Are Betta Fish Tropical?

Are Betta Fish Tropical Fish?

Learning of Betta fish for the first time you may wonder if they live in tropical or temperate waters. Well, I wondered the same at first. So, I did some research and tried out Betta fish keeping to find out the type of water that suits Bettas best.

Are Betta fish tropical fish? Yes! Betta fish are tropical fish and require very warm water to live a full life. They come from tropical regions all over the world. In fact, the Betta fish is a very popular freshwater tropical aquarium fish among hobbyists today. Being tropical fish, they require warm water conditions to stay healthy and happy.

Betta fish require water temperatures close to that of their natural habitat. Choosing to keep a Betta may as well have more to do with learning how to prepare a tropical freshwater tank mimicking its endemic habitat. Certainly, the aim is to keep your pet happy always.

What Does Betta Fish Natural Habitat Look Like?

Since the Betta genus has over 70 different species, the wild habitat varies significantly; some bettas even live in brackish water, just like fiddler crabs! Here we will discuss the habitat that Betta Splendens, Betta Imbellis, and Betta Smaragdina live in.

These bettas, along with possible others, were hybridized to produce the wonderful variety of domesticated bettas we have today. They were hybridized to produce the best combination of colors and tail types, and several interesting mutations, such as the Dumbo Ear, occurred and still persist today.

Betta fish hail from slow moving streams, ponds, and other bodies of water. The areas they inhabit tend to be heavily shaded, either from floating plants or trees, and there is an abundance of insects to snack on.

Below the surface, the water is chock full of plants, primarily stem plants. Stem plants allow bettas to hide easily and establish territories safe from larger predators. Remember, betta fish are very small fish, and since they can have 300 babies at once, their reproductive strategy aligns with that of a prey animal, not a predator.

Males establish territories amongst thick plants that provide protection for them and their potential offspring. The females wander from territory to territory until she finds a male she likes, she will mate with him, then swim off.

The low flow of the water allows the male to care for the babies in a bubble nest, which is a stack of floating bubbles made of water and saliva. The bubble nest is easily destroyed by even the slightest current, so still water is a must for reproduction. The nest must also be built around floating plants, so those are also essential for betta survival.

What Temperature Range Suit My Betta as a Tropical Fish?

Tropical fish are fish that come from very warm areas of the world and generally prefer temperatures between 77-88 degrees Fahrenheit. The vast majority of fish are cold blooded, which means their surrounding temperature controls their internal temperature since they are unable to regulate their body temperature.

Unless you live in a tropical area of the world, you will need a heater to keep your fish healthy. The body temperature of a fish directly relates to how well its immune system and other body systems will work.

If they live at too high or too low of a temperature, their immune system will be compromised, leading to higher chances of disease. Betta fish, in particular, like their water temperature between 78-82 degrees, with 78-80 being ideal for most domesticated fish.

How do You Describe Temperate Fish?

Temperate fish tend to be much harder than either cold water or tropical fish and tolerate a much larger temperature range. Many US native fish are temperate fish. Temperate fish can handle a large temperature range, and while they can live in the same temperatures as cold water and tropical fish, they will be healthiest in a temperate range.

These fish prefer water from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, though they can survive a larger range, depending on the species. For example, common goldfish prefer their water around 70 degrees, but oranda goldfish prefer slightly warmer water, despite being the same species as the common. Goldfish can easily survive temperatures from freezing (provided the water does not freeze solid) to 90 degrees, though they do not tolerate the extremes for long.

Rosy red minnows are similar, preferring water between 60-75 degrees, but tolerating water temperatures between 32 and 100 degrees. Even the classic neon tetras, white cloud mountain minnows, and celestial pearl danios prefer water in the high 60’s and low 70’s.

What are Cold Water Fish?

“Cold water fish” refers to any fish that likes its temperature in the 60’s or below. This means that goldfish and rosy red minnows are often lumped in this group, though they are technically temperate.

The main difference between goldfish and cold-water fish is that high temperature, essentially any temperature over 75, will kill cold water fish. Though it is not a fish, an axolotl is a prime example of such a creature.

Axolotls are a cold-water salamander that die if their temperature is above 73 degrees. Their bodies are unable to regulate temperature and much prefer living in water that is in the low 60’s.

If you keep marine fish, chances are you are familiar with a chiller. A chiller is similar to a heater in terms of temperature control, but instead of raising the temperature, a chiller lowers it. In marine aquariums and axolotl aquariums, a chiller is often necessary to prevent the temperature rising beyond safe levels.

Are Heaters Important in Keeping a Betta?

In order to keep a betta, you will need a heater. Even if your room temperature keeps the tank just at 76 or 77, a heater can help prevent temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations are very normal in small or unheated aquariums, but they can stress fish and lead to illness.

There are many types of heaters on the market, and for bettas, the most common is a preset heater. Heaters have internal thermometers which monitor the surrounding water temperature and they send a signal to the heater to shut off once the temperature rises and to turn on when the temperature drops. It is possible for the internal thermometer to become damaged, causing the heater to heat the water to the wrong temperature.

Since most are set at 78 degrees, this may simply mean the temperature is actually 79 or 80 degrees, which is great for a betta. However, it could also cause the heater to only heat to 75 degrees or heat the water up to 90.

An adjustable heater allows you to set the temperature, and if there is an issue with the internal thermometer, you can simply set it a little high or low to account for this. They also allow you to use the heater for other tanks that need to be at a higher or lower temperature.

What Other Tropical Fish can Live With Bettas?

Some of the gorgeous fish that are recommended to live with bettas are actually temperate fish that cannot survive the high temperatures that bettas need. An example of such a fish is the neon tetra.

Aquarium keepers have long since regarded neon tetras as a great tank mate for bettas due to the fact that both species thrive in soft water, but 78 degrees is too high for them. For example, this increases their metabolism which shortens their life span and prevents the immune system from working at full capacity.

There are other fish that are more suitable for betta. In order to live with a betta, the fish must thrive in soft water, 78-82 degrees, and not be a flashy color. Bettas tend to attack other fish, especially mid and top dwellers. That is flashy, as they mistake them for another betta.

Harlequin rasboras and lamp eye tetras are good schooling fish to keep with bettas. Schooling fish need a school of at least 6, but 8 to 10 is better. Otherwise, they will become stressed, show poor coloration, and hide the majority of the time.

Bottom dwelling fish have a high chance of being successful with bettas since bettas primarily inhabit the mid and top areas of the tank. The most commonly recommended tank mates for bettas are kuhli loaches and corydoras catfish, specifically the bronze, albino, peppered, emerald and skunk corydoras. All these species are a schooling fish and prefer soft substrate like sand.  


Betta fish are tropical fish that prefer living between 78- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Neither tropical or cold-water fish can survive outside their preferred temperature ranges, but temperature fish can.

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