Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta Splendens) ปลากัดสยาม

Known as Plah Gat (Biting Fish) in Thai, these freshwater fish are native to rice paddies. Popular with school children and adults alike, as they are easy to look after and don't need oxygen due to a special organ that allows them to breath at the water's surface. However water quality is important and needs to be changed more regularly when no oxygen is provided.

Although initially bred in a tank , once the fish start to grow and become aggressive they are separated into individual jars or bottles as they are really quite viscious as their name suggests. Once put together they will attack almost immediately and so have become a popular way of gambling. In the wild, fish spar for only a few minutes or so before one fish backs off. Bred specifically for fighting, domesticated betta matches can go on for much longer, with winners determined by a willingness to continue fighting. Once one fish retreats, the match is over. Often large amounts of money are wagered during these fights, with potential losses as great as a person's home.

But not everyone buys the fish for gambling, breeding can be profitable and apart from that the beauty of this fish make them attractive pets that even I couldn't resist!

The people of Siam and Malaya (now Thailand and Malaysia) are known to have collected these fish prior to the 19th century. Seeing the popularity of these fights, the King of Siam started licensing and collecting these fighting fish. In 1840, he gave some of his prized fish to a man who, in turn, gave them to Dr. Theodor Cantor, a medical scientist. Nine years later, Dr. Cantor wrote an article describing them under the name Macropodus Pugnax. In 1909, Mr. Tate Regan realized that there was already a species with the name Macropodus Pugnax, and renamed the Siamese fighting fish to Betta splendens. 


On sale in soda bottles from 15 Baht each, the local school children had already booked their fish
 then all they had to do was save up their sweet money!

After years of cross breeding there are some very splendid fish often being auctioned for high prices. If you see them being sold here in Thailand you will see them in rows of bottles separated by card to keep the fish calm and also to keep them from becoming familiar to having another fish close by in order to make the fish more aggressive when paired for fighting. The fish react to movement and if approached will either retreat or come forward to see what's going on which makes them fun to keep as an aquarium fish.

To see more on breeding these fish visit: