Do Betta Fish Have Teeth and Do they Bite?

If you are wondering – Do Betta Fish Have Teeth, the answer is YES. Bettas like most fish do have teeth. They are not easily visible when you look closely. Betta’s teeth can be seen if you zoom in or use a magnifying glass because they are so tiny and mostly located at the lower jaw. And if you are wondering if Bettas bite, the answer is also YES. 

They can bite but, in most cases, they use their tiny teeth to bite food. Since their stomach is as big as an eye, they need small pieces of food served, but even then, they cut portions into smaller ones because they have trouble swallowing it if it is not tiny enough. 

Their territorial instinct is innate and that is another reason why Bettas bite. If their territory is jeopardized or they feel that something is endangering it, they will attack and bite. 

If we talk about temperament, aggression is their most dominant feature but it depends on the fish. Most Bettas will use their teeth to bite in self-defense. Others, on the other hand, won’t bite even if you put a finger near their mouth. It all depends on your Betta. 

betta fish teeth close up

What Do Betta Fish Use Their Teeth For?

Since we know now that Bettas have teeth, let us learn what do they use them for. 

  • Food is the basic and the first thing they use their teeth for. Their diet consists mostly of meat and while in the wild they have to hunt their prey. Teeth come helpful while hunting for food and later when they need to cut food in smaller portions. If your Betta is fortunate enough to live in a domestic environment where you serve food you will also see it chopping pellets or other food you provide.  The only food that doesn’t need much chopping is boiled vegetables which they eat only occasionally. 
  • The other purpose of their teeth is to attack. If there are other males or other fish, they become territorial. They can express extreme aggression when they attack and rip apart a tail, scale, fin or any other part of an enemy. It is not advisable to keep two males together and you have to be very cautious when you choose a tank mate for a Betta. Some Bettas are best to be kept alone.

Do Betta Fish Bite Humans?

Bettas bite people too and that can happen for many reasons. We will tell you the most common ones.

The number one reason is out of curiosity. If you put your fingers inside the tank, your Betta might start wondering what that is and since it has no other option to touch, it will use its mouth to explore. As you would use your hand to grab something, a Betta will use its mouth to grab your hand. 

The other reason is self-defense because they feel endangered. From their point of view, something giant is approaching, so the primal instinct awakens and they attack. If the Betta is afraid then it becomes stressed so it is not good for your Betta to stress it out like this and you should avoid it. 

Your Betta may bite you by accident. If you are arranging something inside the tank or just putting food it may be carried away and think that it may be food and not your finger so it can bite you by mistake. 

When you decide to put your hands inside the tank then you need to be prepared that there is a chance to be bitten. Sudden moves can stress your Betta or you can hurt it physically if you didn’t expect the bite. A Betta can get stuck at your finger and accidentally you can shake it off your finger and out of a tank. That way your Betta can end up out on the carpet or other surface and get hurt or even dead. 

Keep in mind that if a Betta bites you, it won’t harm you. The worse you could feel is a kind of tickle or a pinch, nothing serious or painful. So, if you expect it nobody will be seriously hurt. 

Do Betta Fish Bite Each Other? 

There are many situations you can see a Betta trying to bite each other. Even though we do not advise it, two male Bettas together will definitely bring problems. Surely, they will fight over territory and eventually one will end up dead. There are cases when the fights lasted for more than fifteen minutes until one Betta turned dead. In the beginning, it is always the same, they start flaring fins to intimidate the opponent. If this doesn’t work and one Betta back down they attack each other. It begins with nipping and escalates to the point where you need to intervene. 

In some cases, a male Betta attacks a female especially after breeding, when a male sees a female as a threat and you need to take it out or a male will attack. 

Good And Bad Sign Of Biting

How can you tell whether biting is a good or not and can we see the difference? For instance, a slight nip can be good sign when it comes to mating, the bitten one backs away a bit because it isn’t certain if it wants to accept the male. 

There are of course more bad signs connected to biting. If they do not want to mate you will notice aggressive bites and again you need to take the female out. On the other hand, a certain sign of aggression is when a Betta aims for a tail or a fin and such situations demand immediate separation. 

Are Betta Fish Teeth Strong?

There is a very interesting fact that a Betta’s bite is extremely strong and it is sometimes compared to the bite of a shark. Fortunately, they use their teeth for feeding mostly. It may sound unbelievable because Betta’s teeth are tiny, but it is a fact. 

Another fact that you should also keep in mind is that Betta’s bite can’t break your skin. So, you can freely put your hand inside the tank, even play with your pet because you will not be hurt and your hand damaged. If you get bitten by a Betta the worse you can feel is a pinch. There are certain exercises if you want to establish a relationship with your Betta and it involves feeding on a finger. Since Bettas are fast learners, once it learns the trick of taking food from your finger it may be fun for both. Just be sure that you wash your hand before playing with your pet. 

So, finally, Bettas bite is strong compared to their size but it is harmless for humans and you needn’t worry. 

Do Betta Fish Have Tongues?

Many people also wonder if Bettas have tongues. Our answer is yes, they do. Like many fish, they have tongues or at least something that resembles. Unlike the human tongue, the labium is something that firstly sucks up prey and breaks the food before they swallow it. The layer of their tongue is coated with small barbs that work as a hook and help them catch the prey.  Betta’s tongue does have receptors but for motion and the tongue is used with the help of a snout. So, Betta’s have tongue and they use it as a helping means for sucking, hooking food and cutting it. 

Final Thoughts

To sum up, Bettas do have teeth and they bite. In fact, their bite is quite strong but fortunately, it can’t hurt people. In most cases, they bite out of curiosity to explore the surroundings, for food or to defend themselves. However, Betta’s bite is not harmless for other fish so keep an eye on your Betta if there is a mate. They are very territorial and can be extremely aggressive. If you notice anything that looks like aggression, take measures of precaution and separate the fish. During spawning, some Bettas nip each other as a ritual of mating. It is a good sign if the other Betta isn’t afraid but if that turns into aggression you have to separate them and try again at another convenient time. 

If you decide to put your hand in the tank, make sure it is clean because you can bring in bacteria and harm your fish. You can play with your Betta using your finger and establish a connection. At first, it may try to bite you, but do expect it. If it bites and doesn’t let go then its teeth are stuck so avoid shaking it off or it may end up being hurt and out of a tank. You can feel only a trickle or a pinch so do not be afraid. Bettas do have teeth and bite but nothing serious can happen to you. 

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