Siamese Fighting Fish

Siam is the old name for Thailand.
These fish live in Thailand and nearby countries.
These fish are able to breathe air so can live in polluted water.
The male fish fight each other.
Males are colourful, females are not.

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found)
Siamese fighting fish are found in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Cambodia. They live in shallow, overgrown waters including irrigation channels and flooded rice fields. Shallow water stays warm, up to 30°C. These fish do not live in cold water.

Body and Behaviours
Siamese Fighting fish are part of a fish family that all have a special breathing organ, called labyrinth, which they can use to absorb air. Labyrinth fishes that are prevented from taking air will drown. Because of their ability to breath air, Labyrinth fish can survive in polluted water that does not have very much oxygen. 

Males are larger than females, and more colourful, with larger fins.

A male Siamese fighting fish

Life Cycle
Male Siamese fighting fish build a nest of bubbles among plant leaves. To make the bubbles, the fish takes up air in its mouth, coats it with saliva (spit), and spits out the bubbles, which stick together on the surface of the water. After this, he shows off to attract a female below the nest. They swim around together, and she releases eggs. He fertilises them with liquid from his body, which means that baby fish will grow inside the eggs. As the eggs float to the bottom, the male catches them in his mouth and spits them into the bubble nest. He then watches over the nest, protecting the eggs from being eaten and putting any fallen eggs back into the nest. When the eggs hatch, the little fish swim away. Sadly, the male fish, after all that work looking after the eggs, sometimes eats the baby fish.

Keeping them as pets
Siamese fighting fish are popular pets.  The males are aggressive. They'll sometimes chase and kill the female if she sticks around, and they even attack their own reflection in a mirror. The males do not get along well with each other. You can only keep more than one male if you have a very large tank so they have enough space to form their own territories. In the wild, males have plenty of room to stay out of each other's way. In captivity, however, that aggressiveness is why the males are kept in separate tanks or in a large one with barriers.The aquarium should be thickly planted and well lighted.  It should be kept warm, between 23ºC and 30ºC. Floating plants will allow nest building.

This website gives a good picture of a male and a female fish

Remember: Always acknowledge where you find information
If you use any of the information on this page acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Thomas, R. & Sydenham, S. Siamese fighting fish [Online]

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updated September 2013©