At first glance you might think a Plakat Betta is some exotic species from another country entirely. As it turns out the Plakat is something more exotic yet more ordinary as well.
Plakat is the Thai word for what we call the Betta or Siamese Fighting fish. Translated into English it literally means “biting fish.” If you know even a little about Bettas then you already know why they are called this.
The males are famously intolerant of one another. And they will fight to the death if placed in a bowl, unable to escape each other.
Since this is quite cruel I don’t recommend keeping Plakats or any other Betta males together unless you have a heavily planted tank 30 gallons or larger in size. When given breaks in the line of sight and clear territorial boundaries it’s often possible for males to co-exist.
The practice is similar to keeping crowded colonies of African Cichlids. Even though each fish is individually aggressive, they not only have territories they can form but they can spread their aggression out among the many individuals in the tank.
- Common Names: Plakat Morh, Plakat Betta, Shortfin Betta, Wild Betta, Thai Betta, Halfmoon Plakat Betta, Dragonscale Betta
- Scientific Name: Betta splendens
- Origin: Thailand
- Length: 2-3 inches
- Aquarium Size: 2+ Gallons
- Temperament: Peaceful; Very Territorial
- Ease of Care: Very Easy
Captive bred Bettas are the descendents of centuries of Thai selective breeding for color, fin shape…And aggression. They are like fighting cocks or dogs – far more aggressive than their wild ancestors ever were.
Wild Bettas form little territories in shallow, extremely warm ponds in Thailand where most fish can’t survive. Real estate for building bubble nests is always at a premium and since water is continually evaporating they are often nose to nose with other males.
In order to defend a good patch of plants and attract a female, the males evolved to be tremendously aggressive towards each other. They flare their gills, display, and attack if another male refuses to back off. This is why mirrors and bowls placed side by side causes a Betta to see red in pet stores.
Believe it or not, a Plakat Betta is very similar to what you’d find if you went out with a net into the rice paddies and ponds of Thailand. Stick your net in among the weedy plants and you will likely find a slightly blue or reddish, short-finned Betta just like this.
In other words: Plakats are much closer to their wild roots. This is why Plakats look very similar to female Bettas, which also keep their wild finnage. In Thailand the captive varieties go by the name Plakat Morh, Short Fined Biting Fish. The long-finned variety are known as Plakat Cheen, or Chinese Fighting Fish.
Plakat Betta vs Long-Finned Bettas
Since Plakat Bettas are visibly distinct from Long Finned Bettas it’s worth discussing how the two types compare to one another.
More Resilient Fins
One major advantage Plakat Bettas have over standard Long-finned Bettas is that they are much more resistant to fin damage. When kept in dirty conditions, bacteria rich water, or if given fin injuries, standard Bettas tend to get fin rot very easily.
Fin rot may not start off too seriously but it can progress like wildfire in a formerly healthy fish. Within just a few days, if left untreated, the fins of your Betta can rot to the flesh, preventing them from healing properly. At this stage it can turn into a bacterial or fungal body infection, which is even more dangerous.
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The short fins of Plakat Bettas are also less of a target, both for other Bettas as well as fin nipping fish. Long-finned Bettas are very slow moving compared to Plakats.
Their fins wag like fishing lures so irresistible that even peaceful fish like Neon Tetras may find them too tempting to ignore. A few test bites and your Betta now has open wounds ripe for infection.
Different Style of Fighting
This point is a bit more subjective because all male Bettas are aggressive towards one another. But Plakats are bred to fight in a different way. While they are closer to wild Bettas in form they are still line bred for aggression, which they have plenty of.
If Long Finned Bettas are meant to be fencers then a Plakat is more like a wrestler. Rather than whipping around gracefully, putting on a show for onlookers, a Plakat is thick bodied, strong jawed, and can turn on a dime to grapple with its opponent.
More Disease Resistant
Besides their lack of vulnerability to fin rot, Plakat Bettas are in general tougher compared to Long Finned Bettas. As I said before, they aren’t quite as inbred. Their diverse genetics give them a greater chance of bouncing back from illnesses and sudden swings in temperature or water chemistry.
This is similar to how dog mutts have fewer health problems than German Shepherds, Collies, and other fancy breeds. Or for an aquarium-oriented analogy…Much like how Shubunkins, Comets, and other Goldfish closer to their wild kin are hardier and more resistant to disease compared to Black Moors, Orandas, and other fancy Goldfish.
Where Can I Find Plakat Bettas?
Plakat Bettas are much less popular and are therefore a little hard to find. Since just about everyone has kept a Long finned Betta at some point there is some demand for interesting breeds. For example, exotic goldfish species have become available just in the past year. Genetically engineered with coral and jellyfish DNA, they fluoresce under UV lighting!
Plakats are often mistaken for female Bettas but their size, aggression, and color marks them as male to the eyes of anyone who has ever owned a Betta. The best place to find Plakats is online. Thai Betta breeders offer their Bettas on websites like Aquabid and eBay.
