Distribution: The Penang mouth-brooding betta comes from Southeast Asia, occurring over the entire Malaysian peninsula south of Thailand. The Penang mouth-brooding betta also occurs on the adjacent island of Penang.
Size: The Penang mouth-brooding betta can measure up to 4.75in (12cm).
Form: The Penang mouth-brooding betta has a slender body, with a powerful head. The Penang mouth-brooding betta’s basic color scheme is brown with greenish-blue iridescence extending from the lower jaw across the gill covers along the lower part of the body, but this pattern is quite variable. Female fish and young fish have two dark bars running down each side of the body, augmented by corresponding head stripes.
Diet: Penang mouth-brooding bettas are insectivorous, so offer live foods in various forms, although this fish species also feeds on standard fare.
Natural habitat and behavior: The Penang mouth-brooding betta occurs in mountain streams, where the water is clear and fast-flowing, although these bettas tend to occupy areas of aquatic vegetation where the current is not as strong, adjacent to the banks. Seasonal water flows affect the temperature of this fish species’ environment. At peak flow rates, this may measure just 72°F (22°C), but when the current is slower, this can rise to 79°F (26°C). As its name says, the Penang mouth-brooding betta is a mouthbrooder rather than a bubblenester.
Aquarium conditions: Water quality is important with Penang mouth-brooding bettas, and the filtration system must be efficient, since these bettas are relatively unusual in not inhabiting sluggish stretches of water. Being used to rain-fed streams, this fish species requires soft water conditions, with a slightly acidic pH, and should be housed in a well-planted fish tank to match their natural habitat. The water level can be relatively shallow, being lowered to as little as 4in (10cm) when spawning is anticipated. Spawning itself is a protracted process, which may take as long as five hours, with the male Penang mouth-brooding betta retaining the eggs in his mouth until the fry hatch and emerge into the aquarium about 10 days later. Penang mouth-brooding bettas can be reared successfully on brine shrimp nauplii from the outset.
Excerpt from Bettas and Gouramis, part of the Fish Keeping Made Easy Series, with permission from its publisher BowTie Press. Purchase Bettas and Gouramis here.