Wild Betta Fish – All You Need to Know

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The Betta fish is one of the most sought-after aquarium fish in the market. Thanks to their vivid colors, waving fins and playful attitude, this species makes a great addition to any fish tank. Today you can buy them in almost every fish store, but where are they coming from?

This is the part that even some of the biggest fish enthusiasts don’t know. Today we are going to talk about wild Bettas and their characteristics. You are going to learn about the environment they live in, the food they eat and their attitude out in the wild.

We are also going to talk about how the Betta fish evolved into the one that you can see at the store. The reason why this is going to be important for you as a fish keeper is because you will know where your fish came from. This will give you a deeper understanding about how to take care of them.

Characteristics of Wild Bettas

We can tell you right away that keeping Wild Bettas at home is not a bad idea at all. If you want something unusual that is not as popular among aquarists, then you should definitely get one. Although there is not that many color variations to choose from when it comes to Wild Bettas, they are also beautiful.

Furthermore, they are less aggressive than the domesticated kinds. And here comes the best thing: You can keep more than one Wild Betta male in the same tank. Domesticated ones tend to get territorial and frustrated. However, the fish tank should definitely be big enough for the Wild Bettas in order to be in peace with each other.

A wild one has pretty much the same needs as the domesticated ones. It certainly isn’t hard to take care of them so beginners shouldn’t be afraid. And all in all, it is worth for the experience.

Habitat of Bettas in the Wild

In the wild, Bettas live in shallow waters and river basins with plenty of plants in it. These shallow waters are usually either swamps or rice paddles. They can be found in Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand as well. Now when we say shallow, we don’t mean those small paddles you can see on the street after the rain.

Those paddles are actually quite extensive and there is a lot of space for the fish to swim around and explore. There are some extreme cases when those waters dry up and get much smaller but they leave before it happens. If the conditions are not right for the Betta, it will simply jump out and find another paddle to live in.

Thanks to their labyrinth organ, they can tolerate low-oxygen waters until they find a better place. They breathe some air in through it, using it as a source of Oxygen. It is important to note that there is no Betta Fish that finds it comfortable to live in small fish tanks or paddles. They will eventually jump out if kept in a small bowl.

Wild Bettas are known to be outstanding jumpers compared to their small size. They are also great in finding the best spot to jump out and find a bigger paddle or basin. The water also has to be warm enough because Bettas are tropical fish.

In their natural habitat, the temperature can get as warm as 104 °F. Therefore, they absolutely hate cold waters. It has to be at least 73 degrees when you put them into the fish tank at home.

Wild Betta Fish Diet

The Wild Betta prefers to eat bloodworms, other larvae, insectivores and insects in its natural habitat. If they run into a smaller fish or fry while hungry, they are going to eat them as well. These are pretty much the things they mostly run into in the paddles. If the animal can fit into their mouth, they are going to consume it.

This doesn’t mean that you have to feed them these foods. The reason why they eat those foods is that their resources are limited in the wild. You can give them other kinds of foods that contain the same nutrients and vitamins as the abovementioned small animals.

If you put the Wild Betta into an aquarium, it won’t take a long time until it gets used to eating other types of foods. These include pellets and flakes for example. Basically, you need to train them a bit in order to make them eat those foods.

Domestic Bettas will accept a wide range of foods you can buy at the fish store without any training. You only need to make sure that the food you buy is made for carnivores. They are not going to eat vegetables at all, yet they need a lot of protein in order to thrive.

Now it might seem like a great idea to give only pellets and flakes to your Wild Betta but is it actually good? It might cause them to have digestive problems in the long run. You should give them fresh and live foods when you can. It is more natural and healthy for them to eat those.

Instead of buying the “tropical fish food” at the fish store, go for those that are specifically made for Bettas. You can notice that they flourish in brighter, more vivid colors when they eat healthy foods.

How Long do Bettas Live in the Wild?

The average lifespan of a Wild Betta is 2 years. This is, of course, given that it spends its time out in the wild. Although you can mimic their natural habitat in your aquarium, the conditions are still totally different in those paddles and basins.

The reason why stable and good water parameters are crucial in the fish tank is simple. Wild Bettas live longer if these conditions are given. Changing the water regularly and giving them healthy foods is also important. In their natural habitat, these conditions are not controlled.

For example, the water they live in might simply dry up. This drastically changes the water quality. Not to mention that they often need to jump out and look for another paddle. It is not necessarily the healthiest option for them to live in their natural habitat.

There are just too many random factors that can go wrong and risk their well-being. Wild Bettas basically live a nomadic lifestyle, constantly looking for bigger puddles when the conditions get bad.

How Big do Bettas Get in the Wild?

The Wild Betta can get as big as 6-7 centimeters depending on the environment they live in. This is the size of Bettas that are older than 7 months, since that is when they reach adulthood. If the fish is lucky enough to live in a bigger river basin or paddle with a rich environment, then it is going to get even bigger.

However, we can say that the maximum size for the Wild Betta is 8 centimeters. Of course, there are many known Betta species and they vary a bit in size as well. Therefore, these measurements should be taken as approximates.

You can easily distinguish the males from the females if you take a look at their size. While their body size is pretty much the same, the male always has bigger fins. As a result, males appear bigger and longer while they also have thicker bodies.

Are Wild Bettas More Aggressive?

The good thing about Wild Bettas is that they are actually not wilder than their domesticated species. If you put two males into the same tank, they are going to live peacefully together. You just need to keep them in an aquarium that is big enough for the two to live comfortably.

A smaller fish tank will only cause conflicts between them. If you keep domesticated Bettas, then keeping two males together is basically out of the question. You have to keep one male and a couple more females in the aquarium.

We can even say that domesticated Bettas are bred for fighting. While there are numerous Wild Betta species, the one thing they have in common is that none of them is aggressive.


We hope that we have answered all the questions you had about Wild Bettas. As you can see, there are not huge differences between domesticated Bettas and wild ones. In fact, it is a great idea to get a Wild Betta first if you want to keep more than one of them together.

They are less aggressive and pretty much the same routine applies when it comes to their care. It won’t take you a long time until you train them to eat flakes and pellets, which they are not used to initially. If you are a fish enthusiast, we can only recommend them for you.

Wild Bettas can be just as colorful and interesting as domesticated ones. What is most important for them is to live in clean water with the right composition. If you renew the water frequently, they are surely going to thrive.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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