Usually the Bettas are sold in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) auctions. Rather than buying a random fish from a lot, you get a photo of the exact fish that’s for sale. Since the majority of people interested in Plakats are collectors WYSIWYG is much more preferable to getting a random fish.
This does mean that a quality Plakat Betta costs quite a bit more, however. Buying a fancy Plakat may cost $25-$45 from a reputable breeder. And this doesn’t even include shipping, which may cost another $20-$40 from Thailand!
Even a US distributor may not be cheap if you have a specific color in mind. Plakats come in the same varieties as Long Finned Bettas. So a Koi Plakat, Black Plakat, or Platinum Plakat can all be found online quickly enough.
Plakats found in pet stores tend to be any of the standard Long Finned Betta colors: red, blue, or a mixture of the two colors.
Plakat Bettas look a lot like other Betta species, which sometimes also get called “Plakat.” Betta splendens is by far the most popular of the group. But there are actually dozens of different kinds of Bettas that you could try if you’re interested!
Many are much less aggressive than Plakats and can be kept in small groups with ease. Some Bettas are tiny and true nano fish while others, such as most of the mouthbrooding Bettas, get quite a bit larger. They can grow 3-6 inches in length and need aquariums 20 gallons in size or larger!
Plakat Betta Care
This section covers different Plakat betta care topics such as aquarium size, water parameters, diet, and more.
Much like Common Bettas you can keep a Plakat in even the smallest aquariums. They do well in tanks around 2-5 gallons and can be kept singly or with a few nano fish like Celestial Pearl Danios or Chili Rasboras.
Plakats also do well in larger aquariums with other community fish. If you want to breed your Plakat Bettas you really should keep your male and female pair in a larger tank. If the female isn’t ready or willing to breed the male can sometimes harass her to the point of fatal stress. Female bettas need space and hiding places to avoid the amorous attention of over-eager males.
Plakat Bettas prefer water conditions that are slightly acidic to neutral in chemistry (pH 5.5-7.0). However like Common Bettas they do well even if your water conditions are alkaline (pH 7.0+). I do recommend doing what you can to help bring the conditions closer to acidity because your Betta will be much healthier and livelier if you can!
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Many aquarists add Indian Almond leaves to their Betta tanks. These leaves are rich in plant tannins, which are substances that bolster fish immunity and buffer the water towards an acidic chemistry. You can also get plant tannins from large hunks of untreated, unsealed driftwood.
Lastly, make sure you have a small heater rated for your nano or larger aquarium. Plakats, like all Bettas, thrive in warm, tropical conditions. They can survive in cold room temperature water but they are at much greater risk of contracting diseases.
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Their appetite slows as does their metabolism and they become listless and dull. Heaters for Betta tanks are extremely cheap yet make a world of difference for your fish so don’t force them to stay cold.
Tank Mates for Plakat Bettas
Your tank mate choices for Plakat Bettas are a little more diverse than they are for common Long Finned Bettas. They don’t have those trailing, too tempting long fins that Barbs, Danios, and other fin-nippers like to pick at.
You can keep Plakats with just about any similarly sized or smaller freshwater community fish. They do best with soft water fish that love warmer temperatures. Barbs, Gouramis, Tetras, Dwarf Cichlids, and Loaches are just a few of the fish you can keep alongside Plakats.
Stay away from hard water fish like most Livebearers. That said, Guppies and Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei) will thrive in chemistries as acidic as pH 6.0.
It’s also best to avoid fish that are too similar in color and shape to Bettas. Long finned male Bettas are often aggressive towards long-finned Guppies of the same color – they remind them too much of other males.
Feeding Plakat Bettas
Plakat Bettas are known as micro predators in the wild. This means that they hunt for small invertebrates like water fleas, seed shrimp, tiny worms, baby fish, and anything else that’s tiny and free swimming. This should be what we seek to feed our Bettas in captivity as well, especially if we want to condition them for breeding!
Brine shrimp are very easy to cultivate on a desktop or under your aquarium stand. You can also easily raise micro worms, daphnia, and other treats for your fish! But if you aren’t in the mood to grow your own live food, most of these items are available frozen at your local pet store.
- Betta fish food that contains up to 40%,...
- High in multiple proteins like whole salmon –...
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All of these fresh and frozen items are ideal supplements for a prepared Betta fish blend. I always read the ingredients labels for my fish food because carnivorous fish should be eating mostly animal protein.
Unfortunately, the majority of food sold in pet stores uses wheat, potato starch, and other cheap fillers that provide no real nutrition for your fish. Products like Fluval Bug Bites use real fish and insect protein as the main ingredients. Like humans, fish should have as little processed food as possible.
If you’re looking for a Betta that’s just a bit different from the norm, Plakat Bettas have quite a bit to offer. They are great conversation starters if you have friends who are also aquarists. They are likely to ask how you grew your female Bettas so large and colorful! It’s an excellent opportunity to introduce them to the wider world of Betta fish breeds!