The Siamese fighting fish is a small and colourful carnivorous species of fish found in the Mekong River that runs through a number of countries in south-east Asia. Bettas(Siamese) originated in the shallow waters of Thailand (formerly called Siam, hence their name), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of China. These areas are home to acres of rice paddies, ponds, slow moving streams and swamps, all of which are home to Bettas (Siamese). There are several species in the genus “Betta”, but the best known and most spectacular is the “Siamese Fighting Fish”; “Betta splendens”; the “splendid Betta”. As demand has grown for Bettas, they have been captive-bred globally, both commercially and by private individuals. Virtually all species for sale are captive-bred. Betta splendens is easily the most popular species of Betta bred and sold in the aquarium trade. If you put two males together they will usually fight after going through a display. The display seems to be part of the fish’s method of recognising the sex of the other fish. In a limited space like a small aquarium a fight would usually end with one fish dead. The Siamese fighting fish is easily recognised due to the beautiful colours displayed on their body.
Siamese fighting fish also have long and elaborate coloured fins, which are longer on the male Siamese fighting fish than the fins of the female Siamese fighting fish. The fins of the Siamese fighting fish look particularly elaborate due to the fact that the body of the Siamese fighting fish is relatively small. Females are usually not as highly colored, and have much shorter fins. In nature, this species is not usually brightly colored. However, captive breeding programs have resulted in a wide variety of colours, including white, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, green, turquoise, brown and black. The aggression of this fish has been studied by ethologists and comparative psychologists.These fish have historically been the objects of gambling; two male fish are pitted against each other in a fight and bets are placed on which one will win. One fish is almost always killed as a result. To avoid this, male Siamese fighting fish are best isolated from one another. Males will even respond aggressively to their own reflections in a mirror. Though this is obviously safer than exposing the fish to another male, prolonged sight of their reflection can lead to stress in some individuals.