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Siamese fighting fish set for Thai national honor

BANGKOK — The Siamese fighting fish, whose violent territoriality makes it beloved by gamblers who pit them in battle against each other, is set to become Thailand’s national aquatic animal.

Suwapan Tanyuvardhana, a minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office and vice president of the National Identity Committee, said that the body decided Thursday to forward its recommendation for the honor to the Cabinet for final approval. The committee promotes Thai cultural pride.

The often brightly-hued fish is also called a betta fish, but Suwapan noted that it is clearly identifiable as Thai by its name: Siam is the old name for Thailand. It is also called Siamese fighting fish in scientific studies and historical accounts, which note as well that it can be found in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.