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Crowntail Betta Fish | Anatomy, Species, Lifespan, Diet, Habitat and Care

Written by Coral Realm

Last Updated on November 19, 2022 by Matt

Crowntail Betta Fish; one of the most iconic and popular aquarium fishes we’ve come to know. Not only that, but the betta fish is surrounded by controversy for multiple reasons we’ll explore.

A beautiful fish, their bright colors and prominent fins make them the most popular fish sold in petshops around the world. They are the top selling freshwater species of all time, but little is made public about their life in their natural habitat.

The betta fish, or crowntail betta fish as they are sometimes known, are also referred to as the Siamese fighting fish. They get this name directly from the males’ behavior toward other males; lots of fighting. It’s not a surprise to hear then, that males in the wild fight for teritory. In the tank or aquarium environment, this is obviously disastrous; with nowhere to hide, males will fight until death.

The origin of the Betta fish is well documented, as their study in the wild is well documented, yet gets little attention. Instead, attention is more focused on the ethics surrounding betta fish in captivity, and the aquarium trade in general.

The betta fish is native to Thailand and the general South-East Asian region; this includes, but is not limited to parts of Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesian pacific ocean. 

In the wild, males tend to be slightly less prominent in color than their captive cousins, and that’s mostly down to diet. In captivity, food is enhanced with pigments and other additives designed to increase a fishes bright colors. Despite that, in the wild the fish display an elegance that is rarely seen in the fish tank.

Additionally, the wild version of this fish is not seen with as large a fin as you might see in pet shops. The large flowing fins are mostly a result of highly intensive selective breeding.

In this species guide, we’ll cover the biology, anatomy and behavior of the betta fish. But we’ll also cover care guides for betta fish in captivity. As marine biologists, we have mixed feelings about the fish keeping industry, however, sustainable fish keeping is a beneficial hobby, both as a stress reliever but also educating children and visitors to your tank the delicacy of the system around us.

Origin:South-East Asia
Water Conditions:Tropical
Scientific NameBetta Splendens
Species family:Osphronemidae
Color Form:Red, Blue, Green & Black
Lifespan:2 to 5 years
Size:3 inches
Caudal Fin Size:Up to 6 inches
Population Classification:Endangered


Overview of Crowntail Betta

Clown tail Betta care guide infographic

The Crowntail Betta fish was first discovered in a region we now refer to as Southeast Asia. Rice fields might not seem like the perfect home, but in this parts of the world rice fields remain wet all year round, and are in flood plain areas. The shallow tropical waters, rich soil and food supply made these paddies ideal homes for tropical fish. However, storms and droughts would sometimes hit. Over time, a process of natural selection evolved, and the fish was forced to adapt.

The primary way for a Betta fish to consume oxygen is through a labyrinth organ – this means to take in oxygen the same way as humans do – directly from the air around us. However, a Betta fish can also take in air from its gills. This is why Betta fish survived in the low oxygen waters of rice paddies, streams, and swampish, brackish waters in the tropical sub regions.

Now that doesn’t mean that any fish keeper should keep their fish in a harsh enviroment, just because a fish can survive here doesn;t mean that it;s the best thing to do. it goes without saying that the better the envorment for. aifhs the betterr it will do in teh long term.

The best place to keep a betta fisht for lognesivty is in a alrger planted tank, and while it can be tempting to want to keeping them in a plain bowl, we don’t advise it.

The Crowntail Betta orgins in the domesitcated world are not clear. It’s because of their tendency to live in fields farmed by humans that lead to their inivietable discovery and subsequent domestication. 

The earliest record of note regarding the of the Crowntail betta fish comes from Thailand during the Thonburi Period (and era between 1767–1782). Suppoosedly, the fish was first bred by an Indonesian man, Achmad Yusuf around 1997.

What seperates the Crowntail Bettas apart from the standard betta splendens is a specific fin characteristic; notably their especially large, and over-exaggerated caudal fin.

They are well known because of their populairty, especially in north america and europe. Often labelled in the same category as a goldfish, in the sense they make a good first pet. However, unlike the hardy goldfish, a crowntail betta really does require extra attention. Warmer water, water changes and lush ensure they have the best betta fish plants for lush plantation. I would suggest you’ve had some experience keeping pets of any kind before getting a betta, but saying that; it is still an ideal first tropical fish. We’re not taking about looking after saltwater pipefish here.

Male Crowntail Betta’s are a sight to behold, and the many designer aquariums for Betta Fish we see nowadays are constructed with the fish in mind as the front and center piece. 

