Two more mouthbrooding Bettas

by David Armitage

Maurice Kottelat has described 2 more Bettas from Thailand/Cambodia to add to the increasing list of known anabantoids.

Betta prima from SE Thailand and Cambodia is a member of the Betta pugnax group which is characterised by:- 22-26 branched anal rays; head pattern comprises a central stripe from chin to opercle, lower stripe from eye to throat but missing from opercle; throat and opercle iridescent green In large males; caudal rhomboid and pointed.

Betta prima differs in that the lower head stripe is complete and present on the opercle; it is of a smaller size (40mm vs 60 mm SL) and mouthbroods at 21mm SL. The median caudal is not obviously pointed and the posterior rays of the anal and dorsal are not obviously elongated. Anal rays extend to the anterior one-third of the caudal compared with at least mid-length in males of other B.pugnax group members. The fish is dark brown with blackish stripes and a dark green iridescent throat. There is a narrow dark margin in the anal of the males.

Half of the B.pugnax described from Cambodia are B.prima. It was found in Chantaburi province, Thailand in creeks and swamps and from a stream in Trat province as well as the Tha Krabak waterfall in Sa Kaeo province. In Cambodia it was found at Stung Tong Hong.

Betta simplex is pictured in Linke's Tetra book as 'spec. from Krabi' and was found NW of Krabi spring and the small lake of Tham Sra Kaow and in 9 associated ponds.

It is a member of the B.picta group which are characterised by: rounded unpaired fins; lower stripe on head through the eye to the lower base of pectoral; anal rays I-III, 18-22; presence of a broad dark margin along the anal and lower caudal.

B.simplex differs in that it is more bulky, has a strongly projecting lower jaw. It differs fromB.taeniata (from Sarawak) by a smaller maximum size (60mm vs 80 mm) and in that it is sexually dimorphic. It differs from B.pictafrom Java and Sumatra as the stripes are very faint in the male and the anal and caudal stripes are black or dark blue compared with green or blue. Its anal is rounded while that ofB.picta is slightly pointed. It has a deeper body (29.3-32.2% SL vs 23.7-27.1% SL). There are more scales in the transverse row (mode 11.5) compared with 9.5. It also has a possibly smaller size at 60mm compared with 70 mm TL in B.picta.

B.simplex is a light reddish-brown with 3 faint stripes. The lower stripe becomes a bar between the eye and throat and the throat and opercle are an iridescent green. The anal fin has a narrow white distal margin and a broad black sub distal band, bordered inward by a blue band. The female is pictured in Linke. The body and head are a pale yellow brown with stripes and a conspicuous black spot on the middle caudal base.

It was collected along the shores of a pool 10-15m in diameter and up to 10m deep in a karstic area with t 26.9C, pH 7 and hardness 11GH and 11KH.


Kottelat, M. 1994 Diagnoses of 2 new species of fighting fishes from Thailand and Cambodia (Teleostei:Belontiidae). IEF 5, 297-304.

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