Do Betta Fish Have Teeth? Will They Bite? - Betta Source (2023)

If you’re thinking of adding betta fish to your aquarium, you might be asking yourself, “Do betta fish have teeth? And do they bite?”

Those are both reasonable questions to ask, especially if you have a community tank. After all, bettas, or Siamese Fighting Fish as the species is also commonly known, do come with a reputation for being among the toughest fish on the block.

So, let’s find out!

Do betta fish have teeth?

In a word, yes, bettas do have teeth, albeit very tiny ones.

The betta fish is primarily a surface feeder. Look closely at a betta and you’ll notice that his mouth is upturned, making the fish perfectly designed for catching prey that’s floating or swimming on or close to the surface of the water.

If you look closely at a betta fish under a microscope or through a magnifying glass, you’ll notice that his mouth is full of tiny, white teeth. Take a photo of your betta with an iPhone, and then blow-up the picture. You should be able to see your fish’s teeth.

What are a betta’s teeth used for?


The main function of the betta’s teeth is for eating and breaking down large pieces of food to aid digestion.

Captive bettas will thrive on a varied diet that includes pellet food, live food, and frozen insect larvae. You may also notice your betta nibbling on fresh plants and algae that you have growing in your tank.

(Video) Avoid These 10 Mistakes That HARM Your Betta Fish!

In the wild, the betta is also omnivorous, enjoying a diet of insects, insect larvae, and plant material.

In the betta’s natural home, Asia, there is a wide variety of flying bugs that provide a very diverse food supply for bettas and other fish species. The larvae of species, such as midges, mosquitos, and bloodworms need water in which to lay and hatch their eggs. These creatures provide the betta with a readily available, staple diet that’s high in both protein and water content, both of which are vital for the fish’s health.

The betta is an ambush predator, lurking beneath the surface of the water until an insect alights or swims across the water above him. The betta’s teeth enable him to grab and keep hold of his prey, preventing an airborne escape attempt.

The wild betta’s diet is also rich in fiber that’s derived from the exoskeletons of insects and plant fiber. Fiber is essential to prevent the fish from becoming constipated, which is a common cause of mortality in household bettas. That’s why it’s essential to include some live food, such as daphnia or bloodworm in your captive betta’s diet.


A secondary use for the betta’s teeth is for defense.

Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish and with good reason. Bettas are fiercely territorial and will fight to defend their patch, often to the death. During a battle, the betta uses his teeth to nip at aggressors or intruders into his territory.

That’s why you should never put two male bettas in the same tank.

Wild betta territory

Bettas come from Asia where they live and breed in river basins and rice paddies. A wild betta’s natural territory is around three feet square, considerably larger than most captive bettas are given.

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Wild bettas live in relatively shallow water that is thick with vegetation. During the dry season, the streams can evaporate, leaving a network of small puddles. Unlike other species of tropical fish, bettas can survive in this environment for a short time thanks to their “labyrinth,” or breathing organ. The labyrinth enables the betta to extract oxygen from the air that the fish breathes through its upturned mouth.

When the water level gets too low, or if the betta finds himself challenged by a rival sharing the same puddle, he uses his talent for jumping to leap to a larger body of water. So, in his natural environment, the betta has little use for his teeth as a weapon, and they are almost exclusively used for catching food and eating.

Bettas as community fish

Bettas make pretty good community fish. However, you do need to choose your betta’s companions wisely and make sure that there’s plenty of room in the habitat for everyone. To avoid potential arguments and confrontations, always add a betta to an established community, not the other way around.

To thrive, betta fish need five gallons of water for their habitat. However, some fish need more than five gallons to themselves, without the addition of a betta. As a general rule of thumb, each inch of fish requires at least one gallon of water, although as far as bettas are concerned, the more space they have to themselves, the better.

Bettas typically inhabit the upper area of the tank, as they are primarily surface feeders. So, choose midwater species or bottom-dwellers as companions for your betta for a harmonious mix and to prevent potential squabbles over territory.

NEVER put more than one male betta in the same tank! Males are highly territorial and they will fight. However, a small sorority of five or six female bettas makes a good choice for a community that includes a male betta, as do small tetras, Corydoras, shrimp, and ornamental snails.

Avoid introducing species that are brightly colored or have long, flowing tails and fins, as that could provoke an attack by a male betta. Also, don’t introduce aggressive species, such as barbs, or you could be asking for trouble.

