Everything You Need to Know About Dumbo Ear Bettas

icon author linh nguyen

By Linh Nguyen Updated on 20 Apr 2023

Dumbo betta fish, also known as elephant ear beta fish or big ears betta fish, is a unique and beautiful species of betta that has recently become increasingly popular among aquarium hobbyists. Originally discovered in Thailand in 2008 by two breeders Theerasak Supinpong and Ah Pak Nam, this species has since been cultivated and is now available to the public. While they may look similar to their common betta cousins, dumbo bettas are quite different in terms of care requirements and reproduction habits. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of caring for these beautiful creatures as well as some tips on how to successfully reproduce them.

1. Quick facts about Dumbo betta fish

NameDumbo betta fish
Another nameElephant ear beta fish, big ears betta fish
Species NameBetta splendens
Lifespan3 to 5 years
Size3 to 4 inches
HabitatThe tank of at least 5 gallons with plenty of plants, 6.5 to 7.5 pH
Temperature72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
DietOmnivore that needs a variety of live foods
Activity LevelVery active swimmer
Care LevelModerate to advanced and need for high-quality water conditions
CompatibilityNot recommended for community aquariums unless kept with non-aggressive fish that prefer similar conditions.

2. What is a dumbo beta fish?

It is known that the Dumbo/Big Ears fish came from Thai breeders, Theerasak Supinpong and Ah Pak Nam, in 2008. Perhaps this betta line is a development of the Lavender line, so we see a lot of Lavender Dumbo fish on the market. Besides, Theerasak Supinpong is also an expert breeder of the Lavender betta line. If you pay attention, you will see that the pectoral fins of the Lavender fish are already larger and more beautiful than those of normal fish. It seems that there was initially a mutation of pectoral fin branching in Lavender, which was later consolidated and expanded into Dumbo or Big Ears.

Besides the above information, I would also like to note the differences between the different trade names "Dumbo" and "Big Ears." The name "Dumbo" refers to a betta with pectoral fins equal to or greater than half of its body length, but not exceeding two-thirds of its body length. The name "Big Ears" refers to a betta whose pectoral fins are larger than what is normal for bettas, but less than half of its body length.

A dumbo lavender betta fish

A dumbo lavender betta fish

3. Overview of dumbo betta fish

3.1. Appearance

The distinguishing feature of Dumbo Betta fish that sets them apart from other bettas is their two larger pectoral fins than usual. The name "Dumbo" is a very popular and famous one, inspired by the series of flying elephants first released in 1991.

This part of the fin is mostly the same color as the fish's body. However, sometimes they are completely different and become rare items that anyone wants to own.

Accompanied by their massive size, the pectoral fins of this strain present a number of undesirable elements. Rays are often jagged and uneven, potentially leading to fin diseases. Furthermore, reports indicate that the pectoral fins may be too large, affecting the normal reproductive process (i.e., becoming entangled, preventing the male from hugging the female) and thus needing to be trimmed.

3.2. Size

The size of a dumbo betta can vary between 2-3 inches, which is slightly larger than many other tropical fish species. In comparison to other betta lines, they tend to be much larger in size. This makes them more impressive and attractive for aquarists looking for a unique addition to their aquariums. 

The large size of the dumbo betta also contributes to its majestic swimming abilities. As compared with other bettas, they have a more powerful tail which allows them to quickly traverse through the water. This makes them particularly well-suited for larger aquariums with plenty of open swimming space.

3.3. Lifespan

Betta Dumbo fish are one of the longest-living strains of betta fish. The average lifespan for a Dumbo betta is between two and three years, although, with proper care and nutrition, some individuals can live up to five years or more. This makes them significantly longer-lived than many other strains of betta fish which typically have much shorter lifespans, often living no more than a year or two.

They are also known for their hardiness and resistance to disease, meaning they don’t require as much maintenance as other types of bettas do. They should still be given regular water changes and good quality food, but overall they are generally easy to take care of.

3.4. Colors and variations

The Dumbo Betta also comes in a variety of beautiful colors—from brilliant reds and blues to deep purples and oranges. Many have specks or patches of other colors as well, such as black or white.

When compared to other betta strains, the Dumbo Betta may look quite different. While some are brightly colored with long flowing fins, others are more subdued and compact in size. This variety provides a unique challenge for Betta keepers to find the perfect type for their home aquarium.

The Dumbo Betta is an ideal choice for those looking to add some personality and color to their tank. With its distinct look and a wide array of possibilities, it can bring life and vibrancy to any aquarium environment. Whether you choose a vibrant red or a more subtle blue-gray, this fish will be sure to make a statement in your home!

Here are pictures of some popular dumbo bettas.

Halfmoon dumbo betta fish - The combination of a 180-degree spread tail and two large fins makes this fish incredibly soft and attractive.

Halfmoon dumbo betta fish - The combination of a 180-degree spread tail and two large fins makes this fish incredibly soft and attractive.