The bright, vivid and distinct red and blue caudal fins of this subspecies have become something of a stock photographers’ dream, and the internet is littered with photos below of the beauty of the Crowntail Betta:

red crowntail betta fish

Native to warm, shallow, and often muddied waters of rice fields, small canals, still pools of stagnant water and wild lakes of the South-Eastern Asian pacific. It was bread to be slightly different to the more common normal betta splendens. It’s name directed comes from its tail size, sometimes more than 3 times the size of its body. As you would expect, this is not a natural phenomenon. Actually, the crowntail Betta is a result of selective breeding. The selective breeding works by gradually taking natural anomalies within fish (like a large tail) and having these two mate. Over time, the result is a consistently large fin, to the point this is genetic like hairloss, and very hard to breed out of the fish.

With fish, this process can be extremely quick given the livebearing nature of the Crowntail Betta. Also, the gestation period is remarkably quick in fish, and so one man can quickly devise a plan to create a gold betta, or a black betta. The way to speed up this process, is to actually pick females with bigger tails than normal too:

Actually, here at – some of our authors have managed to do this exact process with Guppies. Please note, the images below are copyrighted. As you can see, we’ve been able to develop as part of a research study, female guppies with male like tails!

female guppy similar to crowntail

However, in the case of the Crowntail Betta, this marvelous and highly distinguishable caudal fin was the brain child of an Indonesian betta fish breeder, in the late 1990s. You’ll be hard pressed to find a fish like this in the wild. Saying that, we’d studied betta fish in their natural habitat, and some fish are still vibrant and long finned. 

A Crowntail Betta is going to cost approximately $20 a fish. 

Crowntail Betta Fish Anatomy

A crowntail Betta is larger than a typical Betta Fish, and will grown to slightly larger size of 3 inches, over an above a usually average of 2.5 inches.

Lifespans average 3 years, however with the right care a crowntail betta fish can live to be 5 years old. They are one of the shorter lifespan species of freshwater fish, beaten only by very small tetras.

They are not a big fish, but they still prefer a 10 gallon tank, if you have room for it. The crowntail betta fish often has distinctive body markings, usually stripes of color, not seen on a typical betta fish. This is due to their selective breeding.

The fins of a crowntail: 

The fins of a crowntail are known as their caudal fins. They can be as large as 5 inches in diameter; often more than twice the size of its entire body. 

Unlike a typical betta fish, the Crowtail’s fin will fan out, often split with seperations that seem to flow like hair waving in the water. The have almost spiky fins, that adds to the beauty of the fish.

Crowntail Colors

Both the tail and the body of the crowntail species of betta fish are highly diverse. Sometimes the fins and bodies can be different colours, for example, prominent blue tails and red bodies have been noted. If you are interested in breeding the crowntail betta fish, you can pick colors out and develop your own ‘brand’ of betta!

We did this as an exercise at a school once, don’t forget to come up with a scientific name! It helped educated kids on how the fish came to be named, and history of other species.

Crowntail Alternative Names

The Crowntail Betta fish is really just a catch all term. Many Betta fish have been selective chosen for their ranges of various characteristics, and this isn’t limited to a overly large caudal fin.  We also know that the following names have a range of selectively bred features. Those include: 

  • Veil Tail Betta Veiltail
    Betta is well known for its jewel-bright colors and spectacular fins
  • Spade Tail Betta Fish.
    Named after the obvious ‘spade’ appearance of the caudal fin
  • Rose Tail Betta
    One of the rarest colors of Crowntail betta fish
  • Super Delta Betta
    Similar to the Delta Tail fish but with a different version of fin branching. It’s caudal fin extends between 110-170 degrees.
  • Half-Moon Betta Fish.
    A large tail the shape of a half-moon, known for vibrant colors. 

Behavior of Crowntails 

To comprehend how they behave, marine biologists have conducted studies on betta fish in the wild and in captivity. In captivity, without room to establish firm territorial boundaries, siamese fighting fish are forced to fight until the weaker male is completely compromised, unresponsive or dead. It is not unusual for both males to die, that is why we absolutely cannot condone keeping two male betta fish together.  It’s no surprise that the crowntail betta fish also goes by the siamese fighting fish.

In fact in one study, scientists discovered that these fight do not want to resort to fighting immediately, and perhaps that is why keeping them in a small tank is especially cruel. It appears that the fighting fish will first engage in a form of chest puffing’; that is flaring up its gills in a display of masculinity.

The results suggest that Siamese fighting fish use gill flaring as an acute response in order to defend their territory; this response may be replaced by fin spreading as a chronic response, probably to reduce the energetic costs during the contest.

Full citation

The Crowntail Betta fish originates from the Siam region (now known as the country of Thailand), locals used to catch these fish for entertainment, often used to bet on and gamble. Like cock fighting, this activity still happens in some places; though it is not condoned. The crowntail is no exception to this harsh pastime, and crowntail bettas are still picked from the wild or from captivity to engage in this unethical practice.

