Betta Anatomy


of the Veil Tailed Type, the usual fish store variety.
Bettas have seven fins, namely, two pairs of paired fins- the pectoral fins and the ventral fins, and three unpaired fins- the dorsal fin, the anal fin and the caudal (or tail) fin.

The pectoral fins are small and are usually uncoloured.  They can be seen actively beating near the gill covers.

The caudal fin and the pectorals do most of the propulsion and the other fins provide stability.

Bettas can make their fins stand erect in display attitudes that show aggression and sexual attraction.

The fish at the left is in display attitude.

Not all Bettas have large fins.

Comparing the male Betta, above,  with the female at right, will show the main differences in fin size and shape.  It is the males that have the large fins.

Note that the female has smaller fins, especially in the anal and ventral finnage.  Regardless of the type of Betta splendens (see TYPES) all females have smaller fins than the males, even in long finned forms.

Diag. 2.  Cornflower Blue, FEMALE  BETTA:
Two Breathing Organs

DIAG. 3.  Anabantid Breathing organs

Having two methods of breathing increases the survival opportunities for Bettas.  It is this organ that enables us to keep Bettas in small containers.

The labyrinth organ enables Bettas to live in oxygen depleted waters, under conditions that would be lethal to most other fishes.  The warm waters in which Bettas live are often poor in available oxygen.

The labyrinth organ is a wonderful adaptation for survival that enables Bettas to extend their habitats into rice paddies and ditches.

Bettas are anabantids (of the Family Anabantidae), being fishs with an auxiliary breathing apparatus known as the labyrinth organ, that enables them to respire by breathing directly from the surface of the water.  Taking air into their mouths and passing it over the labyrinth organ and out of their gill slits supplements the more usual breathing by way of gills.  Other fishes with labyrinth organs include the other Betta species and gouramies. 

The origin of the scientific name, Anabantidae, derives from the Greek verb, anabaino, meaning "to ascend" or "to go up", referring to the habit of such fishes as they swimming to the surface to respire.

Back to Profile Page

Return to Previous Page

Maintenance for Bettas
More information about breeding Bettas
Diseases in Bettas
Types of Bettas