Jealous Green Eyed Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide

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Jealous green eye Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide


Betta livida is one of my all-time top 5 favourites of wild Betta species. It was the first wild Betta that genuinely challenged me to the point of frustration when it came to getting them to breed, and keeping them in their aquarium!

Betta livida is not considered a beginners Betta and is best left to fishkeepers with a few years of experience under their belts. Lividas’ water requirements (explained below) require a bit of knowledge to maintain water parameters under unstable conditions, particularly if the Betta livida is wild-caught.

Betta livida is often confused with Betta coccina and once upon a time Livida was thought to be a variant of Coccina, before being classified as their own species. Betta livida males are disguisable from their very similar cousins Betta coccina by the green tips on their ventral fins. 

The blotch on the side of a young male Betta livida is less prominent than that of a Betta coccina and is nearly invisible when the male is fully coloured up, with the blotch disappearing with age. Whereas a male Betta coccinas’ side blotch becomes almost iridescent instead of fading.

One thing that found out in keeping Betta livida is they seem to prefer more time out of the water than in. They were constantly jumping and you would be surprised how small a hole Livida can fit through.

At one point I had a glass cover and pair of stockings over the top of the aquarium, and the male still managed to get out through a hole no more than 4mm wide, that was made for the airline hose. 

So, the first piece of advice I can give you for keeping Livida is to ensure you have a tight-fitting lid on the aquarium, then maybe another one on top of that lid for good measure!


Betta Livida Care Summary

Scientific Names:

Betta livida (NG & KOTTELAT, 1992)


Livida: from the Latin lividus, which means 'jealousy,' in reference to this species' green eyes

Common Name:

Jealous Betta, Green eyed Betta, 蓝抟鱼


Malaysia and Indonesia

Maximum Size:

5cm (1.9")


Bubble Nest Builder

Sexual Dimorphism:

Males are brighter coloured and their fins become more extended than females as they develop.

Food & Diet:

Live, frozen and dried foods.


 22°C - 26°C (71-78 deg F)


 3.0 - 6.0 Prefers acidic water.


18 -90 ppm

Tank Size:

 Minimum 15 US gallons for a group of 5


3-4 Years


Mostly Peaceful, Dominance can appear in male and females.

Conservation status:




Betta livida is endemic to northern Selangor state, Peninsular Malaysia. Selangor is one of Malaysia's most developed states, and much of the Betta livida habitats have been destroyed to make way for oil palm or rubber plantations. Sadly, the devastation caused to the species' habitat has driven Betta livida to near extinction in the wild. Livida has also been found in Indonesia in recent years where it was previously thought it did not live outside of Malaysia.

Jealous Green Eyed Wild Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide Natural Habitat

The Natural habitat of Betta livida is rich in tannins.


The natural habitat of Betta livida is extremely acidic with the pH ranging from 3.0 to 5.5. It can be found in many different areas from peat swamps in the forest to well-shaded shallow waterways or along vegetated sides of streams. The streams and swamps tend to be small, slow-moving and dense with submerged leaf litter and forest debris. 

Betta livida has been collected in several Malaysian and Indonesian sites, with variations emerging in the species depending on where it was obtained. To safeguard the bloodlines, Betta enthusiasts and collectors give Betta Livida a sub name with its collecting region, for example, Betta Livida sp. Tanjong Malim. 

CONSERVATION: As of 2019, the Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Rescue program has returned over 600 Betta livida back into the wild through joint breed and release efforts.


Betta Livida Care

Aquarium Setup:

Most keepers, including myself, follow the guideline of 1 pair of Betta livida per 6 gallons (US) of water. Because the Livida is somewhat shy, a thickly planted aquarium with aquatic wood, leaf litter, and medium-sized aquarium botanicals will really encourage them to venture out into the open more.

Our Castle Dawn Aquatics Blackwater Aquarium Botanical Pack Will Help You Recreate Betta Lividas Natural Environment.

Castle Dawn Aquatics natural aquarium botanical pack will help you recreate Betta lividas' natural environment.


In addition to providing hiding places, the leaf litter and aquarium botanicals will assist in keeping the aquarium water soft and tannin-rich, similar to the Betta lividas' native environment, with certain larger botanicals serving as excellent breeding locations.

Plant the aquarium with soft water-loving species such as Java fern (Microsorium sp.), Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana), and dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata). Betta livida appreciates floating plants in the aquarium such as Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalicotoides) and Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum). Floating plants provide additional cover, shade and potential spawning spots.

REMEMBER: Betta livida requires an enclosed aquarium as they are renowned jumpers and will fit through the smallest of gaps.

