Image Credit: Pharaoh Hound (CC License)
A betta’s tail is a crowd-puller. It’s colorful, long, and flowy – in other words, absolutely beautiful. Now multiply that beauty by 2, and voila, you have a doubletail betta.
Doubletail bettas look ethereal. But they’re also kinda controversial. If you’ve never owned a betta before, raising these fine specimens can be quite tricky.
And that’s why we are here today. This care guide will entail pretty much everything you should know about raising doubletail bettas.
Read this guide from cover to cover if you’re planning to bring home one or have already. It’s enriched with nuggets of information required for successful betta fishkeeping!
Doubletail Betta At A Glance
|Scientific Name||Betta splendens|
|Maximum Size||2.5 Inches|
|Minimum Tank Size||5 Gallons|
|Tank Setup||Tropical freshwater planted tank|
|Temperature||72-82 Degrees F|
What Is A Doubletail Betta?
A double tail betta is a selectively bred variant of the original betta splendens. All domesticated betta variants that we have now, like halfmoon betta, rosetail betta, and double tail betta, result from years of selective breeding to ensure the most extravagant colors and fins.
As the moniker suggests, a double tail betta has two distinct tails separated at the base. And that’s what makes them so special and rare.
Since these fish have a poor survival rate as fry, they’re kind of a rarity in the hobby.
But despite the unconventional looks, they have the same temperament and require the same care as your other bettas.
They need clean, warm water and a protein-rich carnivore diet. Owing to their fantastical anatomy, they prefer resting quite often.
And lastly, they’re just as mean as your other bettas. These fish love to lead solitary lives. Thus, adding tankmates is never really a good idea.
Doubletail Betta Origin
Although I am not too sure about the timeline, doubletail bettas were first introduced in Japan to resemble a koi fish.
To give you a ballpark figure, I’d say they were most likely created through selective breeding during the 80s and 90s – around the same time other beautiful variants like rosetail and halfmoon bettas arrived.
However, bettas’ story dates back at least 150 years ago. Back in the old days in Siam (now Thailand), children would collect these territorial fish from tropical marshes and paddy fields and place them together to watch them fight.
Today, at least a few dozen betta variations are available through meticulous selective breeding. This caused the rather drab plakat bettas (wild bettas) to express dormant genes responsible for striking colors and finneage.
And doubletail betta is one of them.
Note that the ‘doubletail’ trait can be found in bettas with any tail type and shape. However, it is a recessive gene.
How Much Is A Doubletail Betta Fish? Doubletail Betta Price
Doubletail bettas can cost you anywhere between $7 to $20. The price varies depending on the colors, size, and patterns. If you’re going to have it shipped, it will cost you a few extra bucks.
Whenever possible, I recommend buying a fish from a brick-and-mortar store after careful inspection. Look for signs of injuries, the texture of the scales and fins, and activity level.
How Long Does A Doubletail Betta Live? Doubletail Betta Lifespan
Doubletails aren’t blessed with a very long lifespan like some other fish. Even with the right care and diet, they only live for 2-5 years.
Bettas are often the first fish for most novice fishkeepers testing the waters in the hobby for the first time. Therefore, it’s not unlikely for them to end up in the wrong hands and under the wrong care.
In that case, doubletail bettas, or any other betta for that matter, can die an untimely death just 6 months or a year after hatching.
Is Doubletail Betta Rare?
Doubletail betta babies have a low survival rate. Therefore, these fish are relatively rarer than your other betta varieties.
Doubletail Betta Appearance And Varieties
As you can guess by the name, doubletail betta possess 2 distinct tails separated at the base. An ‘ideal’ specimen would have two symmetrical tail lobes with a nice split that extends to the bottom of the tail.
These fish also have a broader caudal peduncle, a tapered region right behind the dorsal and anal fins where the caudal fin attaches to the body.
Thanks to genetic mutation, the caudal fins are separated at the base and develop into 2 lobes rather than 1.
The dorsal fin is quite prominent – it’s nearly the size of the anal fin.
