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IN MALAYA (Part 3)


Imbellis are found abundantly in the Merbok, Province Wellesley and Krian plateau, in some famous spots there are professional catchers offering their betta catching services for a fee. Imbellis is the preferred fish used for fish fights due to its fast and unpredictable outcome of its duel unlike splenden fights. There is a particular problem with imbellis fighting caused by the introduction of ‘Som’ that are superior fighters over imbellis. Owners of this fishes comes up with numerous ideas to prevent the detection of the identity of their fishes by blurring the glass of their ‘sizing bottles’ and also they do not flare their fish so that the ‘Som’ colours will not manifest. These fishes are bred to resemble imbellis closely and there are numerous breeders who offer these fishes for a high price. The rule governing all arenas are for imbellis owner’s to beware and to keep their peace once paired fishes is poured into the ‘fight bottle’. At no time should anyone owner and spectator included mention or hint that any of the fish is a ‘Som’ as temper will start to flare because it implies that the owner is a cheat. Due to this problem and the diminishing imbellis population in certain states the switchover from imbellis to splenden in fights is inevitable.

After the middle of the 20th century splendens was beginning to be used in fights in states where the imbellis population had diminished and Singapore is the first Malayan state that completed the switchover from imbellis to splenden fighting. The popularity of splenden fighting is on the ascendancy since then and with it came splenden fight rules that differs between states and also training methods and keeping theory that is widely differing. The rules used to govern splenden fights in Siam are the backbone of fight rules in most states and in the northern states of Malaya it is identical. Sizing of betta is probably the most important skill a person who intends to enter into serious betta fighting needs to master. There are many tricks employed by professionals to make their fish appear smaller during sizing. Sizing of Imbellis in Malaya is from the top view only and it is exactly the same as ‘paradise fish’ sizing in China. Paradise fish fighting activity in China probably started long before the usage of transparent containers to explain why the sizing is done from the top. Paradise fish are kept in clay jars and fought in a big round basin with spectators crowding around it but this set-up was not adopted for imbellis fights by the Chinese in Malaya. Splenden sizing in the northern states of Malaya is from the side just like Thailand and in other states is from the top. Side sizing is a better judgment of actual size if identical containers are used as a bigger portion of the fish are viewed compared to top sizing.

Because the rule at the onset of betta fighting in Malaya allows for any bottle to be used for sizing, bottles that can minify fish sizes was always in demand. The bottle best at doing this job was the one that was used to market sugar during the British colonial period. During that time sugar was a luxury item and sold in a square bottle with a round neck and slightly convex inner walls that make the sugar grains look finer from the outside with the intention to mislead customer into believing that more sugar grains are pack inside. Also when water is filled to its brim in this bottle, the curvature of its neck shrinks the top view projection of the fish by 20%. There are also people who send this bottle for a concave to be ground onto its outer surface that greatly minifies the side view projection of the fish. After a lot of grouses and discontentment it caused to newcomers to betta fighting, this particular bottle was finally ban. These bottles are now used as cheap reflectors for the sidelight of trishaws plying Georgetown city.