Image Credits | Wild Betta Blog

If you’re looking for an exotic, fascinating, and stunning fish, you may want to consider the Snakehead betta. Snakehead betta is rare and is highly coveted among hobbyists because of its good reputation as an excellent aquarium inhabitant.

The Snakehead betta is a peaceful fish and shows interesting behavioral interactions in a group. Read this guide to discover more about the incredible Snakehead betta and learn how to care for this beautiful fish.

The Origin of the Snakehead Betta

The Snakehead betta, commonly known as the Betta Channoides, are natives of the Borneo island, specifically the Mahakam river basin in Indonesia. 

Natural Habitat

Naturally, the Betta Channoides inhabit shallow forest streams with acidic conditions where the fish hides under leaf litter and marginal plant roots.


The Snakehead betta is a reasonably small fish with a big mouth, and the head shape resembles the channa.  The fish has a slender body, with the males growing to 2 inches. Generally, the Snakehead betta can live up to 3-5 years with optimal water conditions and a nutritious diet.

The coloration in males betta Channoides is a bright reddish-brown body. The ventrals and fins are black with white borders. The females are dull grey with reddish fins and uneven dark vertical bars.

Snakehead Betta Care Guide

Image Credits | Japanese Fighting Fish

Tank Size

Betta Channoides can be paired in a modest tank of around 10 gallons. However, the Channoides males and occasionally females will fight if the gallon tank is too small, and you will require an aquarium of at least 15 – 20 gallons that houses a maximum of two males.

The Betta Channoides is a relatively peaceful species and don’t attack when they see each other. But it doesn’t mean the males are not aggressive. The male Snakehead betta fights when threatened or when occupying a territory.

Therefore, you should only keep males together if the gallon tank is big and each can have its territory. Always pair a male with a female in the tank to minimize fights.


The Betta Channoides need flowing water, making adding a filter beneficial in cleaning the water. Ensure that the air-powered sponge filter flow is low because a high flow will exhaust your fish. 

However, the Snakehead betta can do fine without a filter as long as you clean the tank frequently.

Water Parameters

Betta Channoides are quite tolerant when it comes to water parameters. The constant temperature should be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the Snakehead betta is found naturally in blackwater, the acidic water PH range should be 4.0 to 6.6. 

You shouldn’t fill the tank to the brim because the Betta Channoides are excellent jumpers.

Tank Decoration

The plants are the most crucial part of setting up your tank for the Snakehead betta. The tank should have lots of vegetation to mimic their blackwater streams and provide leaf litter for the fish to hide, and increase the growth of microbe colonies. Add clay plant pots or extra cover of java fern, Indian almond leaves, frogbit, and java moss which are some of the best plants to put in the tank. 

The Snakehead betta appreciates light sandy substrates as the look mimics their natural habitat. They also like driftwood roots for shelter and a space to hide when intimidated. Usually, the tank should have hiding spaces spread out in the tank.

The Betta Channoides thrive under dim lighting because they are from flowing streams. Set the filter to a low to medium flow.

Diet and Nutrition

Snakehead betta is a carnivore and needs a variety of meat-based diets. However, the fish can still have high-quality flakes, frozen and live food. Feed them white worms, blood worms, krill, or dwarf shrimp. 

Also, feed the Betta Channoides a variety of live and frozen food because feeding only on specific foods may cause your fish to miss nutrients. Be cautious not to overfeed the fish because the Snakehead betta is prone to obesity.

However, it’s recommended that you buy flake foods with no fillers when feeding the Betta Channoides. The fish can be picky eaters of dried foods, particularly those caught in the wild tend not to eat dried food.


Fortunately, Snakehead betta can make a good community fish with good preparation. But it’s best to have a specialized tank to minimize stress as much as possible. The Betta Channoides prefer to be alone in the tank.

Before adding other fish, the tank should be at least 15 gallons to ensure that the Snakehead betta establishes its territory. The Snakehead betta must be the dominant fish in the tank. Only small and calm fish species can only share a tank with the Snakehead to avoid competition.

Corydoras, shrimp, Pangio kuhli, and Morman’s Lampeye Kili are some peaceful fishes that can share a tank with Betta Channoides. Ensure you have a big tank and sufficient natural cover.


