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Betta livida
Ng & Kottelat 1992

Betta livida
Betta livida Tanjong Malim
Photo by Ken Muller [15]

More Photos

Keeping Betta livida from an Aquarist View


Betta livida can be housed in pairs, species tanks, and community tanks.  Pairs can be housed in a 5 gallon tank, groups should be housed in a 20 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 livida comes from blackwater environments and should have soft acidic water that is well filtered.  They should be kept at mid 70s F.


Females have an egg tube.  Females ovaries might be visible via spotlighting. Males may be more intensely colored.  Males have more pointed dorsal fins and longer anal fins.  Females are rounder and may exhibit an egg tube.


Livida is a submerged bubblenester so large leafed plants or black plastic film canisters are best for giving them a place to nest. 

Similar Species Similar species would be all coccina complex members.  
Identification Livida males may have a smaller side spot then coccina.  Females tend to be a bland red with egg tube. 

Articles on Betta coccina


Articles on related species

Betta cf. burdigala ‘Kubu’  Stefan vd. Voort.  2002. 

Betta burdigala Yohan Fernando.

I’ve Got a New Mouthbrooding Betta – Now What? Michael Hellweg. 2003.

Working with wild Bettas Gerald Griffin.  Flare! 2006


Original Citation Ng, P. K. L. and Kottelat, M. 1992. [69]


Pinto, Tony. 1998. [148]
Type Locality Blackwater stream, north Selangor peat swamp, on road from Tanjong Malim to Sungai Besar, Peninsula Malaysia.
Holotype ZRC 15287
Paratype CMK 8032 (25)
ZRC 14439 (1), 15209-28 (20), 15254-73 (20), 15288-89 (2), 18836-40 (5), 18851-53 (3), 22764-67 (4), 22768 (1), 22829 (1)
Where Found



Known Occurrences: Malaysia: Blackwater Stream, North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest, 800 M From 45 Km Mark, On Road From Tanjong Malim To Sungai Besar.
Malaysia: North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest
Malaysia: North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest, On Road From Sungai Besar To Tanjung Malim
Miscellaneous Information Max Size: 3.63 cm SL

General notes on water chemistry:

pH 3.5-5, water temperature not to exceed 75°F. [148]
Biotope: Habitat is highly acidic tea-coloured water of between pH 3.5 to 3.7. Found in a peat swamp forest, mostly in well shaded shallow waters (less than a meter deep) or along the vegetated banks of deeper streams. Occurs usually in slow flowing water. Preferred substrate appears to be leaf litter or submerged detritus. [69]
Reproduction: Builds a bubble nest, with the male aggressively chasing the female to below the nest. [69]

All that is necessary for the successful spawn is a compatible, well-conditioned pair, a small floating tube for the male to build his bubblenest in, and Java moss for the female to hide in. B. livida appears to be a seasonal spawner with the author's fish breeding from the end of September through the middle of March. To induce spawning, either add a small amount of water a few degrees cooler and with the same chemistry as the tank water, or wait for the arrival of a storm. The male builds a small bubble nest into which 20-50 eggs are deposited. Both parents tend to the fry for the first few days. The fry become free-swimming at around the fourth day and may be found all over the tank, although most will be found hiding in the darkest corners. They are too small to accept newly hatched brine shrimp and need to be fed infusoria for the first week. The author has been successful at feeding the fry artificial plankton rotifer (APR) powder. By the end of the first week, the fry are able to accept brine shrimp. Cannibalism of the fry by their parents was not witnessed with this or other species in the B. coccina group which the author has maintained. Therefore, he suggests keeping the parents with the fry, which seems to eliminate the outbreak of velvet usually occurring after the fry are removed from their parents in the first 2-3 weeks. This has also been observed with mouthbrooding species like B. picta and with B. foerschi. A pair can spawn several times over a period of 6 or more weeks, leaving the tank filled with fry of differing sizes. To reduce predation of the smaller fry, the older ones should be moved to new quarters after they are sexed out, which can usually be accomplished by the third month. The fish are sexually mature soon after this, but it is generally recommended to wait until they are older to start breeding them since they will be better conditioned to produce larger and more robust spawns. B. livida appears to be long-lived, with the author's pair being well over 3 years old and still spawning at the writing of this article. [148]


Latin for 'jealous' with reference to its green eyes.  [148]

Differentiation from similar species: Both sexes of B. livida have a lateral iridescent green spot but in B. coccina, only the male has this spot. B. coccina has black-tipped pelvic fins, where B. livida's are green-tipped. B. brownorum is a smaller fish which has white-tipped pelvic fins and both sexes also have the green spot. B. tussyae does not have the green spot and has white-tipped pelvic fins. B. rutilans, the smallest member of the coccina group, is very similar to B. tussyae, except that B. tussyae tends to show horizontal stripes and rutilans remains bright red with no stripes. B. livida also has two vertical gold bars on the operculum which helps to differentiate it from other species. [148]
General notes: A compatible pair can be kept in a well-covered 5 gallon tank with a dried oak leaf substrate and a water level of 4-5 inches. RO or rainwater with peat extract is necessary to duplicate their natural water conditions. Since they are light-sensitive and very shy, they should be placed in a darkened spot in the fishroom and only low-light plants added, such as Java fern or Java moss. They show a marked preference for live foods and only the occasional frozen bloodworm will be accepted. A 10% water change at least biweekly is recommended and only with water of the same quality. [148]
This species is on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered (A2c).

Last modification submitted by Tom Stubblefield 11.16.02 (mm.dd.yy)


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