Betta or Betta Splendens or Siamese fighting fish are native to Thailand (formerly known as Siam) on mainland Asia and nearby countries and islands. They are equally popular as aquarium fishes as they are for fighting (on which people place bets, mostly in south-east Asia).
The fighting fish was imported into France from Siam in 1874, from France they spread all around Europe, getting to Germany around 1896 and finally getting to America directly from Siam around 1910, and were an instant hit with aquarists.
The Betta has become one of the world’s most popular aquarium fishes. Long-finned, fancy-finned, and spectacularly colored males are some of the most hardy, beautiful, and inexpensive aquarium fishes available.
In the early days of the hobby the “original” Betta had a yellowish brown body with a few indistinct horizontal lines. At moments of emotional stress, the male darkened and showed metallic green scales. The dorsal fin also was this color, tipped with red, while the anal fin was red, tipped with blue. The ventrals then were, as they are now, red tipped with white. Fins were of moderate size, and there was a rounded tail to match, was only after years of selective breeding that we arrived at the shape and colors we know them for today.
Allegedly, It was not until 1927 that the first brightly colored, flowing finned Siamese Betta arrived in the United States, consigned to a San Francisco dealer by the name of Frank Locke.
Today the Betta Splendens (from the Latin-Splendid Fighter) are big business, sold pretty much everywhere for display and for fighting.