Stunning Portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish
Photographer Visarute Angkatavanich gets incredibly close up to capture these stunning portraits of Siamese fighting fish in graceful, dancerly poses. The Thai photographer uses perfectly placed lighting to create the dramatic highlights and shadows that give personality to each little finned creature.
The photographs convey a sense of elegance that sits in direct contrast to the territorial nature of the popular freshwater aquarium fish. As they twist and turn and form captivating curves, Angkatavanich times his shots perfectly to capture the magnificence of the individual forms. His subjects are set against either a stark black or white background and the beauty of the flowing fins is playfully complemented by each naturally fierce facial expression.
The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) also known as betta, is a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. The wild ancestors of this fish are native to the rice paddies of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and are called pla-kad (literally biting fish) in Thai. They tend to be rather aggressive.
The people of Siam and Malaya (now Thailand and Malaysia) are known to have collected these fish prior to the 19th century.
In the wild, bettas spar for only a few minutes or so before one fish backs off. Bred specifically for fighting, domesticated betta matches can go on for much longer, with winners determined by a willingness to continue fighting. Once one fish retreats, the match is over. Seeing the popularity of these fights, the king of Siam started licensing and collecting these fighting fish.
Although known for their brilliant colors and large, flowing fins, the natural coloration of B. splendens is a dull green, browns and gray, and the fins of wild specimens are relatively short. Brilliantly colored and longer-finned varieties have been developed through selective breeding.
Flying fish (Exocoetidae) can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne.
There are about 40 known species of flying fish. Beyond their useful pectoral fins, all have unevenly forked tails, with the lower lobe longer than the upper lobe. Many species have enlarged pelvic fins as well and are known as four-winged flying fish.
The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters).
The Deadly Hidden Predator of the Sea
The bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) might not look dangerous, but this creature is one of the most deadly predators currently hiding in our oceans today. Don’t let the beautiful transluscent rainbow on his abdomen fool you, the only rights he wants are dead. It hunts in pretty much the most nightmarish way imaginable, digging itself into the sea floor, exposing a few inches of its body, which can grow to 10 feet long, and he sits and waits for his victim to swim by.
Using five antennae, the bobbit worm senses passing prey, snapping down on them with supremely muscled mouth parts, called a pharynx. It does this with such speed and strength that it can split a fish in two. And that, quite frankly, would be a merciful exit. If you survive initially, you get to find out what it’s like to be yanked into the worm’s burrow and into untold nightmares.
Bobbit worms can tuck themselves away among coral and decimate an aquarium, picking off fish one by one, which you can imagine is quite confusing for the owner, fish typically don’t just disappear. And they can even take the pros by surprise. When a public aquarium in England was having a problem with mysteriously maimed fish and even corals, they set out bait night after night, which disappeared, hooks and all. Staffers eventually had to dismantle the exhibit, finding a 4-foot bobbit worm named Barry.
Five Demonic Creatures
These five creatures are demonic for a reason, they either have a name that will send you running, or their looks will.
- The Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) is the smallest member of the leaf-tailed gecko family. They are indigenous to the Madagascar forest habitat.
- The Anglerfish doesn’t have a demonic name, but just look at it! It is the original nightmare creature. The females attract mates by a lure that sticks out of their heads that contains bioluminescent bacteria. The tiny males, up to six at a time, will latch onto the much larger female with their teeth and eventually fuse into her body until there’s little more to him than his reproductive organs, which she’ll eventually use to fertilize her eggs. She literally sucks them dry.
- The thorny devil is also known as the thorny dragon and mountain devil. Its Latin name is Moloch horridus, which refers to the ancient god Moloch, who is associated with child sacrifice. Makes you wonder who thought to name him. When threatened, the reptile lowers its real head and lets a large scaly bump on its back pass for another head. He is a thorny little devil.
- The long-horned beetle is a South American native that might look threatening but its actually threatened itself. The beetle is considered “vulnerable” as their numbers are lowering. He does look like a horrifying minion of hell, but its all a show.
- The basking shark is one of the scariest looking creatures alive. At 32 feet (10 meters) long, the basking shark is the second-largest living fish after the whale shark. It has distinctive gill slits that go almost all the way around its head and a cavernous mouth that’s just about always open. Yikes!
At Curious History, we love strange animals. They show just how diversified animal species are on this planet and how so many them, if seen out of their native habitat, look more like creatures from science fiction novels. Evolution has created an innumerable amount of unusual life forms and the red-lipped batfish (Ogcocepphalus darwini) is no exception.
Native to the Galapagos Islands, this fish moves from place to place using modified fins to “walk” across the ocean floor instead of swim, as they are bottom dwelling creatures. It is believed that the function of the bright red lips may be to enhance species recognition during spawning.
The Secret Lives of Fish
Paris-born artist Anne-Catherine Becker-Echivard uses fish for her art. Not a common medium for most artists, but that’s what makes her work so incredibly fascinating. The details in each scene are meticulously placed and the positioning of her “subjects” is perfect. Each piece is so unique with its content that it brings to mind particular scenes from movies and film.
The artist works in Berlin, Germany and takes up to three months to complete each piece. Every diorama she makes is perfectly placed and detailed, with set decorations, clothing, shoes, and tiny utensils. After she is done photographing the fish scenes, she cooks and eats them. Recycling at its best.
The Butterfly of the Sea
This is fish is called the Sea Robin, otherwise known as a Gurnard or The Butterfly of the Sea. This interesting fish is a bottom dweller. They have several sets of specialized fins, including some that allow the fish to swim and others that let it perch on the seafloor. It’s not related to flying fish, nor do they glide in air. The Sea Robin’s large pectoral fins are normally held against the body, but are spread out when threatened to put off predators.