Physical Characteristics

Attains a total length (including the tail fin) of 3 ft (90 cm) and a weight of 18 lb (8.2 kg). The head and body are very compressed and shaped like an oblong disc, or dinner platter. The dorsal head profile is straight. The dorsal fin spines of the adult are greatly elongated and filamentous. Scales are minute, cycloid, and embedded; there are five to eight bony bucklers (enlarged, platelike scales) along the base of the soft dorsal and anal fins and seven to 10 pairs of spiny scutes along the belly from the base of the pelvic fins to the anus. The dorsal fin has nine to 11 spines and 22-24 rays, and the anal fin has four spines and 20-23 rays. Dorsal, anal, and pectoral fin rays are unbranched, and the caudal fin has 11 branched rays. The pelvic fins are enlarged, situated below and slightly in front of the pectoral fins, with one spine and six or seven branched rays. The pectoral fins are much smaller than the pelvic fins.

The head and body are silvery to olive-brown, with a conspicuous yellow or white-edged, blue-black ocellus on the middle of the body below the lateral line. The body often has indistinct dark, wavy stripes. The dorsal fin spine filaments are white. Juveniles are small, about 1 in (2-3 cm) long. Color is brownish, with small black spots along the base of the median fins, curved white and black stripes on the head and body, and the usual round black spot on the middle of the body below the lateral line.

Betta Fish

Betta Fish

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