Fighting Fish – Fish Fighting as a “Sport”

March 13, 2013

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.

Blue Male Fighting Fish

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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Beth C.

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Why Does My Betta Fight? Its All in the Breeding!

March 10, 2013

Have ever asked yourself the question, “Why does my betta fight?” In Thailand (formerly Siam) people bet on the outcome of a betta fight, and raising and breeding betta fish (called Pla Kat in Thailand) specifically for fighting has become a nationwide hobby. The increased popularity of this “sport” over the last several hundred years has actually made the betta a much more aggressive fish than nature intended, but shortened the betta lifespan. Let’s take a look at the way breeding has given your beautiful Betta Splendens its fierce nature.

Betta Fish Fighting

Betta Fish Fighting

Ever since American C. Tate Regan named this colorful fish Betta Splendens (splendid betta) in 1909, hundreds of color and fin varieties have been bred, but few know that the color of a betta has a lot to do with how aggressive he is. Going back hundreds of years, a betta’s colors were tracked, and if the offspring of a particular betta were noted to be more aggressive than another, the coloring was noted, and bred then with other bettas of another agressive coloration, creating a particularly nasty fish in an entirely new color variation. Lineage can often be tracked back several generations to a particular color or fin style.

When weaker fish were bred, as they proved to be less aggressive, they were discarded. Nobody wanted weak fish in a betta fight! Because of this, after hundreds of years, the fish you now see in your local pet store are much more aggressive and fighting-inclined than nature intended. Just think, your betta might be the ancestor of a great fighting champion. Hail betta!

Further evidence in favor of the breeding argument is the fact that a betta fight between two Pla Kat Tung (a betta raised in nature) lasts only about fifteen minutes. However, a betta fight between two Pla Kat Mor (commercially grown betta) can last up to six hours.

The best fighters fall into three categories.

1 – Hokmokwai

This betta has a gray-blue/green body and no red coloration in its unpaired fins, with black pelvic fins.

2 – Angchae

The Angchae has a totally green body with its unpaired fins only half red.

3 – Honkamten

This fish is identified by a brown body with rows of green spots and a crescent pattern on the tail fin.

A betta fight generally never leads to death, it is more chasing and nipping, so a healthy fighting fish can be used for years. Pet-store bettas don’t usually live longer than six months, though the betta lifespan can be stretched up to five years if proper steps are taken and the tank is maintained properly. There are basically three secret ingredients to raising a healthy, long-living Siamese fighting fish; tank conditions, proper diagnosis of disease (betta get sick very easily), and tank maintenance.

Want to know how to triple your betta’s lifespan? Then get the book pet store owners don’t want you to read. An acclaimed 25 year betta expert (and my good friend) reveals incredible tips to give your betta the healthiest, happiest, longest life. Available for immediate download at THIS LINK.
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Bettas show left-and right-hand preferences !

March 9, 2013

The Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, not only shows right- and left-hand preferences but also has accompanying body asymmetries according to research published in a recent issue of Behavioral Brain Research.

Lead researcher Yuichi Takeuchi aimed to answer three separate questions:

  • In a display of aggression, would betta fish present one side to an opponent in preference to the other side?
  • Are there are differences in appearance between the left and right side of the betta fish?
  • Are differences in betta body shape linked to which side the fish presented?

Bettas prove ideal fish for such experiments, as Takeuchi explains: “Betta splendens show intensive aggressive behavioural patterns” and “remarkably erect the operculum during these social situations”.

In the first phase of the experiment, Takeuchi found that when placed in a mirrored, hexagonal tank  just over half of the betta fish showed a left or right-sided preference for displays of aggressions: “lefty” bettas were more likely to present and flare their left gill cover at the mirror image of themselves, while “righty” fish would do the opposite.

Betta Fish Flaring

Betta Fish Flaring

In the second stage of the experiment, the researchers measured tiny differences in the body shapes of the fishes, specifically looking at the angle at which the spine met the head.  The overwhelming majority of betta fish had a slight left- or right-sided bend in their backbone.

Finally, Takeuchi compared the two sets of results and found that fish that were already identified as lefties had a subtle bend in their spine to the left while righties would most likely bend to the right, suggesting a link between body shape and left/right preference.

Takeuchi admits that the test may lead to more questions than answers, agreeing that “The reason for the relationship between behaviour laterality… and morphological asymmetry in Betta Splendens is not clear”, and that perhaps these results actually mean that it is time to “re-examine the widespread behavioural laterality in fish”.

“Want to know the Betta Facts for successful betta set-up and care? I have enjoyed raising healthy, happy bettas for over 20 years. Head to this special web site for some incredible betta care tips (and a limited time offer). See you there!”
Elizabeth Christopher

Don’t forget to share with your friends through the social buttons below! Let’s save as many Betta Fish as we can, and give them the best lives possible.


Published: Dr Claire Inness Wednesday 19 May 2010, 2:21 pm

posted in Practical Fishkeeping at

Plakat Betta – The Hearty Short Finned Betta Fighter

April 18, 2010

Plakat Betta – The Hearty Short Finned Betta Fighter
By Elizabeth Christopher Elizabeth Christopher

The term “pla kat” actually means “fighting fish” in Thailand. The term was shortened to plakat betta somewhere many moons ago, and is used to refer to any short-finned mouth brooding bettas. Plakat betta are closer in genetics to nature’s betta fighter, and their shorter fins and betta tail allow them much better movement in the water than their more dramatic long-finned cousins.

Any time you make a copy of a copy, you get a watered down version of the original. After literally hundreds of years of breeding for just the right fin design and betta tail style and coloration, the result is a long-finned fish that swims very little and very poorly due to its outrageously long fins. A by-product of selective breeding for certain non-critical characteristics is the fact that long-finned bettas are much more susceptible to betta diseases.

A stronger immune system, leading to less bacterial infections and disease, and greater ability to swim has caused the plakat betta to be a favorite among tropical fish owners. Everyone knows how prone to sickness the long-finned bettas are, and enjoy the relative ease of raising the hearty plakat betta.

The short-finned bettas are also much easier to breed. Since they are mouth brooders – the male keeps the fry in his mouth until they are strong enough to swim on their own – they generally have a better chance of survival than the bubble nest bettas that can be snatched up by any passing fish as they sit in their bubble nest near the surface of the water.

Since a betta tail must be powerful to help the fish maneuver in a betta fight, the shorter finned varieties are much more in demand where enthusiasts actually fight bettas and bet on the outcome. This is a huge “sport” in Thailand and Viet Nam, and is where the term Siamese Fighting Fish comes from.

The plakat betta can be found in any number of color combinations, so they are every bit as beautiful and splendid as their over-bred family members. If you are looking for a fish that is more resistant to the many betta diseases, is easier to care for, easier to breed and has a longer lifespan, consider the beautiful plakat betta with the shorter fins and betta tail as your next pet.

Hi guys,
Elizabeth here.
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