It's hard to imagine that the now glorious Fighting Fish were once a rather dirty green brown color with smaller fins and tails. They originally came from Siam (now Thailand) where they use to live in the paddy rice fields and drains surrounding these agricultural areas. Children used to collect them up and use them for fighting, to determine who the village "champion" should be. Later adults caught onto the competitive nature of the Fighter Fish and they began to be bred exclusively for fighting.
Just as with dog or cock fighting a lot of money changed hands at Fighting Fish events. When they were first implemented Fighter Fish fights would only last a few minutes, however as the aggressive nature of the fish became the focus of breeding the fish, fights could go on for hours. Unlike other forms of fighting, Fighter Fish does not actually hurt their opponents, to the point of fatal injury but rather the winner is determined by which Fighter Fish places to face his opponent – after the looser has swam away to hide.
After a time the King of Siam became aware of the financial capabilities associated with Fighting fish and he started licensing and breeding the fish, for their aggressive qualities. In 1840 he had a pair of Fighting Fish to a Dr. Theodore Cantor, who studied them for many years, often writes a journal article about them. He called the species "Macropodus Pagnax". However after this paper was published Dr. Cantor discovered that there was already a classification given for the Fighting Fish, "Betta Splendens", which is what they are known as today. As the awareness about the fish grew, Betta fish pairs were sent to various places around the globe including Germany in 1896 and the United States in 1910.
Mr. Frank Locke, who was responsible for importing the Betta Fish to the United States successfully bred a Betta Fish with the glorious red coloring so many of them have today. Believing that he had found a new species he named the red Fighting Fish "Betta Cambodia" however over time he found what many Betta Fish breeders today are so excited about – the vast array of colors and shapes that Betta Fish can be bred with.
As Fighting Fish make their way around the world and into the homes of more and more fascinated breeders their color, shapes and personalities have developed less for their original aggressive nature. Instead fish today are prized for their colors, their fin and tail shapes and their originality. Incredibly simple to look after Fighting Fish have become a well-established breed of tropical fish that is appreciated wherever they are found.