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Betta bellica
Sauvage 1884

Betta bellica male
Betta bellica male
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]

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Keeping Betta bellica from an Aquarist View


Betta bellica can be housed in pairs, species tanks, and community tanks.  Pairs can be housed in a 20 gallon tank, groups should be housed in a 55 gallon tank or larger.  Pairs should be given cover such as caves and plants.  In a pair or species situation it is possible that fry could be discovered in the tanks. 

Water Conditions

Betta bellica should have soft acidic water that is well filtered.  They should be kept at high 70s to low 80s F.


Males are more intensely colored.  Males also have pointed dorsal, caudal and anal fins whereas females are rounder.


Bellica is a bubblenester. 

Similar Species Similar species would be simorum.  
Identification Identification is based upon the location of the specimen. 

Articles on Betta bellica

Breeding My Betta bellica Nonn Panitvong. 2002.

Articles on related species

Working with wild Bettas Gerald Griffin.  Flare! 2006

Original Citation

Sauvage, H. E. 1884. [90]


AAGB Species Information Sheet. [140]
Anon., 1999. [154]
Anon., 2000.  [157]
Anon., 2002.  [158]
Grabda, E. and T. Heese, 1991.
International Betta Congress 1986.
International Betta Congress 1986.
Kirtley, Paul. 1984. [147]
Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten, S.N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo, 1993.
Liebetrau, Sue, 1975.
Nichols, J.T. and R.C. Murphy, 1922.
Panitvong, Nonn, 2001.
Riehl, R. and H.A. Baensch, 1991.
Riehl, R. and H.A. Baensch, 1996.
Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea and W.B. Scott, 1991.
Vierke, Jrg, 1987.

Type Locality

North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest, adjacent to Perak I., 43 km to Sungai Besae (339'12.9"N, 10118'00.4"E), Selangor, Malaysia.


ZRC 39196


Dominican Republic (Introduced, 1979) During hurricane 'David', B. bellica escaped, presumably from a tropical fish farm or a private aquarist, into the polluted waters of the Rio Ozama where they are now abundant.(62)

Preserved Specimens

BMNH 1914.6.21.7-9:  Indonesia: Sumatra.  [154]
BMNH 1913.11.12.31-34:  Indonesia: Sumatra.  [154]
BMNH 1913.1.1.2-3:  Indonesia: Sumatra.  [154]
ZMH 18596:  Indonesia: Sumatra.  [157]
BMNH 1985.12.18.289-299:  Malaysia: Ayer Hitam.  [154]
AMNH 217804:  Malaysia: North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest.  [158]
ZMH 4575:  Thailand: Khiri Khan.   [157]

Miscellaneous Information

Max Size:

10.0 cm TL

pH range:

6.5 - 7.5

dH range:


General notes on water chemistry

An undemanding species with regard to water conditions. Prefers temperatures of 81-84F (27-29C). Found in ditches of extremely soft, very acidic water with pH <4.8, 33 microSiemens EC (21.5 ppm TDS), and a temp of 84F.

[Writing about the synonym Betta fasciata] In their native habitat in Sumatra, Betta fasciata inhabits ponds and ditches containing water the color of strong tea with a pH of 6.7 at a temperature of around 82 deg. F. [147]

Temperature range:

27-29C. [139]  72-78F [140]


war craving.

Morphometrics and meristics:

D I/9-10; A II/27-32; P I/5:C II; L1 35; TS 9.5 [140] Length 90mm, mLR 35, tLR 9.5 [141]
[Writing about the synonym Betta fasciata] Length 65-90 mm, DI / 9-11, AII / 28-30, P13, mLR 34-36, tLR 10.5 [146]


