Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?

Ever wonder if your betta fish could take a bite out of you?

The answer is no, they cannot take a bite out of a human, although they do have very sharp and effective tiny white teeth.

Betta fish have teeth capable of crushing and chewing hard-shelled prey. These teeth are hard to see unless you look very closely or with magnification. Betta fish owners must be aware of fish behavior and environmental needs. This will prevent unnecessary biting as it could cause injury to the fish.

It’s a good idea to keep your hands out of the betta tank unless performing maintenance. Your betta might see you as food or a threat and bite you.

Their tiny teeth can become caught in your skin even though they cannot pierce it. This could cause their jaw to break.

If your fish becomes caught trying to bite you, disentangle it as gently as possible. This will prevent further injury to the fish.

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How Do Betta Fish Use Their Teeth?


Betta fish are carnivores and use their teeth to catch, hold, kill, and chew prey. Their usual prey in their natural habitat is small insects, larvae, small snails, and crustaceans.

This beautiful fish species has about 50 teeth. Their sharp incisors rip their prey into bite-sized pieces of food.

The set of pharyngeal teeth at the back of the throat grind and chew their meaty food, like humans use molars.

Interestingly, baby betta fish lack teeth when they are born.


Bettas also use their teeth when fighting. They are aggressive fish and use their teeth well in a fight.

By clamping down with their powerful jaws, their teeth will shred their foes’ tails, scales, and fins. This is why bettas are better kept as solitary fish or with dull, drab, short-finned fish species they won’t see as rivals.

Do Bettas Bite Their Owners?

betta teeth and biting

A common question for betta fish owners, the answer is “sometimes.” Your fish’s individual temperament and the situation will guide whether your pet fish bites.

A betta’s personality dictates whether they will bite their human. Some bettas are laid back and nonaggressive; others earn their name “Siamese fighting fish.”

More aggressive bettas with a fierce temperament see anything strange in their environment as a threat and will attack it. This is just a defense mechanism.

Also, most fish will nibble at something new in their tank. This is not unusual behavior.

While a betta’s bite is proportionally stronger than a great white shark’s, its mouth is so tiny its bite will not break your skin.

Betta bites are nothing to worry about as far as humans go despite their powerful jaw muscles.

If your betta fish bites you, at most, you might feel a slight tickle or pinch. Betta fish teeth are razor sharp but too small to damage human skin.

Do Betta Mates Bite Each Other?

Keeping male and female bettas in the same tank to breed has its risks. During breeding, the fish will show more aggressive behavior towards each other.

They will nip and bite at each other with their sharp teeth. If the female Betta fish is not ready to breed, it will back away or not move.

A higher intensity, more aggressive bite towards fins or the tail is something fish keepers need to watch out for. This is a bad sign and mean serious fighting, in which case the fish need to be separated.

Whenever your betta fish has a tank mate, watch for signs of aggression or signs of distress. Many bettas do better alone.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Caring for these awesome fish seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Biting behaviors in your betta fish are because of feeding, curiosity, or aggression.

If your betta exhibits aggression, ensure their tank setup has plenty of enrichment and hiding places to reduce stress. Don’t do anything to trigger their aggression, like dangling your fingers in the water.

If they are aggressive to tank mates, consider keeping the other fish in a separate tank. If you are trying to breed them, remember not all betta fish pairings work out.

When your betta fish feeds, keep it regular, short, and simple. Do not encourage them to feed from the tip of your finger, to lessen the chance of them nipping your fingertip.

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Wesley Oaks has a background in web publishing and decided to combine his skillset with his enjoyment of betta fish. When he isn’t working behind the scenes for Betta Fish Bay, he’s homeschooling his kids and soaking up quality family time.

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