Do betta fish bite people?

Although betta fish have teeth, they don’t generally bite people, unless yours is a particularly aggressive specimen!

(Video) Don't Buy A Betta Fish Without Watching This First. 10 Things You Should Know About Betta Fish.

Even if your betta does take a nibble on your hand, human skin is more than strong enough to prevent the fish from inflicting any damage. Most bettas are not aggressive towards humans. So, if your fish does “bite” you, he’s probably just being curious, rather than vicious.

Why would your betta fish bite you?

There are several reasons why bettas bite people.

First of all, bettas are naturally curious and may bite you just to see whether you are edible. So, rather like a puppy, your betta uses his mouth to explore and see what’s what if something strange appears in his territory.

Sometimes, a betta might bite because he views your approaching hand as a threat and reacts defensively by nipping you.

Finally, bettas are always on the look-out for food. If you put food on your finger to feed your betta fish, he may nip your finger accidentally in his haste to grab a meal.

Bottom line: if you put your hand into your betta’s tank, prepare to be nipped.

How strong is a betta’s bite?

Pound for pound, the betta’s bite is more powerful than that of a great white shark! That’s pretty impressive, but bettas only use their teeth for feeding or defending their patch. Also, the betta’s jaw is tiny, and it’s certainly not strong enough to break your skin.

So, if you put your hands into the tank when cleaning it, you needn’t worry; a betta is not a piranha, and he won’t take a chunk out of your finger out of malice!

(Video) How MUCH / OFTEN You Should Feed Your Betta! | ULTIMATE BETTA FISH GUIDE

Is a betta’s bite painful?

No, a betta’s bite is not painful to a human. As previously mentioned, the betta’s mouth is too small to inflict a bite that hurts, unless you are another male betta!

So, if your betta does give you a “love bite,” it’ll feel more like a tickle than a pinch, and it definitely won’t hurt. If you’re curious and you want to find out just how it feels to be bitten by your betta fish, try putting a little bit of food on your fingertip and let your betta grab it. Just make sure that your hands are clean and grease-free, or you could risk introducing harmful bacteria into your fish tank.

Why does my betta fish bite and not let go?

Sometimes, your betta fish might bite you and not let go. Don’t panic! Your fish is not attacking you, it’s because his jaw is stuck. That’s why you really shouldn’t encourage your betta to bite you. If your fishy friend gets his jaw stuck open and can’t let go, he could injure himself.

Do betta fish bite during spawning?

If you have female bettas in your tank as well as a male, and your tank conditions are right, you may witness spawning behavior. Bettas can be quite aggressive when spawning, and it’s not uncommon for them to bite each other.

Biting during spawning usually happens when one of the pair of bettas isn’t quite ready to mate. Biting during spawning isn’t restricted to males; female bettas can bite too. If the biting is restricted to small nips and causes no damage to either fish, don’t worry. That usually means that the fish aren’t quite ready to mate.

However, sometimes, biting when spawning can be very aggressive and injuries do occur. If you notice damage to your bettas’ tail or fins, you must separate the bettas immediately. It may be that the two fish just don’t get along, and mating between them will never be successful.

If the recipient of the bite reacts by darting away and trying to avoid the aggressor, that’s a sure sign that the fish need to be split up.

Final thoughts

Betta fish do have teeth. The teeth are used primarily for catching and eating insects and insect larvae that settle on the surface of the water.

(Video) 5 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE I Got My First Betta Fish

A betta’s teeth are also used in an aggressive defense of their territory. Sometimes, spawning bettas will nip each other as part of the mating process. However, if you notice overtly aggressive behavior, you must separate the fish right away to avoid serious injury.

Although you may be tempted to put your fingers into your betta’s tank to see if he nips you, it’s not advisable to do that. You could introduce bacteria or other contaminants into the water, which could harm your fish.


What do betta teeth look like? ›

Yes, Betta fish do have teeth, very tiny white teeth. To see these teeth you will need to take a very close up look of your Betta's open mouth – sometimes they are so small even at this close up look you may not see them (a magnifying glass may help).

Why do betta fish bite other fish? ›

Why Do Betta Fish Fight? Betta fish fight to establish a territory, including food resources, shelter, and access to females. This is a common cause of aggressive behavior in many different fish species. There is debate over whether this fighting behavior is innate or a consequence of how betta fish are reared.

