Is There a Difference Between Betta Fish and Fighter Fish?

Difference Between Betta Fish and Fighter Fish

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We have readers who really love betta fish, those small fish with the extravagant and usually colorful tails, and ornery behaviors. Some readers have gotten confused when they hear the betta being referred to as the Siamese fighting fish. So, is it betta, or fighting? What’s the difference, if any?

There is no difference between betta fish and fighter fish. Betta fish have more than 73 breeds, and all of them are called fighting fish, for their aggressive tendencies and biting. So there is no difference. All betta fish are considered fighting fish.

Among the most popular types of fighting fish are the halfmoon, crowntail, dumbo ear, delta, rose tail, and veil tail. As you can tell, for most breeds the uniqueness of the tail dominates our perception so much that the look is included in the breed name.

What are Betta Fish?

Betta fish are freshwater aquarium pets popular because of their pretty colors, and variety of fin and tail shapes. They are also easy to care for ~ but they are rarely boring hence the “fighter fish” moniker. They are small, usually fully grown to 2.5 to 3 inches in length.

Those not in aquariums are native to Southeast Asia, in countries like Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Siam ~ where they were first discovered about 1,000 years ago, probably among rice paddies.

In Siamese communities, at times a couple of betta fish might be placed together in a small container, for betting purposes as male bettas are very territorial. These one-on-one matches were kind of like cockfights. Popularity for these betting contests reached all the way up to the king.

Scientists used DNA sampling to determine that betta fish have been bred for fighting since the 1200s, which over time resulted in the genetics of today’s betta fish.

Basically, the behaviors of modern betta fish are the results of hundreds of years of breeding just for that purpose: to fight.

In confined spaces, without chance to exit, both male and female betta fish can become territorial and fight, sometimes resulting in death.

In the betting matches, since fighter fish aren’t killed often enough, the general rule was tha6t once one fish retreated, the other was declared the winner.

Put them in a big enough aquarium (minimum 10-gallon tanks, and avoid bowls altogether!), where they can keep separated, and they make beautiful pets, fun to watch. They come in many colors, and might even change color if agitated or during mating rituals!

They are carnivores who live off eating small crustaceans, zooplankton, and insect larvae, as well as algae in the diet.

Betta fish can live 5 to 7 years, and with proper care even longer, though only one has been known to reach 10 years old. Compare that with a maximum 15 years for goldfish, and goldfish can grow to up to a foot long!

What are Fighter Fish?

Fighter fish is another name, like a nickname, for betta fish. As stated, the reputation of betta fish to be aggressive to one another goes back centuries.

Various Asian nations at one time or another had names for bettas that are translated to refer to aggressiveness, such as “enduring fish,” “biting fish,” “splendid fighter,” and even “aggressive fish with big feet” due to their long hip fins.

Scientifically called Betta splendens, in the wild they thrive in shallow freshwaters with plenty of vegetations, like the before-mentioned rice paddies, as well as floodplains, and marshes.

Due to their existence in very shallow water bodies with less oxygen than regularly flowing water, these fish have developed over the years a special labyrinth organ that’s like a lung and allows them to breathe right from the air when necessary!

For this and several other reasons, betta fish are considered hardy fish. That is, they can survive under the harshest of conditions. That’s one reason they make such good pets.

Related Questions

Question: Why do betta fish fight?

Answer: In the wild, mainly to protect a section of plants as territory, both for itself and females during spawning. Or, when trapped in small pools as shallow waters dried up. Over time, the species evolved to fight when trapped together in small spaces.

Question: Why is it called the veiltail?

Answer: Due to a long and flowing tail that looks like the veil of a dress flowing behind a woman. Veiltail come in many vibrant colors, and they are known to be less aggressive than most bettas.

Question: Are betta fish in the wild in the United States?

Answer: Yes. Somehow they got introduced and established in the more subtropical parts of the United States, like in Florida, or southern Texas.

Question: Are there any fish that are better to have in an aquarium with betta fish?

Answer: It has been noted that pictus catfish, blue gourami, neon tetras, and other bottom-feeding sea life seem to get along with the betta fish.