As a boy growing up as a military dependent overseas in Japan, I was out of luck in terms of early job opportunities. All of the good jobs took years of waiting. I hoped that some of the other kids’ families would get “shipped out,” so I might secure a coveted box-boy position at the PX. But I was fortunate to secure employment in my early teens working in the pet fish industry. Folks always seem to be impressed when I relate my first jobs, but they weren’t glamorous. My jobs included cleaning fish tanks, lugging water about, washing betta bowls, preparing foods for bettas, washing betta bowls, feeding bettas, washing betta bowls, and did I mention washing betta bowls?
Back in the United States in the late 1960s, I was fortunate to gain employment in retail fish stores (where I washed yet more betta bowls) and tried my hand at betta breeding. Of all fish species, the Siamese fighting fish’s reproduction must be one of the most widely observed and most easily manipulated. Soon I was raising my little males (and yes, washing betta jars of every conceivable size and type).
Skip ahead a few decades to the present. I’ve worked in almost all aspects of the ornamental aquatics trade – and I’m still a betta fancier.