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Siamese fighting fish

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The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), also known as the “betta fish” or just “betta”, is one of the most popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. It is native to the rice paddies of Thailand and called pla-kad or pla-kat (“Biting Fish”) in its native Thailand.

B. splendens usually grow to an overall length of about 6.0 centimetres (2.4 in), though some varieties reach 8.0 centimetres (3.1 in) in length. In recent years[when?] breeders have been able to create “Giant Bettas” that exceed 8.0 centimetres (3.1 in) due to the manipulation of a mutant gene. Although bettas are known for their brilliant colors and large, flowing fins, the natural coloration of B. splendens is a dull green and brown, and the fins of wild specimens are relatively short. However, brilliantly colored and longer finned varieties (i.e. Veiltail; Delta; Superdelta; and Halfmoon) have been developed through selective breeding.

The betta is a member of the Gourami family (family Osphronemidae) of order Perciformes, but was formerly classified among the Anabantidae. Although there are nearly 50 other types of bettas, B. splendens is the most popular species among aquarium hobbyists, particularly in the United States.

Like anabantids and all members of the genus Betta, Siamese fighting fish have a labyrinth organ in their heads that allows them to take oxygen directly from the atmosphere in addition to the oxygen taken from water via their gills. Bettas that cannot reach the surface will drown.

Bettas have upturned mouths and are primarily carnivorous surface feeders. In the wild, bettas feed on zooplankton and the larvae of mosquitoes and other insects, such as flies, crickets, or grasshoppers.[citation needed] Bettas which feed on wide range of foods live longer, have richer colors, and heal fin damage more quickly. Typically, Betta pellets are a combination of mashed shrimp meal, fish meal, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and vitamins. Bettas will also eat live or frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp or daphnia. For variety and fiber, bettas are fed finely-chopped, high-protein vegetables, such as soybeans, green beans, broccoli, corn, and carrots. Some bettas subsist on dried flaked food suitable for tropical fish, because although this feed reduces their coloring, the bettas are able to digest this better than pellets. However, bettas are carnivorous and therefore require meat products as well. Bettas can get constipated, exhibiting a swollen stomach, when their diet lacks variety.