If you think you are the first
betta nut to walk the face of the earth, think again!
Betta Madness has been around for a long time. It started in Siam some 150 years
ago. The Siamese people would fight bettas, and hence the first form of betta
madness was born: People would wager everything they owned, even their families!
These betta fights were popular, so much so that the King of Siam decided to
license them and to collect on them as well. Bettas that were fought back then
looked nothing like the ones on this website. For that matter, bettas were
originally boring, dull looking little thangs that would hang out in ponds,
ditches, sluggish streams and rice paddies in Thailand and Malaysia.
The original wild bettas have a dirty greenish brown color and fins just big
enough to keep them swimming. No excess baggage. But, because of the Betta
Madness, people soon became slaves to the little finned creatures and started
worshipping them, devoting their lives to turn the ugly ducklings into beautiful
left: Betta smaragdina - wild type)
OK, back to the King of Siam. In 1840, he gave several of his prized fighting
fish to a man who then gave them to Dr. Theodor Cantor, who was a doctor in the
Bengal medical service. Nine years later, Theodor publishes an article in which
he describes those fighting fish and names them: Macropodus Pugnax.
Needless to say he had contracted the virus :), unbeknownst to him.
In 1909, our finned friends change names when Mr. Tate Regan pointed out that
there were already a specie called Macropodus Pugnax, hence the need for a new
name. Regan came up with Betta Splendens.
Why "Betta" ? It is believed that there was a warrior-like tribe of
people called "Bettah". So I guess in a way Betta Splendens could be
translated into : Splendid (beautiful) warrior. You have to admit the name is
The first bettas were introduced into Germany in 1896. From there, bettas
decided to go for the "American Dream" and moved to the US starting
Yes my friends, the Betta Invasion had started. And now they are everywhere,
(even in my coffee maker!!). Maybe I have been watching too much X-files, but
where was Moulder while all this was happening?
Are Bettas Extra Terrestrials???
It was not until 1927 that the first brightly colored, long finned bettas
arrived in the US. They were a shipment sent to Mr. Frank Locke of San Fransisco.
He opened his package, and behold, there were the beautiful bettas, and behold
square, there were some light bodied, red finned bettas as well!! He named them
Betta Cambodia, probably thinking it was another specie of bettas. Little did he
know. It was in fact simply a new color mutation, the beginning of a massive
explosion of colors in betta world. From clear to jet black and everything in
between, this is the most fun fish to breed and work with, hence the Betta Bug
is so easily contracted, because there is always another color, a new pattern
you don't own and just gotta have… A very dangerous disease indeed.
After about 80 years of work with betta's fascinating genetics, breeders across
the world (US and Japan especially), have developed many many strains. See
photos of my strains, more photos of my bettas or Betta Colors.
Breeders all over the world are actively working on new strains, or on improving
and keeping alive old strains. Betta Clubs such as the IBC (International Betta
Congress) allow breeders to learn, share and show their best work and buy/sell
bettas, competing against each other but also helping each other achieve
individual goals. Mine for example is to have a strain of black bodied, white
finned bettas. Still working on it :). Breeders in general are very cool and
will share their fish, tips and help out new comers to the hobby. I know I do my
share of answering questions via email on a daily basis, despite my insanely
busy schedule. It is my own contribution, with this website, to the betta world. (pictured
left: Betta show held at Borders Book store by LABS)
My mentors were Patrick Ciccone (who was just the coolest and really got me
started on the right foot) and Bonnie McKinley who further helped me by
providing additional great stock to breed into my lines, and tones of useful
tips. My deepest gratitude to both of them. Last but not least I want to thank
Dr. Gene Lucas for all the time and work he has devoted to studying betta
genetics and developing exciting new lines and color variations. Without
his work and vision, breeders would have never been able to
achieve the results they have. being able to accurately
predict the outcome of a spawn is a luxury we all owe to
Gene, so thank you Gene!!!