Caring for Siamese Fighting Fish


Male Siamese Fighting Fish

Male Siamese fighting fish are the most popular fresh water aquarium aquatic species. Male Siamese Fish have long, soft, broad and colorful fins. They have vibrant and more colorful fins compared to their female counterparts. You need a separate tank for male Siamese fish, as they are subject frequent conflicts with other Siamese fish.

Siamese fighting fish are found in shallow rice fields. They live on finely grounded flakes, bloodworms and live food to satisfy their hunger. The suitable temperature for them is 75-80°F (24-27°C) avoiding direct sunlight.

Behavior of Male Siamese Fish:

Male Siamese fighting fish are very aggressive, territorial and can fight to death. There are many species of Siamese fish males. Because of their aggressive nature, they get admiration and acceptance in certain sports such as cockfighting. Hence, they have acquired the name as Siamese fighting fish. Few Asian nations prefer breeding of this fish due to their ferocious and intense nature.

Male Siamese fish flash their colorful fins and gills, if they acquire the feeling of threat to their territorial nests. Aggression and hostility expands with maturity. Similarly, the length and weight of their tails and fins are also enlarged.

If you have ever seen a male Siamese fighting fish when it is 'flaring', you will understand the attraction to these exquisite fish. Flaring is a manifestation of their aggression and occurs when a male Siamese's territory is threatened in any way by another male. Siamese fish tend to become more aggressive as they mature, so don't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Let's pretend that Bruce, a two-year-old Siamese fighting fish is swimming around in his tank enjoying his solitude. Ever the optimist, Bruce has made a bubble nest on the surface, hoping for a ready and able spawning partner to appear. He hears the slight splash of another fish entering his space, turns and immediately spots, not his long-awaited love, but Clive, the male Siamese fish. Without hesitation, Bruce attempts to make himself appear as large as possible by turning his gill covers outward and extending the dark red branchiostegal membranes beyond the gill cavity. His 'flaring' or 'displaying' makes him look much larger to Clive, since Clive has a low visual acuity. While an actual attack tends to not follow this position of warning, Bruce and Clive assume a side-by-side position, head-to-tail and the two males twist into a lateral S-shape as they will beat currents of water against each other. On occasion, Bruce slaps Clive with his tail, and Clive responds by slapping him back with the side of his body. Neither is injured by this action, and Clive submissively retreats to a place in the tank that is beyond Bruce's territorial boundary. Minutes pass and Clive flares again, showing off to Bruce, who displays his own colors. The battle cry has sounded and they repeat the same dance. This time however, Bruce chomps into Clive's tail. Although tempted to, Clive doesn't retreat and instead bites Bruce's tail. After a couple of nips, a mouth-to-mouth battle ensues. Clive swims toward Bruce, with his mouth wide open, and they lock jaws. Wrestling, they push and turn each other in violent jerking motions. Suddenly, Bruce breaks free to surface for a bubble of air. Clive mimics him and then the battle continues for another minute. Obviously defeated, Clive capitulates and lets Bruce know that he has surrendered by clamping his fins close to his body and assuming the submissive posture of a head-up position. Dejected, Clive swims away, with no injuries other than some tears in his fins.

Some might find the fight between Bruce and Clive to be entertaining to watch. However, there is no question that placing two male Siamese fighting fish together for the purpose of watching them do battle is a cruel and inhumane practice. Occasionally a fight will ensue between a male siamese fish and a female, if they are placed together before the female is ready to spawn. These fights can be equally vicious, even though the female, by nature, is not aggressive.

Bruce is alone is his tank. Solitary Siamese fish can be kept in a variety of habitats. In the wild they can survive in shallow puddles, so small plastic or glass containers are sufficient. However, remember that the smaller the container that the Siamese fish lives in, the more often you should change the water. The reason that a Siamese fighting fish, unlike a goldfish, can thrive in lesser amounts of water, is because it is a Labyrinth fish. It will not suffer oxygen deprivation like a goldfish will because it has the ability to take in air at the water's surface. Labyrinth fishes have accessory breathing organs, which enable them to actually live outside of water for short periods of time. Bruce, like other Labyrinth fishes, has a gill cover that is partially connected to his branchial bone. His first and second gill arches are webbed together, so that a passage is formed from the mouth through the gill cavity and into the labyrinth cavity. When he gulps air, it immediately goes to this cavity, providing needed oxygen. The need for this supplemental oxygen is the reason why both Bruce and Clive surfaced to the top of the water in the middle of their fight. They went up for air. Since Siamese fish originated from shallow, stagnant waters, the need for oxygen was profound. Speculation is that they adapted by developing a new organ, which would allow them to get needed oxygen from the atmosphere.

Notice that prior to Clive's arrival, Bruce is making a bubble nest. That's because Siamese fighting fish are bubble nest builders, unlike many other species in the betta genus, who are mouth brooders. Bruce was blowing hundreds, possibly thousands of tiny bubbles, which were accumulating in a corner of the tank. This is known as a bubble nest and Bruce was doing it in preparation of spawning with a female, who would produce eggs that he would carry in his mouth to the nest. Male Siamese fighting fish will often make bubble nests when they are stimulated by the sight of a female Siamese fish in a different container.