Do betta fish have a skeleton?

In this post, we will answer the question “Do betta fish have a skeleton?”. We will also discuss some of the fish evolution and differences between cartilaginous and bony fish.

Do betta fish have a skeleton?

Yes. All beta fish have bones, and thus, a skeleton. Betta fish are classified as bony fish, or teleost, similarly to nearly all aquarium fish. Thus, they have true cranial bones and bony fins.

Fish evolution

Almost all of the anatomical traits that amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have evolved as a result of adaptations and adjustments to features that fish initially created. 

Fish are a very old and extremely successful animal lineage that has survived for thousands of years. These people have roots that stretch back millions of years, all the way to the Cambrian Explosion, which occurred more than 530 million years ago! In the fossil record, there is evidence of a dramatic boom in animal variety during this time. We watch the emergence of more complex animal forms from soft worms, molluscs, and other more primordial forms of life, all at once. 

The first group of fish is a weird and unusual bunch. Many of them lacked jaws and had basic spinal columns made primarily or totally of cartilage, as was the case with many others. Most also possessed thick, bony plates of armour to protect themselves at first; the microscopic scales that we associate with contemporary bony fish were a later outgrowth of this.

Fish scales

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of touching a fish, you’ve probably been struck by how hard and unyielding its scales are. Fish scapes are a fantastic adaption to the environment. The majority of them are not formed of bone, contrary to popular belief, however certain fish do feature plate- or knob-like scales, which are often comprised of bone. 

In terms of both shape and function, true scales are exceedingly diverse, and descriptive names such as cycloid, ganoid, and elasmoid have been coined to characterise these characteristics. One purpose of fish scales is to protect the fish against predators, including huge predators, but also germs, viruses, and other opportunists that may attack. 

In addition to providing additional protection, the slime layer that most fish have lowers their water resistance, allowing them to swim more swiftly. This is why you should never contact a fish if your skin is dry, as your skin will readily tear away the slime coating from the fish. Furthermore, the bacteria and fungus spores on your hands have the potential to be contagious to aquatic organisms. 

In addition to pigments that reflect, absorb, and refract light, fish scales include other pigments. This can assist them in blending with their surroundings, finding mates, signalling to rivals, and a variety of other things. Cartilaginous fish, such as sharks, are distinguished from bony fish by the fact that they lack real scales entirely. The millions of denticles that cover their flanks, like tiny teeth, give them the sensation of having sandpaper on their skin. 

Additionally, a mucus coating on top of the fins provides additional protection by aiding in the prevention of illness and parasite transmission. Anyone who has handled fish has probably felt this slimy film on their hands. However, you mustn’t handle your fish excessively because if you damage the mucus layer, your fish will become more susceptible to illnesses and parasites.

What makes fish bones unique?

Betta fish bones are quite similar to our bones, albeit they are not necessarily in the same locations as our own. They all provide the same functions: structural support, immune cell generation through the bone marrow, and defence against infection. However, one look at a fish, particularly one that has been cooked, will reveal that it has a great deal of intricacy. 

Fish have a large number of structural bones down their backs and tails that support their fins and the muscles that propel them forward as they swim. They also serve to sustain the centre of the bodily cavity without interfering with swimming ability. 

Almost all aquarium fish are classified as “bony fish,” which informs you that the bones of all the fish in your tank are likely to be present. Sharks, stingrays, and other cartilaginous fish, in contrast to Betta fish, do not have bones in their anatomical structure. Instead, their whole skeleton is formed of cartilage, which is a flexible yet hard substance that is similar to the protein that is present between your bones at joint locations.

Cartilaginous vs Bony Fish

There are two varieties of fish that are generally disputed and a lot of people have difficulty distinguishing between them. If you can study the distinctions between these two sorts of fish, it will be much easier for you to grasp and distinguish between them when the situation calls for it. The most evident difference between bony and cartilaginous fish comes down to the fact that the skeleton of a bony fish is comprised entirely of bones, whereas the skeleton of a cartilaginous fish is entirely made of cartilage, according to science. 

There are about 20,000 different species of fish around the globe. Pisces is the superclass of the Chordata classification system. For one thing, more than half of the chordates are typically fishes, which explains why this is true. Fishes are classified into two groups based on this classification: Osteichthyes and Chondrichthyes (bony fish or cartilaginous fish). This takes us to the discussion of the differences between bony and cartilaginous fish.

Bony Fish

It is also known as Teleostomi when referring to this group of fish. It is also believed to be the most numerous class within the Phylum Chordata. It is commonly known that these fish exist due to the following characteristics: 

• It is possible for them to be either freshwater or marine water fishes since their endoskeleton is fully composed of bone and they have an anterior tip mouth opening 

• In addition to having an operculum on either side of their gills, they also have an air bladder that performs hydrostatic functions. 

• Their exoskeleton is composed of cycloids (thin bony plates), which are aligned dependent on whether the outer edges are spiky or smooth. 

• They have a homocercal tail fin; and they fertilise their eggs externally rather than inside. 

Flying fish, globefish, sea horses, and eels are just a few of the fish that fall within this group.

Cartilaginous Fish

It is also known as Elasmobranchii, which is another name for this group of fish. The majority of the fishes in this category are found in the sea. As a result, it is unlikely that you will encounter any freshwater fish in this category. They are often characterised by the following characteristics: 

• These fishes have an endoskeleton primarily composed of cartilage, and an exoskeleton composed of placoid (very small denticles coated with a lot of sharp enamel). 

• Their buccal cavity is ventrally located, and their tail finds are heterocercal. 

• They have 5 gills on either side that are overly exposed, and thus they do not have an operculum. 

• Their manner of fertilisation is through internal systems, not external mechanisms. 

Dogfish, skates, electric ray torpedo, and sharks are just a few of the common species that belong to this category. If you grasp the distinctions between the two varieties of fish, it will be much easier for you to distinguish between them.


In this post, we answered the question “Do betta fish have a skeleton?”. We also discussed some of the fish evolution and differences between cartilaginous and bony fish.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Do betta fish have a skeleton?

Do betta fish have skeletons like other fish? 

Almost all aquarium fish are classified as “bony fish,” which informs you that the bones of all the fish in your tank are likely to be present. Sharks, stingrays, and other cartilaginous fish anatomy, in contrast to Betta fish anatomy, do not have bones. 

What is the total number of bones in a betta fish? 

Betta fish have a total of 83 bones in their bodies. 

Do betta fish have a spine like other fish? 

You may have noticed that your betta’s spine has become curved. This may be due to organ damage that has caused them to swell and bend the shape of your betta’s spine, or it may be due to an infection in the spine itself that has caused it to curve.

Do betta fish become depressed or lonely? 

Betta fish are territorial by nature and should not be kept in the same tank-like any other betta fish since they will fight and hurt each other, which will frequently result in death. If they are in a large tank, they are unlikely to feel lonely; yet, they may become bored if their tank is too small.

Do betta fish have a cerebral cortex? 

Betta fish, contrary to popular belief, have brains. Even when betta fish are engaged in combat, the findings suggest that their brains communicate with one another and coordinate their actions.


Betta Fish Body Parts & Anatomy Overview: Mouth, Fins, Organs and Skeleton.

Jason Roberts. 2022. Understanding The Betta Fish Anatomy.