The term “pla kat” actually means “fighting fish” in Thailand. The term was shortened to plakat betta somewhere many moons ago, and is used to refer to any short-finned mouth brooding bettas. Plakat betta are closer in genetics to nature’s betta fighter, and their shorter fins and betta tail allow them much better movement in the water than their more dramatic long-finned cousins.
Any time you make a copy of a copy, you get a watered down version of the original. After literally hundreds of years of breeding for just the right fin design and betta tail style and coloration, the result is a long-finned fish that swims very little and very poorly due to its outrageously long fins. A by-product of selective breeding for certain non-critical characteristics is the fact that long-finned bettas are much more susceptible to betta diseases.
A stronger immune system, leading to less bacterial infections and disease, and greater ability to swim has caused the plakat betta to be a favorite among tropical fish owners. Everyone knows how prone to sickness the long-finned bettas are, and enjoy the relative ease of raising the hearty plakat betta.
The short-finned bettas are also much easier to breed. Since they are mouth brooders – the male keeps the fry in his mouth until they are strong enough to swim on their own – they generally have a better chance of survival than the bubble nest bettas that can be snatched up by any passing fish as they sit in their bubble nest near the surface of the water.
Since a betta tail must be powerful to help the fish maneuver in a betta fight, the shorter finned varieties are much more in demand where enthusiasts actually fight bettas and bet on the outcome. This is a huge “sport” in Thailand and Viet Nam, and is where the term Siamese Fighting Fish comes from.
The plakat betta can be found in any number of color combinations, so they are every bit as beautiful and splendid as their over-bred family members. If you are looking for a fish that is more resistant to the many betta diseases, is easier to care for, easier to breed and has a longer lifespan, consider the beautiful plakat betta with the shorter fins and betta tail as your next pet.