How do betta fish hurt each other? ›

Bettas will often damage their opponents scales, gills and tails by nipping and thrashing about. Those injuries, along with infections caused by stress, could, however, kill a betta after fighting. Deliberately making betta fish fight is cruel.

Do betta fish nipped fins? ›

Bettas can injure their fins any number of ways. Transporting them to new aquariums can cause injuries; other fish may nip at bettas' fins, causing damage; poor water conditions, like cold or unclean water, can encourage aggressive cases of fin rot, whereby bettas' fins disintegrate.

Can betta fish hurt you? ›

Their teeth are too tiny and unable to exert enough force to pierce human skin, which is too thick for them to handle. If bitten by a betta fish, a person will typically only experience a minor tingling or prickly sensation rather than pain.

How many times a day should betta fish be fed? ›

It is recommended to feed your betta fish two to four pellets, once or twice per day. Pellets expand when placed in water and are very filling for your betta fish. Freeze-dried or fresh food can be substituted for their pellet feeding 1 to 2 days per week.

What is the most aggressive betta breed? ›

Plakats are also the most aggressive variety of Betta. Only the most aggressive fighting fish were selected for breeding, so these are some rage filled little fish. They also have a bad habit of jumping out of their tanks.

What happens if you touch a betta fish? ›

Betta fish should rarely, if ever, be petted. It's not good to pet them, as it may remove their natural slime coating, making them prone to certain diseases. Also, never touch them with dirty hands, as bacteria can easily be transmitted through direct contact.

What is the least aggressive betta fish? ›

What type of betta is the least aggressive? The Betta Imbellis is the least aggressive species in the betta fish family. These bettas are highly docile and have a very calm and well-behaved attitude throughout their life.

Why do betta fish fight to the death? ›

Betta fish fights to the death are not common. However, betta fish are incredibly aggressive and territorial creatures by nature. They will fight over their mating rights and territories in the wild. In captivity, they might fight to the death over perceived threats to their territory or tank mates.

Can betta fish feel pain in their fins? ›

Fish do feel pain. It's likely different from what humans feel, but it is still a kind of pain.” At the anatomical level, fish have neurons known as nociceptors, which detect potential harm, such as high temperatures, intense pressure, and caustic chemicals.

How long do betta fish live? ›

What do unhealthy betta fish fins look like? ›

Keep an eye on your betta's fins.

In a healthy betta, its fins will be whole. An unhealthy betta may develop holes or rips in its fins. Another unhealthy sign is if your betta's fins appear clamped down to the body; that is, they aren't fanned out properly.

Do betta fish have feelings? ›

Fish have the correct anatomy to receive pain signals, they produce the same natural chemical painkillers that mammals do, and they consciously choose to avoid painful stimuli. They also experience emotions with which we humans can identify.

How do you play with a betta fish? ›

How To Play With Betta Fish: Bonding Activities With Your BF
  1. Add in Plants. ...
  2. Use Ping Pong Balls. ...
  3. Use Betta Tank Floating Decorations. ...
  4. Draw on the Fish Tank With a Marker. ...
  5. Start the Siamese Fighting Fish Training. ...
  6. Betta Hammocks. ...
  7. Use a Mirror. ...
  8. Consider a Diet Change.

Is it OK not to feed betta once a day? ›

A common question we are asked, is “how often do you feed a betta fish?” Given their tropical nature, like most other warmer tanks, bettas need to be fed at least twice a day. This is especially important considering that many betta fish tend to be overfed, receiving large meals infrequently.

How often do you feed betta fish flakes? ›

Betta fish should be fed twice a day. You can take a small pinch of food in the morning, and a small pinch in the evening. You should make sure you do not overfeed them. Extra food will become waste and generate toxins when they sit in the bottom of the tank.

What happens if you don't feed a betta fish for a day? ›

They won't immediately starve if they don't eat for a day or two, but their bodies will process and excrete the waste in their bodies. This is why fasting is often a regular part of some Betta fish's diet, especially if they're suffering from something like bloating or a disease that leaves them lethargic.

What happens when you put 2 betta fishes together? ›

Only one male can be kept in an aquarium, as males will fight with one another (hence their common name, Siamese fighting fish). In the wild, one would retreat. But that isn't possible in an aquarium; fighting continues, to the death of one or both. Females are only a bit more tolerant of each other.

Can I keep two female bettas together? ›

Unlike male betta fish, female betta fish can live together comfortably in the same tank. When they live together, the cohort is called a 'sorority'. Generally, a good number to keep together is 4-6 female betta fish.

