very interesting to learn how betta splendens variants were created, including how the history of the creation of giant betta fish. betta splendens with large body size was first introduced at the Orlando IBC Convention in June, 2002.
Mr. Athapon Ritanapichad, Mr. Natee Ritanapichad, and Mr. Wasan Sattayapun from thailand, they –betta fish breeders-- were the first to introduce 3 giant longfins, 16 giant plakats, and some Imbellis to the betta community in America. This display certainly got the attention of IBC founder Dr. Gene Lucas, who referred to the largest (at 7 inches long) as 'Two pounders!' Rumors and speculations that these 'giants' were actually enhanced through growth hormones was a concern for many, and at least one person present at the convention took home giant bettas for the express purpose of hormone testing.
However, the arrival of the giant betta was a result of hard work and careful selection of breeders. In 1999 Mr. Athapon developed the first giant plakat by size selection of green fighter plakats, the goal being bettas that reached a length of at least 3 inches. His reason for using green was his observation that this color, in particular, was larger in size on average than other colors. It took approximately 5 generations to produce the first 3+ inch long bettas, and the spawn yielded about 20% very large bettas who later developed into 'giants'. After several years of research and work on his giants, Athapon started developing other colors and fin forms, including blue, yellow, white, red, and green.
According to Mr. Athapon, giant bettas will reach at least 3 inches long by the time they are 7-8 months old. However, he says, the differences in body type are evident at around 6 months of age. At a year old, the body length finally stops increasing, but the fish will continue to put on width and weight until it is about 18 months old.
What we know about the giant genetically is that the trait is most definitely passed to offspring, and therefore cannot possibly be the result of artificial size enhancement. Dr. Lucas has alluded to the fact that the giant betta might be the result of multi-factor traits rather than a single gene, much like the HM and cross ray CT betta. Certain American IBC members who have been working giants, such as Jim Sonnier have discovered certain rules which apply to breeding for giants, such as:
- The Giant trait is controlled by a single pair of genes.
- The mutated 'Giant' gene is incompletely dominant over the regular size gene.
- If an offspring carries both 'Giant' genes it will show the full-sized Giant trait.
- If an offspring carries only one 'Giant' gene it will show Half-Giant size.
- If an offspring does not carry any 'Giant' genes it will be regular size.
Jim Sonnier has spawned what he calls 'Half-Giants' (7-8cm total length) to regular females on a number of occasions. Each time his offspring showed approximately 50% regular size and 50% Half-Giant size.
To achieve the full growth potential they must be fed much more food when they are young than a regular sized Betta (2 to 3 times more for male Half-Giants; female Half-Giants twice as much food). Because of their rapid growth, their appetites are immense. They can easily devour twice as much food at mealtime than a normal betta, and still be hungry an hour later. Because they need fed more, they also produce more waste, necessitating more frequent water changes and larger containers.
Adult giants are prone to constipation, which can lead to death if not carefully treated. Live brine shrimp and live/frozen daphnia should be made a regular part of their feeding regime, as both these foods act as a mild laxative. If the giant does become constipated, giving him a 24 hour fast and the inside of a cooked, green pea will often help get things moving again. Once they have reached adult size, you may cut back down on their feedings.
With proper food and conditions, young giants will be adult-sized by 2-3 months old, and by 4 months old they are the size of your average 8 month old show betta. Differences in size among spawn mates in Half Giant spawns are evident as early as a few weeks.
hopefully this –about giant betta fish history-- article can bring progress to the development of betta splendens hobbyists