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History of the Beloved Betta Fish

bright blue crowntail betta fish

10:26 AM - March 1, 2013 by Adam Short

Bettas have been recognized as some of the most beautiful fish in the world. Although this is true, it is a far cry from how they looked hundreds of years ago in their native waters of Thailand. During that time, they were very common as they lived in shallow, stagnant pools of water, rice paddies or polluted waterways. And although our beloved Bettas were very plain in color then, they were referred to as “The Jewel of the Orient” because on occasion, a vibrantly-colored Betta would end up in one of the fisherman’s nets.

The people of Thailand referred to this variety of fish as Pla Kat, which means a fish that tears and bites. The male Bettas are very territorial and will guard their nests against any and all threats. And it’s very true that Bettas entertained the Thai people because male Bettas fought like roosters. Obviously, it didn’t take long before people kept fish for the “sport” of fighting by placing them in a suspended glass bowl. Participants would place bets on either fish to win, and the two males, as they were alone in the water, would challenge the other and they would fight until only the winner was left maimed and injured. Although participants would stop the fighting before one of them died in the tank, the wounds were usually very severe and the losing Betta would die soon after.

betta fish aquariumTwo centuries later, with domestication efforts, this hotheaded, plain-colored, little wild fish has turned into a pet that is full of vibrant colors and possesses a more peaceful disposition. Although Bettas are more peaceful, it isn’t wise to keep more than one male Betta in your aquarium. They still retain an inborn aggression and if they are both confined in one tank, more than likely there will be fighting. Actually, one Betta per tank is safest, for even if you place one female with one male, you may still notice some bickering between them that can actually hurt your other fish.

A Peaceful Betta


Today, to keep Bettas as a pet and promote a peaceful atmosphere in your aquarium, it’s wise to choose non-aggressive fish for your Betta’s tankmates. Interestingly enough, the best “roomies” for your beloved Betta are other fish that originate in Asia such as Rasboras, Danios, small Barbs and many others your local pet store can suggest to you. Be careful with Cichlids and large Barbs because they are fin nippers.

Bettas have come a long way over the years, and they have become the fish that brighten an otherwise boring aquarium with their dazzling array of colors and personality. Tropical waters, even today, as well as home fish aquariums are full of amazingly vibrant-colored and long-finned Bettas who are descendants of their original, dull ancestors. It’s an exciting time to be a Betta owner because commercial breeders can offer the fish hobbyist many varieties of Bettas that are elegant and beautiful and will give you years of enjoyment.

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