In total, doubletail bettas have 2 caudal fins, 2 pelvic fins, 2 pectoral fins, 1 dorsal fin, and 1 anal fin.
And compared to other variants, the body is quite chunky and somewhat shorter. But it is also streamlined, allowing the fish to glide smoothly in the water if it wasn’t for the long overhanging tail.
Since the doubletail trait can be found in bettas with any tail shape and size, doubletail betta comes under practically any color under the sun – tangerine, violet, red, and blue are some examples.
The body is covered with tinted scales that overlap like shingles on the roof. In addition, it is covered with a thick layer of mucus that doesn’t just offer extra shine but also protects the fish against bacterial and parasitic infections.
The mouth is upturned, indicating that the fish is a top-feeder that scoops up food from the water surface. By the way, the upturned mouth is particularly important to building bubble nests while spawning.
Inside the mouth on the lower jaw are several pearly whites that help break down the food.
Two eyes are located on each side of the head.
Doubletail Betta Size
Excluding the fins and tails, doubletail bettas measure around 2.5 inches long. That’s a pretty standard size for any betta fish.
Providing a well-rounded diet and a clean, stress-free environment go a long way in determining how big your betta will grow and at what rate. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for bettas to experience stunted growth owing to poor husbandry.
Doubletail Betta Male VS Doubletail Betta Female
Doubletail male bettas have thicker bodies and longer fins, whereas females are generally thinner and possess shorter fins.
As is the case with most species in the animal kingdom, the male betta is colored more vibrantly. The female looks somewhat drab and dull compared to their male counterparts.
A reliable point of distinction is the presence of an ovipositor tube in females, a small white tube near the base of the ventral fins. When spawning, the fish releases eggs from this tube.
Doubletail Betta Behavior And Temperament
Doubletail bettas are aggressive and territorial fish. There’s no way to put it nicely. They’re downright mean, just like any other betta. After all, they aren’t called Siamese fighting fish for nothing.
The most common sign of aggression in bettas is ‘flaring.’ The male betta usually pushes both gill covers forward to give an impression of larger body size.
Other signs of hostility include ramming or swimming directly into other fish, biting, nipping, and lip-locking.
Female bettas are relatively docile and peaceful compared to their male counterparts. While no two male bettas can be kept together due to their innate animosity towards each other, you can raise a group of females, often known as ‘harem.’
It’s not advised to keep male and female doubletail bettas in the same tank either. Males make relentless bullies that will force the female to spawn. The harassment is so severe that the female may end up biting the dust.
There’s quite a debate over whether this fighting tendency is intrinsic or it’s a consequence of how bettas are bred and reared.
Multiple studies have shown that bettas reared in groups have less aggressive tendencies than those raised in isolation.
Tankmates For Doubletail Betta
Two male doubletails cannot be kept together, no matter how big the tank is.
Placing a divider and partitioning the tank into 2 parts is the only way to house two under the same roof. But that doesn’t sound super aesthetic, right?
You don’t ever have to worry about your betta getting lonely and depressed. They’re hardwired to live alone and prefer it that way.
That being said, you can add some big and non-aggressive fish along with your male betta as long as the other fish don’t have long, flowy fins.
But once again, your male betta would rather live alone.
It’s possible to keep a group of female bettas together and alongside other species in the same tank. They’re mean as well but not as hostile as the males.
The males are often known to even fight their own reflections.
Here’s a list of tankmates you can keep safely alongside female bettas. For males, apply caution. There’s no way of telling if the other occupants will be safe.
- Kuhli loaches
- Malaysian trumpet snails
- Ember tetras
- Cory catfish
- Harlequin rasboras
How To Take Care Of Doubletail Betta Fish?
Doubletail bettas are hardy fish. Therefore, as long as you get the basics right, raising them is not difficult. But given their unique anatomy, they can be susceptible to specific health conditions, and you should be well-equipped to prevent them in the first place.
Buckle up! I’m going to tell you all you should know about taking the right care of doubletail betta fish – the dos and don’ts.