IMPORTANT: If you want to keep a group of Livida, the aquarium should be at least 15 gallons (US) and 60cm long, to allow enough space for males and females to retreat if aggression arises.



Small air-driven filters are ideal for Betta livida, which loves aquariums with little to no flow. Water tends to stay still or even stagnant in its natural habitat. Livida would soon exhaust themselves and die if they were subjected to strong power filtering in the aquarium.

As Betta livida are bubble nest builders, you need a filter that will not disturb the delicate nests of the males. You may find that that if the water surface is constantly disturbed by filtering, male Betta livida will refuse to spawn.

In our Livida aquariums at Castle Dawn Aquatics, we employ air-driven bio sponge filters that generate good filtration without a high current and are ideal for all Betta species in the Coccina Complex.



Betta livida like low to medium light, and like many in the Coccina complex, intense light can make the species even more reclusive than it already is, especially if your Livida are wild-caught.

Betta livida is protected from direct sunlight in the wild by a dense forest canopy. Even when Betta livida is exposed to direct sunshine, the tannin-rich blackwater restricts light emissions, keeping their habitat dark.

Castle Dawn Aquatics dimmable LED light is ideal for a Betta lividas' aquarium. It can easily simulate light breaking through the forest canopy.

At Castle Dawn Aquatics, we propose that our customers utilise a light with a lower colour temperature, such as 4500K. We found that it sufficiently illuminates the aquarium for low light plants, yet does not disturb the Betta livida while providing enough light for you to view them in all their beauty.


Water Parameters:

Betta livida prefers acidic water and is comfortable in a pH of 3.0 - 5.0, with a water hardness between (dGH): 0 - 8°N and a TDS reading between 60-100. This can easily be achieved using natural products like Castle Dawn Aquatics Aquarium Peat Filter Media, Indian almond leaves or aquarium botanicals.

Castle Dawn Aquatics TURF Organic Peat Water Softening Pellets Are Perfect For Creating The Perfect Water Conditions For Betta livida

Castle Dawn Aquatics Turf filter media is made from organic peat, and is an excellent source of tannins and will help maintain a low pH environment.


Unlike other Betta from the Coccina complex, Betta livida doesn’t fair as well at the higher end of the pH acidic scale (6.5). In the home aquarium keeping a pH below 4.0 is difficult to maintain the long run, as you are at risk of a detrimental pH crash. 

This is why Betta livida is not suited for beginners, as keeping an aquarium at a low pH requires a good understanding of aquarium water chemistry to maintain a safe and balanced aquarium in an ever-changing environment.

We find keeping Betta livida at a pH of around 4.5 hits the spot with water as dark as a well-brewed cup of tea. Livida thrives in tannin-rich blackwater and you will not see your Betta livida more coloured or content outside of these conditions.

BEGINNERS NOTE: Do not use Co2 in blackwater aquariums with a low pH as it can drive the pH down which could result in a pH crash, killing the aquarium inhabitants.



In the home aquarium, Betta livida is happy in temperatures between 22°C and 28°C (71-78 deg F).



Betta livida are ravenous and will eat anything that falls into the water once they are settled into the aquarium. When first introduced, they will feed on live foods such as Daphnia, white worm and artemia. They will quickly switch to frozen and dried food regardless if your Livida are a captive-bred or wild-caught.

Castle Dawn Aquatics Wild Betta Food is a fully Balanced Diet Made Specifically For Wild Bettas.Castle Dawn Aquatics ''Wild Child'' Betta food formula has been specifically formulated by us for wild Bettas in mind. 


PRO TIP: Wherever you are purchasing your Betta livida from, ask the seller what the Livida are currently eating they may already be on a dry food diet.


Tank Mates:

Betta livida is best kept in a species only aquarium with a ratio of one male to 3 females. Male Livida will bicker from time to time so expect a few nibbled fins. In rare cases, female Livida can become very dominant in the aquarium, and can easily bully the male and other females. Always have a small backup tank just in case separation is needed.

If you want to set up a large blackwater aquarium with Betta livida, non-boisterous Malaysian species such as Chocolate gourami  (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides) and Liquorice Gourami (Parosphromenus sp.) will all make ideal tank mates.



Sexual Dimorphism:

Jealous green eyed wild Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide Male and Female Differences
Male Betta livida are distinguishable from the females once they begin to mature.


Mature male Betta livida is brighter in colour with notable longer finnage as they mature, particularly the anal fin. Females although similar in colour will appear slightly washed out compared to the males.


