Betta fish is one of several genera in the Family Osphronemidae. The most famous Betta is the Siamese Fighting fish (Betta splendens). The word Betta comes from a local Siamese name for Siamese Fighting fish, “Ikan Bettah”. The contemporary Thai name for this fish is Pla-kad. Since Bettas – especially the Betta splendens – are so popular among aquarists, we have given these fishes their own section here at AC Tropical fish. If you want to read about the other genera in the Family Osphronemidae, you will find a lot of useful information in the Gourami section of the articles library.
Siamese Fighting fish is not the only Betta fish that is well liked by aquarists. The Betta genus contains more than 50 described species. Most of them can be kept in aquariums but it is only a few species that are commonly kept by other aquarists than the true Betta enthusiasts. One of the most frequently kept Betta species aside from the Siamese Fighting fish is Betta imbellis – the Peaceful Betta. The Peaceful Betta is native to Malaysia and can reach a maximum size of 8 centimeters (3 inches). As the name suggests, it is a docile fish compared to the Siamese Fighting fish and the Peaceful Betta can do well in a community aquarium with other tranquil and non-aggressive species. The ideal water temperature is between 24-28º C (75-82° F) and the pH should be kept in the 5.5-7.0 range. Wild Betta imbellis inhabit densely grown waters and you should therefore provide your Betta imbellis with plenty of hiding places by decorating the aquarium with lots of plants. A Betta imbellis without any hiding places will become extremely stressed.
In South East Asia Betta splendens is traditionally kept as a fighting fish. The Bettas kept in Asia as fighting fishes were brown with a tinge of green and their fins were much smaller than the fins that we can see on the aquarium kept Bettas of today. If you keep a Betta fish in order to make the fight other Bettas, you will naturally have no incitements to breed fancy Betta fish with long and flowing fins that can easily be injured. Betta fighting is still popular in many parts of Asia and those Bettas can look very different from the forms that we find in aquariums. Male Betta splendens are highly territorial, and when put together in the same container they will fight until one of them dies. In the wild, a weaker male can always choose to leave the territory before he becomes deadly injured, but this is naturally impossible in a small fish bowl or aquarium.
The Betta fish species were quite unknown among European and American scientists and fish enthusiasts until the early 19th century. The King of Siam at that time was allegedly a huge Betta fan and he loved to attend Betta fights. A doctor named Theodor Cantor was given a Siamese fighting fish, supposedly directly from the King of Siam, when the doctor was working in Siam. He became fascinated by the Betta fishes and studied their behavior for 10 years before he published an article about them. He called his fish Macropodus Pugnax. A few years after the turn of the century, another doctor developed a similar fascination for these interesting fishes. His name was Dr. Tate Regan and he changed the name Macropodus Pugnax to Betta Splendens.
Betta Fish ArticlesBetta - Information about Betta
Betta Anatomy - An introduction to Betta anatomy.
Betta Breeding - Information about Betta Breeding
BREEDING BETTAS - The breeding and raising of Siamese fighting fish.
Betta Species - List of our Betta species profiles.
Buying Betta Fish - An guide to buying healthy Bettas.
Feeding Bettas - A short describtion on how to best feed your bettas.
Tail and Fin Forms In Betta Splendens - A guide to the different tail and fin forms available in Betta splendens
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