• Fighting Fish

    Fighting Fish

    Everything you need to know to raise Fighting Fish

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Fighting Fish

Fighting Fish

Siamese Fighting Fish
Like most kids, you've probably had a goldfish as a pet before. And, like most kids, you've probably also complained about the fact that it doesn't do anything!

Well, you can't blame a goldfish for not playing fetch or staying on a leash while you're taking your evening walk (they're pretty fussy that way!). After all, their job is just to look pretty in a fishbowl, and quickly dive behind seaweed to hide from the Tabby the ever-curious cat.

So, let's introduce you to a fish that's got more character and more style, and is oodles more fun than a goldfish: the Siamese Fighting Fish!

True to its name, this beautifully colored 'water warrior' has a short temper and goes red in the face and all over (or blue, or what have you, depending on the kind you have) when you pick on the little fella. He spreads his fins, flares his gills, and gets into attack mode when you tap against the aquarium glass, although to do that all the time would be cruel, and you'd be invading his privacy. Warriors tend to be pretty irritable, you see!

A name for your fighter

Now this is going to be fun. I once had a fighter called Poseidon, named after the mythical Greek god of the waters, and I brought him all the way from Bangkok, along with a few others. You get the most beautiful fighters in Thailand, which is their traditional home, and if you ever go there, be sure to bring a few back.

Some exciting names for your boy fighter:

  • Finnegan (fin)
  • Neptune (mythical Roman god of the seas)
  • Achilles
  • Grumpy
  • Warren the Warrior
  • Attila
  • Genghis Khan
  • Huckleberry Finn (fin)
  • Bob the bully

Some exciting names for your girl fighter:

  • Betty the betta
  • Red Riding Hood (if you have a red one)
  • Lonesome Lola
  • Amazonia (the Amazons were women warriors)
  • Feisty Fiona
  • Cleo, the beautiful
  • Diana Dazzle
  • Trisha Temper
  • Athena
© 2004 - 2020 Leonard Rego

Before you buy

Obviously, you'll find your fighter at a pet store that has aquaria (that's plural for aquarium), and there are a few things to keep in mind before you pick little Genghis Khan out of the water.

It's always a good idea to buy a book that tells you how to take care of a pet you're about to bring home - even if it's as small as a fish. Fish need less attention than, say, a dog or cat, but deserve to be cared for equally well. You can even look for information on the internet, especially on sites like Plakatthai.com if you want to read up on fighting fish. By the way, they're also called 'Betta Splendens', or simply 'bettas', but we'll stick to calling them fighters - that's more exciting, yeah?

Through a book or good website, you'll learn about a fighter's behaviour, what aquarium equipment you will need, its water requirements, common diseases and other useful stuff.

In preparation, rinse the fighter's tank thoroughly, and rub it down with a wet washcloth, being careful not to use soap. You should treat the water according to the instructions in the book, and let the tank run its equipment for three to four days before you introduce the fish into the water. Keep the food ready, and make sure the tank is in a safe area.

Choosing your pet

Ok, this is a no-brainer - choose the healthiest fighter you can see. Ask your dad to ask around about a certain breeder or pet shop, because his reputation for selling healthy fish will reassure you about the kind of pet you're going to get.

The pet store you buy from should have the most space for fighting fish, and they should be kept with other fish, and not in tiny jars and cups. Check the other fish for signs of illness or sluggishness, and make sure the water they're kept in is very clean. Murky or yellowish water is a red signal, because it could mean that it carries disease. Look for a fighter with a straight spine, regularly-shaped fins without missing pieces or tears, no cottony patches, no white spots, smooth-looking scales, and no golden dust.

Don't buy a fighter that is parked at the bottom of the tank, breathing heavily. A healthy fighting fish is always willing to fight, and will be flaring at his neighbors and prancing about in the water with his fins spread when you try to pick on him.

Care and feeding

After your tank has set for a few days, the water will be at room temperature, and if you have a heater, set it for between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Fighters love the heat, and if the temperature in your tank drops to below 75 degrees, your new pet will become sluggish and lethargic. Not a good state to be in when you're going into battle, is it?

Float your fighter's holding bag in the tank for about 20 minutes, so that the temperature in the bag becomes equal to the temperature in the tank. Putting him straight into the tank will probably ruffle him up a bit, just as you would feel uneasy going from an air conditioned room into the hot sun. Notice I say 'him' because you're most likely to choose a male fighter, since they're way more colorful and larger than the females, much like other animal and fish species in the animal kingdom.

Before putting him into the tank, open the bag, pour it into a net suspended over a bucket and then gently release him from the net into his new home. He'll swim out on his own, no coaxing needed.

A clever trick, if you're introducing your fighter into an aquarium that is home to other fish, is to distract the others for a moment by giving them a pinch of food. That'll give him some time to adjust, without too much-unwanted attention the minute he sets foot (or fin!) in his new pad. Remember, fighters like to hang around all by their lonesome most of the time.

If he doesn't seem to have an appetite, don't worry. He'll come around in a day or two.