Betta Origins - The Story of the Siamese Fighting Fish

The Siamese fighting fish was once a very popular fish in Siam or modern day Thailand not for its wonderful colors but purely for its fighting prowess. Later found by scientist and given the scientific name betta splendens or splendid warrior, this fish is now commonly known as the betta. Dull colored fish fighter might be hard to connect to the present day colorful and long finned betta, but the aggressive behavior still remains. People who know betta origins say that during the time of Siam bettas were greenish in color and had very short fins. They believed that the short fins developed so that their opponent would have much less to grab during their tussles.

Bettas back then where the equivalent of game cocks. The Siams bred their bettas to refine their fighting skills. Some say that before the Siams started breeding bettas, their fights in the wild would only last a couple of minutes. But as they were bred, the fights have also increased spanning hours at a time. Even though the fights lasted a long time, the bettas rarely experience serious wounds. Most injuries comprise only of torn fins from the biting of the opponent. Just like any other sport where animals are made to fight, there was money to be won and lost in fighting fishes and Siamese people regularly lost fortunes just because of the lowly betta. It became so popular that even the King of Siam started collecting these fighting fish and licensing them.

Sometime during the 1840s, the King of Siam gave some of his fish to a person who in turn gave it to Dr. Theodore Cantor. Dr. Cantor initially named the fish Macropodus Pugnax. It was later renamed into betta splendens by a certain Mr. Tate Regan in the year 1909. The bettas began to grow in popularity and by the end of the 1800's the bettas were already seen around Europe and in the Americas in the year 1910. The coloration and elongation of the fins of bettas may have come from those who bred them later on who preferred seeing colorful bettas. As of today bettas are very popular in the States and in Japan. Some treasure them for their fighting prowess while others prefer the bettas' splendid display of colors. There are already many betta farms scattered across Asia who either breed bettas as fighters or as works of art.

Regardless of the betta origins, the fighting fish are now a substantial part in the pet fish trade. Some people are mesmerised by their beauty while others are quite amused with the aggressiveness of the betta. Origins of the splendid warrior may not be very spectacular to know. But the fish has undergone a series of transformations that would make the original betta and present day betta look nothing alike. That is until they are placed in the same tank and the show of fighting skills begins.


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