For several decades, in one of the countries from which the Betta originated, Thailand, they have been used as fighting fish. When they were caught, they used to be bred for this skill, so their keepers could easily make large sums of money.
Betta fish fights have always been clandestine and illegal, they are placed in crystal rings, where gamblers watch with enthusiasm.
These encounters can last up to three hours and the losing owner can continue or accept defeat, if the fish dies the person is offered a small amount of money.
Nowadays, these fights are not very popular, since their owners prefer to breed and keep them in a way that they can get different colors and styles, also, the business of breeding and selling betta fish is giving very good results.
Clandestine animal fighting is illegal in many parts of the world, but the profits it produces make people more invested in this illegal activity, not only with people but also with animals.
The greed of man has gone so far that now dogs, roosters, or people are no longer typical because in Thailand there are people who practice this, but with betta fish.
Is betta fish fighting illegal?
Yes, If you train any type of domestic animal to fight another animal, buy or have your own equipment to use in animal fighting, promote animal fighting, in any way facilitate it, bet on animal fighting, or even attend a scenario where animal fighting occurs, you will be responsible for a certain violation of the law.
This is applicable in many nations, including the United States, Thailand, and other Asian countries.
The potential criminal liability for animal fighting is comparable to the charges you may face in federal court for facilitating a dogfight. For this reason, betta fish fights are usually carried out clandestinely.
In fact, it is considered illegal from the judicial point of view, not only animal fights but also the breeding of animals for this purpose.
The animal protection law that prohibits the mistreatment of fish
For example, in the United States and in most nations of the world, there is an animal protection law that protects animals from mistreatment.
This law includes birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and all types of animals that can be domesticated.
In this law, clandestine fights between animals are considered animal cruelty, a violation of this law can lead to fines and even time in prison depending on the gravity of the crime.
The famous aggressiveness of the betta fish used in fights
At first glance, the betta fish stands out for its beautiful coloring and coloration, however, when you start to observe it, you discover that this animal stands out more than anything else for its aggressiveness.
The Betta is well-known for being able to protect its territory at any cost, both from individuals of the same species and from others. If its opponent doesn’t submit to it, this fighting fish turns any fight into a fight to the death. Even his mating rituals have a high dose of aggressiveness.
Some research indicates that the male Betta uses this same aggressiveness to attract females; the Betta fish is more likely to initiate a fight with another male if there is a female in front of him. They observe the battle and often choose the “winner” to mate.
The combat training technique that causes stress in betta fish
The betta fish is so protective of its territory that it may even feel threatened by its own reflection in the glass of the aquarium.
This “technique”, which has often been used as a fighter’s entertainment, causes the fish great stress when it sees itself thinking it is an invader and tries to attack it. When he sees himself, he thinks he is an invader and tries to attack him.
Betta fish are highly sensitive to stress, in fact they could die if subjected to continuous and severe stress.
What type of betta fish is used for fighting?
Certain cultivated forms are chosen for fighting, usually the Betta splendens. But you can also take Betta imbellis, Betta smaragdina and hybrids.
The fight between male fighting fish is usually fatal. But in most cases, the surviving specimen does not get very old either, as the stress for the fish is very great.
How do illegal betta fish fights take place and what are the rules?
For example, these illegal fights in some Asian countries are carried out by placing the fish in glass quads placed in two rows, the men betting stand around with bills in hand.
Betta fish measures only 6.5 centimeters long and 270 grams in weight and are aggressively territorial, which is why they are the right fish for these practices.
A person designated as the referee of the fight, weighs the contestants, which must be the same or very similar weight, and then introduces them into the narrow fish tanks, where they start to bite and bounce until one of them gives up and moves aside.
The most affected fish is separated to another tank and observed if it spreads its fins again, if so, it is ready to continue if its owner wishes.
The owner can accept defeat or continue, but if his fish dies, he can be fined. According to experts, these fights can last up to 3 hours.
Betta fish socialization and how to avoid fights
The betta fish is more of a loner. If you want to socialize it, you have to make specific considerations. Under no circumstances should two males be kept in one tank.
If you want to give him company in female form, then you should offer the betta a harem. Otherwise, it can also lead to aggressiveness.
By the way, that doesn’t just mean the male is chasing the female, it might as well be the other way around. Two to three females and one male are ideal here.
A 60-liter tank is enough for this. One chooses a harem to make the stress bearable for the female, otherwise, she could die. If you only have one female, you run the risk that the female will be continuously chased by the male. This stress is shared by several females.
Outside the breeding season, female betta fish can also be kept in groups in a tank. they should get along well without any problems.
Betta fish are very aggressive and careful in defending a territory. They do not tolerate any intruders, especially no other male betta fish.
A true rival is fought to the death if the subordinate cannot evade and flee. Everything can go so far that even a betta fish can attack its own reflection.
If you think that the male betta fish attacks the females you are also wrong. Usually, what seems a little aggressive is the courtship and mating behavior.
It is better to avoid fish of other species. Now, there will surely be a contrary opinion, as there are some traders who claim that this is not a problem. Usually, it is a problem.
Other brightly colored species with large fins are frequent targets of betta fish attacks.
Aggressive behavior of male Betta fish before fighting
The betta fish, after seeing a threat, begins a ritual dance that aims to threaten the other male and make him flee. It is called a ritual because it will always (and this is an important detail later on) be performed in the same way once it visualizes a rival.
The fish has very long fins that, when relaxed, extend along its length and slings with the water. However, the first thing it does is the complete extension of all its fins, so that its body seems to stretch and occupy more than twice its surface. The male tries to show himself to be superior, bigger, and stronger.
The fish then begins to swim from side to side, keeping its fins widely spread, standing on its side to show off its great attributes. Then, it faces the rival and opens the structures that protect its gills, giving it a bigger and more threatening look.
At the same time, he feigns to attack his rival, even hitting the glass of the aquarium to scare his opponent. If he doesn’t succeed, he starts dancing again, again and again.
This ritual aims to avoid the fight, trying to make the other male flee, once his opponent moves away in fear; the betta fish relaxes its fins again and the dance ends.