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Hello! I was at my LFS a couple months ago and saw (in the same tank), some tiny black and brown wild betta fish. I never thought to ask what type they were, and I'm not even sure if the man working there would know. They were really pretty, and now I kind of like wilds.
Anyway, my question is: are there any wild bettas that can live in a tank smaller than 10 gallons? (I currently don't have room for anything bigger than a 10 gallon tank.) If so, what are they called and are they easy to care for?
 

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All of the splendens complex bettas can be treated similarly to your fancy bettas. Betta imbellis is probably the most peaceful of the group. I have kept a pair in a 10 gallon planted tank with no problems. I'm not 100% sure because I've only kept the imbellis that way, but I believe all of the splendens complex can go into a 10 gallon in pairs. For sure they can all be kept singly in a 5 gallon or even smaller (I had an imbellis in a 3 gallon that worked just fine for it's entire life)
The splendens complex has the wild type splendens, (not to be confused with the plakats), imbellis, siamorientalis, smaragdina, mahachaiensis, and stiktos. All very beautiful easy to care for bubblenest builders that are less aggressive than the plakats and fancies that everyone is familiar with. There are other small bubblenesters and mouth brooders that might be suitable for a 10 gallon but I haven't kept any of them yet. Generally these less common wild types are a bit more difficult to keep and even if they would work in a smaller tank, I would go with something bigger to make it easier to maintain water parameters more consistently.
Very few fancy types of betta splendens catch my attention, no matter how pretty they are. There is a huge world of bettas that most betta lovers are oblivious to. Once you've taken a walk on the wild side......
 

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Manyt of the smaller mouthbrooding species would also be comfortable in a 10 gallon tank. Species such as Betta channoides and Betta albimarginata are great 'starter' species as they are not particularly fussy about water parameters (provided your water isn't liquid rock), are relatively peaceful, and are two of the easiest species to spawn.

One thing I will make mention of is the fact that most wilds (even captive bred wilds) will not do particularly well in extremely hard/alkaline water. Less than a handful of species inhabit those sort of conditions in the wild, and most prefer soft to very soft water to thrive. So be aware, if your tap water is more suited to keeping African cichlids, you may have to use RO water.

Personally I think most wilds will show better colouration and more natural behaviour in a well-planted, dimly lit tank. If they are a species from blackwater conditions, darkening the water with IAL is definitely recommended, and a darker substrate (I like to use aqua soil) will stop them from looking washed out.

Also, some wilds will only accept live or frozen foods and may be difficult to transition to dried foods, or outright refuse. So this is something to be aware of.

Perhaps the biggest mistake new wild betta keepers make, is not using a tightly fitting lid or covering over their tank. With wilds it's not a case of if, but when they will jump. Dropping the water line won't be deterrent enough, as even the smaller species can jump quite a distance. If there are any gaps at all, don't doubt that they will find them eventually and jump out.

Personally I use cling wrap over all my wild betta tanks. I lost over a dozen fish to jumping before I started using it, and haven't lost a fish since, and it's been several years now.

Your best bet is to search 'Betta' on SeriouslyFish.com and look through some of the species profiles on there. Having kept/bred these fish for a number of years, I still think it's the absolute best resource on the web.
 
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