Betta Smaragdina: Care, Lifespan, Breeding & Aggression


Scientific NameBetta Smaragdina
Common NameEmerald Betta, Blue Betta , Mekong Fighting Fish
OriginEastern Thailand, Malaysia
Temperature70F-80°F (21-27°C)
Water pH6.0-8.0
Adult Size1.75-2 inches
DietCarnivorous

Betta Smaragdina Facts:

  • It gets the name Smaragdina from the latin word ‘smaragdinus’ which means emerald-colored.
  • Betta Smaragdina is a popular, wild species of Betta fish that has been bred for fighting for hundreds of years.
  • The release of domestic pet Bettas breeding with Betta Smaragdina is causing the offspring to have trouble in its natural environment.
  • Betta Smaragdina are one of the most distributed species of Betta fish, along with Betta Splendens.
  • Betta Smaragdina are not ideal to house with other species of fish due to their aggression, but they could cohabitate with other fish if they are given a big enough tank that also provides plenty of places for them to hide.

Betta Smaragdina Care

Betta Smaragdina is an interestingly colored species of Betta fish. It has an iridescent sheen covering its body that even extends outward towards its fins. Their main body color can be a few different colors such as red, orange, blue, and green. They come in a variety of colors, but they always have the iridescent sheen of green-blue scaling. They have medium length fins when compared to other species of Betta, and their fins have a striped pattern to them.

 The males and females are more easy to identify from one another once they have reached maturity. The male Betta Smaragdina is more brightly colored than the female, and the female has smaller fins than the male. Betta Smaragdina is often interbred with released pet Bettas of other species, and they could be difficult to identify in the wild.

Betta Smaragdina
Betta Smaragdina

Natural Habitat in the Wild

Betta Smaragdina originate from eastern Thailand, ,and they are a popular species of fish that have been bred for fighting for hundreds of years. Due to human intervention, they can even be found in Malaysia. Betta Smaragdina can be found in their natural environment inhabiting slow moving, murky streams, rice paddies, swamps, streams and ponds. They can even be found in as small of a body of water as a ditch on the side of the road. Betta Smaragdina can survive in these small bodies of water due to their labyrinth organ that allows them to gather oxygen from the air if needed. Their natural habitat also has a varied substrate that could be made up of leaf litter, mud, sand, or sediment.

Betta Smaragdina are becoming increasingly uncommon in their natural habitat due to habitat destruction from humans, pollution, and hybridization from breeding with other species of domestic Bettas. The introduction and breeding of domestic Bettas in the wild habitat to the Betta Smaragdina is having a negative effect on their genetics and causing the offspring to have problems in their natural environment.

Betta Smaragdina Lifespan & Size

Betta Smaragdina have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years in captivity if properly cared for. They reach a max size of up to 1.75 to 2 inches.

Food & Diet

Betta Smaragdina are mainly carnivorous. In their natural habitat they will eat small insects, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and sometimes they will scavenge the bottom and eat plant matter. In the wild, they will eat whenever they can, but in captivity they should be fed one or two times a day.

In captivity, you should expect to feed Betta Smaragdina a high quality protein diet. Betta Smaragdina will accept pellet and flake foods, but for their health, they should be given frozen or live foods such as bloodworms, daphnia, or artemia.

Tank Setup & Tank Size

Betta Smaragdina requires a minimum of a 10 gallon tank for a breeding pair. They can be housed with other species of fish, but they would require a much larger tank with a minimum of 30 gallons. The ideal way to set up a tank for Betta Smaragdina, especially if you are planning on breeding them, is to set up their tank as close as you can to their native environment. Pairs of Betta Smaragdina need lots of aquarium plants, and decor that offer places for them to hide and destress. They prefer a darker environment that is more shaded by aquarium plants and decor. Betta Smaragdina prefers slow moving waters, and this is especially important if you are planning on breeding them. It is also a good idea to put a lid on your aquarium that houses your Betta Smaragdina as they are excellent jumpers, and have been known to jump out of their aquarium.

 Betta Smaragdina are considered very hardy fish that will live and thrive in a wide variety of water parameters as long as it is cleaned regularly and well filtered. Typically, they are kept in temperatures of around 70F to 80F. Substrate for a Betta Smaragdina friendly setup can be sand, dirt, or leaf litter. Leaf litter is a great choice for a Betta Smaragdina tank substrate as it will not only be nibbled on by the Betta, but as the leaves decay they will release beneficial tannins into the water. Tannins are great for the health of Betta Smaragdina.

Betta Smaragdina Aggression

Betta Smaragdina have been kept for hundreds of years as a fighting fish, and that being said, it is not recommended that they live in a community setup with other fish. If you are planning on keeping your Betta Smaragdina with other fish, the key to their happiness will be giving them a tank setup that is large enough to accommodate them and the other fish. Good choices for tank mates for your Betta Smaragdina would be small peaceful fish, such as tetras or corydoras. They can even be housed with shrimps or snails, but your Betta may be tempted to eat them.

Betta Smaragdina Breeding

Betta Smaragdina are bubble nesters. This means that the male Betta, when he is ready to spawn, will create a bubble nest in a quiet corner of your aquarium to put his eggs in. This bubble nest will be either anchored to the sides of your aquarium, or attached to aquarium decor and plants. They create their bubble nests using their labyrinth organ. The labyrinth organ that allows them to gather oxygen from the air also allows them to create bubbles that last in the water and shelter the eggs until they hatch into fry.

If you are planning on breeding your Betta Smaragdina you will most likely want to set up a dedicated breeding tank. This will ensure that you get a higher yield of fry. Betta Smaragdina are not considered a difficult species of fish to breed, but you will want to ensure that their spawning environment is one that makes them as comfortable as possible as this encourages them to spawn.

Once the male Betta Smaragdina has built his nest he is ready to spawn. You will notice your female Betta Smaragdina is ready as well with a more rounded look to her body as she is full of eggs. The female and the male appear as though they are embracing, and you will be able to see the female release her eggs. Once they have embraced several times, and the female has released all her eggs, she will swim away from the male. The male will then pick up the fertilized eggs and place them in the bubble nest to care for them. Once the female is done, it is a good idea to remove her from the breeding tank, as the male will become aggressive towards her.

After roughly 48 hours, you will see the eggs begin to hatch, and slowly develop into free swimming fry. Once your fry are free swimming, remove your male Betta Smaragdina as well. The fry will be able to be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp live or frozen provided they are small enough to fit in their mouths.

Betta Smaragdina can go anywhere from 30 dollars to 70 dollars each. They are able to be purchased in pet stores or online, just make sure that you are able to identify that they are Betta Smargdina and not another species of Betta fish.

Betta Mahachaiensis vs Betta Splendens

Betta Mahachaiensis is a relatively new discovered species of Betta fish. They were discovered in 2012. They are an interesting fish as they can live in both freshwater and brackish water which is a unique feature that they have when compared to other species of Betta fish.

Betta Mahachaiensis, just like Betta Smaragdina, is a wild species of Betta. Betta Splendens is the result of domesticated Bettas interbreeding with Betta fish in the wild. Betta Splendens is considered a more docile Betta in comparison to other species, while Betta Mahachaiensis is a more aggressive species with a similar behavior to Betta Smaragdina. Betta Mahachaiensis also has a color pattern that is more similar to Betta Smaragdina than other species of Betta fish, but Betta Mahachaiensis can be more easily identified from other Betta fish by their eye color. Betta Mahachaiensis almost always have red eyes. Betta Mahachaiensis has a longer torpedo shaped body than other species of Betta fish as well.

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