The Origin of Betta Splendens ...Part 1


By: Precha Jintasaerewonge
Submitted: 2004-09-29

The purpose of this article is to raise a challenge, and question the origin of Betta splendens. I will try and set up the various possible hypotheses so that it opens a path for others to do research and discover on their own. What makes Betta splendens' development distinct from the development of other fish?

First, the Betta splendens development was the outcome of the first Thais' aquarium fish. It's the natives' intellect; no modern genetic technology is relevant. Second, Betta splendens developed from a human social interaction process; it is the success of exchanging knowledge between the Thai peasant classes, the traditional knowledge exchange. One can claim that fish fighting was recognized over 600 years ago in the Sukothai Empire, the first capital of Thailand. The ancient breeders, or rather the farmers, learned by means of observation; they then tested their hypothesis, and then finalized the hypothesis by fighting their fish with a challenger. They formed a group known as a breeding and fish-fighting club. They were transmitting their Betta knowledge by means of close verbal communication. By telling his techniques to his most trusted friend, it ensures that he has someone to carry on his Betta keeping and rearing techniques. In order to keep his techniques sacred, he must be very disciplined "do not tell these secrets to anyone, these are the best secrets to make your fish superior to any challenger" (this tradition still goes on today). By using this technique of passing knowledge, it made the Thais' Betta development very unique. At the same time it also becomes a repetitive breeding practice, or in other words, there is no progress in breeding. You can see this becomes obvious when you look at the advanced development of the long fin Betta in America versus the development of the long fin in Thailand.

Today the most serious fighting fish breeders are still in the peasant class of Thai society. My duty is to make their voice echo and exhibit their wealth of information, so that their intellectual treasures and knowledge are streamlined into Thai history and now the NET.

Asian ditch typical of the type that serves as the natural environment of the wild betta.

In Thailand when speaking about the Plakat, there are two distinguishing types of Plakat Thai. One is the short fin and the other the long fin. Both types were developed from the wild caught Betta. They are captive Betta splendens Wild caught Betta that 40 years ago were available in almost all areas of flooded land and the ditches in the rice fields.

How did the long fin Betta come to be? There is no question about the short fin types. If you observe the wild Bettas' colors and patterns, the difference is only in their size. No doubt the Thai breeders only made them bigger and most important, more aggressive. However, the proverb "you can't always get what you want" always holds true and is applicable here. Where did we lose the way between the development of the long fin and the short fin fighters? The wild Betta has a very good balance of shape and form, from the mouth to the end of the fins, the neon bright scales and fins, and the most impressive style of flaring and dancing; no other captive splendens match its form and function. OK lets make it short, the difference between the wild Betta and captive short fin Betta splendens is only in their size. But what about the long fin Betta splendens? It is like another Betta species altogether. Although scientists have declared that it is the same species as the short fin Betta. I have never seen a long fin Betta that came from a batch of short fins. I always question the breeders I knew, about the origin of the long fin Betta as much as possible. Nobody knows no matter how many breeders I question. I always get the same answer "I have seen these two types of Betta as long as I can remember." The western aquarium texts cannot answer these questions. "Where the long fins come from I have no idea." (Christopher W. Coates. Tropical fishes for a Private Aquarium. 1950: p.137). The oldest breeder I have been able to interview is 80 years old, and his answer is the same. It is now Betta mythology, and I am interested in tracking down the answer.

There are three stories to tell about the development of the long fin Betta:

To be continue ....

Source: Plakat Thai

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Thanks to Victoria Parnell

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