (slim betta)
    • Betta simorum H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 1996
  • B. coccina complex:
    • Betta brownorum K. E. Witte & J. Schmidt, 1992
    • Betta burdigala Kottelat & P. K. L. Ng, 1994
    • Betta coccina Vierke, 1979
    • Betta hendra I. Schindler & Linke, 2013
    • Betta livida P. K. L. Ng & Kottelat, 1992
    • Betta miniopinna H. H. Tan & S. H. Tan, 1994
    • Betta persephone Schaller, 1986
    • Betta rutilans K. E. Witte & Kottelat, 1991
    • Betta tussyae Schaller, 1985
    • Betta uberis H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
  • B. dimidiata complex:
    • Betta dimidiata T. R. Roberts, 1989
    • Betta krataios H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
  • B. edithae complex:
    • Betta edithae Vierke, 1984
  • B. foerschi complex:
    • Betta dennisyongi H. H. Tan, 2013
    • Betta foerschi Vierke, 1979
    • Betta mandor H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
    • Betta rubra Perugia, 1893 (Toba betta)
    • Betta strohi Schaller & Kottelat, 1989
  • B. picta complex:
    • Betta falx H. H. Tan & Kottelat, 1998
    • Betta picta (Valenciennes, 1846) (spotted betta)
    • Betta simplex Kottelat, 1994
    • Betta taeniata Regan, 1910 (Borneo betta)
  • B. pugnax complex:
    • Betta apollon I. Schindler & J. Schmidt, 2006
    • Betta breviobesus H. H. Tan & Kottelat, 1998
    • Betta cracens H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta enisae Kottelat, 1995
    • Betta ferox I. Schindler & J. Schmidt, 2006
    • Betta fusca Regan, 1910 (dusky betta)
    • Betta kuehnei I. Schindler & J. Schmidt, 2008
    • Betta lehi H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta pallida I. Schindler & J. Schmidt, 2004
    • Betta prima Kottelat, 1994
    • Betta pugnax (Cantor, 1849) (Penang betta)
    • Betta pulchra H. H. Tan & S. H. Tan, 1996
    • Betta raja H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta schalleri Kottelat & P. K. L. Ng, 1994
    • Betta stigmosa H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
  • B. splendens complex (fighting fish):
    • Betta imbellis Ladiges, 1975 (crescent betta)
    • Betta mahachaiensis Kowasupat, Panijpan, Ruenwongsa & Sriwattanarothai, 2012
    • Betta siamorientalis Kowasupat, Panijpan, Ruenwongsa & Jeenthong, 2012
    • Betta smaragdina Ladiges, 1972 (Blue betta)
    • Betta splendens Regan, 1910 (Siamese fighting fish)
    • Betta stiktos H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
  • B. unimaculata complex:
    • Betta compuncta H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
    • Betta gladiator H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta ideii H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2006
    • Betta macrostoma Regan, 1910 (spotfin betta)
    • Betta ocellata de Beaufort, 1933
    • Betta pallifina H. H. Tan & P. K. L. Ng, 2005
    • Betta patoti M. C. W. Weber & de Beaufort, 1922
    • Betta unimaculata (Popta, 1905) (Howong betta)
  • B. waseri complex:
    • Betta chloropharynx Kottelat & P. K. L. Ng, 1994
    • Betta hipposideros P. K. L. Ng & Kottelat, 1994
    • Betta omega H. H. Tan & Ahmad, 2018
    • Betta pardalotos H. H. Tan, 2009
    • Betta pi H. H. Tan, 1998
    • Betta renata H. H. Tan, 1998
    • Betta spilotogena P. K. L. Ng & Kottelat, 1994
    • Betta tomi P. K. L. Ng & Kottelat, 1994
    • Betta waseri Krummenacher, 1986

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Betta para niños

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