What is the most beautiful betta fish? ›

One of the prettiest betta breeds, the halfmoon Betta has a 180-degree, fan-like tail that resembles a “D” when fully flared. This long-finned Betta also has unusual coloring.

What is the longest living pet betta fish? ›

  • On average, betta fish can live between 2 and 5 years. ©Arunee Rodloy/
  • The longest-living betta fish in the world was about 10 years. ...
  • Koi fish can live between 20 and 25 years. ...
  • The goldfish can live between 10 and 15 years. ...
  • With good care, discus can live for up to 15 years.
Jan 9, 2023

What is the coolest betta fish? ›

12 types of Beautiful Betta Fish for your Home Aquarium
  • CrownTail Betta Fish.
  • Halfmoon Betta.
  • Veiltail Betta Fish.
  • Double Tail Betta.
  • CombTail Betta.
  • Spade Tail Betta.
  • Dumbo Ear Betta.
  • Yellow Betta Fish.

How do I make my betta fish more friendly? ›

Bettas are sensitive to the vibrations in water caused by sounds such as human voices, which some take as meaning your fish can learn to recognize your voice and its name. See if you can trigger a regular response by saying your betta's name each time you visit.

How do you know if fish are playing or fighting? ›

Instead of swimming toward the aggressor, the fish that is trying to protect itself from harm might isolate itself. In other words, when a more aggressive fish swims toward it, a weaker fish might hide rather than fighting back. There will be visible signs if a fish has been attacked in the tank.

Can betta fish see in the dark? ›

Although bettas are capable of detecting items and feeling them nearby using their horizontal streaks, they find it difficult in seeing them in the dark. Therefore, it is advised to feed your fish only in the daytime or with proper aquarium lights as can't see their food in the dark.

What does a moss ball do for betta? ›

Moss balls also work to retain good tank bacteria, emit oxygen, and reduce nitrate levels which can stress betta fish health at high levels.

Do betta fish follow your finger? ›

Although bettas prefer to live alone, they will play with you if you train them. Start by training your betta to follow your finger. Once your fish has mastered this skill, you can teach her more tricks like jumping or flaring. Learning tricks will help your betta fish to avoid boredom and receive exercise.

Do bettas prefer deep or shallow water? ›

You see, in their natural environment, bettas live in shallower waters and prefer to swim left and right. A deeper tank actually gives your betta less room to swim naturally.

Do betta fish prefer small or big tanks? ›

Betta Fish Don't Need a Lot of Space

Perhaps the most popular myth is that bettas can live in small bowls. The opposite is true: Betta fish need a tank that's at least 5 gallons (19 liters), and 10 gallons (38 liters) is better.

Which betta is more aggressive male or female? ›

However, male bettas are far more aggressive than female bettas. Male bettas' aggression towards each other is so steep that keeping them together will most likely lead to the death or maiming of one or both.

What is a humane way to euthanize a betta fish? ›

Clove oil is a sedative which at high doses, can be used to euthanase small fish. Unlike veterinary anaesthetics, clove oil is readily available from most chemists. Around 0.4ml of clove oil per litre of aquarium water is sufficient to cause death in exposed fish.

How do betta fish sleep? ›

"When sleeping, they become still, with their eyes open because of their absence of eyelids. Betta fish may lose their color while sleeping (it's their natural form of self-defense), and they can sleep in different positions: curled up like a cat, on one side, or even vertically, with the head down.

Why do betta fish make bubbles? ›

Bubble nests offer a safe place for the betta eggs and young hatchlings (called fry) to thrive. The bubbles ensure the young have enough oxygen, making it easier for males to protect a set territory from predators.

How old are betta fish in pet stores? ›

Because a Betta purchased at a pet shop is often one year old already. Males, in particular, are allowed to fully mature, so their fins and colors are well developed. Females may be sold at a bit younger age, but they will generally be at least six months old when offered for sale.

How long do pet stores keep betta fish? ›

A fish will live comfortably in a bag containing water for between 7 and 9 hours. Many fish pet stores will add more oxygen into the bag, meaning that it can survive for up to 48 hours.

Do betta fish love their owners? ›

Betta fish may not "love" their owners in the way that a dog or cat would show affection, but they will show a clear interest and affiliation with their owners. Bettas are also known to have good memories and can remember people despite not seeing them for several weeks or more.

