Samurai Betta: Overview and Proper Care Guide

Bettas, also called Siamese fighting fish, have become a popular option among fish keepers. 

The samurai betta fish is a particularly stunning option, featuring a fan-like tail and iridescent dragon scales. 

This betta variety originates in Southeast Asia.

It came about due to a genetic mutation that occurred during selective breeding. Pichet Plaisanguan discovered the mutation and popularized and named the fish. 

Unfortunately, many people are fooled into thinking their betta is a samurai variety. Avoid this problem by learning more about it!


samurai betta appearance

The samurai betta is a distinctive fish with beautiful finnage, coloration, and markings. 

Samurai bettas feature a tail similar to the halfmoon betta. This means it has a fan-like spread of 180° degrees rather than the long, flowing tail of Betta splendens.

This variety of betta fish comes in a variety of colors. Black samurai bettas are especially popular. However, they’re hard to come by as they result from a genetic mutation. 

Generally, a samurai betta will have a solid-colored belly, and its body will be covered in about 40% to 70% dragon scales.

These scales are iridescent and put some betta keepers in mind of a samurai’s helmet and armor. Samurai betta fish do not have any iridescence aside from their dragon scales. 

Finally, betta fish exhibit sexual dimorphism.

This means males and females have differences in appearance. Female bettas generally have shorter fins and tails, are smaller, and tend to be duller in color. 

Unique Differences 

Black samurai bettas, in particular, are difficult to breed. This is for a few different reasons:

  • The criteria for a “perfect” samurai betta are hard to achieve.
  • This type of betta came about as a result of a genetic mutation. 
  • Getting the breeding pair and conditions just right isn’t easy. 

Samurai bettas are also rather unique in their appearance. They have a tail shape similar to the halfmoon betta and can vary in color.


Samurai bettas generally live from 3 to 5 years in captivity. 

With proper care, your betta may live even longer than this.

Potentially extend the life of your samurai betta by taking these actions:

  • Perform frequent water changes
  • Feed it a varied, nutritious diet (and don’t overfeed)
  • Maintain optimal water parameters
  • Watch for signs of diseases or infections

For more tips on betta fish care, visit our comprehensive guide. 

Average Size

This variety of betta fish can grow from 1.5 to 3″ inches long. Males generally grow to be larger than females, occasionally surpassing 3″ inches. 

To help your betta reach its full-size potential, feed it a varied diet with all the essential nutrients. Also, ensure the water parameters are ideal for your samurai betta (more on this later). 

Samurai Betta Care

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a single samurai betta is 5 gallons. However, since the average betta is quite territorial, consider starting at 10 gallons. 

If you house your betta with tank mates or start a sorority, increase the tank size accordingly. 

Water Parameters

Taking proper care of betta fish includes keeping their water parameters optimal. These are the best parameters for samurai bettas: 

Ideal Water Parameters for a Betta Fish Tank Include the following:

  • Temperature: 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-27° C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: < 40 ppm
  • gH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)
  • kH: 3-5 dKH (53.6-89.4 ppm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons

Further, ensure levels of ammonia and other toxins remain as close to zero as possible. They reduce water quality and can make your betta sick. 

What To Put In Their Tank

Bettas thrive in aquariums that mimic their natural habitats. Here are some things to include in your betta tank setup:

Gravel or Substrate

Put a layer of gravel or substrate at the bottom of the tank. Opt for a substrate neutral in color. Bright colors can make your betta more anxious or aggressive.

Water Filter

Install a water filter to ensure the water remains clean and oxygenated.

A filter pulls water from the tank, removes toxins from it, and puts it back into the tank. 

Ensure the filter you use is low-flow. This way, in case your betta gets too close to the filter, it’s less likely to damage your betta’s fins. 

Water Heater

A water heater is essential because betta fish need warm water conditions to thrive.

With a water heater, you won’t have to worry as much about checking the water temperature. It will keep the water warm and ensure the temperature remains stable.

This is essential, as sudden changes in water conditions can make your fish ill or stressed. 


Bettas thrive in planted tanks. 

Two options to consider are live plants and artificial plants. 

If opting for live plants, there are several types to choose from. Here are just a few options to consider: 

  • Amazon frogbit
  • Water sprite
  • Java moss
  • Anacharis
  • Amazon sword
  • Anubias

If you choose to add fake plants to your aquarium, avoid those made from plastic. They may have sharp edges, which can damage your betta’s fins and cause infection. 

A better fake plant material is silk, which is both natural and non-toxic. It’s also less likely to have sharp edges, making it a safer alternative to plastic. 


Tank decorations can both make the aquarium more aesthetic and decrease your betta’s stress levels. 

In particular, look for decorations featuring a hidey-hole. Bettas need privacy, and built-in hiding places allow for this. 

Also, consider buying a betta hammock, which is a special decoration serving as a resting spot for your betta. 

When shopping for decorations, ensure they do not have any toxic materials or paints. Toxins can leech into the water, making your betta sick. 

Possible Diseases

samurai betta diseases

Samurai betta fish are prone to all the typical betta diseases and parasitic infections, including the following:

  • Popeye
  • Ich
  • Dropsy
  • Swim bladder disease
  • Flukes 
  • Anchor worms
  • Columnaris
  • Fin and tail rot

Keep your betta healthy through proper care and attention.

