How to chose a Siamese fighting fish at your local fish shop

Published: 11th May 2009
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The Siamese fighting fish is a very popular tropical fish due to its beauty and its low maintenance.
Siamese fighting fish belongs to the Labyrinth group, being able to breathe oxygen from the water surface. For this reason you don't necessary need a super-equipped fish tank with circulation and aeration. The fighting fish will be happy in a bowl with at least three liters of water and if you partially change the water every two or three days. The male Siamese fighters are more popular than females, for their rich finnage, variety of forms and colors. They are usually kept on their own but it is not unusual for the fighting fish to live happy in a community tank. It is not advisable to keep more than one male in the same tank though, because you might end up with a fish missing chunks of their fins or body, or with a dead fish.
So, you've decided to buy a Siamese fighting fish and now you are at the local fish shop and trying to choose one. There are a few things you should know before you make your choice:
- the Siamese fighting fish in a LFS (Local Fish Shop) are imported at very cheap prices from Thailand or other country (Indonesia, Cambodia) where they are produced at industrial scale with no regard for quality.
- they are usually veil tail type which is least commercially valuable, but still beautiful if healthy.
- they are sold when they are fully grown, with fully developed fins, that means from 6 months old, but can be older(considering their short life, up to two years old, sometimes longer in ideal condition, you would really want a young fish!).
-many of them are sick because of the poor water conditions. They are inactive, with clamped fins, torn or shredded fins and they need a tap in the glass to make them move.
What to look for in a healthy fish:
-Bright and clean colors, skin and fin integrity.
-A healthy fish should have bright colors, no skin lesions or tumors, no missing scales, no missing fins or pieces of fins. The body should not have small white dots or patches of whitish or grey fluff.
-If the fins look shredded, or melted, with white or red edges, with red strikes (like blood vessels), with chunks of fin missing or with wholes, the fish might have an infection called finrot.
-The eyes should be clear, same size and not popping out.
-The anus should be clear. If there are bunches of thin threads hanging from the anus, they might be worms.
-The abdomen should be smoothly rounded and not bloated.
-The scales should be close to the body and not pointing out like a pine cone (that can be a disease called Dropsy)
-When fed, the fish should be aggressive and grab the food vigorously. One of the first signs of disease is a fish not eating.
-When provoked (seeing another male Siamese fighting fish or its own reflection in the mirror) the fish should flare. Flaring is a full display of the fins, with the dorsal and the upper side of the caudal erected and the barb showing. The bard is the gill membrane which hidden when not flaring.
-A healthy Siamese fighting male will have a bubble nest in a corner of his tank.
So now you found the best fish... now you can take it home! But not before you learn everything about it's maintenance here:

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