Fish of The Month September 2005 – The Betta

This month’s Fish Of The Month is The Betta!

A Mustard Gas Plakat Betta The Betta Splenden also referred to, as Siamese fighting fish, are native to Southeast Asia, Malaysia, & Thailand. Bettas natural habitat includes flooded rice field, stagnant ponds, ditches, and slow flowing streams.

In the wild Bettas are distinctively territorial and would protect its territory from other Bettas. Intrigued by the Betta’s instinctive aggression towards the male of its own species, the Siamese through the centuries used these Bettas in fighting contests. The Siamese begin to domesticate the wild Bettas at around the year 1850 in which time Bettas were selectively bred primarily for their fighting abilities rather for their color and finnage. The Siamese call them plakat, which means biting fish. Fish fighting today continues to be a popular pastime in Thailand, as well as in many countries of Asia.

As popular as the Betta hobby was in Asia, it did not spread to the West until 1874 when Bettas were first introduced in France. By 1910 Bettas were wide spread throughout Europe and consequently to America. The years following the introduction of Bettas to the West, we begin to see emphasis being placed on selectively breeding Bettas for their beauty, color, and finnage rather than their fighting ability.

The Bettas we see today are very distinct from the dulled colored short finned Bettas found in the wild. The vibrant color and long flowing fins Bettas of today are results of over a century of selective breeding by Betta breeders and hobbyists in Asia and throughout the world.

Today organizations such as the IBC (International Betta Congress) are established to promote Betta keeping as a hobby. Breeders all over the world are actively working on new strains, or on improving and keeping alive old strains, & competing against each other (in fish show competition) but also helping each other achieve individual goals.