Betta in the wild: Plain ancestors of Siamese fighting fish facing extinction

NUS student Tan Zhi Wan rears 12 species of wild bettas at his Hougang home in special tanks called biotopes that mimic the fish's natural environment. Collectors like him could help wild bettas beat extinction. Three species of fish from the genus B
Mr Iven Teh, vice-president of hobby group Betta Club Singapore, at his fish shop in King Albert Park where he stocks both show bettas as well as the less fancy wild ones. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG
Below: The wild B. splendens is duller in colour than its domesticated counterpart.
NUS student Tan Zhi Wan rears 12 species of wild bettas at his Hougang home in special tanks called biotopes that mimic the fish’s natural environment. Collectors like him could help wild bettas beat extinction. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Mr Iven Teh, vice-president of hobby group Betta Club Singapore, at his fish shop in King Albert Park where he stocks both show bettas as well as the less fancy wild ones. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG
The wild B. splendens is duller in colour than its domesticated counterpart. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG
NUS student Tan Zhi Wan rears 12 species of wild bettas at his Hougang home in special tanks called biotopes that mimic the fish's natural environment. Collectors like him could help wild bettas beat extinction. Three species of fish from the genus B
Three species of fish from the genus Betta have been recorded in Singapore – B. pugnax (above), B. imbellis and B. tomi. B. tomi is now considered to be extinct. PHOTOS: TAN HEOK HUI
NUS student Tan Zhi Wan rears 12 species of wild bettas at his Hougang home in special tanks called biotopes that mimic the fish's natural environment. Collectors like him could help wild bettas beat extinction. Three species of fish from the genus B
Three species of fish from the genus Betta have been recorded in Singapore – B. pugnax, B. imbellis (above) and B. tomi. B. tomi is now considered to be extinct. PHOTOS: TAN HEOK HUI
NUS student Tan Zhi Wan rears 12 species of wild bettas at his Hougang home in special tanks called biotopes that mimic the fish's natural environment. Collectors like him could help wild bettas beat extinction. Three species of fish from the genus B
Three species of fish from the genus Betta have been recorded in Singapore – B. pugnax, B. imbellis and B. tomi (above). B. tomi is now considered to be extinct. PHOTOS: TAN HEOK HUI
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With their territorial behaviour and long fins and tails that trail behind them like silk scarves, the Siamese fighting fish are reared to be beautifully aggressive.

Bring one male too close to another, and fins, tails and gills will flare in a defiant show of beauty - a warning not to come too close.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2020, with the headline Betta in the wild: Plain ancestors of Siamese fighting fish facing extinction. Subscribe