Goldfish too boring? Here are 6 top tips for keeping Siamese fighting fish

Happy together

Despite their name, Siamese fighting fish can be kept in a tank with another of the same species. Two males shouldn’t be housed together; males and females won’t usually fight, but the male can become aggressive after the female has spawned because he sets out to protect the fry. Fighting fish can be housed with other species, but red-coloured, long-finned species will be harassed by the fighting fish, while smaller types such as tiger barbs and tetras may nip the fighter’s flowing tail.

Blowing bubbles

Fighting fish can be bred in a home aquarium. The males are bubble nest builders, which means they collect the female’s eggs after she releases them into the water and then deposit them into a nest created by blowing bubbles at the surface. Their natural habitat is near-stagnant water, so by staying close to the surface, the fry are able to absorb oxygen directly through body tissue.

Keep it clean

These tropical freshwater fish need water with a constant temperature between 24C and 28C. Fish that survive the warmer months without a heating device may need extra attention before the cold weather sets in. Although they can survive in a poor-quality environment, you should still change one-third of the water each week for a small bowl, a quarter each month for an aquarium, and the entire amount weekly for a smaller container.

Fighting fit

One downside to the ornamental variety of these fish – which is the type you buy from the pet store or aquarium as opposed to the kind living in the wild in Asia – is that they can be prone to some diseases. The main concern is fin rot, which is caused by exposure to dirty water. Follow strict water-changing guidelines to ensure your fish live in a clean and healthy environment. This species is also highly susceptible to ammonia, which accumulates faster in smaller containers. Prolonged exposure can weaken the fish and lead to them contracting bacterial infections. Visible symptoms may include a noticeably swollen stomach, lethargic behaviour and a distinct lack of interest at feeding time.

Meal time

Siamese fighting fish are a carnivorous species so meat products are essential for their survival. The easiest way to feed them is with a commercial pellet preparation, and you can also supplement their diet with tubifex worms or mosquito wrigglers as a treat.

What’s in a name?

The males of this species are notoriously aggressive towards each other, hence the name ‘fighting fish’. In the shallow, overgrown waters where they live, competition for breeding space is fierce. The males must protect their territory or lose their breeding ground to a stronger male.

Overseas, people will often place bets on fights between two males – although such practice is strictly illegal in Australia. In the wild, the loser of a fight can swim away, retreating to another part of the rice paddy – however, fish set upon each other in an aquarium will sometimes fight to the death.

Photo and story courtesy of

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