Centuries ago Asian breeders of the Siamese Fighting Fish, given its name because of its aggressive nature, noticed that temperament, as well as appearance, could be bred into their fish. Once an especially nasty male was found, he was bred with a female. Then their offspring were bred, and so on, creating very surly fighting fish ready for a “betta fight”.
This led to the creation of fighting fish competitions, and eventually gambling on a betta fight was commonplace, and could even be found in the local markets. Even in present day Thailand (formerly Siam), fish fighting is a huge “sport”, and millions of dollars are bet on bouts every year. in the United States it is not usually fought, but remains one of the more popular tropical aquarium fish year after year, due to its incredibly wide range of colors, and fin shapes and styles.
With several hundreds of years of breeding taking place on so many non-documented levels, unraveling the ancestry of this fish is impossible. But we do know that the first Siamese Fighting Fish landed in Europe in 1894, and considering that these fish can breed as early as nine months, and have a gestation period of about two weeks, so you can see that the numbers of possible generations in even a decade is in the hundreds.
Betta Splendens is the scientific name given to these beautiful fish, and actually means “Splendid Betta”. As the males have been bred more for fin size and coloration, their ability to swim has lessened, and that is why you will usually find them in tanks with little or no water flow. Whereas Fighting Fish competitions are commonplace in Thailand and Viet Nam, the only betting done in the United States is in Betta Fish Shows, with Regional, and National competitions frequently having hundreds of entrants.
When purchasing a betta tank, remember that betta fight other fish that appear similar in shape and/or color. Males must be separated, unless you plan on waking up to a dead Betta Splendens.
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