This means performing water changes, feeding it a varied diet, and watching for signs of disease. 

If you suspect your betta is sick, take it to see a vet. They will determine whether your betta needs medical attention and provide you with the next steps.

Food & Diet

Like other betta varieties, samurai bettas need a well-balanced and nutritious diet to thrive. We recommend feeding your betta different types of food to accomplish this: 

  • Live food: Since bettas naturally hunt for food and need ample protein, live food is a great once-in-a-while option. Samurai bettas enjoy foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp. 
  • Frozen food: This is a more convenient and affordable option than live food. It provides your betta with adequate nutritional content, and you don’t have to deal with live creatures during feeding. 
  • Freeze-dried food: A cheaper and even more convenient option, freeze-dried food is a great way to diversify your betta’s diet. 
  • Pellets and flakes: These are the two most common types of betta food, and they’re what you’ll feed your betta most of the time. Most bettas prefer pellets over flakes, but both offer sufficient nutrition.

Whatever you feed your betta, keep these two things in mind: 

  1. Avoid overfeeding: Betta fish are prone to obesity and constipation — issues worsened by overfeeding. If your samurai betta appears to be struggling with one of these issues, skip a day or two of feeding. 
  2. Remove uneaten food: Uneaten food left in the tank increases ammonia levels. When ammonia levels are high enough, it can make your betta sick. Removing the food soon after feeding keeps ammonia levels low.

Behavior & Temperament

Samurai bettas have the same average temperament as other betta varieties. Betta fish are very territorial and tend to have aggressive tendencies toward each other. 

Male bettas are more aggressive than female bettas.

It’s crucial to never house two male bettas together. They will have increased stress levels, fight each other, and possibly kill each other. 

Usually, creating community tanks (a male betta with non-betta tank mates) and sororities (several female bettas) is safe. 

If you notice aggression issues with either setup, we recommend housing your betta(s) in its own tank. However, increasing the tank size or adding hiding places may be adequate in some cases.

Tank Mates

Samurai betta fish usually do best by themselves. This being said, there are a few good tank mate options for your male betta: 

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Female guppies
  • Plecos
  • Corydoras
  • Shrimp
  • Snails

The important thing is to ensure the tank mates you choose are non-aggressive. Otherwise, there will be issues with fighting and elevated stress levels. 


samurai betta breeding challenges

It’s difficult to breed a “perfect” samurai betta.

This is because specific criteria are used to classify a samurai betta from similar-looking bettas. For example, they resemble dragon bettas but have less iridescent covering.

Further, black samurai bettas are hard to breed because they come from a genetic mutation. 

For the best results, don’t attempt betta breeding yourself. Instead, let the professionals do it. 

The Mating Process

The betta mating process is as follows for this bubble-nesting variety:

  1. The male builds a bubble nest to impress the female. 
  2. If impressed, the female’s body will exhibit signs of being ready to mate. This includes the appearance of vertical stripes and a more prominent egg spot. 
  3. The male and female will engage in a mating dance. The female releases eggs, and the male fertilizes them.
  4. Afterward, the male places all fertilized eggs into the bubble nest. It will watch over them until they hatch. 
  5. Once the eggs hatch, remove the male betta from the tank. 

At this point, you need to know about proper fry care.


Samurai betta fish generally cost anywhere from $20 to $30. 

You may spend more on samurai bettas from more established, trusted vendors. Also, bettas of rarer colors (such as blue or black) tend to cost more than others, as do larger or healthier bettas.

When shopping for a samurai betta, keep in mind: not all “samurai” bettas are actually “samurai.”

Since breeding this type of betta is difficult, counterfeit samurai bettas are on the market. Also, some bettas may look similar to a samurai betta but are actually of another variety. 

To get the most for your money, only buy from trusted and established vendors.


Samurai bettas are rarer than Betta splendens due to the difficulty in breeding them. 

It’s uncommon to find samurai bettas readily available in most pet or betta stores. Certain colors of samurai betta are especially rare, such as black and blue.

If you have your heart set on one, consider buying from a reputable online vendor.

Samurai Betta FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about samurai betta fish. 

What makes a betta samurai?

A samurai betta will meet these criteria: 

  • Has a fully black (or other solid-colored) belly
  • Has 40% to 70% dragon scale coverage, and no other iridescence
  • Has a fan-like tail, similar to a halfmoon betta

These criteria are not official, but they’re generally accepted in the betta keeping community. 

Also, many vendors sell “samurai” bettas that don’t meet the criteria perfectly. 

Where did the betta samurai fish come from?

Betta fish originate from Southeast Asia. They naturally live in the shallow waters of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and surrounding areas. 

The samurai betta fish came about due to a genetic mutation occuring through selective breeding. This mutation causes a lack of pigmentation in the skin, causing the black belly associated with “perfect” samurai bettas. 

Pichet Plaisanguan first discovered this beautiful fish. He went on to popularize it and give it its name.

How much is a black samurai betta?

A black samurai betta will usually cost from $20 to $30. According to the criteria outlined earlier, ones considered a “perfect” samurai may cost more. 

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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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