April 15, iStock Siamese fighting fish Betta splendenssometimes simply called Bettas, are those pretty fish you often see swimming all alone in tiny bowls at pet stores and carnivals. Like Siamese cats and the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, Siamese fighting fish originated in Siam, the nation that became Thailand in the midth century. The fish are native to the central part of the country, but there are also populations further north and south and in nearby countries like Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. People took note of how the wild fish were highly territorial and attacked other fish that encroached on their space, and began arranging fights between the fish as entertainment.
A crowntail male Breeders have developed several different finnage and scale variations: Veil tail - extended finnage length and non-symmetrical tail; caudal fin rays usually only split once; the most common tail type seen in pet stores.
Other reasons for flaring can include when they are intimidated by movement or change of scene in their environments. Both sexes display pale horizontal bars if stressed or frightened.
However, such colour changes, common in females of any age, are rare in mature males due to their intensity of colour.
Females often flare at other females, especially when setting up a pecking order. Flirting fish behave similarly, with vertical instead of horizontal stripes indicating a willingness and readiness to breed females only.
Betta splendens enjoy a decorated tank, being a territorial fish it is necessary to establish territory even when housed alone. They may set up a territory centered on a plant or rocky alcove, sometimes becoming highly possessive of it and aggressive toward trespassing rivals.
This is the reason why when kept with other fish the minimum tank size should be 45 litres about 10 gallons. Contrary to popular belief, bettas are compatible with many other species of aquarium fish.
One fish will arise the victor, the fight continuing until one participant is submissive. These competitions can result in the death of either one or both fish depending on the seriousness of their injuries.
To avoid fights over territory, male Siamese fighting fish are best isolated from one another. Males will occasionally even respond aggressively to their own reflections in a mirror.
Though this is obviously safer than exposing the fish to another male, prolonged sight of their reflection may lead to stress in some individuals.
Not all Siamese fighting fish respond negatively to other males, especially when the tank is large enough for each fish to create their own designated territory. During these two weeks, the following behaviors were recorded: attacking, displays, and biting food.
The results of this observational study indicated that when females are housed in small groups, they form a stable dominance order. For example, the fish who was ranked at the top showed higher levels of mutual displays, in comparison to the fish who were of lower ranks.
The researchers also found that the duration of the displays differed depending on whether an attack occurred.
Here we aim to provide you with helpful information, care-tips and news on betta fish.
Courtship behavior[ edit ] There has been numerous research in the area of courtship behavior between male and female Siamese fighting fish.
This research has focused on the aggressive behaviors of males during the courtship process. For example, one study found that when male fish are in the bubble nest phase, their aggression toward females is quite low.
This is due to the males attempting to attract potential mates to their nest, so eggs can successfully be laid. When females witness aggressive behavior between a pair of males, the female is more likely to be attracted to the male who won.
During this experiment, a dummy female was placed in the tank. The researchers expected that males would conceal their courtship from intruders, however this surprisingly was not the case.
It was found that when another male fish was present, the male was more likely to engage in courtship behaviors with the dummy female fish.
When no barriers were present, the males were more likely to engage in gill flaring at an intruder male fish.
Therefore, the researchers conclude that the male is attempting to court the female and communicate with the rival male present at the same time.
Metabolic costs of aggression[ edit ] Studies have found that Siamese fighting fish often begin with behaviors that require high cost, and gradually decrease their behaviors as the encounter proceeds. Similarly, researchers have found that when pairs of male Siamese fighting fish were kept together in the same tank for a three-day period, aggressive behavior was most prevalent during the mornings of the first two days of their cohabitation.
However the researchers observed that the fighting between the two males decreased as the day progressed. The male in the dominant position initially had metabolic advantage; although as the experiment progressed, both fish became equal in regards to metabolic advantages.
However, the fish who won showed higher oxygen consumption during the evening subsequent to the fight. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that aggressive behavior in the form of fighting has long-lasting effects on metabolism.
Researchers have considered the effect that such chemicals can have on Siamese fighting fish. This section will examine three studies, each of which indicates that chemicals can significantly affect the behaviors of Siamese fighting fish.
In particular, these behavior changes are most likely to occur in regards to aggression.
One study investigated the effect of testosterone on female Siamese fighting fish. Females were first given testosterone, which resulted in physical changes. This included fin length, body coloration and gonads. These physical changes resulted in the females resembling typical male fish.
Next their aggressive behavior was monitored. It was found that when these females interacted with other females, their aggression increased. In contrast, when the females interacted with males, their aggressive behavior decreased. The researchers then allowed the female fish to interact socially with a group of other female fish, who had not been exposed to testosterone.
It was found that when the female fish stopped receiving testosterone, those who were exposed to the female fish still exhibited the male typical behaviors.
In contrast, the female fish who were kept isolated did not continue to exhibit the male typical behaviors after testosterone was discontinued.
The researchers were curious if exposure to these chemicals would affect the ways in which females respond to the exposed males. It was found that when shown videos of the exposed males, the females favored those who were not exposed to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and avoided those male who were exposed.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that exposure to these chemicals can negatively affect the mating success of male Siamese fighting fish.
It has been previously found that this chemical reduces aggressive behavior; therefore, researchers were curious if this would occur in their experiment. As predicted, it was found that when exposed to fluoxetine, male Siamese fighting fish exhibited less aggressive behavior than they would have if they had not been exposed to the chemical.
In popular culture[ edit ] The Fisheries Department of Thailand is promoting pla gud, or Siamese fighting fish, as the national fish. Department chief Adisorn Promthep said that the proposal will be submitted to the National Identity Office under the Prime Minister's Office for approval.
He said that once the status is recognised, fighting fish farming would be promoted, which would generate money and create jobs. He added that credible records show that pla gud of the Betta splendens species are native to Thailand and were first collected for fighting during the reign of King Rama III.
He speculates that if the fish were to be set free in the river, they wouldn't behave so aggressively. A common misconception regarding keeping B. However, this has been proven to damage their health, life expectancy, and cause negative behavioral changes.