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Photos of Siamese Fighting Fish

 These stunning photos of the beautiful Siamese fighting fish were taken by Visarute Angkatavanich, a photographer from Thailand who first began this project in order to sell photos. Little did he know that he would quickly fall in love with these fish - they became his passion. You can see more of his work here. The Siamese fighting fish, also known as Betta, is a brightly-colored species of freshwater fish whose ancestors originally come from the rice paddies of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Properly kept and fed a correct diet, Siamese fighting fish live about two to four years in captivity, and up to 10 years in rare cases. 

 
Click on images to enlarge
 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
These fish have been collected by humans since the 18th Century, mostly due to their high level of aggression, and have historically been the objects of gambling. Two male fish are pitted against each other in a fight and bets are placed on which one will win. One fish is almost always killed as a result. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
The people of Siam and Malaya (now Thailand and Malaysia) are known to have collected these fish because in the wild, they spar with each other for dominance. It usually only lasts a few minutes before one fish backs off. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
However, back when these fish were domesticated and bred for fighting, matches would go on for much longer, with piteous consequences. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
In the wild, these fish only exhibit strong colors when agitated. Breeders have been able to make this coloration permanent, and a wide variety of hues breed true.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Colors available to the aquarist include red, blue, dark blue, black, turquoise, orange, yellow, green, bright blue with pink highlights, cream and even true white (the "Opaque" white, not to be confused with albino).
 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
The shades of blue, turquoise and green are slightly iridescent, and can appear to change color with different lighting conditions or viewing angles. this is because these colors (unlike black or red) are not as a result of pigments, but created through refraction within a layer of translucent guanine crystals. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Breeders around the world continue to develop new varieties. Often, the male of the species are given preference because of their beauty in contrast to the females. Recently, breeders have developed in females the same range of colors previously only bred in males.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Females never develop fins as showy as males of the same type, and are often more subdued in color.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Males and females flare or puff out their gill covers (opercula) in order to appear more impressive, either to intimidate other rivals or as an act of courtship. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Other reasons for flaring their gills is that they are startled by movement or change of scene in their environment.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Bettas sometimes require a place to hide, even in the absence of threats. They may set up a territory centered on a plant or rocky alcove, sometimes becoming highly possessive of it and aggressive toward trespassing rivals.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
To avoid the males fighting each other, male Siamese fighting fish are best isolated from one another. Males will even respond aggressively to their own reflections in a mirror. Though this is obviously safer than exposing the fish to another male, prolonged sight of their reflection can lead to stress in some individuals. 
fish, Siamese fighting fish
Like other fish, the Siamese fighting fish may respond to the presence of humans and become trained to respond to feeding cues (such as a hand placed over the water's surface). They are quite curious and will watch humans going about their business nearby. They make great, and certainly beautiful, fish to have at home.
fish, Siamese fighting fish
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