Betta Splendens, also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish, is one of the most popular varieties of the betta fish group. As a labyrinth or anabantoid fish, it is able to breathe normal air and can be observed coming to the surface and taking breath on occasion.
Male betta splendens have to be kept separately from each other as they will sometimes fight to the death, though often just aggressive displays are made rather than engage physically. When kept separately, a male that sees its reflection will often act aggressively by flaring its fins out as large as possible and almost “squaring up” to the image.
Females can be kept with other fish but care is needed as their long colourful fins are often a target for other types of fish of an aggressive nature and this often leads to stress in the betta that in turn leads to disease and/or discoloration.
Betta splendens are bubble-nesters. The male betta creates a nest of bubbles under which the male and female will mate by wrapping their fins around each other. This is done in stages, around 15-20 eggs at a time and the process can take two hours. If eggs fall out of the nest either at this stage or later, both fish, but more usually the male, will collect them and put them back in the nest.
Keeping Siamese fighters ideally involves using separate tanks for the male and when the female is ready for breeding and full of eggs, insert her into the tank in a jar or display her in another tank alongside as this encourages the male to build the nest. He often accompanies this with a display of both his fins and sometimes flamboyant manoeuvres to her. It is often best to separate them after mating as they sometimes revert to aggression at that stage, though not always.
Aquariums to house betta splendens should contain plants to house the nests and be large enough to accommodate what can often be large nests. The water in each aquarium will need to be warm and clean, especially when breeding occurs and large broods can be hatched. The incread population will require good filtration despite their air-breathing abilities. Male fry will need to be moved within six to eight weeks to prevent fighting.
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