The DMK betta fish resembles the party flag and symbol

After years of effort, Murali has bred a Siamese fighter fish with a distinctly new look.

The effort cost Murali much time because he had keenly visualised the details of his new ‘creation’, and was diligently working towards this mental picture. “I wanted the fish to reflect the red and black of a DMK flag, and the fully-spread tail of the male fish to resemble the party’s rising sun,” says Murali, who has bred the Redline Torpedo Barb ( Puntius denisonii), a fish native to the rivers of Kerala, in captivity.

It is not uncommon for breeders to derive new-looking Siamese fighters from existing ones — such experiments are aided by the variety of colours and tails the male is blessed with. While most breeders are content with achieving eye-catching colours, the ambitious ones aim at colour-combinations that work as symbols. In Thailand, a fighter fish with the colours of the country’s flag is immensely popular!

Murali’s Siamese fighter has been derived from the black copper half-moon fighter. “I adopted line-breeding, a form of in-breeding that contains checks to prevent undesirable traits from being carried over,” says Murali, and adds that his fighter is called DMK betta (because the Siamese fighter fish descended from the hardy betta fish, capable of surviving in environments scarce of oxygen).

The first batch Murali has bred constitutes 40 fish. Murali says through selective breeding, the succeeding batches can be imparted jet black in parts of the tail. Murali has not released the DMK betta in the ornamental fish market.