Betta fish can breathe oxygen both from the water through their gills and directly from the air above the surface of their bowls for small periods of time. The fish can live for a short period of time in oxygen-deficient water though they thrive in small aquariums. Betta fish were first spotted in Southeast Asia, where they live in rice paddies, drainage ditches and flood plains.
Betta fish were named after a Southeast Asian clan known as the Bettah warriors, according to Pet Sitters International. They were used as fighting fish, a practice that was popular in the 19th century and was once taxed and regulated by the King of Siam. Because of their aggressive nature, betta fish tend to fight other fish with which they share a tank, including other betta fish. The typical lifespan of the fish is approximately two to three years.
When betta fish are kept in an aquarium, the water should be changed gradually, only a portion at a time, to allow the fish to acclimate to the new water. Betta fish prefer warm water, around 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, that is slightly acidic. These aquatic creatures have upturned mouths that make it easier for them to feed from the surface of the water. Betta enjoy dining on brine shrimp, bloodworms and daphnia.