Japanese Fighter Fish 

By Jason Coote

Japanese Fighter Fish  

Fighter Fish

As a teenager, I remember walking into a pet shop in my hometown of March in Cambridgeshire and guess what I saw in a fish tank?  

No, it wasn't a Japanese Fighter Fish.  

It was a piranha, in a tank that was barely longer than its body. I don't imagine the width was much wider than its girth. It looked to be treading water, fins moving just enough to stop it sinking. An ill-fitting home if you had ever seen one. 

I'm not sure where this piranha came from, it's age, whether male or female. It was anonymous. A piranha living in a small fenland town. 

It looked moody. Eyes staring at all who dared to look. Wonky, crooked teeth ready for its dinner. I'm not sure when it was fed or what it ate. The sign on the tank said: ''Do not touch.''  

The piranha was bigger than I imagined.  

I wanted to know its story because it must have had a story to tell. It needed a little card on the tank which stated name, date of birth, where it was born... Sadly, there was nothing.  

An anonymous piranha.  

I felt sorry for the fish. Of all places to end up, a cottage, turned into a pet shop, literally fifteen metres from the river Nene.  

The pet shop went out of business within a few weeks. I think the perceived attraction of the piranha backfired.  

So what are Japanese Fighter Fish? I don't know much about them. But I get a feeling Japanese gamblers like to bet on them.  

Firstly, a Japanese fighter fish is also known as a Siamese fighting fish or betta fish (is that because people bet on them?).  

The male fish is not only very attractive but very aggressive and highly territorial. So you don't want to put two in a tank together. OK, perhaps you do if you are wanting to bet on which fish wins.  

I'm not keen on all this animal or fish fighting as a form of wagering.  

However, lets take a look what it's all about as I'm a novice in this ''field of fishing''.  

Some people in Thailand and Malaysia selectively breed these fish to increase aggression. It sounds like a mini version of the Fenland Piranha. Anyway, when two fish are put into a tank, they jostle around a bit, sparring, until one fish retreats. This is how the winning fish is decided.  

I'm not sure I would want to see all this fish fighting malarkey, although it does give the impression that no one loses a fin, rudder, or eye. Someone in the crowd may lose their shirt but that's their problem for betting on a fish.  

I can't help wondering whatever happened to the piranha in the tank. I'm not sure what age they live in captivity. It may be the case the beast is still going strong. I very much doubt it but I hope, at least, it outlived the person who had the bright idea to put it in a tank rather than its natural environment swimming with the shoal with the smell of blood in its nostrils.    

Another winning post from Cheltfest.com.

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About the Author

Jason Coote has founded many horse racing websites and known British gambler.