Mediated Encounters is an interactive robotic installation of four fish tanks designed to allow Siamese Fighting fish (Betta Splendons) to determine the movement of two grapevine sculptures. This piece allows normally aggressive fish to interact without killing each other and explore their environment beyond the limits of the fish bowls. The fish determine the direction and of the robotic structures by crossing light break-beams connected to the computer which activate motors that move the tanks in the direction the fish look to the outside world.
I wanted to give these Siamese Fighting fish the ability to virtually leave the tank and meet each other by moving it around. Like many fishes, Siamese fighting fish have excellent sight giving them the ability to see far outside the tank.
Please do not tap on the glass or stick your fingers in the bowl.
Betta fish body language
Bettas are found in Thailand and the Malay peninsula, and are called by the Thailanders "pla kat," for biting or tearing fish. Siamese fighting fish are particularly aggressive in the presence of other male Bettas. When they observe another Betta they flare their gills, and swim aggressively presumably to appear much larger. It is common for male Bettas in the same tank to fight to the death, which fight organizers have been exploiting for many years in Thailand. They are top breathers which means they have to come up for air, allowing oxygen to come into direct contact with their blood. Betta fish are not harmed by being kept in small containers, as they often thrive in stagnant, oxygen deficient environments. Male Bettas which are ready to spawn build extensive bubble nests which they use to attract females. Females that are acceptable to males allow the males to bite them on the flanks. When they spawn the female Betta is suspended trance like upside down and the male wraps his body in a u shape around the female. By exerting pressure the eggs are dispelled and fall to the bottom. The males gently retrieve the eggs in their mouth and swim to the surface spitting them into the bubble nest. This can continue for up to two hours with 60-70 embraces and over 600 eggs produced.