Bubblenesting wild type bettas native to Thailand includes species such as Betta Splenden, Betta Siamorentalis, Betta Imbellis, Betta Mahachaiensis, Betta Smaragdina and its sub-species Betta Smaragdina Guitar these altogether are classified under the Betta Splenden complex which is much of where the genetics of your pet store bettas originated from as a result of selecting breeding which was specifically for aggression in the 1900s for fighting sport as the fighting behavior was much already in their genetics . In those times the only use they were sought after for was purely for the sport of fighting so gamblers can bet money against other gamblers, they were either bred or caught to be conditioned for battle. Fish were put into small containers “Ring” to fight until the other fish submits to defeat by no longer participating and trying to get away, In some scenario, however, there was barely a way to escape and the fish had no choice but to fight until death. Some breeders even went to length to find species from different regions to selective breed for specific traits and abilities that would benefit the fish whilst fighting such as swift movements, aggressiveness, a target of a fixture to bite and stronger scaling to protect from attacks. As time went by more and more people lost interest in the sport and began seeing potential for beauty within these animals from the cross breeding they saw as these fish had started to have different coloration and fins that were becoming more attractive so people then began breeding for beauty instead but the fighting mentality within these fish still remained. Years of selective breeding and inbreeding caused many different mutations that breeders took advantage of and bred for and resulted in the many different varieties that we see today.

Wild bettas in the Splenden complex live in marsh land like environment as it offers a constant source of water and does not dry up, these are constantly supplied with fresh water seeping from the ground and overgrown with vegetation that offers filtration and keeps the water clean and full of life. The myth of them living in puddles came from the fact that during the harsh drought they had no choice but to reside in small pockets of water until the raining seasons comes during breeding season which is usually around June to July, males and females will seek out confined spaces to spawn to avoid being found by predators that could potentially disturb them or the eggs as it could be over a week before the fry are old enough to swim and fend for themselves, each species come from different regions in Thailand (see picture at the bottom of the page) I’ll go over where each species are found.



Betta Splenden (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Splendens are the most distributed amongst the species and can be found around the southwest up to north-western Thailand. They’re the main genetic structure that makes up the genetics of the domestic Splendens today, red being their base color they don’t have much scaling at the bottom half of their body which is usually deep red at the bottom and washes out to a more black towards the top followed by a greenish scale. Their fins consist of iridescent green or sky blue rays with a red base color.


Betta mahachaiensis (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Mahachaiensis or Mahachai inhabit both brackish and freshwater habitat just southeast of Bangkok in the Mahachai area. Their brackish habitat is usually Nipa palm plantations which have been reduced by construction and new projects yearly so there’s a current plan to conserve these habitats for the survival of this species.  Their characteristics are Emerald green scales throughout their body which is usually brown or black base, the distinctive trait that is easily used to distinguish between them and Smaragdinas since they are so similar is their cheek scales and ventrals. Mahachaiensis have plated cheek scaling rather than individual snakeskin like scales compared to Smaragdinas and their ventrals are dark black with iridescent green trim.


Betta Smaragdina (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Smaragdinas are found all over the eastern and north eastern part of thailand and the second most common species from Thailand. Emerald green scaling throughout the body and snakeskin-like scales on their face, red ventrals sometimes tipped with white.  Some Smaragdinas like the Betta Smaragdina guitars tend to have Mahachaiensis like ventrals such as an opiate dark ventral but if you compare different traits of the two species its rather easy to differentiate between the two species.

Betta Smaragdina Guitar (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Guitars are a subspecies of the Smaragdina so all the traits except caudal and dorsal markings are the same,  Smaragdinas guitar are found only up northeastern of Thailand in a region of Bueng khong Long which is a large giant Lake and they are found on the edges in the shallows away from predators.  Their caudal are full of spider web-like markings and making them unique compared to regular Smaragdinas. They tend to be larger and have much longer ventrals in my experience.

Betta Imbellis (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Imbellis inhabit waters from the south of Thailand and one of the most famous bloodlines that i breed. Iridescent green or blue scaling throughout their body with h brown or black base body the tail has a red C trim on their caudal usually 1/3rd of their tail with green/sky blue rays,  tip of their anal fin have a red droplet like feature. Can be confused for siamorentalis (below) for their simularity in features but if you take notice of the siamorentalis they do not have any form of cheek scales and scaling will stop behind the gills. Some Siamorentalis may have 1 red vertical dash down their cheeks.

Betta Siamorentalis (Purchase @Franks_bettas)

Siamorentalis are very similar to Betta Imbellis and are found near the Rayong area of Thailand but in only a few areas, these are similar to Imbellis with everything except their cheeks has no scaling unlike the Imbellis usually fully black or with one vertical red dash with body scaling ending at the behind the gill.

What I’ve learned in my years of keeping wild bettas with low tech set ups.

Wild bettas prefer a smaller tank with a size of 2.5-10 gallon which should be planted, filtered and heated, bio-topes are usually the best option as these are tanks that mimic their natural habitat and has beneficial tannin that the wild bettas love which is making them more comfortable in their surroundings.  Dried almond leaves are a great simple source for tannin, I usually use half a leaf to 5 gallons but the more you use will be better as long as you have a tea like coloration in your water your fish will have no issue coloring up and settling in.

Tanks should be semi planted and not overly dense otherwise fish will like to hide a lot, as a breeder I keep my males in individual 2.5 gallon bare bottom tanks next to one another with no filtration but I do 100% water changes every 4 days using aged water that I’ve left out for a week to release all the chemicals that may be in the water.

Myths that Imbellis are peaceful and can live in groups with males together or pairs is thrown around too often without much thought, these fish given the chance will fight for territory, Male and female pair in tanks have worked but its not always the case because after they spawn the male will be very aggressive protecting his eggs so the stress on your female is not really needed unless you’re trying to breed, however, a scenario which does work is a Harem of 1 male to 4-5 females in a tank preferably larger than 15 gallons with dense plants.

Ph I’ve tested in their habitat consists between 5-6.5, I’ve kept wilds in Ph of 7.5 without issues though but tannin is recommended.
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