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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Betta Splendens Royale 皇家鬥魚

Updated: Jan 14



This is a long overdue blog entry for one of my most awarded photos - Betta Splendens Royale.

The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), commonly known as the betta, is a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is one of 73 species of the genus Betta, but the only one eponymously called "betta", owing to its global popularity as a pet; Betta splendens are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world, due to their diverse and colorful morphology and relatively low maintenance.

Siamese fighting fish are endemic to the central plain of Thailand, where they were first domesticated at least 1,000 years ago, among the longest of any fish. Wherever they are found, Betta splendens generally inhabit shallow bodies of water with abundant vegetation, including marshes, floodplains, and paddy fields. The historic prevalence of rice farming across Southeast Asia, which provided an ideal habitat for bettas, led to their discovery and subsequent domestication by humans. They were initially bred for aggression and subject to gambling matches akin to cockfighting. Bettas became known outside Thailand through King Rama III (1788–1851), who is said to have given some to Theodore Cantor, a Danish physician, zoologist, and botanist. They first appeared in the West in the late 19th century, and within decades became popular as ornamental fish. B. splendens long history of selective breeding has produced a wide variety of coloration and finnage, earning it the moniker, "designer fish of the aquatic world".

In addition to its worldwide popularity, the Siamese fighting fish is the national aquatic animal of Thailand, which remains the primary breeder and exporter of bettas for the global aquarium market. Despite their abundance as pets, B. splendens is listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN, due to increasing pollution and habitat destruction.


Bettas are well known for being highly territorial, with males prone to attacking each other if housed in the same tank; without a means of escape, this will usually result in the death of one or both fish. Female bettas can also become territorial towards one another in confined spaces. In aquarium and pet shops, the males are usually kept individually and housed in small jam jars. (Females are less attractive and are often not commonly put on sale).

Interestingly, the problem can be overcome if you put all of them together since young - I have seen them on display at some markets in Thailand - where they keep a tank with hundreds of bettas toegther.


The photo was done by photographing each betta fish individually and then photoshopping them together.

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