Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?

We know that sharks have teeth and so do piranhas, but do Betta fish have teeth? You may be surprised to learn the answer is yes. Betta Fish do have teeth and they aren’t afraid to use them. However, it’s not like they are out to bite your finger off. In fact, the chances of your Betta actually biting you is slim.

Let’s “sink our teeth” into this topic to “brush” up on our knowledge of all things Betta teeth.

Betta fish teeth


What Do Betta Teeth Look Like?

If you were able to peer inside Betta’s mouth with a magnifying glass, you would see very tiny, white sharp teeth, especially on the bottom of its jaw. At a glance, Betta’s teeth may appear as small white dots. But make no mistake, those tiny dots can turn “deadly” if you’re another male Betta or its favorite food of bloodworm. 

Fun Fact: The Betta also has a tongue. This bony structure protects the aorta that supplies blood to the gills.

Why Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?

Bettas use their teeth for a few reasons. Let’s “chew” on these!


Betta fish are carnivores and like all the species that fall into this category (feline, canine, and human – to name a few), they come equipped to bite, tear, and chew their food. 

In the Betta’s natural habitat, their diet mostly consists of insect larvae, adult insects, and sometimes, plant roots. All these foods require sharp teeth to hunt, catch and break down.

Even when Betta fish are kept as pets, we still feed them hard pellets, blood worms, or even the occasional live prey that require the use of sharp teeth. 


The Betta isn’t known as a “fighting fish” for no reason. Two aggressive males will fight each other to the death and, in fact, this “sport” still goes on in the markets of Thailand. 

Those tiny white teeth will rip, tear, and even shred the fins and scales of another Betta (or long-finned fish). 

In the rice paddies of their natural habitat, Betta uses these same small teeth to defend their territory which can be up to three feet squared. 


Bettas aren’t big in the romance department, so you may notice some nipping and biting going on during spawning. This is perfectly normal for both genders. However, if one of them is overly aggressive toward the other (as in tearing at the body or fins) then you will want to separate them from each other. 

Pro Tip: You can tell aggressive biting from “courting” if the fish are willing to stay in the same space. If one of them is darting away and hiding, the pairing may not work and they should be separated. 

Do Betta Fish Teeth Fall Out?

Healthy Bettas do not generally lose their teeth. However, teeth can become broken, loosened, or fall out during aggressive fights that end in jaw injuries.

Another reason your Betta’s teeth may fall out is due to a fungal disease called columnaris which leads to swelling in the jaw and occasionally, the loss of teeth.

Lastly, a Betta may lose a tooth or two due to old age. 

If your Betta Fish does lose a tooth, it’s not usually a big deal, but keep an eye on his food intake. If the pellets or bloodworms are too difficult for him to break down, switch to a softer food. 

How Strong is the Betta Fish Bite?

If we are talking pound for pound, the Betta Fish bite is stronger than a great white shark!

And just like a shark, those sharp teeth can do a lot of damage to another fish, so it’s best to keep aggressive Bettas in their own tank.

Do Betta Fish Bite People?

Unfortunately, some more aggressive Bettas have been known to take a nip at their caretakers. However, know that being bitten by a Betta will not send you to the Emergency Room (some say it tickles, while others claim it’s more like a weird pinch).

Bettas may nip when they feel threatened. For example, you are rearranging their tank or adding in a new plant. Since this species is very territorial, any change could be perceived as a threat and he may nip you as a warning or in self-defense. 

Another reason a Betta may bite you is out of curiosity like if you’re wiggling your finger on top of the tank. Your Betta may think it’s food and give it a “sampling.”

What to do if your Betta bites you?

Remember, it may be startling to get nipped by your Betta, but try to remain calm and not yank your hand from the tank. Sometimes the Betta’s tooth may get stuck in your skin, so this flinging motion could launch your fish from the aquarium and onto the floor or damage the Betta’s jaw and/or teeth.

Usually, the bite will be quick and won’t penetrate the skin, so you won’t have to worry about a cut or bleeding.

If you know you have an aggressive Betta Fish and you have to put your hand inside the tank, it may be best to net him or place him in a holding cup until you’re finished. 

Do Betta Fish Bite Other Community Fish?

We already know that male Betta will bite and attack other males of their species, but did you know that some Bettas can actually get along quite well with certain community fish?

To have a successful community tank with a Betta, be sure to add your Betta to an already established aquarium of fish. This cuts down on the chances of the Betta being territorial and biting the other fish.

You will also want to have an aquarium that is at least 10 gallons. A good rule to follow is an inch of fish per gallon of water. However, bigger is always better.

Bettas are generally considered surface-dwellers because they feed on the top of the tank. To help ensure a peaceful Betta community tank, choose aquatic companions that are mid to bottom-dwellers. These include:

  • Pygmy Corydoras (bottom)
  • Female Guppies
  • Snails (Nerite and Mystery)
  • Ember Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Kuhli Loaches (bottom)
  • Neon Tetras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • African Dwarf Frogs

Of course, always avoid long-finned and colorful fish, as Bettas will bite and nip at these tank mates. 

Final Thoughts

Even though Bettas do have tiny sharp teeth, they generally are not a threat to humans. However, take care when moving your fingers on the surface of the aquarium or inside it. Bettas are naturally curious and territorial, so you may get nipped if your Betta feels threatened or even just playful.

If you are going to establish a peaceful community tank with a Betta, choose tank mates from the mid to bottom dwelling list and always place the Betta into the community, not the other way around.