THE BREEDER (right) and I (left)

 

My name is Mr. Precha Jintasaerewonge. I was born on May 25th 1958. I hold a BA in History and Philosophy, an MA in Philosophy, and an MS in Computer Information Systems.

Back in the year 1965, in the heart of Bangkok, I was like most Thai children, I enjoyed running around, going fishing, and catching fish from the flood lands. But the most exciting fish of all was the wild Betta or “Plakat Thung” (Plakat Thung means fighting fish from the flood lands). We kept each Plakat Thung or “Pla Thung” in separate bottles filled with water. Our elders advised us to put dried banana leaf into the bottles, leave it in the bottle for seven days, and then pour the fish into a bigger glass bowl and watch them fight. Pla Thung can fight for about 10 minutes, after which they will run from each other. The nature of the Plakat Thung is not that of a fighter, rather they only fight to preserve themselves and their territory.

The Siamese fighting-fish was hand selected by humans, from wild caught Bettas. The main objectives of breeding were to develop its fighting nature, hardiness, size, fighting style, and color. The only way to improve the bloodlines was to fight the Betta with other breeders. The winner became the model for the next generation and the loser was released to the river. This was the main pattern of development for Bettas in Thailand.

One day I joined my older brother and his friends, we traveled to a place to buy Plakats. This place was not far from my house (20 years ago you could find a serious Plakat breeder in almost every community, even nowadays). That was the day I changed, from being a Betta catcher to a Junior Betta breeder. Every time I would follow my brother to visit the old man who bred the Betta. I would listen to what they would say very quietly. They were criticizing the fish, which one was good or bad, how to breed them, how to keep the Bettas in good condition? How do we train the Betta for fighting ? etc. He named his new bloodlines such magical names as Chao Praya (King of Kings), Hanumana (The soldier of God in the Ramayana Epic)...etc. My brother ended up purchasing 3-4 fish and I ended up with one for myself. I started breeding Siamese fighting-fish when I was seven years old and I never succeeded. Now I can tell you the reasons why I failed at the time:

  • I watched them too often, usually whenever I had the chance. Almost every half-hour, 10-20 minutes each time. Bettas are very protective fish; they are easily stressed if they know they are being watched. The male can be so protective he will take the fry into his mouth for protection. The short fin types are the most sensitive.
  • Too much noise. Bettas like a quiet environment, they would never mate in a noisy family household.

On one day I decided to change the breeding place to my sister’s in the suburbs. It was very quiet and full of plants. This time I was successful. I sold many of them and gave some away to my friends. I kept some for training and brought them to the Plakat fighting house. My fish won their matches most of the time. That was because I was careful to only breed fish that came from good sources and I selected only the very best that I could find. Eventually, I made good friends with the breeder. I talked to people and asked as many questions as I could, some of them chased me out because I asked too many questions. I researched the breeders, observed fighting fish behavior, and collected the good fighters. I also observed every moment of their mating behavior, including the male looking after the fry. Back then there were no books, no medicine at that time. The only knowledge I could get to treat my sick Bettas was from the breeders’ stories and remedies. Some recovered, some died.

There were many things I learned from an old breeder. He told me that I should put Ipomoea aquatica in a jar (a type of floating vegetable that is edible and easy to find) then place the male in with the plant. He then told me I should place the female in a separate bottle and put it in the middle of the breeding tank. When the female is ready, let them together in the breeding tank for five days. The place where you breed them must be very quiet and the surface of the water must be very calm. Check every morning to see if they mated or not. If they did, then you should net the female out and feed the male with worms or mosquito larvae. Do not overfeed though, twice a day is enough. After 7 days you can remove the male from the tank. You’ll also notice the rotten floating vegetable becomes the first source of food for the fry after they finish the yolk sack.

From Thailand, Land of the Betta, this beautiful aquarium fish has spread out all over the world. Here, we have a number of breeders, capable of producing both quantity and quality, while at the same time breeding either fighters or pets.

I have searched the web and found that Bettas are famous outside my country also. In the U.S.A. there are many Betta fanatic clubs. There is the I.B.C. (International Betta Congress) which I think that very few people in Thailand know about. I learned Betta breeders in the USA are breeding beautiful long fin Bettas. It is a wonderful challenge to join in this reputable task.

Now, I am doing intensive research on the long history of Siamese fighting-fish in Thailand, both the short fin and the long fin types. I breed and export these select Siamese fighting-fish or as I prefer to call them “PLAKAT THAI”.

You come I'm so please, I'm regret when you leave.

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