A Comprehensive Guide To Keeping Betta Channoides

betta channoides
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Raising fishes could require some research work before you set up your aquarium. Having adequate knowledge beforehand to provide them with a suitable environment to feed and raise them the proper way is important. 

This is especially true if they are not cheap fish that you buy from the pet store! And wild bettas can be pricey depending on where you’re from.

Here’s my compiled research on the Betta channoides so that you can prevent any mishaps.

What is a Betta Channoides?

Betta channoides, which is a species of freshwater fish, is native only to the region of Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia. As you can probably tell from its name, it’s a species of Betta. Meaning, they are labyrinth fishes that can breathe atmospheric air!

Common names for Betta Channoides

Apart from the scientific name of Betta channoides, they are also commonly known as the Snakehead Betta. Their name is loosely based on snakehead fishes, Channa, as these species share a resemblance to their head’s shape.

Where are Betta Channoides Found?

The Betta channoides are native exclusively to Kalimantan Timur, which is on Borneo Island, Indonesia. They are usually found on the Mahakam River, where the water bodies are blackwater streamlets. 

They can also be found in streams located nearby Pampang village. When they are collected from different regions, they are usually separated to distinguish them by their unique features.

Localities of Betta Channoides

Besides the Mahakam River in Kalimantan Timur, Betta channoides have also been known in places like Sungai Medium, Maurapahu, and Mujup.

The common localities in the aquarium trade are “Samarinda” and “Melak”. I can’t seem to find any main differences between the 2, so if you know any, please do contribute!

Habitats of Betta Channoides

The Betta channoides species have been found in shallow moving streams surrounded by thick forests. The water is generally brown due to tannins from fallen leaves. These tannins increase the acidity of the water. 

There are riparian plants that provide shade while absorbing excess nutrients out of the water along the streams.

Underwater, they can be found swimming amongst the leaf litter and other foliage forms that grow inside the waters. 

How to take care of Betta Channoides?

The Betta channoides are somewhat tolerant to neutral waters, so the water chemistry rarely makes a difference to these fishes, as long as it is clean and stable.

If you’re getting wild-caught fishes, it’s always best to replicate their habitat’s water conditions. More on the water conditions later.

You should provide these species with a moderate amount of plants and rock-formed caves so that they can find a place for refuge.

Tank Size for Betta Channoides

An ideal aquarium size for these types of fish should measure at least 45 x 30cm (1.5 x 1ft). This size should be able to maintain 2 pairs at least. 

Asian keepers have successfully bred them in 30cm (1ft) tanks as well. Anything more than 2 pairs would require a bigger fish tank.

Of course, if you have the capacity to keep them in larger aquariums, you should do so.

Aquarium layout for Betta Channoides

You don’t have to go all out for them, as a simple aquarium layout for Betta channoides is fine.

However, if you’d like to pamper them, you can start with different substrate types to make your aquarium look more natural. Light sandy substrates replicate the looks of their natural habitat, while darker tones are usually used to encourage brighter colouration of these fishes.

Breeders love bare bottom tanks due to the ease of maintenance. 

You can also add leaf litter as it gives the aquarium a natural vibe. This will allow them to feel right at home, as it mimics their natural habitat. You can also add some driftwood for forms of shelter, giving them a space to retreat when they feel intimidated. 

Generally, the aquarium layout should have places of refuge and hiding spaces scattered across the aquarium. 

It has been observed that they thrive best under dim lighting. As they are from moving streams, set your filter to a low-medium flow.

Water conditions for Betta Channoides

Since it is naturally found in blackwater, Betta channoides need a decent acidity level and moderate carbonate levels. 

The optimal water temperature of the tank should be 23-30C (74-86F). The pH levels should measure between 4.0 to 6.6. The amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium, or the water hardness, measures around 18-90 ppm.

What can I keep with my Betta Channoides?

You can house these fishes in pairs or keep them in species or community aquariums. They have little to no trouble coexisting with other species as long as they are of the same size. 

Some keepers may prefer not to place them in a community tank, but it’s all up to you. If you feel that they are better off in a species tank, you can do so.

