Rosetail betta give saltwater fish a run for their money. These fish look nothing short of stunning with their vibrant colors and extravagant tails. They look like mystical characters straight out of a fairytale.
However, unfortunately, they’re also marred with controversy. Moral police often question the ethics of people who raise or breed rosetail betta. Why is that so?
If you plan to bring home a rosetail betta, you must read up on the right upbringing, their Achilles heel, and the controversy surrounding their very existence.
Rosetail Betta At A Glance
|Minimum Tank Size
|Tropical freshwater planted tank
|72-82 degrees F
What Is A Rosetail Betta?
All domesticated betta variants we have are results of selective breeding with the motives of getting the most bright colors and showstopping fins. And rosetail bettas are no different.
A rosetail betta essentially is a halfmoon betta but with extra branching in the fin rays – particularly on the caudal fin. It causes the fish’s tail, or caudal fin, to spread beyond the 180-degree mark, often causing the caudal fin to overlap with its other fins.
Initially and ironically, rosetail bettas were once deemed an unwanted mutation of the half-moon. As prized as they are today, in the past, they were considered cull-quality fish and were never ever intentionally bred for.
And why’s that?
That’s because the unique shape of their fins makes them extremely prone to broken fin rays, which doesn’t only lead to misshapen fins but also hinder swimming ability and cause acute discomfort and pain to the fish.
As a matter of fact, the tail is so heavy in relation to body size that it makes swimming painstaking. Moreover, there’s a chance that they will suffocate and die a slow death if they’re too ill or weak to swim to the surface for air.
But in a society that emphasizes aesthetics, it was only a matter of time before these fish were heralded to be the next best thing in the tropical fishkeeping community.
And that’s why I’m here writing this care guide, and you’re here to read up on this beautiful but debatable fish.
I’m going to tell you pretty much everything I know about rosetail bettas. Whether to raise them or give them a pass is up to you to decide.
Rosetail Betta Origin
Before understanding the origin of rosetail betta, it’s crucial to know where and when the OG bettas first came from.
Bettas were first introduced in Siam (now Thailand) over 200 years ago. Children and adults alike would collect Plakat betta fish in rice paddies and place them together to watch them fight and spar – hence, the name Siamese fighting fish.
Today, almost all domesticated betta varieties have been selectively bred through long lineages originating from short-finned plakat bettas.
Plakat bettas were bred for their aggression, color, size, and hardiness over the next few decades. Resultantly, this caused genes previously dormant to be expressed.
Over the next century, these genes were meticulously chosen and bred to become more prominent.
We now have bettas in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of beautiful finneage.
Interestingly, despite the staggering variation in terms of appearance, traits common in all bettas are hardiness and aggressiveness.
So, where do rosetail bettas enter into this process?
The First-Ever Rosetail Bettas
Rosetail bettas were first accidentally bred in 1989 by a famous breeding team of Rajiv Masillamoni and Laurent Chenot as they were trying to produce the perfect halfmoon bettas.
But these fish were monikered “rosetail betta” only in 1991 by Jeff Wilson, who is also credited for coining the term “halfmoon.”
As I mentioned above, rosetail bettas were first deemed undesirable despite their unique looks due to their inability to spawn and weak swimming ability.
So, these mutations were almost consigned to oblivion until Jeff Wilson and Pete Goettner showcased them in the 1933/1944 IBC Convention as “Blonde Diamond Halfmoon,” christened after their unique tail fins and pale colors.
Fast forward to 2022, rosetail bettas are pretty popular and sought-after. They’re also widely available despite the controversies surrounding their existence.
Betta enthusiasts and breeders believe and often speculate that a “fullmoon” tail type betta with a 360-degree spread is possible in the near future if selective breeding of rosetails continues.
Well, that’s a story for some other day!
How Much Is A Rosetail Betta Fish? | Rosetail Betta Price
Despite being drop-dead gorgeous, rosetail betta fish fetch a relatively modest price. They’re often sold for $20-25 on average.