Aquarium Tank Size For Doubletail Betta
5 gallons is the minimum recommended tank size for doubletail bettas. However, there’s no such thing as too much swimming space. Therefore, if you can afford to buy a bigger tank, go for it.
It’s not uncommon to see bettas being confined into 1-gallon or 2-gallon nano tanks. However, just because a fish fits in doesn’t mean it should end up there in such a small space.
Tanks that small don’t have enough room to support proper heating and filtration mechanisms, both critical for a betta’s well-being and longevity.
On top of that, the parameters are incredibly volatile and trickier to maintain in small tanks. So, to be honest, it’s pretty unfortunate to see big companies repeatedly introducing new marketing gimmicks to position nano tanks as beginner-friendly. They just aren’t.
If you are going to raise a sorority of female doubletails, I’d recommend nothing smaller than 20 gallons.
As for keeping 2 males together, it’s not possible no matter how big the tank is.
However, you can use a transparent tank divider like this one to separate their territory if you’re bent over backward to house them under the same roof.
Also, shun the practice of keeping bettas in fishbowls. Aside from distorting the view and causing the fish stress, a rounded fish tank dramatically limits the filter options.
And a proper filtration system is essential because doubletail bettas are prone to contracting bacterial infections.
Water Chemistry For Doubletail Bettas
Here’s what water parameters are supposed to look like for doubletail bettas:
- Temperature: 75-81 degrees F (23.8-27.2 degrees C)
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- Ammonia: 0 PPM
- Nitrite: 0 PPM
- Nitrate: Below 20 PPM
- General Hardness: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 PPM)
- Carbonate Hardness: 3-5 dKH (53.6-89.4 PPM)
Bettas are tropical fish from SouthEast Asia that live in marshes, river basins, and river paddy fields. Therefore, they prefer warmer water as opposed to coldwater fish like goldfish.
A stable temperature somewhere in the 75-81 degree range should be maintained at all times. As hardy as bettas are, they’re still intolerant of sudden or frequent changes in water temperature.
An acronym for “potential of hydrogen,” pH is the scale used to specify the water’s acidity and alkalinity levels. Bettas require acidic water. Therefore, pH should clock in somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5.
If the water’s pH level increases above safety limits, your doubletail will sustain injuries in the eyes, skin, and gills. It will also have a hard time disposing of metabolic waste.
There are several techniques to maintain an ideal pH level in the water.
To make the water acidic, I prefer using Indian almond leaves and driftwood that gradually leach tannins into the water.
Unlike pH levels, general and carbonate hardness cannot be easily regulated using DIY techniques at home. It is possible, but it is tricky.
Doubletail bettas are hardy, but they are not invincible. Therefore, you need to closely monitor and regulate the tank’s ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels.
If the ammonia concentration increases by more than 0 PPM, it can lead to bleeding in the gills, clamping, the appearance of red streaks, labored breathing, and torn and jagged fins.
Likewise, nitrate poisoning leads to drab coloration, weakened feeding response, loss of equilibrium, and compromised immune system.
Overstocking and overfeeding are the two key reasons behind sudden and frequent spikes in ammonia and nitrite levels.
Besides ensuring a sound filtration system, you should also frequently carry out water changes and conduct spring cleaning to keep the parameters in check.
There’s no black-and-white rule dictating how often and how much water to change. The requirement differs from one tank to another depending on what and how many species are being housed.
Since these parameters have great consequences, you should keep them in check by routinely monitoring with a liquid-based test kit.
We use the API Freshwater Master Kit at Urban Fishkeeping that measures 5 essential parameters: pH, high pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
Water Flow For Doubletail Betta
Like the rest of the betta specimens, doubletail bettas are poor swimmers. They’re not as bad as rosetails or halfmoons, but they’re not agile and natural either.
The water flow should be just strong enough to keep the detritus away and ensure proper oxygenation.
If it’s any stronger than that, your doubletail betta will find it challenging to swim against the current.
Thus, sponge filters and filters with baffles are the right choices for a betta tank.