The behavior around other fish is quite diverse, ultimately it will depend upon the nature of your fish. Do fish have personality? Of course they do! Each fish will behave slightly differently, for more info on the suitable Crowntail tank mates – click the link to go to that section.

Natural Habitat of the Crowntail Betta Fish

Crowntail betta fish are native to warm waters. That is tropical water, or freshwater as it is sometimes referred to. These terms can be a little confusing.

Tropical fish like these are noted in large pods in the wild but in some regions are these fish are often sparsely populated, often found in small pools with only a handful of fish and this behavior appears to be regional. This is all going to be published in our upcoming research study on betta fish. What we also discovered were stagnant pools that contained betta fish, but seemingly no where to have come from, we discovered the answer so stay tuned.

The betta fish really do live in shallow water, sometimes only a few inches deep. They are able to get across the leaves and debris of poorly oxygenated water due to their labyth organ.

Fish Tank Requirements and Care Guide

There are two schools of thought when it comes to looking after crowntails.

The first, is to create an environment that almost identically resembles their natural habitat. This could be to use dense vegetation, low oxygenated water, and create a live feed habitat. The second school of thought is to house the crowntail in a traditional tank; this can either be a communal tank or a tank that only has Betta fish in it.

You will need to have a tank size of at least 10 gallons, and try to do regular water changes to prevent the toxic build up of nitrites. This process, called the nitrogen cycle, helps keep nitrites down and your fish healthy and happy

Regardless of what school of thought you go with, your Crowntail betta tank will need to contain plants that are suitable for betta fish, such as java moss and java fern, in addition to that, you might want to consider adding wood, ornaments and natural rocks for the fish to hide it, sleep in or pick algae from. Furthermore, some people will add Indian almond leaves. Their natural environment in Asia is filled with such leaves and dense vegetation, these leaves release tannins and natural acids that are natural to the fish, and encouraging for its health. 

The Crowntail Betta tank will require a lid, with their big caudal fin, they make excellent air athletes! They will sometimes jump! So please add a lid. 

Strong filtration systems are out of the question, you don’t want to harm your Crowntail with a strong flow, nor with strong suction that could pull their delicate fins into it. So choose a filter suitable for betta fish. Finally, do not be tempted to aerate the water using an aeration system. The betta prefers slightly lower oxygenated waters. 

Specific Tank Conditions

While Crowntail betta’s are relatively hardy. There are certain water conditions that give them optimal health. Better health means more active behavior (no one likes a depressed Betta fish), and more vibrant colors by virtue of mood, diet and general health.

Ultimately, there are some variables that you just cannot control, however most of them can be controlled. Those are pH, temperature and overall water quality (using a good aquarium filter, doing water changing, testing quality of ammonia etc)

Things like carbonate hardness are a lot harder to control, tap water all over the world has different carbonate hardness, and since most fish actually don’t care too much; this type of monitoring is only needed with saltwater tanks, and sensitive tropical fish. Luckily crowntail betta fish are not sensitive to carbonate hardness. If you are interested and would like to monitor it, we have a guide to aquarium carbonate hardness here. 

You will need to stay within a pH level between 6.4 to 7.0, with water hardness of 2 to 5 carbonate hardness (dKh) and a water temperature between 76°F to 80°F.

Aquarium pH, temperature and substrate for Crowntails:

The pH should be between 6.2 and 7.2 and keep the temperature of the water between 76°F to 80°F. The carbonate hardness (or dKh) can be between 2 – 5. However, don’t get too bogged down in this. 

With regards to aquarium substrate; either gravel or sand or a large stone base are all suitable for this species. Don’t leave substrate bare please! This just looks awful and isn’t kind to a fish that likes to feel secure. Sand substrate is closer to their native shallow water habitat. 

Crowntail Betta Care Tip: 

It can be tempting to stick on some major LEDs above your fish, but these fish live in dim and low light conditions in the wild. We’re talking rice paddies with lots of shade, and the swamp-ish waters below overhanging trees. Neither gets much direct sunlight.

Crowntail Tankmates

crowntail betta tank mates

As is clear by now, males are aggressive with each other, and sometimes to other fish. Not your ideal community tank mate, the crown betta can be difficult for a beginner to find fish to keep it with. If you are in a suitable sized community tank, the above fish will make great tank mates for your crowntail.

When you are dealing with a community tank the first thing to do is determine its capacity. Overstocking can lead to disaster.

These fish are loners, and will enjoy living alone; however slowly introducing suitable tank mates will help you discover the unique personality of your fish.

When you do introduce the fish, add the fish into the water within the bag you purchased it in, or a betta cup. Let the betta check out the fish, if you see that marked gill flashing – you know you might be in for some conflict.