However, owing to the question of ethics surrounding them, they’re not always readily available. You’ll most likely have to order them from an online source.
So expect to pay $10-15 dollars extra for safe packaging and delivery.
How Long Does A Rosetail Betta Live? | Rosetail Betta Lifespan
Rosetail bettas live for anywhere between 2-5 years under the right care. But it’s not uncommon to have their lives cut short owing to lousy husbandry.
Bettas are often subjected to tiny bowls and nano tanks without proper heating or filtration mechanism. And they’re often marketed as beginner-friendly fish.
Thus, they often end up in the wrong hands, leading to shortened lifespans.
Rosetail Betta Appearance And Varieties
Rosetail bettas have the same 180-degree tail spread that half-moon bettas have. However, the fin rays are more spaced out than bettas with smaller tail spreads.
When fully extended, the tail is shaped like a rose. It is flowy, delicate, and gorgeous. It looks like the tail is made of small but tightly compacted feathers.
In terms of coloration, rosetail bettas come in just about any color morph as other betta varieties – any color under the sun.
The body shape is streamlined, which would have allowed the fish to slip smoothly and effortlessly through open waters if it wasn’t for its overhanging, dominant tail.
All in all, rosetail bettas have one caudal fin, one dorsal fin, one anal fin, two pelvic fins, and two pectoral fins.
The body is covered with iridescent scales that overlap like shingles on the roof. And they’re coated with a thick mucus layer that doesn’t just provide that extra gloss but also protects the fish against invading parasites.
The fish’s mouth is upturned – indicating that it is a top-feeder that scoops up its food on the water’s surface.
Rosetail Betta Size
Rosetail bettas grow to a maximum length of 2.5 inches. Despite their outlandish tails, they are quite petite.
Ensuring the fish is fed the right diet and kept in a clean and spacious environment that offers plenty of exercise are key factors determining the betta’s growth rate and maximum potential size.
Rosetail Betta Behavior And Temperament
Bettas are known as “Siamese fighting fish” for a reason. They even fight their own reflection. Unfortunately, this rings true for rosetail bettas as well. They’re pretty aggressive and territorial – even more so than your regular bettas.
The nastier temperament is speculated to be due to the weight of their tail they have to carry with them all the time.
Usually, in bettas, females display a relatively docile and subdued personality. But this is not the case with female rosetail bettas. Instead, their aggression is known to be on par with a male’s, if not more.
All in all, rosetail bettas are more aggressive, have an affinity to nip fins and act as mean bullies than your average betta fish.
So, don’t forget to consider these traits when selecting tankmates for them (if you actually do!).
How To Take Care Of Rosetail Betta Fish?
As long as you’re equipped with the correct information, it’s not that difficult to raise rosetail bettas. However, given their unique anatomy, they’re more susceptible to certain maladies than your regular betta.
Below, I’ll briefly explain everything you need to know about caring for rosetail bettas in brief segments. First, let’s begin with the right tank size.
Aquarium Tank Size For Rosetail Betta
The minimum recommended tank size for rosetail bettas is 5 gallons. I know 5 gallons sounds like a lot for a single betta when they’re often advertised as the perfect fit for your half-gallon nano tank.
But given a rosetail betta’s exorbitant lower body, 5 gallons is the bare minimum requirement. Even then, there’s no such thing as too much swimming space.
Therefore, if possible, get a bigger tank. Go for a 10-gallon tank. After all, smaller tanks are trickier to manage than big ones, where the parameters remain relatively stable.
Just make sure the tank isn’t too deep. As rosetail bettas prefer swimming left to right in shallow waters, a deep tank doesn’t make ideal habitat for them.
Also, while at it, let me quickly tell you why you shouldn’t keep bettas or any other fish in a round tank or fishbowl.
Besides distorting the view and causing unsolicited stress, a fishbowl’s rounded sides profusely limit the filter options.
And with rosetail bettas being so sensitive to bacterial infections, their habitat must have an effective filtration system at all times.