Dumbo lavender betta fish - The colors mixed with warm colors make the fish look gorgeous and even sweet.

Dumbo lavender betta fish - The colors mixed with warm colors make the fish look gorgeous and even sweet.

In addition, there are popular Dumbo Bettas such as Dumbo Gold Bettas, Dumbo Lavender Plakat Bettas, or Halfmoon Dumbo Bettas, etc. These lines can only be found in professional Betta stores.

3.5. The behavior

Dumbo bettas typically display bold and active behavior when in an appropriate environment; their long, flowing fins make them particularly graceful in the water.

Some common betta breeds may be less hardy than a Dumbo. For example, Halfmoon can be shy and spooked when exposed to sudden changes in lighting or movement. Conversely, Dumbo Bettas remain calm and unafraid even when exposed to outside stimuli. Furthermore, because of their size and striking coloration, Dumbo Bettas tend to command attention from aquarists. They make a great centerpiece in any aquarium setup and are sure to be noticed!

3.6. Prices

It comes to pricing, theta Dumbo fish can be quite expensive. Generally, the price for a single fish can range from $10 to over $100 depending on the quality and color of the fish. When shopping for a Dumbo betta fish, let remember to be aware of some characteristics that will affect the cost. The size and age of them factor into their price; younger or smaller specimens tend to be more affordable than an adult or larger ones. It is also crucial to consider whether you are looking at healthy specimens with vibrant colors as these will increase in value compared to those that look unhealthy or have faded colors.

Besides, there are also certain safety precautions that one should take before making a purchase. It is important to observe the behavior of the fish before buying it. This includes checking for signs of diseases such as fin rot or ich. Additionally, it is necessary to inspect the store’s tank size and substrate in order to ensure that they are suitable for your tank. Lastly, one should also ask about food types and feeding frequencies to ensure that the fish will receive proper care after its purchase.

4. Care

4.1. Habitat, water quality, and tank setup

The dumbo betta requires specific care and living conditions in order to thrive in captivity. 

The first and foremost thing is to provide plenty of space. They should not be kept in tanks smaller than 5 gallons as they need room to swim around and explore their environment.

It is also important to ensure the water quality remains stable through filtration and regular partial water changes. For optimal health, the pH level should be between 6 - 7.5 with moderate hardness (4 - 10 dH) and low nitrates (< 20 ppm), and the temperature should range from 78 - 86 degrees Fahrenheit (25 - 30 degrees Celsius). 

Dumbo bettas also prefer a heavily planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places and shelter. These fish love exploring, so let to provide them with a varied environment in their tank. It is also helpful to add some driftwood or rocks for the betta to rest on. 

Finally, you must carefully consider which other fish you want to include in the same tank. Betta Dumbo generally does best when kept as the only betta species in a community aquarium. It is not recommended to add small or slow-moving fish such as neon tetras, guppies, or mollies since these can become easy prey for your Betta Dumbo. Good tankmates for this species include robust mid-sized fish such as weather loaches, zebra danios, corydoras catfish, and larger tetras.

A white dumbo betta fish

A white dumbo betta fish

4.2. Food and nutrition

A healthy dumbo betta fish will require a diet that is rich in protein. These types of fish, thrive on meaty foods, such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and other small aquatic crustaceans. A regular feeding schedule should be maintained to ensure that the betta is receiving all of the necessary nutrition it needs to remain healthy. Additionally, supplemental feedings with live or frozen food items can help provide variety and additional nutrients to your betta's diet. 

One thing more, never overfeed your dumbo betta since this can cause indigestion and serious health complications in these small creatures. It is best to feed them only enough food to fill their bellies, and any uneaten food should be removed after a few minutes.

4.3. Maintenance mode for fish tank

Aquarium maintenance is essential for raising healthy betta dumbo fish. The water needs to be kept clean and well-maintained, as this will help the fish grow and thrive. A water change should be done regularly, preferably once a week, or at least once every two weeks. During the water change, 25-50% of the aquarium’s water should be replaced with fresh dechlorinated tap water that has been allowed to sit out overnight in an open container. This ensures dissolved gases are eliminated from the new water and it is safe for your betta dumbo fish.

The filter must also be cleaned regularly to ensure efficient filtration and circulation of water throughout the aquarium. The filter media should be rinsed in old aquarium water, not tap water. This will help keep beneficial bacteria alive and ensure your betta dumbo fish are getting the best possible environment.

Finally, a layer of gravel or substrate should be placed in the aquarium to provide a natural environment for your betta dumbo fish. The gravel should be vacuumed weekly to remove debris and sediment that has collected on the bottom of the tank. This helps maintain clean water and reduces the number of toxins in the tank.

