Siamese Fighter breeding

June 2, 2019
Siamese fighter breeding

The purpose of this page is to represent the extremely old Thai tradition of rearing and keeping Betta splendens, better known as Siamese fighting-fish.

I will use many different styles of writing to present the picture. Sometimes I will use an editorial method to present the story. I will also hyperlink to clarify some details, this can be pictures, comment, explanation, or sometimes it’s me just joking around. Many of the materials on this page I have taken from library archives. In this case, I will cite the author’s name and any information issued about those documents. I have also translated articles from the Thai language to the English language. Some of the articles may even come from my discussions with hardcore breeders that I know.

When I first started this project, I planned to write everything by myself from what I have practiced, read from old documents, and from summarized discussions with other experienced breeders. While collecting all the material for this article, I discovered that there are many fanatics on the Internet. I also discovered that some of these people do not approve of fish fighting and see it as being animal cruelty. When I discovered this, it caused me to be sick for several weeks. In fact I almost gave up on this project all together, and nearly deleted it entirely from my homepage. However this is a subject that keeps crawling through my head like many worms. I was thinking about the lost stories of the Siamese cat, and the Thai hunting dog. They are both part of the great Thai intellectual heritage, they are famous in myth, and many people have them, but know very little about their origin. You may ask yourself, Why should I care where they came from? I can buy this pet anywhere. If you ask a similar question to the keeper of the public gardens, “why do you care for all those plants?” he/she will humbly tell you that, this is my duty and my pride’s work. I enjoy looking after these plants, but I am even happier to see the visitors enjoy themselves and appreciate my work. So I decided to continue my work. The primary reason I am continuing this project is, I feel it is my responsibility to spread the knowledge I have learned as a Thai fighting-fish breeder and to tell the true story this fascinating fish. The second reason is, there are many misconceptions about the Siamese fighting-fish all over the Internet and in magazines. Especially the statement that “THEY FIGHT TO THE DEATH”. For me this is such a painful statement. I can honestly say that the people that make those statements are telling truths with their imagination. As far as my fighting fish experiences are concerned:

  • I have never seen a fighting Betta die in the fighting ring. The cause of death comes after the fight, if the owner neglects his injured fish.
  • Not every Siamese Fish fight lasts forever, an average fight lasts about 2-3 hours, after which one of the fish will always give up the fight. The fight is like boxing; one of them must be the winner and one the loser. Sometimes both fight until they can fight no more, then it is called a tie, and no one dies. The real fighters are carefully selected from special fighting stock, they are always the short fin types (but not every short fin is a good fighter). And no respectable breeder will allow an unprepared fish to fight. Long fin types are not fighting fish, as they cannot stand the fight for longer than a half hour (most western countries named this type of Betta as fighting fish), they can only damage the fin and tail, some do not even know how to bite. I have seen the female long fin types bite the male and make him run away. So fish fighting is similar to human fights, only the trained fighters participate.

Fighting fish is the process of selecting the best specimens, only the winners are chosen to breed, and cross breed with females from another winning batch. The outcome of the descendant Bettas are extremely tough fish, able to live in temperatures from 25 Celsius to 38 Celsius.

The third is, to destroy the misconception that every Betta is the best fighting creature. This point is so important that it sums up all my intentions of writing this page.

Flashing fins, gorgeous gills and thorny tails stirring up a tempest in a bottle of water. They belong to two of the toughest, littlest species of fish in the world. Siamese fighting fish.

The scene is at one of the few remaining spots where fish-fighting takes place regularly, in the outskirts of Bangkok. No fish-fighting is permitted within the city limits.

The arena is a shed with open sides inside the compound of the proprietor who is giving a license to operate it. There is also a fighting–cock pit in the same compound.

The owner lives in the wooden house in front of the fighting-fish arena and the pit. He also sells rice and other cooked food and refreshments to the enthusiasts of both sports.

Every Sunday, from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m., a large orderly crowd gathers in the compound, paying a gate admission of two baht each. The owner gets ten percent of stakes.

Fighting-fish breeders bring their champions and favorites in little bottles of water, each in one bottle. Before a contest, bottles of fish are placed alongside one another so that two possible adversaries may watch one another. Their reactions will be noted with particular interest by their owners and by the enthusiasts who will base their bets on impressions at these encounters with the glass of two bottles coming between the potential opponents.

When a fight is agreed upon between the owners, each of the adversaries is spooned out of its bottle in a receptable and carefully put into a large tall bottle. When it is in a bottle by itself a fighting fish is not extraordinary - looking and appears to be like any other small fish. However, when it faces an opponent, it transforms into a wonderfully beautiful creature.

The adversaries lose no time in getting at one another. They bite-and sometimes their mouths are locked for minutes, even hours, while they move up and down the water in the bottle, struggling.

They are vicious with one another and relentless in their assaults. They chew off pieces of each other, gills, fins, tails, scale. The little bits of fish bitten off sink through the water.

No quarter is given in the battle in the battle between these courageous creatures. They fight to the death. Sometimes they fight the whole day without a decisive decision. A drawn fight (which is a fight that carries on until closing time without either being killed) is rare.

Enthusiasts watch a fish fight with discernment. They know the vital parts of a fish which, when attacked, may cost its life, and their bets are placed according to their estimates of the fighters in the progress of the battle (bets are also made in the course of a fight).

Even persons who have watched fish fights for years can still watch them with fascination and absorbing interest.

The fighting fish that goes to the professional battles is a thoroughbred. It has been carefully bred and crossbred.

There are various varieties of fighting fish, and each has dominant color-purple, green, red.

The natural habitats of the Siamese fighting fish are the ponds and marshes of Thailand. There are two chief kinds of Siamese fighting fish- Plakad lukmoh and Plakat pah (Plakad is the Thai name of fighting fish). The former kind can hardly be fond in the natural habitats today but it is bred by enthusiasts and is sold sometimes for two to three baht...

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