betta fish teeth

Do Betta Fish Have Teeth and Can They Bite?


Betta fish are some of the hardiest fish that you will find in any aquarium. They have a reputation for being extraordinarily fierce and tough. Just the description of their nature is enough to question whether or not they have teeth. After all, they are also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish. Their teeth, however, are not used purely for purposes of aggression. They are also used for a lot of the same reasons that we humans use our teeth. 

You could also go ahead to read about the various types of betta fish that people adopt for their aquariums at home. 

Short Answer : 

The short version is yes. Bettas do have teeth. However, these teeth are tiny and cannot be easily noticeable with the naked human eye. You will need the aid of a microscope or magnifying glass to see these small white teeth. A simpler way to see them would be to grab your camera and take a photo with the flash on. The image, when zoomed in, will reveal their tiny white teeth. 

The question regarding whether or not bettas bite is based on the temperament of the fish. If your betta is a very laid-back and timid one, it will most likely not bite you. But if it is one with an aggressive and fierce temperament, it might lash out. Not to worry, though, as their bites are not strong enough to even pierce and cut through human skin.   

What do Betta Fish use their Teeth for? 

betta fish feeding

Betta fish use their teeth for purposes that are very similar to us humans. The primary use of their teeth is for feeding. These teeth developed as they would hunt water-bound insects and larvae in their natural habitat. The other reason they use their teeth is when they decide to get aggressive and attack. 

Like we said earlier, bettas have a diet that mainly consists of flesh. They use their teeth primarily for feeding. They do not eat a lot of plant-based food but still require their teeth for some chewing. This makes digesting the food a simpler task. The restless nature of these fish means that they also sometimes bite into the plants in the aquarium. The teeth help process this vegetation as well. The teeth also greatly assist in breaking down the protein-rich pellets or flakes that constitute a major chunk of their diet.

As their other name, The Siamese Fighting Fish, suggests, they can be pretty aggressive. This is where the second use for their teeth comes in. They use their teeth for fighting and to attack in times of need. Bettas are highly territorial. They will defend their territory and will fight to keep it. Sometimes even to the death. Their teeth are very sharp. They use their teeth to tear up the scales, fins, and tail fins of their enemies. This is one of the reasons we do not recommend keeping more than one male betta in an aquarium. 

Do Betta Fish Bite People? 

Like we said earlier, betta fish biting people depends mainly on the temperament of the fish. If the betta in question is a laid-back, easy-going, and shy fish, then it most likely will not bite. However, if the betta is an aggressive, tough, and fierce fish, it will bite. They will see your hand as a threat and will proceed to attack it. Moreover, the betta will not just go for your hand but will attack anything that you introduce into its environment. Simply put, yes. Betta fish will bite people. 

Do the bites Hurt? 

The bite of a betta does not hurt too much. Their small size makes their nipping seem insignificant to humans. Their biting does not have too much of an effect on humans. The bite of a betta is not even able to penetrate human skin. This is why it has also been said that it feels like a kiss rather than a bite.

Moreover, betta doesn’t willingly bite humans. They usually do so only if threatened. Else, it is just pure curiosity. 

A lot of victims of betta bites have said that they sometimes feel like a strange pinch. If you, too, are curious about how the bite of a betta feels, go ahead and dip your finger in the water of a betta aquarium. This is not advisable, though, as sometimes the betta may also bite your finger and hold on. At times they do not let go of the finger very quickly. This happens because the fish may have its jaw stuck while biting your finger. At times, this may even cause damage to the fish and is not advisable. 

How Strong is a Betta’s bite? 

A betta fish does not have a powerful bite. Sure, when you compare it pound for pound, it has a stronger bite than that of a great white shark. But in general, this is not too strong as the betta is a tiny fish and does not even have the strength to pierce human skin. 

Anyhow, the bottom line is that you need not worry when you stick your hand in the aquarium to clean it up because the bite of a betta will not hurt.

Do Betta Fish Bite During Spawning? 

Do Betta Fish Bite During Spawning

When male and female betta fish are kept together in an aquarium, it is natural that the bettas will breed and eventually spawn. 

During this period, the bettas may seem a little more restless than usual. 

The betta fish exhibit aggression and slightly more harsh behavior to each other in these times. This means that biting is a lot more likely when these fish are in their spawning phase. This biting can be either a good or a bad sign, depending on the intensity of the bite. 

The bite is a good sign if the bitten fish does not move or slightly backs away. This is an indication that the fish is not yet ready to breed. 

If the bite is a very high-intensity bite, then it is something to watch out for. These bites are usually aimed at the fish parts that would maim it and render it unable to swim efficiently. Places like the fins or the tail are where it is commonly aimed at. In such situations, it is best to separate these fish.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, betta fish do have teeth, but they are primarily meant for processing food. They help the fish break down the food they consume and ease the digestion process. Besides this, the teeth are just used as a defense mechanism. The bite of a betta will not harm you but might hurt another fish in the water. 

know whether or not betta can live in a bowl without a filter. 

You could also read an article about selecting the best tank heaters for betta.


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