Bettas have unusual feeding techniques, and may leave you wondering, do betta fish have teeth? Let’s find out together.
Do Bettas Have Teeth?
Yes, betta fish have teeth. The teeth are white, incredibly tiny, and easiest to see on the lower jaw. If you want to see them, you’ll have to take a close look through a macro zoom lens on a camera, or a magnifying glass.
If you can get your hands on the jaw of a deceased betta, you may also be able to see the teeth through a microscope or macroscope.
Do Female Bettas Have Teeth?
Yes, they do. Bettas of both genders have tiny teeth that they use for self-defense, to explore surfaces in their aquarium, and for eating. Bettas also have a somewhat aggressive style of courtship, and you’ll probably see the male nipping at the female during breeding.
What Do Betta Teeth Look Like?
These fish have rows of tiny triangular teeth, which look like little ridges. if you look closely they may remind you of splintered porcelain.
What Are Betta Teeth Made Of?
As with most fish, betta teeth consists of enameloid and dentin. Enameloid gets its name because the substance is incredibly similar to the enamel in human teeth. However, because the process to produce it is significantly different, it’s an entirely different substance.
The inside of a fish tooth consists of dentin, which forms a protective core around the flesh and nerves. The enameloid covers the tooth, protecting it from damage and keeping the core safe.
Can Betta Fish Bite You?
Absolutely. Bettas can and will nip at your hands sometimes. But, their mouths and teeth are far too small to inflict any kind of damage.
Do Bettas Bite?
Yes, they do. However, it’s quite rare since bettas are fairly shy and scare easily. Your betta is far more likely to flee from your hand than to bite it.
To be clear, your betta is not going to jump out of the water to bite you. It’s not going to open its mouth extra, extra wide, and grab the entire end of your pinky. Unfortunately, due to movie scenes and other media, people often have a miscomprehension of how bad bites from small fish can be.
Unless you’re a worm, a mosquito larva, or some other tiny invertebrate, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Does It Hurt To Get Bitten By A Betta?
Not in the least. Bettas have such tiny teeth, and their mouths are so small, that they can’t hurt you. Much like being nibbled at by guppies, mollies, or tetras, it’s a somewhat otherworldly feeling that can be quite pleasant.
Why Did My Betta Fish Bite Me?
If your betta fish works up the nerve to bite you, it could be for one of several reasons:
- It’s feeling territorial and considers your hand an intrusion.
- It’s busy building a nest and considers your hand a threat to its future offspring (even if there’s no female in the tank)
- You frightened it accidentally, and it retaliated by nipping at you.
Why Is My Betta Fish Biting Other Fish In The Aquarium?
If you’re encountering aggression between your male betta or female betta and the other fish in the tank, there are a few possible reasons.
- Male bettas interpret other fish with a similar coloration to be rival males. They’ll pick on these fish and may cause significant damage by nipping at tails and fins.
- Your bettas may be stressed.
- Your bettas may want to breed and consider the other fish a threat to their future offspring.
Biting And Stress
You may have noticed your normally peaceful pet betta suddenly start nipping at the fins of other fish. if tail biting or fin nipping is a relatively new occurrence, it may be the result of stress.
When bettas struggle with changes to their environment, diet, or water parameters, they can become stressed and start nipping at their companions’ fins or even their own tails.
How Do Bettas Chew?
Since most of the pets that we know and love chew their food, it’s understandable that you’d expect the same from your betta.
However, like most fish, and unlike most other pets, betta fish don’t truly chew as you know it. These small fish use their tiny teeth to help them tear parts from food items.
if you’ve ever watched your betta fish eat bloodworms or tubifex worms, you know what a messy business it can be. That’s because bettas don’t have the mouth or jaw construction for working food items around in their mouths. Instead, they tear off pieces of food and swallow it nearly whole.
That said, bettas will use their teeth to make their food smaller. They do this by repeatedly opening and closing their mouths. This forces the rows of teeth down on the food, breaking it into smaller pieces.
According to some definitions, that qualifies as chewing, but it reminds me more of the way a frog uses the bony plate in its mouth to crush food and simplify swallowing.
Both male and female bettas have sharp teeth. That’s one of the reasons why they have the alternate name Siamese fighting fish. They can inflict some serious damage on their food and enemies.
These fish are typically shy, and they’re unlikely to try and bite their owners. However, they may try to bite their tankmates under certain conditions.
We recommend choosing betta tank mates very carefully or keeping them in their own aquarium. If you have any questions about how bettas eat, or why your betta fish isn’t eating, check out the other articles on Fishtanko.com.
Feel free to contact us if there’s another question you’d like us to answer.
About the author
Hi, I’m Johanan! I love animals of all shapes and sizes, but especially fish. I’ve gone from working at a pet store as a teenager to keeping and breeding Bettas and other fish at home. My passion for fish is endless!
You can find my articles here.