In mature fish, the female possesses a rounded caudal fin whereas in the older male, the caudal fin comes to a point with longer central rays. The anal fin is also longer in males. Greater demands are placed on water quality at the time of spawning. Water values in author's aquarium during spawning were temp. of 81-84F., pH 7.0, dGH 4-6, KH 2.8-4, and 180-220 microSiemens EC or 117-143 ppm TDS. Glassworms were used by the author to bring the female into condition. When the female is ready to spawn, her dark body becomes lighter in color and 9 prominent diagonal stripes appear on her sides. The male prefers building his large-bubbled nest under the leaf of an Amazon swordplant which reaches the surface. The pair embrace directly under the bubblenest, with the female grasping sometimes 20 or more eggs between her fins and body. The male takes the eggs from this 'pocket' and places them into the nest above. The female then swims down to the bottom searching for any lost eggs. This behavior is thought to lessen the chance of losing any brood to scavenging fish in the wild. Whether the female is removed after spawning or left with the male is not mentioned. The eggs are dull white with a diameter of 1.3mm. The fry hatch in 31-33 hours at 83F. and are freeswimming at 4 days from spawning. In another day or two, the fry will greedily accept newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii. Growth is rapid and the fry will attain a length of nearly 1/2 inch in 2 weeks. Adult length is typically around 4 inches. [139]

A long tank (24x18x12) with 6-8 inches of water is suggested with eggs hatching in 24 hours at a temperature of 76-78F.  A temperature range conflict exists with B. bellica, with this author stating a range of 72-78F and another 81-84F [139]. [The conception that this species is sometimes hard to breed may be the result of some aquarists maintaining incorrect temperatures in the spawning tank.] [140]

Breeding and maintaining B. bellica is very similar to B. splendens. [141]

[Writing about the synonym Betta fasciata] Can be easily spawned in a bare 10 gallon aquarium with floating plants and peat-filtered water 4-5 inches deep. The author's tank was covered on 3 sides, allowing light to penetrate only one side of the dimly lit tank. Conditioning the pair requires copious amounts of live and frozen foods including plankton, mosquito larvae, etc. Courtship consists of mock attacks and fin nipping carried out by the male against the female but little damage is actually observed. After 2-3 days in the spawning tank, the bubblenest is constructed and maintained by both male and female. The bubblenest can become quite large, up to 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. At around the fifth day, the pair spawn in typical betta fashion with the female releasing 6-9 opaque white eggs with each embrace until around 250 eggs have been deposited into the nest. Since the author's pair were wild-caught fish, he chose to pull them from the spawning tank and rear the eggs and fry artificially. In 24 hours, the eggs hatch. Newly hatched fry are 1/4 inch long. In 3 days, they have absorbed their yolk sacs and are swimming horizontally. Infusoria should be fed for at least 2-4 days, after which the fry should be large enough to accept brine shrimp nauplii. The fry are 1/2 to 3/4 inches in length at four weeks of age. [147]


General notes:

Relatively peaceful towards other labyrinth fish. Males may spar but only inflict minor fin damage. [140]

"It is a long fish (to 11 cm or about 4 inches), and slim. The dorsal fin, like that of splendens, is closer to its tail than its head. The color is dark blue-gray, brown, maybe even slightly violet, with metallic green on the sides. Its fins are usually somewhat greenish and may have red areas in the tail and tip of the anal fin. Ventral fins are red." [125]

"[Writing about the synonym Betta fasciata (Regan, 1909)] a description from Sterba, 'Blue-black to dark green or reddish, with some usually indistinct transverse bands. Scales on the flanks each with a large iridescent white-green spot. Fins pale or darkand spotted with black; caudal and anal fins with iridescent green spots as well.' This is another bubblenester." [125]

A timid species, B. bellica will accept dry foods without hesitation, although preferring live foods. Two males should not be housed together for any length of time. They do well in a community tank environment where they are peaceful towards other fish, but strongly dislike strong water movement. [139]

[Writing about the synonym Betta fasciata] Known as the largest of the bubblenesting Bettas, Betta fasciata can attain a length of over 4 inches. A covered aquarium is required for these strong jumpers.  [147]


Last modification submitted by Gerald Griffin 05.17.08 (mm.dd.yy)

Betta bellica male Betta bellica female Betta bellica Betta bellica
Betta bellica male
Photo by Atison Phumchoosri [4]
Betta bellica female
Photo by Atison Phumchoosri [4]
Betta bellica
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]
Betta bellica
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]
Betta bellica fry Betta bellica juveniles Betta bellica nest
Betta bellica fry
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]
Betta bellica juveniles
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]
Betta bellica nest
Photo by Nonn Panitvong [3]
Betta bellica and fry
Photo by
Michal Persevalle [160]
Betta bellica Betta bellica    
Betta bellica
Photo by Kei Sasaki (Betta House) [5]
Betta bellica
Photo by Kei Sasaki (Betta House) [5]

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