If you opt to place them in a community tank, make sure that they are not swimming with bigger and more intimidating species. Peaceful blackwater fishes such as tetras and danios can be considered. As Betta channoides are lay-and-wait surface predators, do ensure that they get enough food. 

Shrimps are likely to be eaten, while loaches and cyprinids are great bottom feeders to clear up leftover food.

Feeding Betta Channoides

The Betta channoides are likely to feed on smaller insects and other vertebrae, along with worms and larvae. They will also consume commercial food once they’ve been able to make out that it’s edible. 

However, Betta channoides are one of the most difficult wild bettas to pellet-train, although I’ve managed to train my pair a long time ago when I had them.

If you manage to train them to eat pellet food, it would be best if you balanced it with live food to maintain their inclination towards natural sources of food. 

Make it a point to have them step out of their comfort zones and look for food elsewhere since this will stimulate them and encourage predatory instincts.

Sexing Betta Channoides

The International Betta Congress states that fully grown males are generally expected to have more vivid colors on their scales. They also have a broader shape of the head when compared to females. In contrast, females tend to have a faded light-brown look. 

Breeding Betta Channoides

Betta channoides species show all signs that they are paternal mouthbrooders. Keeping this species separated when they are breeding is recommended. 

The male will first flare-up its fins, have a more intense colouration, and curl its body towards the female to attract her. If successful, the female will respond by developing vertical bars before they begin embracing each other.

Embracing multiple times is normal before eggs are released. Every time the eggs are released, the female collects the eggs, passing them to the male. 

This process is repeated until the female has no more eggs and the male collects every egg in its mouth. 

The incubation period lasts from 10 to 15 days. During the first 5 days, avoid feeding the pair as the male might be tempted to swallow the eggs. Instead, after 3-5 days, gently net out the female to put her in a different tank and start feeding her. Continue not feeding the male until he spits out all the fries.

If the male successfully holds to term, he will release fully-formed fries. The fries are light brown in colouration. The males can carry up to 60 fries, making the need for enough space very vital. The standard amount is usually 3 to 30.

Most sources mention that Betta channoides will not eat their fries, while some say that they will. You can remove both parents after spawning to prevent them from consuming the fries. 

Be mindful to give the male a few days of feeding to recuperate before introducing him to the female again. If not, he risks being malnourished and might not survive the next spawning session.

Feed the fry with microworms, vinegar eels, and baby brine shrimp. When fully grown, they can eat worms, insects, and vertebrae, along with the commercial feed if you can successfully train them. I recommend that you do not overfeed the fries.

Betta Channoides’ Standard length

The Betta channoides species have a standard length of 35-40mm, which translates to about 1.4 to 1.6 inches.

Lifespan Of Betta Channoides 

These species are known to have a 3-5 years lifespan, although I believe it should follow most betta species with a lifespan of 2-3 years.

Similar Species

The only similar species to Betta channoides is the Betta albimarginata. Not only are they the only 2 species in the albimarginata complex, but they also look so similar to each other that even pet stores have difficulties identifying them.

The colour of male Betta channoides can be described as more towards scarlet while Betta albimarginata is more towards brick red. However, the easiest way to differentiate males is the black margin in Betta channoides’ tails do not fully extend as it would for Betta albimarginata.

By counting the fins and scales, you can distinguish female Betta albimarginata from Betta channoides. However, this is a bit tricky for beginners.


Betta channoides are constantly recommended as a beginner wild betta species for those looking to get their hands on the wild side. They are cute, remain small, and relatively unaggressive. 

They are also considered one of the easiest species to spawn, with many breeders say they are easier to breed than guppies! However, despite it being suitable for novices, effort is required to provide the necessary living conditions for them.

Furthermore, you’ll need to know how to feed your Betta, the types of filters that are suitable for bettas, and even their lighting requirements!

Nevertheless, I hope this piece provided enough information for you to get started on them! For experienced wild betta keepers, if you have any information or images you’d like to contribute, please reach out to me!

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