Betta Anatomy
Betta Fish

Betta Anatomy

The beautiful Betta is gifted by Mother Nature a body which not only helps its tough fight other co-occupants around but also take care of the small fry like a good parent.
The main parts of a Bettas body are -
1. Mouth
2. Eyes
3. The ‘Beard’
4. The Finnage
5. Labyrinth
6. Various Internal organs

1. Betta Anatomy - The Mouth

The jaws of an adult Betta are as impressive or evens more impression then the jaw of a giant White Shark! The lower jaw of a Betta has sharp shredding teeth, which can tear of body of brine shrimps, worms, mosquito larvae and other such water organisms. A study reveals that on proportionate basis to the body size, Betta jaws are bigger and stronger then those of a White Shark.

Behind the sharp teeth, lies a small place to keep the fries. Male Bettas are hold the tiny fries in this area and take them to the bubble nest and safely release them. No fry is hurt by the teeth situated just millimeters ahead of them.

2. Betta Anatomy - The Eyes

On each side of the head lies a bulging eye. Eyes are protruding and have black colored iris. The rest of the eye could be of any color. A Betta cannot blink its eye. The eyes move as per the movement of the target. The sharp eyesight is one of the prime reasons to explain how Bettas are highly efficient warriors of their habitat.

3. Betta Anatomy - The “Beard”

A Betta has a membrane under its gill plate cover. The membrane sticks out when the gills are closed and is seen as a distinct part of the fish body. It gives a beard like look, hence it is often known as the Beard of a Betta. For a dark, blue or red colored Betta, this “beard” would be normally dark. For Bettas with yellow, white or other light colored bodies, the “beard” would exactly match the body color. When a Betta opens its gill plates, the protruding membrane would make it look bigger and hence mightier then it actually is. This would help it eventually scare away adversaries. In females, this distinct feature is not clearly visible as compared to their male counterparts.

4. Betta Anatomy - The Finnage

Broad colorful attractive fins form the most visually attractive part of a Betta’s body. Fins start getting developed from about 8th week of the birth of a Betta. Bettas younger then 8 weeks have tiny usually microscopic fins. Around 2 month after their birth, anal fin starts developing. The caudal and dorsal fins soon follow. The female fin development stops after a certain period. However studies show that male fins continue to develop in its entire life span. The fins are a few cell thick and hence don’t hamper free movement of the fish. However this frequent movement, diseases often leads to wear and tear of the fins. The fins due to this tear and drop off. Some varieties of Betta have the ability to simply drop off an extra large fin. The fin then again grows and the cycle continues. Every newly developed fin has a different coloration then the previous one. Bettas with a large full-developed caudal fin are called Half Moon Bettas due to the shape of the fine, which resembles a half moon.

5. Betta Anatomy - The labyrinth

betta anatomy picture
A red betta male. Copyright

Apart from breathing oxygen through its gills, Bettas can breathe air from the surface of water. This is possible with the assistance of the organ called Labyrinth.

Labyrinth is located in the gill chamber and above the gill plates. It has a set of bony plates covered by a membrane. As soon as the air comes in contact, it is inhaled in. By gaseous exchange, the oxygen is passed straight to the venous blood in labyrinth and the other waste contents of the air are exhaled out. However the size of labyrinth in a Betta is small. Hence it cannot take more amount of oxygen in the one trip to surface. Hence a Betta makes frequent visit to the water surface. In shallow waters or water with low amount of oxygen, labyrinth plays a key part in ensuring that oxygen levels are maintained in the body of Betta.

If a Betta is kept outside water, it can survive longer then other fishes due to respiration through the labyrinth.

6. Betta Anatomy - Various Internal Organs

The critical organs of the Betta namely, Heart, Stomach, Liver, Spleen, Brain are situated in the first half of body. This organ can be found in the belly area of the Betta just before the beginning of the anal fin. Near the beginning of the anal fin is the anus of the Betta. Female Bettas have an opening, which looks, like a white spot in this area. This is used to release eggs during spawning.

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