Breeding the Snakehead betta is pretty easy because the males are mouthbrooders. They brood out the eggs using their mouths. Unlike other betta species, the Snakehead betta doesn’t build bubble nests. 

The Betta Channoides live in shallow streams with dense vegetation, and the water has some current. This habitat will expose the bubble nest to predators, and the current will sweep away the nests.

Therefore, for this reason, the Betta Channoides developed mouthbrooding which ensures the eggs have protection and a higher survival rate. But the male is endangered, and the batches are small compared to bubble breeding.


You have to pair the Snakehead betta to breed the fish successfully. Spawning occurs when the male and female pair. You can have a separate tank for spawning. The pairing happens naturally in a group with several males and females.

Create a spawning tank with enough space; 15-20 gallons is suitable for breeding a pair. The water should have a lower PH, and the temperature should be between 78 to 82 Fahrenheit. The Betta Channoides are small fish, and the males can only hold small batches of eggs.

After a successful spawn, it’s crucial to avoid stressing the male because it hasn’t eaten for an extended period. Mask the glass, an additional cover, and low-light conditions help prevent the stressed females from prematurely releasing the fry or ingesting the eggs.

The fries swim freely after being released while having a dark color.  The breeding tank cover must be tight. These betta fish are excellent jumpers, so their tank should not be filled to the top when creating their captive habitat.

To ensure the development of the labyrinth organs. The baby betta may feed on micro worms and baby brine shrimp thrice a day for 2-3 weeks for optimal growth rate and switch to frozen food on the 6th week.

Health and Disease

Image Credits | Rena’s Fish Store

The Betta Channoides is a pretty strong and healthy fish, as long as they feed on a nutritious diet and the tank condition is clean and with the proper water parameters.

Diseases that may affect the Snakehead betta include:

·      Ich

Ich is also known as white spot disease and it’s caused by Ichyophthirius multifilis. The parasite moves from the bottom of the tank, attach itself to the Snakehead betta’s skin and feeds on the fish’s cells and body fluids.

Fish will often be seen rubbing themselves against hard objects in the tank. The Betta Channoides may also clench their fins. After a few days, white cysts, gills, and fins appear on the fish’s body.

Though it’s easy to treat the ich on the onset of the disease, it is fatal once it progresses. Treat the disease by increasing the temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit for several days while treating the water with ich medication from the fish store.

·      Bacterial Infections

Different species of bacteria thrive in a fish tank and usually cause no problem. But if the Betta Channoides have open sores and bloody fins, bacteria will worsen the situation.

·      Flukes

Flukes are parasites that, at times, attack the Snakehead Betta. These aquatic parasites attach themselves to the gills and bodies of the fish. Flukes are visible, and you can notice them with the naked eye. 

The Betta Channoides will try getting rid of the fluke by flicking against stones in the tank. Like the white spot disease, you can get rid of the flukes by using anti-parasitic medication to treat the water.

·      Fungal Infections

Fungi is usually the cotton-like white growth on the fish’s body, head, and fins. Fungus is common in fish kept in unclean water conditions. Anti-fungal medication treats the disease.

How to Avoid Snakehead Betta Diseases 

The excellent news is it is easy to prevent most fish diseases by following the simple steps below.

  • Quarantine your new Betta Channoides on a separate tank for ten days before placing them in your main tank.
  • Carefully clean the Snakehead betta tank and keep the water clean by changing the water regularly
  • Don’t leave the Betta Channoides in cramped conditions
  • Always buy live food from a trusted supplier, and remove leftover food in the water before feeding it with live food
  • Wash the natural cover and driftwood roots with antibacterial medication to eliminate parasites and harmful bacteria in your tank.

Prioritize monitoring your fish every day to notice any possible problems that may be developing. But Betta Channoides is an active and healthy fish. 

If you observe any inactive fish that lacks appetite, quickly remove it from the main tank and quarantine it to prevent spreading fish diseases. Treating your fish at the onset of the disease is a sure way of avoiding death. Always be on the lookout.

Final Thoughts

Image Credits | Japanese Fighting Fish

Snakehead betta is quite an uncommon mouthbrooding species with stunning coloration and is relatively peaceful. With the right conditions, the fish is easy to breed.

The Betta Channoides is an excellent community fish, but two males require a large tank to establish their territory and minimize fights. The Snakehead fish is a beautiful addition to a community tank, giving you up to five years as a reward for your efforts.

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