Siamese Fighting Fish | The History of Thailand’s National Aquatic Animal


Betta fish have many names such as the Siamese Fighting Fish or Siamese Betta, their scientific name is Betta Splendens. It has been with Thai culture for a long time. Until 2019, the ministry has promoted betta fish as the national aquatic animal of Thailand. Let’s see its story and how it become a national aquatic animal of Thailand?

Drawing of Thais betting on Siamese Fighting Fish in the reign of King Rama V

History of Siamese fighting fish from a local fish to be a national aquatic animal of Thailand.

Looking back to centuries ago, the Thai culture has intertwined betta fish for a long time that bred for gambling purposes since Thonburi Era. According to historical papers.

  • In Rattanakosin Era, the region of King Rama I, the evidence show that the law code used in the reign mentioned in Siamese fighting fish.
  • During the region of King Rama IV and Rama V, the betta fish breeding for gambling was highly popular and widely spread throughout. The prices of betta fish become higher.

In the wording of “Siamese Fighting Fish”, the name of “Siamese” is the ancient name of Thailand that refers to the betta fish’s country of origin.  This species of betta fish is a unique and beautiful characteristic that makes it popular which spans many countries worldwide.

Lets' decorate your home aquarium with us!

Exotic Koi Halfmoon New Arrivals

Lets' decorate your home aquarium with us!

Exotic Koi Halfmoon New Arrivals

Now a day, the Siamese fighting fish became iconic in Thailand

Currently, Thai people and worldwide are well know in Siamese Fighting Fish. It is iconic of Thailand. Furthermore, the BBC Earth has praised the Siamese fighting fish as the Pride of Thailand because of its leaving beautiful reverberations in the Thai culture since historical times.

We can say that the betta fish is famous not only in Thailand but also well-known widely in the worldwide country. There are some examples evident;


Halfmoon betta fish from a Thai photographer, Mr. Visarute Angkatavanich, was selected as the background photos for iPhone6 and 6s that Apple launched in September 2015.


Thai ice sculptors created an ice figurine of Siamese Fighting Fish. There are Kusol Bunkobsongserm, Amnoaysak Srisuk, and Kitsana Wongtes in the team. They crowned winners at International Snow Sculpture Contest in Sapporo, Japan in 2019.


The inspiration of a Siamese fighting fish dress, national costume of miss universe Thailand 2020, Amanda Chalisa Obdum, came from the betta fish.


Breeding technologies make a colorful and exotic pattern of betta fish.

Many different technologies and systems of betta fish breeding that breeders develop. We can call it selective breeding. The exotic color of betta fish that you see now comes from correct breeding procedures. The breeder selects the desired attractiveness from natural betta fish in Thailand.

We usually see a new color pattern of betta fish comes, because of the knowledge transfer from ancestors combine with the developing technologies of the breeding process. When a new beautiful pattern comes, a creator will designate a name for their own betta fish. Later, people call that name a general since then.

Sometimes a betta fish pattern called for commercial or marketing propose to identify or to be a signature of itself, such as koi Nemo, Avatar, blue rim, koi tiger, koi galaxy, koi candy, fire lava, copper-gold star pattern, and others.

If you would like to know the definition of how to identify the betta fish colors and patterns, you can read more details at betta fish color content in our website blog


Original 5 types of betta splendens, the forefathers of all betta fish

Most Thai people when they were young, especially in rural areas, caught the fish from canals and ponds. Many people do not know that all betta fish around the world originate from betta fish that was found in natural water resources from Thailand.

Let us introduce 5 different types of local Thai betta fish, which are the forefathers of all betta fish.

  • Pak Klang Plakad  (Betta Splendens)

  • E-sarn Plakad  (Betta Smaragdina)

  • Pak Tai Plakad  (Betta Imbellis)

  • Mahachai Plakad  (Betta Mahachaiensis)

  • Tawan-ork Plakad  (Betta Siamorientalis)


This species of betta fish is the first internationally recognized betta fish in the world in 1910 by a British scientist. It has a red stripe on its cheeks and tails with green-blue scales sprinkled throughout its body. The Betta Splendens can be found in the north and all the way to the middle of Thailand.

Betta Smaragdina

The scales of Betta Smaragdina look like a snake with green-blue scales are interwoven throughout its entire body. Sometimes we can call it Alien, a commercial name. They are found in still or slow-moving shallow water in the northeast of Thailand. It was recognized as a new species of betta fish in 1972 by a German researcher.

Betta Imbellis

Betta Imbellis was recognized as a new species of betta fish by a German researcher in 1975. It lives in natural bodies of water can be widely found in southern Thailand. These species have green stripes on their cheek and the green scales structured throughout their body that is the most striking feature of it.

Betta Mahachaiensis

This species is the first betta fish that have been designed a Thai word scientific name, Betta Mahachaiensis. It was discovered in 2012 by a Thai researcher. It can be found only in Mahachai, Smut Sakhon province where locate in the middle of Thailand near Bangkok city. An outstanding characteristic of this species is green cheeks and a shiny green body which makes it looks like a corncob.

betta fish tawanork

Betta Siamorientalis was found by Thai researchers and it was internationally recognized as a new species of betta fish in 2013. It can be found in the eastern of Thailand. The unique characteristic of this species is the smoky blackhead, green scales across its body, red-cut tails, and red fins that make it look like the tip of a spear or a water droplet.


The 5 species that were naturally found in all parts of Thailand for centuries are the original betta fish. In the past, it was a common fish that people bred for gambling propose. Nowadays it is a national aquatic animal of Thailand. The Siamese Fighting Fish has become a huge commercial proposal, not only in Thailand but also in other worldwide countries. The breeding of betta fish is more popular in Thailand. Currently, we export a Siamese fighting fish to betta fish lovers worldwide.

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