Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
Wild Betta Pugnax (Copyright: @holmenzoo On Instagram)

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide

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Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide – Betta pugnax (forest betta) also known as Penang betta fish. They are the wild strain of betta fish which native to Southeast Asia. They usually inhabit small, fast-flowing forest streams of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra Islands, Riau Islands, and Thailand.

Some other populations of forest betta inhabit forest swamps and associated streams. These environments are generally sheltered from the sunlight because they tend to be located under dense tree branches.

Pugnax comes from Latin that meaning ‘combative.’ Maybe these wild betta uncommon found in the aquarium and only available in some betta hobbyists or some at online stores. The synonyms name of these wild betta is Betta bleekeri Regan, Betta brederi Myers, Macropodus pugnax Cantor, Betta macrophthalma Regan, and the scientific name is Betta pugnax.


Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
Male Wild Caught Betta Pugnax (Copyright: @channa_and_wildbetta On Instagram)


Appearance And Behavior

These wild bettas can grow to reach 2.6 inches (6.7 cm) SL. The head of males betta pugnax is broader than the female. His pelvic fins also are longer than her. The forest bettas usually have green splotches iridescence on their cheeks. Their main body generally brown colored with dark green spangles on above.

The females Penang betta fish commonly display a strong horizontal banded pattern, mostly at spawning time. They frequently have pointed dorsal fins, but the males tend to look like a spear and can be used as sexing distinction.

Read Also: Ultimate Wild Betta Unimaculata Care Guide

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
Female Wild Betta Pugnax (Copyright: @hussainsajad On Instagram)


Buy Wild Betta Pugnax Only On eBay


Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
Young Wild Forest Betta (Copyright: @thekelantanfisherman On Instagram)

The male’s betta pugnax have anal fins more pointed with elongated fin rays at the point. And his tail also comes more to a point than the females. They can live between 2-3 years, and however, in a good setup aquarium, they can live more than it.

Like other wild betta fish types, these species are fairly peaceful with other fish that do not fit in their mouths and not aggressive. A species with an equivalent size body and fairly calm are more prefers by them.

Read Also: A Beautiful And Rarely Endemic Wild Betta Fish From Indonesia “Betta Rubra”


Tank Setup

Wild Penang betta can be kept in pairs, alone, group,s or in a community with other species. A single-pair of forest betta can be housed in a minimum of a 10-gallon aquarium, but a 20-gallon tank is more preferable. It will give more space to them for free swimming and make them happy. The groups of betta pugnax or community tanks should be housed in a 40-gallon tank or more large.

Do not forget to use the tank lid to prevent them from jumping out of the tank. Using dark/black substrate is recommended. It can enhance their coloration in the aquarium. They also tend to prefer dim lighting. You can use aquarium filtration with quite swiftly-flowing power because they inhabit quite-strong flowing water in the wild.

Read Also: Wild Betta Albimarginata – Complete Guide To Keeping, Profiles, Feeding, Tank Setup, Breeding

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care
Tank Setup For Betta Pugnax (Copyright: @bettatribe On Instagram)

Add some driftwood, rocks, or caves to offer them hiding places. Planting aquarium plants that can survive in their environments such as Anubias, cryptocoryne, or echinodorus. Adding some floating aquatic plants like Azola cristata or Salvinia natans will shade them from the light, and it’s more preferable.

The tank should have temperatures between 22 – 28°C, pH between 4.0 – 7.5, and hardness between 18 – 179 ppm. In the wild, they live the clear or black water habitat to set your tank you want. If you set blackwater, you can add dried cattapa leaves to enhance water-coloration. Besides, the cattapa leaves offer other more beneficial to your bettas.


Tank Mates

The good tank mates for them are a species that can survive in their environments. The hardy fish species such as tetra species, honey gourami, platies, mollies, sparkling gourami, otocinlus, or dwarf gouramis can be the right choice for betta pugnax friends in the aquarium.

Read Also: How To Treat Dropsy In Betta Fish Instantly

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
Wild Penang Betta Fish Tank Mates (Copyright: @bettatribe On Instagram)

While adding their family “betta splendens” is not recommended because it’s more aggressive and can intimidate them. Don’t keep larger fish species with them, and it will look like your lovely betta as a snack.



In the natural habitat, they tend to eat small invertebrates. They also hunt mosquito larvae and can control their growth level. However, you can also feed them with dried food such as betta fish pellets or flakes instantly. But, to enhance their coloration and healthy, you should give them live food like daphnia, bloodworm, or artemia frequently.

Read Also: “Betta Hendra” Is A Rare And Exotic Wild Caught Betta Fish From Southeast Asia

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
(Copyright: @bettatribe On Instagram)



They have evolved to mouthbrooder, not the same as common betta species because they inhabit fast-flowing water in the wild. You should keep a pair of betta pugnax in the breeding aquarium. The temperature should be raised to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Both of them should be fed with live food (including mosquito larvae) before breeding.

When they are in spawn, the male will wrap the female, and at the same time, she will lay their eggs, and he will fertilize the eggs. After that, the male will collect the eggs and save them in his mouth. This process will be repeated many times until the female spent all of her eggs.

Read Also: “Betta Smaragdina” The Interesting Wild Betta Fish Whose Live In Rice Paddy

Wild Betta Pugnax Or Forest Betta Fish Complete Care Guide
A Pair Of Wild Betta Forest (Copyright: @bettatribe On Instagram)

Once the matting is complete, you can remove the female from the tank. The Male will keep and caring the eggs in his mouth between 9-16 days until they hatched. Sometimes, the male may release the eggs prematurely, even swallow them if they are stressed or inexperienced. Once the incubation process is completed, the male will begin to release the small free-swimming fry.

At this point, you can move the male from the breeding aquarium to prevent him from predating the fry. You can feed the fry with brine shrimp, sifted daphnia, or micro worms.

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