One of the most common questions I have been asked in regards to betta fish is if they can bite. Specifically, do betta fish have teeth. (Don’t get scared new betta owners, you haven’t just bought a mini piranha)!
In short, to answer the question; yes, betta fish do have teeth. Do they bite? Again, yes, if agitated … but it’s nothing to get worried about, it won’t hurt!
Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?
Yes, they do have sharp little teeth, but don’t fret, as their teeth are not designed or strong enough to break human skin. Still, it is better to avoid tempting fate, right?
You can actually see your betta’s teeth during feeding. Look at them closely whenever they go up to the surface of the water to take in air. You may see tiny rows of white teeth. Like humans, bettas use their teeth to break down food and make it easy to digest, however eating is not the only function of their teeth…
Betta fish can be quite territorial and will become aggressive towards intruders. During these instances, their teeth are used as a defensive weapon to drive intruders out of their territory. Male betta fish are known to be quite relentless when it comes to protecting their territory so I highly advise you not to put another fish in the tank with them.
Since we are already on the subject of bettas and their pearly whites I think we should also discuss other aspects concerning what they do with their teeth.
What Do Betta Fish Use Their Teeth For?
As mentioned earlier, betta fish uses their teeth the same way humans and other species with teeth do theirs. Whether you are feeding them fish pellets or bloodworms, betta fish knows the importance of chewing your food correctly which is where their teeth come into play.
You should also note that betta fish are known to be carnivores and will eat worms, insects, and anything that takes their fancy.
Betta fish are hunters and enjoy feeding on small insects and larvae. As you would expect, it would be extremely hard to hunt for live food if you didn’t have any teeth! Their teeth do have other functionalities other than for eating though.
For example, did you know that betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish? I think you already have an idea as to what the other use of their teeth is based on their other name.
Yes, besides eating, a betta fish will also use their tiny sharp teeth for protection against threats. I have seen how aggressive they can be when feeding them blood worms so I already have an inkling as to how they act when it comes to taking care of a threat or intruder.
I have also seen videos of them ripping apart other fish from the tail and fins which was quite shocking, but just re-enforces the fact that you shouldn’t keep male betta fish with other males bettas.
While their bites are not powerful enough to deliver single killing blows towards intruders and other threats, they can be quite persistent with their bites and will attack non-stop. Basically, when it comes to protecting their turf, bettas prefer the ‘wear you out with ground and pound’ rather than the ‘haymaker’ tactic.
Picture Of Betta Fish Teeth
As you can imagine, it is not easy to capture a picture of something so small, that moves so quickly – however, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have managed to find a couple of pictures that actually shows betta fish teeth.
All credit goes to the owners of these images – unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere to link to, so if you are the owner let me know and I will give you all the credit!
Do Betta Fish Bite?
The quick answer is, yes. Betta fish will bite if threatened. As I have noted earlier, betta fish are extremely territorial and will whip out their teeth at the slightest provocation.
Their aggressive nature is quite something to witness first hand. In fact, you could be forgiven to mistake betta fish as little piranhas during feeding time. Yes, they are can be quite ferocious but not all betta fish exhibit the same level of aggression.
I have a betta that will actually try and jump above the water during feeding time and others that are relatively calm. I guess it really depends on the specific fish. They also have quite an appetite but hopefully, you already know the dangers of overfeeding a fish.
You should also keep in mind that betta fish are quite inquisitive and curious in nature. They might nibble random objects in the tank but do not mistake this as a sign of them being hungry. Only feed them during set feeding hours and only pour the proper number of pellets or blood worms into the tank. Bettas will keep eating as long as there is food, often at times to their detriment.
Does it Hurt if a Betta Fish Bites You?
Speaking from experience here, their bites are not powerful enough to actually hurt a human. Well, maybe a child but for adults, a betta fish bite felt more like a light nibble which I would even go far to describe as a tickle.
Simply put, the amount of pressure that a betta fish can deliver with their bites is a non-factor to humans. It literally feels like a playful nibble. Of course, it is always best to stay safe. Especially for children whose skin might not be as tough as an adult just yet.
So, to answer that question, I would say betta fish bites do not hurt at all. But I am not saying you should be less careful when handling these frisky fish.
Do Betta Fish Bite Other Fish?
