ANIMAL: Siamese Fighting Fish Betta splendens Type of Animal: Gourami Habitat: Marshes/marshland, canals, rice paddies, slow-moving/still streams, paddy fields, floodplains, ponds, rivers, stagnant pools, shallow river basins Location(s): SE Asia. Introduced in Australia, US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, & Dominican Republic Appearance: Wild form gray or earth-toned w/ plain stripes & dashes of green/orange/iridescent blue w/ relatively short tail fins, males more colorful than females & captive males often very vibrant, males have much longer/larger fins, females shorter/wider-bodied than males, males flatter, females show vertical stripes when ready to breed, males have more visible beard, come in wide variety of colors/tail variations/fin variations (especially in captive form) Food/Diet: Zooplankton, crustaceans, insects, insect larvae, fish pellets, worms, fish granules, fish flakes, apples, mangos, bananas, melons, kiwis, vegetable pellets, fish meal, eggs, spiders, meat pellets Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding in pet trade & aquaculture Lifestyle: Solitary, though females sometimes found in sororities of 5-10 fish Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young: Fry Group: Sorority Weight: Male: 0.075-0.108 oz Female: 0.069-0.103 oz Gestation: 1.5 days Life Span: 2-3 years Body Length: Male: 1.78-2.05 in Female: 1.74-2 in Young: 0.45-0.6 in Tail Length: Male: 1.3 in Female: 0.6 in Main predators are larger fish, feral/domestic cats, fishing cats, salamanders, newts, birds, snakes, turtles, & frogs. Get name due to males being extremely territorial, often fighting to the death. Males also sometimes kill females outside of breeding season & when protecting young fry. Females occasionally fight to death. Males even flare up at own reflections. Males create bubble nests & females select males w/ better bubble nests as well as larger more colorful longer-finned males. Sexually mature at 3 months old. Very popular pet fish. Often called Betta fish but these are just 1 of many Betta species. Also known as pla kut (biting fish) in Thai due to tendency of males to bite each other. When interested in female, males flare gills, spread fins, & twist bodies. In areas where introduced, they can be invasive, especially in N Australia. Sometimes hybridize w/ other Betta species. Fun Fact(s): Became Thailand’s national aquatic animal on February 5, 2019. One variation Marble Betta originated in an Indiana state prison where inmate raised fish in peanut butter jars. His experiments led to fish being mailed to outside breeders. Unlike many other fish, they can breathe air from surface, using labyrinth organ. In the past, they were bred specifically for fighting. In fact, in 1800s, Thai king Rama III authorized people to collect these fish & have fighting competitions. Also arranged large exports of these fish to other countries, where they’ve since been pet store staples.