Water Chemistry For Rosetail Betta
Here’s what water parameters should look like for rosetail 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)
Since bettas are tropical fish, they’re used to warm waters. Therefore, the water in the tank should fall somewhere between the range of 75-81 degrees. Although bettas make hardy fish that can live at varying temperatures, it’s essential to maintain a stable temperature around the range mentioned above.
The pH value refers to how acidic or alkaline the water is. Bettas require their water to be slightly acidic. Maintain it stable somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5.
There are several ways – natural and commercial – of increasing water’s acidity. I prefer using driftwood and Indian almond leaves that slowly leach tannins into the water.
Both of these products are reliable and easy to use. Even if you’re someone like me who prefers using natural alternatives as much as possible, it’s still helpful to have these products handy.
It’s tricky to maintain water’s general and carbonate hardness levels with DIY techniques. But it’s quite important to get these parameters right.
Although rosetail bettas are hardy for the most part, they’re susceptible to sudden rises in the tank’s ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels.
For instance, if your betta is suffering from ammonia poisoning, the fish will experience a painful burning sensation in the gills and have trouble breathing.
Overfeeding and overstocking are two primary reasons behind the sudden spike in the tank’s ammonia and nitrite levels.
Besides ensuring an effective filtration method, performing water changes frequently as needed is imperative to keep everything in check.
We recommend using API’s Freshwater Master Kit to test the parameters routinely.
It measures the following parameters:
- High range pH
Water Flow For Rosetail Betta
Looks can be deceiving. Bettas are actually inefficient swimmers. And thanks to their dramatic tails, rosetail bettas top the list of bad swimmers.
Therefore, the water’s flow should be just strong enough to keep the tank clean and oxygenated.
It shouldn’t be strong enough to impede the fish’s already poor swimming skills.
Filters with baffles and sponge filters make great choices for a betta tank.
Substrate For Rosetail Betta
Rosetail bettas seldom pick up things from the tank floor as they aren’t scavengers. They also don’t really prefer hanging out at the bottom, either. Therefore, they don’t really care much about the substrate.
You can choose between gravel and sand substrate. Both kinds come with a set of pros and cons.
Gravel is great because it helps anchor the plants firmly and boost the production of beneficial bacteria. However, they also can potentially tear your betta’s delicate fins.
Likewise, sand also makes a good choice since it is easier to clean and will not tear your betta’s fins. The con here is that sometimes buildup of harmful bacteria can occur in air pockets inside the sand.
Plants For Rosetail Betta
Although rosetail bettas aren’t found in the wild, they’re hardwired to live among plants as their forefathers did in Thailand. Their natural habitats, tropical marshes and paddy fields, are chock-full of thick vegetation.
Adding plants in your betta tank doesn’t only provide the natural feel the fish craves; it also helps purify water and enhance oxygenation.
Rosetail bettas particularly like plants with large leaves they can rest on, like java fern and anubias. They also prefer spending time among dense floating plants like water sprite and ones with trailing roots like dwarf water lettuce.
Besides java fern and anubias, I have added multiple marimo moss balls in my betta tank. Despite the name, it’s neither plant nor moss. It’s, in fact, algae.
So, make sure you place it in areas that receive a low amount of light.
Lighting For Rosetail Betta
Rosetail bettas do the best in moderate lighting. Like us, they are diurnal creatures. Therefore, they require about 14-16 hours of light every day. The lights are equally crucial for plants too.
If there’s too much light than necessary, it will fuel algae growth in the tank. On the other hand, if there’s not enough light, the plants will die an untimely death.
Thus, it’s best to invest in a reliable timer that ensures a healthy amount of light and darkness every day.
What To Feed Rosetail Betta?
Rosetail bettas are carnivores. Their predecessors in the wild survived on insects and larvae for the most part. Therefore, you need to feed them a well-rounded diet comprising a lot of protein daily.
Buy high-quality carnivore pellets that don’t use filler ingredients for staple feeding. Then occasionally fortify the diet with live or thawed frozen food like red wigglers and bloodworms as treats.