One important aspect of the male betta fish specifically you need to understand is that they are solitary creatures. Unlike other types of fish that move in groups or schools. Bettas prefer to be left on their own. This is why it is never recommended to place another betta or any other type of fish inside an aquarium that already houses a male betta. Females can be slightly different, you can read about that here in more detail.
Betta fish will attack other fish who intrudes in their territory regardless of the size difference between the two. This is why they are also known as a ‘fighting fish’ due to their territorial nature. Betta fish also prefer habitats where they can easily find cover. I placed a couple of aquatic caves and several plants (artificial and real) in my aquarium which helped my betta relax a bit more compared to being just in a bare fish tank.
I know what you are thinking, how does betta fish mate and reproduce if they are so aggressive? Well, the aggressive behavior primarily applies to the male. Female betta fish are calmer compared to their male counterparts.
This is why when you see a betta fish in your local pet store they are separated into several small aquariums – if not, they definitely should be, and I wouldn’t be happy about buying fish from a pet store that didn’t know that.
If you do find betta fish sharing one aquarium then these are females. One good sign to look for to determine whether your male betta is ready to mate is when they start making bubble nests.
You can also encourage your betta fish to mate by using a breeder tank. These are small plastic aquariums that you can place inside your larger fish tank. Try putting your female betta into one of these and place them inside the aquarium with the male betta. This should help spur on the male to build a bubble nest.
However, if your betta fish do start to mate you should remove the female betta as soon as possible after she placed her eggs into the bubble nest. The male betta will take care of the egg from here on out until they hatch.
You can read more about the betta mating process here if you are interested.
Why Do Betta Fish Bite Their Own Tail?
I have actually witnessed this act first-hand with one of my betta fish. It was quite upsetting, to say the least, which is why I tried to research the reasons why bettas will sometimes resort to biting their own tail off. Unfortunately, experts are still baffled as to why bettas bite their own tails. There are several theories as to the reasoning behind this:
Placing your betta fish in container that are too small, with incorrect water parameters for a prolonged period of time can cause undue stress.
Boredom is also attributed to tail biting in bettas. Placing them in a plain small aquarium can make them quite antsy. My bettas stay in medium sized aquariums that come with various accessories like caves, artificial plants, and other accessories to help stimulate their senses. It can also be caused by hereditary reasons. Another way to entertain your betta is to play with them (yes, it’s actually a thing!). Find out what I do to entertain mine.
How to Prevent Tail Biting in Your Betta Fish?
While the causes of tail biting are still unclear, there are several steps you can take to help prevent this from occurring. Below are several tips I can give you to lower the risk of tail biting in your betta fish:
- Clean your aquarium regularly. This should prevent any sort of infection that can agitate and upset your betta fish. This is important especially if your betta fish is currently nursing an injury.
- Do not use hard plastic decorations in your aquarium. Betta fish tends to hide a lot and having hard plastic decor with sharp edges can injure them. Instead, you should opt for decors made from silk or use real, soft underwater plants.
- If your betta fish is showing signs of tail biting, try moving the aquarium somewhere quieter. There might be a reason that is causing your betta stress in their previous location that is causing this condition.
- Dim the aquarium lights a bit. Bright aquarium light can increase aggression in bettas.
- Placing a mirror inside the aquarium can help divert their aggression away from their tails and fin. It’s also a really good way to exercise your betta and encourage them to flare, which is important to keep them healthy.
Can Betta Fish Grow Their Fins and Tail Back?
Fortunately, damaged fins and tails on your betta fish can regrow with proper care. However, it is vital that you take all necessary measures if your betta starts exhibiting this kind of self-harm. Check the tips I have listed above for steps you can take. You can also use fish remedies to help speed up the healing process.
Just remember that it is extremely important that you focus on finding a solution to the cause of their self-aggression so hopefully they won’t continue this behavior. Again, the cause varies so it is best to take all necessary steps to ensure they will stop this negative behavior.
Hopefully, this article has helped you answer the question as to whether betta fish have teeth and indeed if they bite. While it may not actually hurt to be bitten by a betta fish, the same cannot be said for other fish inhabitants in your aquarium. Take care of your betta by making sure they are away from other fish or even harming themselves and makes sure to relieve them of all possible stresses.