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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fighting Fish

I really like the Siamese fighting Fish since young days. Normally I collected the local fighting fish nearby drain at Muar, Johor. The local fighting fish was black in color and sometimes in blue tail. But nowadays this fish became world business and so many varieties, colors and beautiful. It was the works of scientist to do scientific fish breeding especially in Thailand and many other countries. Just about RM 2.00 – RM 3.00 you can purchase a beautiful fighting fish with various colors and size. The new feed also very cheap and clean. This article was to explain about Siamese fighting fish as important commodity today. Malaysia yet to establish this business in future.

The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), also known as the betta (particularly in the US) and simply as the fighter, is a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. The name of the genus is derived from ikan bettah, taken from a local dialect of Thailand (Siam). The wild ancestors of this fish are native to the rice paddies of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia and are called pla-kad or trey krem ("Fighting Fish") in Thai.

Betta splendens usually grow to an overall length of about 5 cm , though some varieties reach 3-5 inches in length. Although known for their brilliant colors and large, flowing fins, the natural coloration of B. splendens is a dull green and brown, and the fins of wild specimens are relatively short. However, brilliantly colored and longer finned varieties (i.e. Veiltail; Delta; Superdelta; and Halfmoon) have been developed through selective breeding.

The fierce fighting blue at my aquarium... beautiful and peacefully.....

This species lives approximately 2–5 years in captivity, generally between 2-3, rarely 4–5 years, fed with anabolics 5-7 years. The fish is a member of the gourami family (family Osphronemidae) of order Perciformes, but was formerly classified among the Anabantidae. Although there are nearly 50 other members of the Betta genus, B. splendens is the most popular species among aquarium hobbyists, particularly in the United States.
Siamese fighting fish have upturned mouths and are primarily carnivorous surface feeders, although some vegetable matter may be eaten. In the wild, they feed on zooplankton including crustaceans and the larvae of mosquitoes and other insects, such as flies, crickets, or grasshoppers. Fish which feed on wide range of foods live longer, have richer colors, and heal fin damage more quickly. Typically, commercial betta pellets are a combination of mashed shrimp meal, wheat flour, fish meal, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and vitamins. These fish will also eat live or frozen bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp or daphnia.

The male betta will flare his gills, twist his body, and spread his fins, if interested in the female. The female will darken in color, then curve her body back and forth. Males build bubble nests of various sizes and thicknesses at the surface of the water. The act of spawning itself is called a "nuptial embrace", for the male wraps his body around the female; around 10-41 eggs are released during each embrace, until the female is exhausted of eggs. The male, in his turn, releases milt into the water, and fertilization takes place externally. During and after spawning, the male uses his mouth to retrieve sinking eggs and deposit them in the bubble nest (during mating the female sometimes assists her partner, but more often she will simply devour all the eggs that she manages to catch). Once the female has released all of her eggs, she is chased away from the male's territory, as it is likely that she'll eat the eggs due to hunger. Henceforth, the eggs remain in the male's care. He carefully keeps them in his bubble nest, making sure none fall to the bottom, and repairing the bubble nest as needed. Incubation lasts for 24–36 hours, and the newly-hatched larvae remain in the nest for the next 2-3 days, until their yolk sacs are fully absorbed.

Afterwards the fry leave the nest and the free-swimming stage begins. It is common practice in the aquarium hobby to remove the male at this point, so that he would not eat his young (although it has been suggested that this danger is overrated). In this first period of their lives, B. splendens fry are totally dependent on their gills; the labyrinth organ which allows the species to breathe atmospheric oxygen typically develops at 3 to 6 weeks of age, depending on the general growth rate, which can be highly variable. The juveniles can reach sexual maturity at an age as early as 3 months.

B. splendens can be hybridized with B. imbellis, Betta sp. Mahachai and B. smaragdina, though with the latter the fry tend to have low survival rates. As well as these hybrids within the Betta Genus, there have been reports of the inter generic hybridizing of Betta Splendens and Macropodus opercularis, the Paradise Fish.

Wild fish only exhibit strong colors when agitated. However, breeders have been able to make this coloration permanent, and a wide variety of hues breed true. A wide variety of colors are available to the aquarist such as red, blue, turquoise, orange, yellow, green, cream and even true white (the "Opaque" white, not to be confused with albino). The shades of blue, turquoise and green are slightly iridescent, and can appear to change color with different lighting conditions or viewing angles; this is because these colors (unlike black or red) are not due to pigments, but created through refraction within a layer of translucent guanine crystals. Breeders have also developed different color patterns such as marble and butterfly, as well as metallic shades like copper, gold, or platinum (these were obtained by crossing B. splendens to other Betta species).

Breeders around the world continue to develop new varieties. Often, the male of the species are sold preferentially in stores because of their beauty, compared to the females. Recently, breeders have developed in females the same range of colors previously only bred in males. However, females never develop fins as showy as males of the same type and are often more subdued in colouration.
The true albino betta has been feverishly sought after since one recorded appearance in 1927, and another in 1953. Neither of these were able to establish a line of true albinos. In 1994, a hobbyist named Tanaka claims to have successfully bred albino bettas.


M Anem
Balik Pulau, Penang
July 2010

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