|~Betta History 101~|
(pronounced BET-TUH, not BAY-TUH) Splendens, also known as 'Siamese
Fighting Fish', derive from Asia. The bettas in the wild look very
different than the ones we know and have been captivated by. In the
wild, speed and agility are more important than color and beauty. With
this in mind, you can envision the wild betta with short fins and dark,
mottled coloring. The wild bettas are very interesting and beautiful in
their own way.
Bettas also are known to inhabit the shallow rice patties in Asia. These rice patties are very shallow, muddy waters, not our ideal habitat for a fish. This is where their hardiness resulted from. They use a special organ called the labyrinth to enable them to breathe oxygen straight from the surface of the water. If they did not have this ability, they would not be able to survive in their natural habitat due to the low oxygen levels. This aspect of their lives also makes it easier for modern bettas to survive in those little cups that you see in pet store. If you haven't noticed, many pet stores find it unnecessary to clean the bettas water. It is easy to imagine that the water in those cups would lose it's oxygen content very quickly with a gill-breathing fish. Since the bettas breathe from the surface, this allows them to survive these conditions. The conditions they are forced to survive in are still unhealthy and I hope that someday pet stores will realize this.
Bettas were originally discovered in Siam. They were used in fights as people here in the us would fight Dogs, Chickens or even humans boxing. This is where the term 'Siamese Fighting Fish' came from. The males, as well as females, are very aggressive and territorial fish. If you put a male in another males eyesight, it will result in a display of fins and color to intimidate the other male. The bettas used in Siam to fight were, again, not like or Bettas Splendens of today. Also, fighting bettas is not an accepted practice by myself or many other members of the IBC. We now only breed to share their beauty with the world.
Bettas were introduced to the US in 1910, yet it was not until 17 years later that the colors of the bettas we know today began to emerge :) Slowly and carefully over the next 75 years, breeders from all over have been selectively breeding their bettas to achieve better fins, color and longer life span. There are still new patterns and colors being worked on, and of course, the colors and patterns that have been around for years are still being perfected.
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