History and Background of Betta Fish

Historically speaking, Betta Fish are said to have gotten their name from an ancient clan of Asian warriors named the “Bettah”.  They were given these warrior’s names because about 150 years ago people enjoyed participating in a popular sport that involved the fighting of two of these warrior fish.  (In fact, sport was so popular that is was regulated – taxed by the King of Siam).

One interesting note about Betta Fish fighting, is that unlike cock or dog fighting in the west, at Siamese fighting fish tournaments, the actual fight was more to test the bravery of the fish, rather than a fight to see how much damage would be inflicted or a death match.

Spectators be on how long a particular fish would fight, and which one would give up first.  (In fact, most fish would only fight once or twice, and then live out the remainder of their lives being pampered and used for breeding).

A Betta Fish’s natural habitat

Natural Habitat is in shallow tropical water.  This is because they need to be able to surface frequently, in order to breathe air.  They can be found in nature, in rice paddies, drainage ditches, slow moving streams and fresh water ponds.  Betta Fish have even been know to thrive in large puddles!

How Breeding Began

According to historical accounts, a close friend of King Siam, Dr. Theodore Cantor received a pair of breeding bettas from the king in 1840.  The doctor bred them and studied them for several years and then wrote a scientific paper about them giving them a Latin name of “Macropodus Pugnax.”  However, shortly after this paper was published, Dr. Cantor discovered that a species by name already existed, and so the fish was renamed “Betta Splendens.”

Several breeding pair of Bettas was sent to Germany in 1896, and then in 1910 Mr. Frank Locke of San Francisco imported a pair of Bettas to the U.S.A.

One of the fish that he received had an unusual red fins – and he excitedly thought he had discovered a new species, and named it “Betta Cambodia.”  In reality he one of the first “Betta Splendens” that had naturally developed new colors and characteristics through breeding.

Since that time, the breeders have been able to develop Bettas with all of the vibrant coloring and varied fin shapes that we find today.  Betta breeding has become a profitable and ongoing passion for many people today.  Many of whom started with just one or two Bettas in a small aquarium.

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