It’s crucial to feed bettas pellets, flakes, and frozen food specifically made for tropical carnivore fish like bettas. These foods are fortified with the right nutrients in the right amounts to suit their health and growth needs.
As I mentioned above, bettas are carnivores. Thus, they don’t require plant matter in their diet. Don’t force-feed them plant-based food as it can lead to grim consequences like malnutrition and starvation.
Peas are often recommended as a means to solve digestive complications like constipation. But it doesn’t apply to carnivore bettas.
For them, constipation is best treated by fasting.
How Often And How Much To Feed Rosetail Betta?
No brassbound rule dictates the right frequency and amount to feed rosetail bettas. That being said, the general practice is to give two medium-sized meals a day.
Giving small meals helps to keep the water quality pristine for a longer time.
However, from what I read on a couple of forums, some hobbyists have been giving 1 big meal per day or every other day without any complications. So it all boils down to your convenience and the fish’s needs.
As for the quantity, there are 2 widely practiced rules. They are:
- Only offer food that your fish can finish within 2 minutes. However, if your betta fish swaddles when eating, you can allocate around 5 minutes.
- A meal portion equal to about 5% of a betta’s body size.
Breeding Rosetail Betta
Because of the ethical concerns surrounding rosetail bettas, it’s not recommended to breed them in home aquariums.
On top of that, given their inability to swim and susceptibility to multiple health conditions, these fish should only be bred by ones who fully understand their needs.
Even when professional breeders breed rosetail bettas, they receive flak and questions about their morality and motive.
However, if male and female bettas were supposed to breed naturally in the tank, the breeding process would go something like this:
Male bettas reach sexual maturity at around 3 months of age. However, females take up to 5 months on average.
The spawning ritual commences with the male betta building a bubble nest.
The male will swim to the surface, take a gulp of air, and spit a mucus-coated air bubble. Then, he quickly follows the same process and creates another bubble near the first one.
This meticulous process goes on for hours with occasional breaks for eating and courting. Finally, after a few hours’ worths of labor, the nest takes on a definite shape.
Once the nest is done, the male will start courting the female in not-so-chivalrous ways. In fact, he will aggressively pursue the female.
By the time she gives consent and agrees to spawn, it’s most likely that her fins are badly torn, and she may even be losing some scales.
Once the spawning is complete, the male will keenly guard the nest where the eggs are. Depending on the water’s temperature, the eggs take anywhere between 24 to 48 hours to hatch.
The fry won’t show color or fin shape until they’re about 3 months old.
Why Are Rosetail Bettas So Controversial?
Rosetail bettas are controversial. While some believe their beautiful appearance outweighs pretty much any concern, others seriously question their very existence owing to factors like excessive fatigue, injuries, infections, and difficulty swimming and breathing.
The rosetail bettas we see in most photos and videos are usually that of young and healthy fish who are yet to experience life after developing the 180-degree tail spread.
As they mature, their life is plagued with severe health problems that steeply deteriorate their quality of life.
They Get Tired Easily
If you have raised betta, you know they like to take some time off every day to rest. You can find them resting on the substrate, among decorations, or on top of a flat leaf.
It’s entirely natural and expected behavior.
There are even products made explicitly for bettas to rest, like betta hammocks and floating logs.
But the saying beauty comes at a cost couldn’t be any truer for rosetail bettas.
Their beautiful finnage may be the center of attraction of any given tank, but it also impedes their swimming ability greatly. Like halfmoons and feathertails, rosetails find it quite arduous to glide around the tank like your typical betta would do.
Their beautiful tails become such heavy baggage for the tiny fish that they constantly feel fatigued and ready to drop.
As a result, you’ll find them resting quietly instead of swimming most of the time as a happy fish would do.
Now resting may seem harmless at first glance, but it comes with a unique set of drawbacks. For example, your betta can contract conditions like muscle atrophy, sustain an injury by resting on sharp/jagged objects or get bullied by tankmates.
