The curtains have raised on the Siamese fighting fish or plaa gud. Recently listed as a national aquatic animal by Thailand’s National Identity Committee, these colourful, ornamental fish are
- Siamese fighting fish or Bettas (Betta Splendens) are territorial by nature, especially the males. For this reason, the tradition of arranging fights for entertainment purposes goes back a few hundred years back when Thailand was still known as Siam.
- The original Wild Bettas were actually much less photogenic than they are today appearing in only drab brown and olive green. Through selective breeding in the west, the fish now come in a palette of vibrant colours such as blue, red, and deep purple.
- Bettas are unique in that they have a labyrinth organ just behind their heads that allows them to take in oxygen directly from the air from below the water’s surface as well as from above it.
- Although they are not amphibians, Bettas can actually survive in dried out streams by retreating to cavities with a little bit of water or even by burying themselves in the mud.
- The first and only Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery in the world is in Bangkachao Peninsula in Samut Prakarn Province. The gallery is home to a wide variety of Siamese fighting fish and other freshwater animals found in the Chao Phraya River.