Substrate For Doubletail Betta
Doubletail bettas feed at the top and usually prefer swimming in the top and middle regions of the tank. They don’t lounge at the base too much. Thus, you have the flexibility to choose substrate depending on the plants’ needs.
The two most popular choices for the substrate are gravel and sand. And both of them come with a unique set of pros and cons.
The two main advantages of using gravel are that it’s excellent for anchoring plants and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria. However, gravel’s sharp and jagged surface can tear your betta’s delicate fins.
Sand is also a preferred choice owing to its smooth texture and ease of cleaning. However, the tradeoff here is that harmful bacteria can grow and multiply within the air pockets of the sand.
Using marbles or adding no substrate at all are also acceptable. Once again, it all boils down to your preference and the plants’ needs.
Plants For Doubletail Betta
Even though doubletail bettas aren’t found in the wild, they have an intrinsic need to live in densely planted areas as their forebears did back in Thailand.
In the wild, a betta’s habitat would comprise tropical marshes and paddy fields, characterized by thick vegetation.
Thus, you must add multiple plants to a betta’s tank to emulate their natural environment in the best way possible.
You can use both natural and artificial plants. If you’re using artificial plants, make sure that it’s aquarium-safe and doesn’t have jagged or pointy surfaces that can injure a betta.
Bettas prefer plants with large leaves like anubias and java fern so they can perch on them. Besides being easy to grow and low-maintenance, both these plants can be attached to various hardscapes and tank ornaments.
Doubletail bettas also prefer resting among dense floating plants like water sprites and ones with trailing roots like dwarf water lettuce. Water sprite is a fairly versatile plant that can be rooted in the substrate or used as a floating plant.
Its fine, lacy leaves mimic a dense jungle for your betta to explore and rest in and is also particularly useful for creating bubble nests.
And lastly, since bettas prefer hanging out near the water surface, adding floating plants like Amazon frogbit and red root floaters is a wonderful technique to enhance the upper layers of their homes.
Floating plants also encourage male bettas to build their bubble nests.
However, make sure to leave at least 50% (or more) of the water surface clear to allocate enough room for adequate gas exchange at the surface.
Lighting For Doubletail Bettas
Doubletail bettas thrive the best in moderate lighting. They are diurnal creatures like us who remain active throughout the day and rest at night. Thus, their lighting schedule should closely mimic the natural sunrise/sunset cycle.
They need around 14-16 hours of light per day. This requirement coincides with the lighting needs of most aquarium plants as well.
Overexposure to light fuels the tank’s algae problems, whereas underexposure means the death of plants. Therefore, you should invest in a reliable timer to ensure the tank’s lighting needs are met.
LED bulbs are affordable, offer bright lighting for low wattage, and don’t heat the tank’s water. Fluorescent bulbs make an excellent second choice too. However, avoid incandescent lights like the plague.
What To Feed Doubletail Bettas?
Doubletail bettas are carnivores with a sizable appetite. Therefore, you should ensure a well-rounded and varied diet rich in nutrients like protein daily.
A wild betta’s diet primarily consists of insects and larvae. So, don’t forget to fortify your captive-born and bred doubletail betta’s diet with live or frozen (and thawed) treats like bloodworms and red wigglers every once in a while.
Since pellets and flakes are inevitably going to be a part of their staple diet in captivity, you must zero in on good brands that don’t use filler ingredients in their products.
Also, since bettas are surface-feeders, you’d want to buy floating pellets. They won’t go after the sinking ones at the bottom.
Whether you’re giving pellets, flakes, or live food, you need to purchase delicacies specifically made for tropical carnivores like doubletail betta. These foods are enriched with just the right nutrients in the right amount.
For instance, if you feed your betta herbivore pellets, the fish won’t receive nutrients essential for its well-being. Don’t try to force-feed your doubletail plant-based diet.
It can cause dire consequences like malnourishment and starvation, leading to more severe conditions like stunted growth.
Boiled and skinned peas are often recommended to treat digestive complications like constipation, but bettas don’t/shouldn’t eat peas.
For carnivore fish like bettas, constipation is best treated by fasting them.