The most suitable fish for a Crowntail betta are:

  • Slower Tetras, like the Neon Tetra that tend to swim in groups in the middle of the tank
  • All bottom feeders, like suckers, gobies, and kuhli loach.
  • Freshwater Shrimp  that are large enough to not get eaten (like the Red Cherry Shrimp)
  • Fresh water Frogs (likeAfrican Dwarf Frogs)

Crowntail Betta tip:

All fish occupy a different swim zone, some fish are top swimmers, and some are bottom dwellers like gobies and sucker fish. The Crowntail is very much a top swimmer, coming to the air to breath and preferring to stick to the top areas of the tank. You’ll notice on the table above, the fish and very much middle swimmers, and bottom dwellers. This gives as much physical space, and marks distinct territories within the fish tank. Also, every fish in this list is peaceful and calm, but it’s not an exclusive list. If you want to pick your own, just follow the guidelines above.

Diet and Feeding Requirements

Crowntails are not fussy eaters. They are mostly scavengers in the wild, eating larvae that are naturally present in their warm still waters. You can catch your own mosquito larvae by putting a bucket outside if you’re in a region that contains mosquitos. I know there’s nothing more satisfying that watching your Betta eat them. I hate mosquitos!

As such, due to their genetic makeup and long history of eating live prey, the Crowntail is very much a Carnivorous creature which requires a rich protein and mineral diet to thrive in captivity. 

The feeding guide for betta fish differs drastically. In the wild, the fish will graze all day; so if you have the patience to feed your fish a very small amount 3 times a day, that is ideal. Sadly most of us simply don’t have time for that.

Crowntail Betta fish need to be fed a variety of food, while it is tempting to feed them the cheapest fish food money can buy, like this one. That isn’t best for their long term health.

Feeding Guide:

Feed one of the following from any category twice per day in what the fish will eat within the space of 2 minutes:

Frozen Foods such as:

  • Blood Worms (these usually come in small packets and you squeeze the worms out, fish really do love them. Available here)
  • Mosquito larvae (you can even pick yourself, see below live)
  • Brine Shrimp (can shred if too large for the Betta)

Live Foods such as:

  • Wingless Fruit Flies
  • White Worms
  • Insect Larvae
  • Mosquito Larva

Traditional food such as:

  • High quality Crowntail Betta Pellets
  • High quality flake food.

The reason we limit feeding to what can be consumed in two minutes is because usually this food will be wasted. Wasted food leads to a poor balance in the tank, building up toxic nitrites, ammonia and overall a poor nitrogen cycle

So, if it takes your betta more than 2 minute to devour; you’re overfeeding them. Remove any food that your betta hasn’t finished during a 2 minute time period.

Crowntail Betta Breeding

If you keep Bettas in an isolated tank, that is without community fish, you may find it easy to breed. Crowntails are harder to breed than your regular livebearers. These fish will create a bubble nest on the surface of the water, and as you can imagine; will only do so under certain circumstances.

First of all, if you do want to Breed Crowntail Betta fish, then make sure you have you fish in an isolated tank. In a community tank, these fish are unlikely to breed. If you have exceptionally large tank for this species (50 gallons or more) they made have enough peace to do so.

In order to breed the mating crowntail pair require:

  • A peaceful tank
  • Plants that reach the surface of the water.
  • Lots of floating plants (these are the construction site for the bubble nest)
  • A slow moving betta filter like this.
  • A sexually mature mating pair (usually 6 months of age)
  • A clean tank that resembles a betta fish natural habitat.

If these conditions are met, the male will begin courting the female. This involves a kind of water dance, and the male will create a bubble nest for the female. The male will wait patiently while she inspects the nest.

The female will then lay eggs, and the male will place the eggs carefully in the bubble nest, after about 3 to 5 days – the fry will hatch!

Conclusion: Is a Crowntail Betta fish right for you?

Crowntail Bettas are an ideal fish for the first time tropical fish keeper, that either wants to build their first community tank, or keep a solitary male alone, or with females. They are part of the same gourami family as the paradise fish and the pearl gourami.

One of the most iconic fishes, especially for photography, the Crowntail is set apart from the regular Betta because of that incredible tail. Remember, keeping fish has marked improvements on your mental wellbeing too.

If you are willing to invest in a slightly larger 10 gallon tank, or another fish tank for betta fish then you’ll enjoy the process. These fish stay around the 2 to 3 inch size range, and will give you a lifespan long enough for them to become part of the family.

With a wide variety and subspecies to choose from, we think the Crowntail is an excellent choice.

What’s been your experience keeping Crowntail Betta fish? Let us know in the comments!

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