And by the way, the icing on the cake: things only go south as the betta ages.
They Can Suffocate
Like gouramis, bettas are labyrinth fish. They have a unique organ called a labyrinth that allows them to breathe in atmospheric air at the water surface – especially if the water quality is poor.
As a matter of fact, any given betta variety can seldom extract all the oxygen they need from what’s dissolved in the water. So even if the water quality is pristine, the fish still need to take in atmospheric air routinely.
Therefore, they must make trips to the surface every once in a while to top up their oxygen reserve by breathing air.
If your rosetail betta is constantly weighed down by its extravagant tail and various fins, the fish will often find it challenging to swim to the surface to intake air. They neither have the energy or strength to do so.
So, the chances of your rosetail betta suffocating are considerably higher. The inability to breathe surface air also causes the fish unsolicited stress and contributes to a shortened lifespan.
They Can Starve
Examine your betta once, and you will notice the fish has an upturned mouth. If you examine even more closely, you can even see the tiny white pearls!
Anyway, coming to the point, bettas have upturned mouths because they are surface feeders. In the wild, bettas wait right beneath the water surface for a water-bound insect to land. Then the fish grabs the insect swiftly and hangs onto it with its teeth, so the lunch doesn’t fly away.
So, it’s only natural that this feeding technique is passed down from one generation to another. Bettas born and bred in captivity, too, feed on the surface.
If your betta cannot swim to the top to feed, the fish can potentially starve.
They Will Stress
Inability to breathe and eat will stress anyone, not just your rosetail betta. If the fish is constantly stressed, its immunity will be compromised.
And when its immunity is compromised, the fish will be exposed to a plethora of deadly pathogens waiting for the right time to strike.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only caveat of stress.
As bettas, rosetails are already pretty aggressive to begin with. And if they’re stressed, they’ll only get meaner. Consequently, they will lash out at the tank’s other inhabitants.
This will make life miserable for pretty much everyone in the tank.
Even worse, they can also indulge in self-harm by ripping off the pieces of their own tails – a practice known as tail-biting.
Now, this isn’t just unfortunate but also potentially life-threatening. Infections… connect the dots!
Thus, if you find your rosetail betta biting its own tail, it’s time to reevaluate your tank’s environment closely to keep conditions like fin rot at bay.
They Will Get Injured
The longer and more prominent the tail (or any other body part), the higher the chances of it sustaining an injury.
Rosetail bettas are most likely to get their fins caught on various objects within the tank. For instance, the fish can drag its tail across a jagged surface or have it get caught in aquarium equipment.
All in all, the point is that the fish is exceptionally prone to having its beautiful tail ripped and shredded. And what does that mean?
Yep, you’re right – infections. And if you don’t notice and treat the infection on time, it will quickly spread to other tank members.
They Can Get Permanently Crippled
Closely observe your rosetail betta’s tail and fins. You will see that there are several fine, hair-like bony structures that hold the webbing of the fin together. At the end of the fin, multiple rays spread out and branch.
When bettas are bred to have abnormally large and spread tails, the rays are correspondingly more spread out than usual.
Naturally, excessive branching results in a bigger tail – putting more weight onto the rays. Often, when the tail becomes too heavy, the rays can no longer hold the weight and eventually break.
When that happens, the whole tail collapses. The attractive rosetail effect is long gone, and you’re left with a crippled betta fish unable to swim or move properly.
They Will Have Reduced Lifespan
It’s common knowledge that designer betta varieties with spectacular finneage are weaker and more prone to illnesses than your regular betta splendens and plakats.
Besides being born with genetic defects like poor scaling, these fish are at heightened risk of contracting secondary illnesses and are not well-equipped to fight such conditions.
Thus, they will naturally have a reduced lifespan than your regular betta fish.
How Can You Help Your Rosetail Betta?
If you have already purchased or rescued a rosetail betta, you might encounter one of the aforementioned problems at one point or other. The following segment will include top tips to look after your rosetail and provide it with the best life possible.