How Often And How Much To Feed Doubletail Betta?
Doubletail bettas can be fed 2 moderate-sized meals per day. But there’s no cardinal rule dictating the right amount and frequency of feeding. Instead, it comes down to your convenience and your fish’s needs.
I give my bettas two moderate-sized meals in the morning and afternoon. However, I know hobbyists who feed once a day or every other day, and it’s perfectly normal.
As for how much to feed doubletail bettas, there are 2 rules you can follow:
- A portion equal to around 5% of the betta’s body size
- Food the fish can finish within 2 minutes – but if the fish swaddles, allocate 5 minutes
Breeding Doubletail Betta
Breeding doubletail betta is not recommended to hobbyists. This is something that should only be carried out by professionals. You don’t only risk producing specimens with inherent genetic defects but also throw the female betta under the bus.
Usually, the male most likely kills his partner once the pair is done mating.
Therefore, once again, leave these things to professionals.
I’m now going to explain the mating process but by no means take it as an encouragement or guideline to breed doubletail bettas.
While male doubletails reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 months, females take up to 5 months on average.
The mating ritual commences with the male doubletail building a bubble nest like any other male betta would do. To create the nest, the fish swims to the surface, takes a gulp of air, and spits out a mucus-coated air bubble. He then makes another bubble and releases it near the first one.
This process goes on for a few good hours except for occasional breaks to eat or court the female fish until the nest takes a definite shape.
Once the nest is complete, the male begins his relentless pursuit of the female’s attention. And he’s not subtle or gentle with his ways. If she doesn’t return his advances, the male can be pretty aggressive and even kill the poor female.
In most cases, by the time the first spawning begins, the female’s fins are badly torn, and she may even be missing a few scales.
Once the female is set to breed, she swims towards the male in an oblique, head-down position with the fins closed against her body. The male then becomes gentle with his approach.
Once the eggs are laid, fertilized, and stored, the male chases the female away or kills her. Yikes!
The eggs hatch in the next 24-36 hours. The fry don’t show much coloration or fin shape until 3 months of age.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, before we end this article, here’s a look at some of the most frequently asked questions on doubletail bettas.
Should You Trim Your Doubletail Betta’s Tail?
Although it’s a common practice, we recommend against trimming your doubletail betta’s tail. Fish with extravagant tails like doublebettas indeed have a harder time swimming, but it doesn’t mean trimming the tail will make their lives easier.
It isn’t just excruciating and distressing but also leads the way for secondary infections and illnesses as pathogens enter the fish’s body through open wounds.
Should You Baffle The Filter For Doubletail Betta? How Do You Do It?
Strong water flow makes it difficult for a doubletail betta to swim freely and efficiently. If the fish cannot swim to the surface due to strong water currents, it can potentially lead to suffocation and starvation.
Therefore, yes – it’s recommended to baffle the filter for doubletail bettas.
Here are 3 ways to baffle the filter:
- Regulate the water flow’s direction in such a way that it’s deflected by plants and decors
- Put a piece of sponge over the outflow pipe
- Fit a flow adjuster to outflow pipe if the filter design allows
What Kind Of Aquarium Shape Is Best For Doubletail Bettas?
Long aquariums instead of tall ones are suitable for doubletail bettas. A tall tank makes it difficult for the fish to come to the surface to intake air and eat. Therefore, choose a horizontally long but vertically short tank.
What Kind Of Decors Do Doubletail Betta Need?
You can add a few caves, overhangs, floating logs, and some aquatic plants to create an ideal environment for doubletails, who are pretty smart and need frequent stimulation.
Create a lively and fun environment without cluttering or posing a risk for your pet fish.
We recommend getting a betta hammock like this one.
I purchased one for my betta, and he absolutely loves resting on it.
Final Words: Doubletail Betta Care Guide
If you’re looking for a beautiful fish that’s also easy to look after, doubletail betta may be the right choice. They look pretty and are a delight to observe in the tank.
They have a unique partition in their caudal fin that makes it look as if they have two tails. It’s quite brilliant!