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Old 05-19-2010, 09:40 AM   #1 
Betta Fish Bob
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Question Late-Breaking News - Betta Fish are Right and Left-Handed!?

Bettas show left-and right-hand preferences !

The Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, not only shows right- and left-hand preferences but also has accompanying body asymmetries according to research published in a recent issue of Behavioural Brain Research.

Lead researcher Yuichi Takeuchi aimed to answer three separate questions:
  • In a display of aggression, would betta fish present one side to an opponent in preference to the other side?
  • Are there are differences in appearance between the left and right side of the betta fish?
  • Are differences in betta body shape linked to which side the fish presented?
Bettas prove ideal fish for such experiments, as Takeuchi explains: “Betta splendens show intensive aggressive behavioural patterns” and “remarkably erect the operculum during these social situations”.
In the first phase of the experiment, Takeuchi found that when placed in a mirrored, hexagonal tank just over half of the betta fish showed a left or right-sided preference for displays of aggressions: “lefty” bettas were more likely to present and flare their left gill cover at the mirror image of themselves, while “righty” fish would do the opposite.

In the second stage of the experiment, the researchers measured tiny differences in the body shapes of the fishes, specifically looking at the angle at which the spine met the head. The overwhelming majority of betta fish had a slight left- or right-sided bend in their backbone.

Finally, Takeuchi compared the two sets of results and found that fish that were already identified as lefties had a subtle bend in their spine to the left while righties would most likely bend to the right, suggesting a link between body shape and left/right preference.

Takeuchi admits that the test may lead to more questions than answers, agreeing that “The reason for the relationship between behaviour laterality… and morphological asymmetry in Betta Splendens is not clear”, and that perhaps these results actually mean that it is time to “re-examine the widespread behavioural laterality in fish”.

Published: Dr Claire Inness Wednesday 19 May 2010, 2:21 pm
posted in Practical Fishkeeping at

Filed under: Betta splendens fighter fighting fish behaviour

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Old 05-19-2010, 03:50 PM   #2 
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Very interesting. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago when I noticed my HMPK, Jasper, would move in a way that his right side faced the mirror almost every time.

Do you mind if I post this on my other forum? (If it hasn't been done already).
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:54 PM   #3 
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Wow this is very interesting.I'm sorta speachless.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:11 PM   #4 
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I noticed this once, but he was flaring... I was trying to take a picture of a betta with a fungus of somesort, and I couldn't ever get a picture because... well, he never turned that way o_O

Now you've got me looking at all my bettas :P
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:12 PM   #5 
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Whoa, that is a very interesting article. I will definitely be paying more attention to my flaring bettas!
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:32 PM   #6 
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Haha thats awesome! Im gunna go find out which hand my bettas are! Also RANDOM FACT: All polar bears are lefthanded. Read that off a lions choice bag, i gueess its true.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:35 AM   #7 
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I dont understand the "flares his right/left gill cover to the image"...

Mine always leaves one gill/half of his beard out longer than the other half (right side)
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:40 AM   #8 
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I think Lucky is a Right-handed fish!
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:08 PM   #9 
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I thought this too but then I noticed that Whiskey always swims against filter current. He almost always swims counterclockwise. Of course he's in a hex so the water goes around. But now that I think about it, Tango's pics are all almost all left facing. That's so interesting.
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:24 PM   #10 
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That is so cool! I've never thought about that before.
I think my crowntail is a lefty just like me. :P
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