(Photo to the left features my “gateway fish” to the aquarium hobby, my plakat male domestic b. splendens, Washi, at various stages of his life.)
Bettas are a far more diverse genus of fish than their depressing rack on the fish room floor at your local Petsmart or Petco would have you believe. The genus encompasses 75 described species of fish, all of whom are native to the slow-moving waters of Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, among others. The average pet store visitor is most likely to encounter the domesticated betta splendens, but all of these fish share a fascinating evolutionary advantage: the labyrinth organ. This organ allows bettas (as well as their cousins, the gourami) to breathe oxygen directly from the air above the surface of the water.
For reasons that I won’t go into in great detail, I choose not to breed or support the sale of domestic bettas within the hobby. The two domestic splendens that I have owned since getting serious about the hobby were rescue fish, and managing their health since bringing them home has been an ongoing struggle. The species I work with and will journal about extensively here will be wild species only.