The Brunei Beauty, or Spotfin Betta, is a striking fish that is sure to turn a few heads due to the male’s brilliant coloration. This species differs from the more familiar and readily available Siamese Fighting Fish. However, when males are kept in the same tank, they do flare. While the Brunei Beauty is similar to the Fighting Fish, there are stark differences between the two species.
Table of contents
- Quick Facts About the Brunei Beauty
- Brunei Beauty Overview
- How Much Do Brunei Beauty Cost?
- Typical Behavior & Temperament
- Appearance & Varieties
- How to Take Care of Brunei Beauty
- Are Brunei Beauty Good Tankmates?
- What to Feed Your Brunei Beauty
- Keeping Your Brunei Beauty Healthy
- Is the Brunei Beauty Suitable for Your Aquarium?
Quick Facts About the Brunei Beauty
|Species Name:||Betta macrostoma|
|Color Form:||Males: Red to orange, with banded fins
Females: Less intense colors, with two lateral bands
|Lifespan:||Five or more years|
|Size:||Up to 4” L|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 gallons for a pair; 40 gallons for community tanks|
|Tank Set-Up:||Plenty of hiding places and artificial or live plants|
|Compatibility:||Other peaceful, slow-moving species|
Brunei Beauty Overview
The Brunei Beauty isn’t an ordinary Betta. It neither has the long fins nor the wide variation in color as the Siamese Fighting Fish. It also isn’t as widely found in the pet trade or the wild. At one time, scientists feared that it was extinct. It has a limited range in the inland wetlands of the North Sarawak district of Malaysia and the Belait district in Brunei Darussalam.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists the Brunei Beauty as a vulnerable species. While the exact numbers are unknown, scientists believe that the population is decreasing. It’s also fragmented, which can affect whether its recovery in the wild is possible.
The fish typically lives in shallow, slow-moving waters. Other threats to its existence include the cutting of rainforests for palm oil, due to their proximity to these habitats in the North Sarawak district. Logging and non-timber agriculture also negatively impact the Brunei Beauty. Conservation laws are in place in Brunei Darussalam, but they are not adequately enforced to protect the species.
How Much Do Brunei Beauty Cost?
The international pet trade has played a direct role in the decreasing population of the Brunei Beauty, particularly in the North Sarawak district. This species breeds relatively easily in captivity. Nevertheless, these fish are difficult to find online and next to impossible in the big-box retail market. if you manage to locate a pair, you can expect to pay north of $150 or more.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
The Brunei Beauty is best kept in mated pairs. They are more docile if they have a tank mate. Males and females both will flare at members of the same sex. These Bettas will swim anywhere in the aquarium. They aren’t particularly active and are generally slow-moving fish. Nonetheless, you should avoid keeping them with other long-finned species, such as Fancy Guppies.
Appearance & Varieties
Like most Bettas, the Brunei Beauty is sexually dimorphic, which means you can tell males and females apart easily. The male Brunei Beauty has shorter fins than the male Siamese Fighting Fish. He has two pectoral fins, one adipose, and one caudal fin. He does not have a dorsal fin. The body is orange to bright red, depending on his breeding state.
The male’s fins have black bands. There are also two similar ones on his face. The pectoral fins are pointy, with black-and-white coloration on them. The anatomy of the female is similar, but she is a dull tan to drab red color. Her fins lack the black bands that the male’s has. Instead, the female has two lateral stripes that go down the length of her body and are barely visible.
Both sexes are more intensely colorful during breeding. The male gets dramatically redder, which makes the black markings stand out even more.
How to Take Care of Brunei Beauty
Like most Bettas, the Brunei Beauty is easygoing when it comes to tank conditions. After all, it lives in shallow pools in the wild, where the water quality is not perfect. That’s a good thing, considering how expensive these fish are.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Setting up your tank correctly will go a long way toward keeping the Brunei Beauty healthy. The essential thing to remember is to keep the conditions stable. This will reduce any stress that could make your fish vulnerable to disease and parasites.