PRO TIP: Do not rely on the egg spot to tell the sexes apart, which is a common method used for Bettas in other complexes such as Splendens. It is not uncommon for both the male and female species in the Coccina complex to display the egg spot.


Setup and Mating:

Breeding Betta livida is a little more difficult than its cousins, the aquarium conditions have to be exactly right for Livida to even consider breeding. Even, if the conditions are perfect they may just refuse to pair and it is not uncommon for aggression to take over and they need to be separated.

Introduce pipes into the aquarium of about 1.5-inch in diameter and cut into 3-inch lengths. Place the pipes at the surface and at the front of the aquarium for easy viewing. Large botanicals like coconut shell halves or gorged out lotus seed pods also make excellent natural structures for a male Betta livida to build a nest in.

Lower the water level to about half and cover the aquarium. Some aquarists use clingfilm ( saran wrap to all our American readers) or glass panels to create a humid layer in the aquarium. 

The humid layer is essential for the development of the labyrinth organ. Lowering the water level will also allow you to gradually add a little bit of prepared fresh water to the aquarium till the fry are strong enough to handle a standard water change.

Keep the aquarium at 24 degrees Celsius for a week and feed your Betta livida with on high protein live foods like black or white worm during this time. If the female's body colour pales, and black bars develop on the flanks, there is a chance the pair will breed.

Get a gallon of prepared freshwater at around 21 degrees Celsius a few degrees cooler than the aquarium, with a slightly higher pH, for example, if your aquarium water has a pH of 4.0 the fresh water should be 4.5.

Slowly add the gallon of water to the Betta lividas’ aquarium and with any luck, it will induce spawning. From experience, this seems to simulate the changes in the water that would be brought on in the wild with a wet season, which is when Betta livida prefer to breed.

As the male livida builds his bubble nest he will typically not accept the female in the proximity until it is finished. When he is ready he will lure the female to his nest with a display of movements.

The mating itself generally occurs below the nest in an osphronemid embrace, with the male wrapping himself around the female. Milt and a couple of eggs are expelled, which the female then catches between her pelvic fins and body. The male will deposit the eggs in the bubble nest while the female actively collects any he has missed.

After mating it is not unusual for female Betta livida to remain with the male and maintain the nest. A spawn can be as many as 20-40 eggs. The eggs hatch remarkably fast, as quick as 24 hours after mating, with the fry remaining in the nest for up to 4 days until the egg sac is absorbed. As the fry becomes free-swimming the parents will lose interest and go on their way. 

It is best to leave the fry with the parents for around three weeks. This will limit the possibility of the fry developing velvet. The parents will rarely cannibalise the fry, however, it is worth noting that if the aquarium does contain multiple broods, sub-adults will happily eat the newborn fry.


Fry Care:

After the consumption of the egg sack Betta livida fry will eat Microworms or infusoria for the first 2 weeks. From there they will happily accept freshly hatched brine shrimp or even powdered dried foods.  

As mentioned above Betta livida fry are prone to velvet, thus it is critical to remove any uneaten food and maintain the water quality. We commonly use Catappa Indian almond leaves or Logan leaves as natural prevention of velvet and fungus in our fry tank. 



Betta Livida Conclusion

Jealous Green Eyed Wild Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide Male

Betta livida is a beautiful species of Betta. However, they are not recommended for beginners, not only because it can be a challenge to maintain its required water parameters but also due to their endangered status.

With so few Betta livida in the hobby, it is the responsibility of us, the aquarist, to have the knowledge and skills to be able to breed this remarkable species to ensure its survival. The more captive-bred stock in the hobby, the less the need to take it from the wild. 

Far too often I have seen on social media, beginners purchasing Betta livida due to its rarity, later following up with posts with ‘’what’s wrong with my Betta?’’ or alike, which is a heart-wrenching waste of the species. 

If you are a beginner, and starting your journey of wild Betta exploration and are interested in the Coccina complex, start with a harder species such as Betta Coccina or Betta uberis, grow your knowledge and skills before tackling Betta livida, they will thank you for it.

We hope you enjoyed and found this article useful. If you have any further questions about Betta livida care please leave them in the comment section and we will get back to you.

The article was written based on personal knowledge and experience in keeping the species. It may differ from your own experience or opinions of the species.

Disclaimer: All images are credited accordingly, if an image is miscredited please contact us at


1 thought on “Jealous Green Eyed Betta (Betta Livida) Complete Care Guide

Alex Wright

Fantastic, thank you. Truly a pleasurable read, I am looking forward to more of your care guides on wild Betta if this article is anything to go by. It really shined light on to the species for me.

October 17, 2022 at 16:04pm

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