Biologists in Thailand have discovered a new species of Betta fish amidst brackish waters and nipa palms of Samut Sakhon Province in Thailand. In their paper, “Betta mahachaiensis, a new species of bubble-nesting fighting fish (Teleostei: Osphronemidae) from Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand” published in Zootaxa, biologist Chanon Kowasupat of the Institute for Innovative Learning, Mahidol University, Thailand describes the fish as belonging to the Betta splendens group of fish but with distinctive characteristics.
Called Betta mahachaiensis, the fish is different from others in the Betta splendens group in that it has an iridescent green/bluish green coloration with a brown-to-black body. The color of its opercular membrane is also brown-to-black with no red streaks or patch coloration, and its dorsal, caudal and anal fins are brown and black. Two thirds of the dorsal fin feature black transverse bars, and the pelvic fins are brown and black with a green and bluish green coloration on the front with a white tip.
Kowasupat also describes Betta mahachaiensis as a candidate for extinction given the small geographical area in which it is found as well as the negative effects of industrial pollution and housing developments in the area. The fish is about 1.4 inches in length, and inhabits brackish waters in nipa palm swamps. The salinity in which the fish are located ranged from 1.1 to 10.6 ppt with a pH ranging from 6.87 to 7.80. The paper also notes that one respected fish breeder in Thailand has been breeding and working with the species for more than 10 years, and the fish has always bred true.