Aquarium Size and Accessories
You should keep the Brunei Beauty in pairs in a tank that is at least 20 gallons. That will give them plenty of room to explore their world after you’ve decorated it. You should add a good 3-inch layer of the substrate to give a good base for biological filtration to occur. These Bettas like having hiding places for cover because they are prey species in the wild.
You can add either live or artificial plants to your tank. The Brunei Beauty isn’t as sensitive to high nitrate levels as other fish, given its native habitat. However, a few live ones will keep it within an acceptable range. We recommend including a few floating ones too. That will replicate the conditions that these fish would likely encounter in the wild.
The Brunei Beauty prefers water that is slightly acidic, in the 6.5-7.5 range. The decaying vegetation in the water would normally contribute to this parameter. You can add almond leaves to your tank to create a more natural environment. They will stain the water to a tea-like color, but that’s what this fish knows. They also like water that is slightly hard. Adding aquarium salt can help on that score.
Heating and Lighting
The Brunei Beauty lives in a tropical rainforest environment in the wild. That’s the setting that you’ll need to create in your aquarium. A heater is a must-have to keep the temperature stable in the fish’s desirable range. A thermometer will allow you to monitor it for accuracy. The water will stay within the ambient conditions. If you need to heat it 9℉ or less, a 50-watt heater will suffice. Otherwise, opt for something higher.
As far as lighting goes, the Brunei Beauty prefers low-light conditions. That’s good news if your tank is in a bedroom, where a lighted hood would be a distraction. You will need a UV light if you have live plants.
Filtration and Maintenance
A filter will keep the water chemistry stable in the same way that a heater works for the temperature. The Brunei Beauty is used to slow-moving water. A sponge or foam filter will get the job done without causing too much water movement. Just make sure to change the cartridge regularly, as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
You should plan on doing 25% water changes every 2 weeks to avoid the buildup of waste and other toxins. If you treat your tank with aquarium salt or other additives, use a dose that is appropriate for the amount that you’re adding back instead of the entire volume.
Are Brunei Beauty Good Tankmates?
The Brunei Beauty can co-exist with other fish, provided that they are equally peaceful. Avoid fast-moving or aggressive species. Bettas do best with schooling fish, which will keep to themselves. We also suggest sticking with varieties that are about the same size as the Betta to avoid conflicts. Of course, you should keep only one male and one female Betta in a tank.
Due to this fish’s high price tag, we recommend being extra cautious when adding new fish to your aquarium. If possible, quarantine them for a few days to a week to avoid spreading parasites or diseases.
What to Feed Your Brunei Beauty
The Brunei Beauty is a carnivore in the wild. It’ll eat whatever insects or invertebrates that it can find. You can feed your fish similar foodstuffs. However, they will eat commercial foods, such as pellets, once they’ve tasted them and figured out that they are food. Many pet owners like to feed their Bettas color-enhancing products. That’s also an option for the Brunei Beauty.
Keeping Your Brunei Beauty Healthy
Stable water conditions are vital for the health of your Brunei Beauty. Drastic changes will stress your fish and leave them vulnerable to disease. Regular water changes are essential, even if the Betta is tolerant of poor water quality. You may want to consider adding aquarium salt before doing water changes to help your fish cope with the added stress.
The Brunei Beauty is a paternal mouthbrooder. The male will build a bubble nest in anticipation of the female spawning. He will make sure that the eggs get to a safe place before hatching. You should offer your Bettas a high-quality diet during breeding. That will ensure that the fry get a good headstart in life. You will need to remove the male after the fry hatch, because otherwise, he will eat them.
Is the Brunei Beauty Suitable for Your Aquarium?
The high price tag is probably the only deterrent to getting a pair of Brunei Beauty fish to add to your tank. Their stunning color and high tolerance make them welcome pets for the enthusiast. Of course, the biggest challenge that you’ll face is finding these Bettas. If you’re lucky enough to get them, you likely find that they are worth the wait and investment.
Featured Image Credit: Andrzej Zabawski, Shutterstock