The splendid warrior.
Bettas originated in the wild as native fish from southeast asia. They were found in slow moving streams and rice paddies of Siam (now Thailand), Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and parts of southern China. They were a drab greenish brown color.
The native male fish were territorial and naturally aggressive. Known in Siam as Plakad lukmoh and Plakat pah, centuries ago they were originally bred for fighting contests. Initially the desired characteristics were small fins and fierce attitudes. These Siamese fighting fish were pitted against one another in fighting contests with bets on the winner.
For reasons unknown and lost in history, they were then bred for appearance. Long fins and colors were sought after. Long fins made the fish inherently poor fighting fish. History records that they were introduced to the west in an article published by a doctor in the Bengal medical service, Dr. Theodor Cantor. Initially named Macropodus pugnax, they were renamed as as a separate species as Betta splendens by Mr. Tate Regan. Betta is believed to be derived from “Bettah” a warrior-like tribe and splendens, latin for radiant, brilliant and splendid. Hence splendid warrior.
And splendid indeed as the species has been bred for a variety of fin shapes, sizes and colors. The domestic variety bears little resemblance to the original native fish still found in the waters of Thailand.