How long do Petco betta fish live? ›

Betta fish lifespan.

Betta fish on average live to be 2-4 years old. The length of your betta fish's life is directly related to the environment you keep them in. By maintaining a clean tank and watching their diet, you can help them live a longer life.

What color betta fish lives the longest? ›

Did you know? When you see older Betta fish, they interestingly tend to be of the veil tail variety. There is some speculation that the red and blue veil tail Bettas are the hardiest and live longest simply because they haven't been selectively bred as extensively.

Is 1 gallon enough for a betta? ›

A 1-gallon tank is big enough to house a Betta. Since Bettas thrive in smaller habitats, many enthusiasts who have many Bettas prefer to maintain them in smaller tanks.

What is normal behavior for a betta fish? ›

Normal betta fish behavior

First, he will move around in the tank and inspect new items. He will also swim to the surface if you notice him. Second, he'll look for food. While he doesn't do this every day, a betta's happy and healthy behavior is a sign that it's happy.

How do you know when betta fish is dying? ›

You can tell if a betta fish is dying when its body color changes and fades, and it becomes lethargic, unresponsive, agitated, feeble, gasps for air, or stops eating.

How do I know if my betta fish is stressed? ›

If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment and look into what may be causing the stress and alleviating it.

How strong is a betta fish bite? ›

A betta fish does not have a powerful bite. Sure, when you compare it pound for pound, it has a stronger bite than that of a great white shark. But in general, this is not too strong as the betta is a tiny fish and does not even have the strength to pierce human skin.

What does a scared betta fish look like? ›

Strange Swimming: When fish are stressed, they often develop odd swimming patterns. If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress.

What do betta fish spit out? ›

Additionally, bettas may spit out food to allow it to break down in the water into small bites to make it easier to chew and digest. If you use live food, things get even worse. For example, blood worms or brine shrimp may move inside your betta's mouth, which doesn't give it enough time to chew it.

What does a depressed betta fish look like? ›

There are a number of different signs that a Betta fish is depressed, including a lack of appetite, swimming close to the bottom of the tank, becoming withdrawn, and losing its color. Depressed Betta fish may show some or all of these signs, and they can become physically ill too.

Is it OK to touch a betta fish? ›

Betta fish should rarely, if ever, be petted. It's not good to pet them, as it may remove their natural slime coating, making them prone to certain diseases. Also, never touch them with dirty hands, as bacteria can easily be transmitted through direct contact.

How deep can a betta fish go? ›

Matt Leighton, a longtime betta fish owner and editor of VivoFish, says bettas should be kept in tanks no deeper than 12 inches (30 centimeters). "If it's too deep, the betta may not be able to get up to the surface as easily," he says in an email interview, noting their fins aren't that powerful.

Do lights stress betta fish? ›

Do Betta Fish like Light? Yes, they won't like anything too intense, but a standard aquarium light is perfect. Bettas also love aquarium plants, which need an aquarium light to grow and survive.

What stresses betta fish? ›

Stress in Betta fish is frequently brought on by poor water quality. High amounts of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate, as well as low oxygen levels, a high pH, or abrupt temperature changes, can all contribute to it.

How do you calm a scared betta? ›

Adding some plants or decorations with hiding spaces will make your betta fish feel more secure. Try putting a small unglazed terra cotta pot on its side to make a cheap and effective cave. Use tannins. Another option to help your betta feel less exposed is to introduce tannins in the water.

Can I feed my betta live shrimp? ›

Live shrimps have a high nutritional value, and Bettas also love to feast over live shrimps. Make sure before adding them into the tank that they are free from every infection.

What is the white thing hanging from my betta fish? ›

The mucus is stretched thin and you'll see a mush similar in color to the pellets you feed. If your fish has not been eating, you will only see the mucus. This is the “stringy, white fish poop” in fish.

How long can betta fish go without food? ›

Aquarium Bettas aren't used to starvation, and they can experience significant stress if not given food for too long. That said, Bettas are still hardy fishes overall. They can go ten days to two weeks without eating and still survive.

What is normal betta fish behavior? ›

Normal betta fish behavior

First, he will move around in the tank and inspect new items. He will also swim to the surface if you notice him. Second, he'll look for food. While he doesn't do this every day, a betta's happy and healthy behavior is a sign that it's happy.

How can you tell if a betta fish is stressed? ›

If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment and look into what may be causing the stress and alleviating it.


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