5. Diseases

One of the most common problems in betta dumbo fish is fin rot. Fin rot is an infection caused by a bacterial or fungal growth that eats away at the fins and tail of the fish, leading to deterioration and death if left untreated. In advanced cases, it can even lead to body loss and death from systemic infections. It is especially prevalent in dumbo bettas because their larger fins are more vulnerable to bacteria or fungi that can establish themselves on them without proper maintenance. Symptoms of fin rot include frayed or ragged-looking fins, discoloration along the edges of the fins, and open sores or a white coating on the affected areas. 

Jagged fins are also a common problem among betta dumbo fish. This occurs when the edges of their fins become torn due to fighting with other fish or physical stimulation such as live plants in an aquarium. Jagged fins can lead to reduced swimming ability, and if the edges of the fins are left untreated, they can eventually result in permanent damage. Symptoms of jagged fins include fraying or tearing along the edges of the fin, discoloration around the edges, and open sores or lesions along the affected area. 

Finally, dumbo bettas can have less flexible pectoral fins that make them more prone to physical trauma as they swim around their tank. This is due to weakened muscles around their pectoral region and the oversized size of the pectoral fins. Signs that your fish may be experiencing this condition include difficulty maneuvering through tight spaces, difficulty turning quickly or swimming up and down in their tanks, and visible signs of distress, such as excessive panting. 

Overall, betta dumbo fish can be prone to a variety of problems and diseases if they are not properly cared for. Please make sure to regularly check your fish’s fins and tail for any signs of deterioration or infection, and make sure that the water parameters in their tank are within the optimal range for healthy betta fish.

A yellow dumbo betta fish

A yellow dumbo betta fish

6. Breeding

The "big ear" gene is thought to be recessive, meaning that it must exist in a homozygous state (ee) for the trait to manifest. Breeding dumbo with each other will produce 100% dumbo; the pectoral fins of descendants tend to be larger than those of their parents, but they are often asymmetrical and deformed, which leads to the removal of nearly half of the flock (similar to double tail crossbreeding). Therefore, crossbreeding pure ee dumbo with Dumbo geno Ee is preferred; the dumbo rate will be lower (about 50%), but the "ears" are not oversized, and are more beautiful and even; thus, the purification rate is lower.

One thing that you must always keep in mind is the foundation of modern ornamental bettas: a mutation that increases the degree of fin ray branching, occurring most strongly in the caudal fin and to a lesser extent in the dorsal and anal fins. Furthermore, Dumbo (Big Ears) is just a mutant with branching pectoral fin rays.

We all know that the double tail gene produces a ray branching mutation in odd fins and strongly affects all modern ornamental bettas. However, the pectoral fin is a stubborn stronghold and remains unaffected until the "big-ear" gene appears.

The biggest problem with breeding Dumbo that one always has to work on improving is the shape of the pectoral fins, which depend on numerous factors (while still attempting to raise it larger!). The pectoral fins must not only be lengthy but should also be extensively spread out, symmetrical in both shape and size, as well as with the color development on the fins. Fins are innately transparent so the color, if spread thereupon, usually is a light background type, unless there is a mutation that causes melanosis to appear. Large pectoral fins are oftentimes associated with excessive branching.

There are reports that the pectoral fins of dumbo are too large, affecting normal reproduction (e.g., entanglement, preventing the male from embracing the female). Therefore, it is suggested that these fins should be trimmed in order to avoid any further issues breeding.

The "big-ear" gene helps the pectoral fins widen and elongate, but the rays grow wild, out of control, and out of sync, leading to jagged, folded fins. My suggestion is that you should limit yourself to four secondary rays (i.e. one primary ray branching up to four secondary rays for short). This will help to lengthen the pectoral fins without defects in subsequent generations. Besides, you can start by breeding dumbo with normal fish and select the largest pectoral fins with only four rays as breeding stock.

A blue dumbo betta fish

A blue dumbo betta fish

7. Is Dumbo ear betta suitable for you?

In conclusion, dumbo betta fish is a unique and interesting strain of betta that can provide hours of enjoyment. They require the same care as other types of bettas, but due to their large size, they need larger tanks than most. With proper care and attention, these fish can live long and healthy lives. Their unusual looks make them stand out in any aquarium and they are sure to be a conversation starter!

For those considering adding a dumbo betta to their tank, it's important to remember that this species is not necessarily ideal for beginners. It requires more knowledge and experience with bettas in order to keep them happy and healthy. However, if you already have experience with smaller varieties of bettas, then adding a dumbo betta to your tank is sure to be a great decision!

We hope this blog post has given you an understanding of the unique characteristics of dumbo betta fish. If you have any more questions or would like advice on caring for them, please don't hesitate to leave your comments below. We'd love to help answer any queries and continue the conversation!


1. Different Preliminary Feed on The Response of Growth and Sustainability of Betta Fish Larvae (Betta splendens)


2. Overview of the betta fish genome regarding species radiation, parental care, behavioral aggression, and pigmentation model relevant to humans


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