Castle Dawn Aquatics Conservation Wild Betta Rescue Origins

In Aquatic Rambles 7 comments

Over the years Castle Dawn Aquatics has worked on many international conservation projects for aquatic species, however, bettas have always been our main focus. This is down to my personal bond with Bettas, and sadly they are now one of the largest groups of fish with the most endangered species.

I got my first wild Betta at the age of 12 when my mentor gifted me a pair of Betta brownorum from Barbara and Allan Brown who Betta brownorum was named after, as they were the first to collect the species. 

I remember fondly watching the brownorum for hours, hiding under the leaf debris exploring their surroundings, with their bright green eyes penetrating the tannin-rich blackwater. 

Within 1 year of getting my first pair of Betta brownorum I had accumulated 14 more species of Betta, and grew a particular fondness for the Coccina complex, needless to say, I was hooked!

Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Brownorum Betta Rescue Program

A juvenile Betta brownorum from one of our breeding projects hiding in leaf litter. 

Later in life, once a year, I would go to Southeast Asia on trips to collect wild Betta, Parosphromenus and other blackwater species for my own breeding projects, so I could maintain a healthy captive bred stock for my retail customers. 

We never took more than 5 pairs of any species, and I always returned about 85% of the grown out fry produced by the pairs back to the wild. In 2014, we went to Malaysia to join a friend in releasing Betta livida and Betta persephone back to the wild, bred through a group effort of myself, and other wild Betta keepers in China and Malaysia.

However, all of our intended release spots once made up of small streams, beautiful tannin-rich swamps and thick forest were all gone. They had been ploughed down and covered in concrete to make way for industrial development. 

It was truly heart breaking. We eventually found a spot to release the Betta, but I remember thinking it would only be a matter of time before the area will meet the same fate as the others.

Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Rescue Program Wild Betta Habitat

A time before good camera phones, a once thriving Betta persephone habitat was destroyed to make way for a new bypass.

On the flight home that weekend I just could not get the tragedy's out of my head and the possible trajectory of it all. So, I came up with the Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Rescue program. 

Our goal was to create a nature preserve of sorts, by buying cheap forest land and with the efforts of breed and release programs help build up the dwindling populations of wild Betta.

Since setting up the Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Rescue we have returned 1000s of Betta back into the wild throughout Southeast Asia, and we have developed a small private, well-hidden wild Betta preserve in Malaysia. 

Even with all our efforts, wild Betta is still in trouble with over 28 species registered as endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN. In 2019, on a collection trip for Betta persephone, it was a general consensus from talking to other collectors that Betta Persephone was already gone, 2 weeks we searched and we could not find one Betta persephone outside of our preserve. 

Collecting sites were destroyed by industry or to make room for more farming. Now, even wild Betta species that were once common in the trade are also in great decline like Betta rutilans, which recently has been classified as critically endangered.

Castle Dawn Aquatics Betta Rescue Betta livida Wild Betta
A wild Betta livida in one of our breeding setups, the water is red with tannins to simulate its natural environment. Betta livida are now classified as critically endangered and is one of the species we put a lot of extra effort in boosting wild populations.


We are living in an age where the extinction of certain Betta species in the wild is probable within the next 10 years. At Castle Dawn Aquatics we hope to expand our efforts in Betta conservation and help prevent the possibility of this disastrous outcome. 

With that being said we would like to thank all our customers for their continued support in helping us keep the program going, we would not of been able to do it without you.

Go to our Betta Rescue section on our website where 20% of all profits from products sold goes back into conservation.

If you have stumbled across this blog and are interested in keeping wild Betta? Check out our blackwater aquatic botanicals, they are perfect for creating natural conditions for many wild Betta species.


7 thoughts on “Castle Dawn Aquatics Conservation Wild Betta Rescue Origins

Anna Kim

What a beautiful read, I actually heard about your conservation efforts from a friend in Malaysia, he could not remember your name but he said the Irish company in China, so there could not be that many of you  and you where easy to find :). I just wanted to say thank you for everything you done so far for in wild Betta conservation, and look forward to hear more about your good work.

February 3, 2022 at 15:54pm
Gary Scott

One of the many reasons I buy from Castle Dawn Aquatics, they genuinely care and make a difference in the hobby. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the team in Guangzhou a few years back when visiting the Global Arowana competition. Talk about a knowledgeable bunch of people and I got to see their conservation work first hand when I visited their outstanding store. Keep up the good work !!!

January 26, 2022 at 00:17am

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