Should You Trim Your Rosetail Betta’s Tail?
Unfortunately, with designer betta varieties, it’s a common practice to trim their extravagant tails to make maintenance easier. However, we don’t recommend doing so. This isn’t just downright painful and distressing for the fish but also invites the risks of infections.
When the tail/fins are cut, it’s naturally going to cause fresh wounds. And bacteria can enter the fish’s body through the wounds and eventually cause its demise.
Should You Baffle The Filter For Rosetail Betta? How Do You Do It?
Besides plakat bettas, most long-finned bettas, including rosetail bettas, don’t prefer too strong water currents in the tank.
A strong flow will only make swimming difficult for your fine long-tailed specimen, who is already somewhat clumsy to start with. Therefore, yes. You should baffle the filter for your rosetail betta.
Bettas reside in slow-moving and stagnant water with minimal or non-existent current in the wild. Thus, they don’t like strong currents. On top of that, rosetails struggle to swim as the finnage grows, and strong currents will only make things worse.
In the worst-case scenario, a strong current can throw your poor pet fish against the glass or tank decorations.
So, baffling is the easiest way to deflect the current without affecting water circulation around the tank.
To baffle the tank, you can do the following:
- Fit a flow adjuster to outflow pipe if it’s possible for the filter design
- Place a piece of sponge over the outflow pipe
- Regulate the direction of water flow so that it’s deflected by plants or decors
What Kind Of Aquarium Shape Is Best For Rosetail Bettas?
If you keep your rosetail betta in a tall tank, you might want to replace it with a longer one. Bettas usually don’t require plenty of space to swim around, but they’d sure appreciate a tank with enough room to mark little territories.
We’ve already touched on how rosetail bettas may find it difficult to swim to the surface to breathe and eat when they’re being constantly weighed down by the tail.
This can potentially lead to suffocation and starvation.
Therefore, it’s best to get a long tank instead of a tall one that will make swimming to the surface harder.
What Kind Of Decors Do Rosetail Betta Need?
Like a regular betta, rosetail bettas have sharp brains. Thus, they do get bored in a plain environment without any decor or toy to stimulate their brains. You need to make the tank as enjoyable as possible for the fish.
But at the same time, you should also consider the risks of the fish’s extravagant finnage becoming snagged on tank decors.
Therefore, add just a couple of caves, floating logs, and overhangs to ensure the environment is lively and fun without being cluttered or posing a hazard for your pet.
Also, don’t forget to ensure any item that goes inside the tank doesn’t have sharp edges that can inflict injuries.
And lastly, make sure to add plenty of resting places in the tank as swimming, encumbered by an overhanging tail, is extremely tiring for the fish.
I’d recommend getting a betta hammock. There’s no way you can go wrong with this one – I’m speaking from my own experience! My betta loves it.
It is shaped like a broad leaf and is made of soft and safe plastic. And it comes with a sucker to fix it to the tank’s wall.
What Qualities Should You Look For While Choosing Your Rosetail Betta?
If you have your heart set on getting a rosetail betta, here’s the list of qualities you should look for:
- Symmetrical scale
- D-shaped caudal fin with extreme branching
- Well-balanced, proportionate finnage
- Decent swimming skills
My White Rosetail Betta Is Changing Colors! What Should I Do?
Don’t worry! Stop panicking – it’s normal for a white betta fish to develop new colors like blue and purple as it ages. Most already have specks of color on their body when you first bring them home.
The only kind that will remain white throughout life is bettas with metallic white scales.
Final Words: Rosetail Betta Care Guide
Rosetail bettas are conversation starters. They’re so beautiful that they can effortlessly become the centerpiece of any given aquarium. But how right is it to breed fish that we almost always know are physically and genetically vulnerable to painful living conditions?
So, if you haven’t brought home a rosetail betta yet, don’t. There are plenty of other more “ethical” betta variants to choose from.
However, if you have already brought one home, I hope this care guide will help raise this gifted fish the right way.