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March 02, 2012

 

In last week’s newsletter, I discussed with you a very common fish we have all come to love. We learned that it was the kids in the country of Thailand who started the competitions for these “brawling” fishes back in the late 19th century and that these bouts still go on today often having high wagers on the line. What we didn’t know is that it was the King of Siam who saw the popularity of these fights and decided to license and collect these fish for a commercialized sport. In 1840, he gave some of these fish to Dr. Theodor Cantor, a medical scientist. Nine years later Dr. Cantor would write an article and give them the name Macropodus pugnax. What the good doctor didn’t know was that this name was already in use. Tate Regan realized this in 1909 and renamed the fish to its current Betta splendens.

 

Many Americans often mispronounce the common name “Betta”. We often think that it is derived from the Greek letter “beta”, and is often misspelled with only one “t” because of this. But it’s believed that Regan actually named the Siamese fighting fish in honor of a warrior-like tribe called “Bettah”, which is pronounced “bet-tuh”. Now here’s where I get a little confused. In the same article they write that the word “betta” was derived from the Malay word ikan betah. This translates into English meaning “persistent fish”. Does this mean the tribe was named after these fish? Perhaps further studying into this word will tell…

 

Betta pugnax “Green Mask Betta” is endemic throughout much of the Peninsular Malaysia and has also been known to exist in Singapore, the Indonesian Riau Islands, and in Sumatra. In my research I have come to have my doubts of whether or not we have the right species. According to www.seriouslyfish.com the Green Mask Betta is part of the B. pugnax complex and the group itself contains 12 species. It is likely that they will reach around 4-6” in an aquarium, which is still an impressive length for a Betta. The same website claims that B. raja and B. fusca have both been exported under the trade name B. pugnax. It is my belief that this last batch we received is more likely to be Betta raja then B. pugnax. Regardless of what we have, I know that you’ll come to love these gentle giants as much as all of us have!

Betta pugnax

Betta pugnax

 

In the upper Kapuas and the Danau Sentarum National Park in Borneo lives Betta dimidiata “Blue Firefly Betta”. The swamps and pools are often very heavily shaded from the sun and are only a few centimeters deep. It’s here in this tea colored waters that you’ll find the Blue Firefly Betta feeding on insects and other invertebrates to reach its 2” small stature. Unlike most other Bettas, the Blue Firefly Betta seems to do better in a tank of mixed sexes.

Betta dimidiata

 

It is extremely saddening to think about one of the best colored Bettas is under the protection of the IUCN Red List of Threatened species, Betta macrostoma “Brunei Beauty”. The Brunei Beauty comes from the Brunei Darussalum in Borneo and the northern tip of the state of Sarawak. It appears that the Sultan of Brunei has banned the species from the state and it’s likely that our specimens have been coming out of Sarawak near the Labi rainforest. As a hobbyist I am torn to know that the fish have been added to this list as a vulnerable species. However, the habitat of Sarawak now has plans to become an oil palm plantation. When this happens the 4.5” blood red Brunei Beauty will be lost forever within the state. It is my belief that hobbyists like you and I will be the only way to keep these amazing Labyrinths thriving.

Betta macrostoma Female

Betta macrostoma Male

 

There are so many arguments that man uproots and destroys the homes of the fish we all love, but this is not always the case. As populations increase in these areas the native people need more food or resources. This often leads to deforestation to make way for farmland or oil plants. The local governments and the World Wildlife Fund have been fighting to protect these lands, and since 2005 it looks like steps have been put into place to protect East Kalimentan from further destruction and foster expansion of the forest with results seeming to show improvement.

 

I hope all of you found this informative and enjoyable to read. If there is any species of Bettas, or other fish for that matter, that you are looking for please feel to ask about them. We love to bring in new fish or fulfill your dreams of owning that one fish that no one else has. Make sure you visit our website, www.wetspottropicalfish.com, for our current availability list. Until next week!

 

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager