Betta splendens - variations
Due to selective breeding, the ever popular male Betta splendens, or Siamese Fighting Fish, is now available in an enormous array of colours and tail types. Detailed below you will find the different terms put to these tail types, patterns and colours and how some of them have come about. There will always be some Bettas that break the rules and don't quite fit into any of the categories below!
- 1 Tail Types
- 2 Pattern Types
- 3 Colours
- 4 Oddballs
Veil Tail (VT)
The most common type of tail type you will ever come across in pet stores is the Veil Tail. This type of tail is long, with a long anal and dorsal fin also, and droops down from the caudal peduncle. In breeding, a veil is dominant over other tail types and is therefore undesirable when breeding show Bettas. The term "veil tail" is often abbreviated to "VT". Veil Tails are now no longer accepted in the show Betta circuit due to their bloodlines being diluted by excessive breeding for the pet store market.
The Plakat, or Plakad, is a short-tailed Betta, and is the most closely related to wild Betta splendens or traditional fighting Bettas. Plakats can often be mistaken for female Bettas to the untrained eye, however, males will display elongated ventral fins, a rounded caudal fin and a sharply pointed anal fin. The term Plakat is often abbreviated to "PK". There are 3 sub-categories related to this tail type. There is the traditional Plakat where the tail is rounded, sometimes with a point. Now, due to selective breeding and crossing, there is also the Half Moon Plakat (or "HMPK") where the tail has a 180 degree spread when flared and the Crown Tail Plakat (or "CTPK") has the tail is either rounded or with a 180 degree spread and with elongated rays giving it a "spiky" appearance.
The Crowntail, abbreviated to CT, has become a hugely popular tail type variation. It is unlike any other in the sense that the rays are extended to varying degrees on all fins giving the fish a "spiky" appearance. In show standards, for a fish to be classed as a Crowntail there has to a minimum of 33% reduction in webbing. The reduction on the webbing on CT Bettas also varies vastly, sometimes it can be quite full, some times dramatically reduced so only the rays are left. There are three recognised types of crowntail, the double ray, the single ray and the crossed ray. Crossed rays are the most desirable and the most expensive to purchase. There have also been lesser known variations such as the triple ray, even the quadruple ray! Crowntails can have their tails in a full 180 degree spread, or less than a 180 degree spread depending on their breeding. CT's are prone to fin curling, especially those with little webbing, if their water is not kept immaculate. Breeders are known to "sun bathe" their Bettas for an hour or so in order to keep their rays straight. It has been found also that when breeding, CT's have a heightened amount of aggression compared to other tail types, which can make it challenging to get a successful spawn.
Half Moon (HM)
The Half Moon, or "HM" is a very desirable tail type. It is characterised by having the full 180 degree spread when flared, forming a "D" shape with straight edging. Dorsal and anal fins are also dramatically larger than those on other fin types. HMs are prone to tail-biting and fin damage, their tails are large and unnatural and HMs often feel hampered down by their fins. This also means they're one of the hardest tail types to breed as the males find it hard to successfully wrap the females.
Deltas (D) & Super Deltas (SD)
Deltas (or "D") and Super Deltas (or "SD") are very similar to HM's but have less than a 180 spread when flared. Super Deltas are nearly an HM but not quite, Deltas are far less than an HM. Deltas and Super Deltas are differentiated from Veil Tails by the fact that if you drew a line from the nose to the tip of the caudal fin, on a Delta or Super Delta there would be an equal amount of fin on either side of the line, whereas on a Veil Tail there would be little tail at the top, and the majority below.
Double Tail (DT)
The Double Tail (or "DT") can be seen combined with Plakats, Halfmoons and even Crowntails. It is a genetic trait that causes the caudal fin to grow into two lobes rather than one. The genes that cause this also cause the body to be shorter and the dorsal and anal fins to be very broad. As the body is effectively stunted in length, DT's are more prone to swimbladder problems and this also affects fry survival rates.
The Combtail (no abbreviation) is a cross of a Crowntail and another tail type. With selected breeding a combtail can be bred into a crowntail, but may still carry a dominant gene such as the VT. They often have the typical droop of the Veil tail but combined with some extended rays on all fins to varying degrees.
Rosetail & Feathertail
A Rosetail (no abbreviation) is an extreme Halfmoon with excessive branching of the rays giving the tail a "ruffled" edge. If there is a huge amount of branching it can be referred to as a "Feathertail". These fish are hard to breed on as the excessive mutations that cause the branching can lead to other mutations such as poor scales and short ventral fins.
Not often seen, the Round Tail (no abbreviation) can be compared to a Plakat with a large tail, and mistaken for a Delta. The fin shape is round, rather than the straight edges of a Delta, but fuller and longer than that of a Plakat. This can also be referred to as a "Single Tail".
The Half Sun (no abbreviation) has come about from selective breeding of the Crowntail and Halfmoon, to create the spread of a Halfmoon with the slight crowning of a Crowntail.
Over Halfmoon (OHM)
The Over Halfmoon (or "OHM") is the extreme end of the Halfmoon where the spread when flared is over 180 degrees. It can apply to both long-fin Halfmoon and the Halfmoon Plakats.
The Spade Tail (no abbreviation) has an equal spread on either side of the fin, similar to a Round Tail, but with tail finishing in a point rather than a rounded edge.
Solid colours are exactly how they sound, when the fish is just one colour from nose to the tip of the tail. This is often seen mostly in Reds.
Cambodian or Bi-Coloured
A Cambodian Betta is when the body is pale, almost colourless, and the fins are a solid colour, often red or green. It can also be referred to, more traditionally, to red Bettas with deep red fins and a pale pink body colour. This can work the other way which is when the fish is named Bi-Coloured, when the fins are translucent and the body is one solid colour.
A Butterfly has a solid body colour which extends into the base of the fins finishing with an abrupt strong edge with the rest of the fins being transparent or white. May also be referred to as variegated.
The gene that creates marble patterning is becoming more common, it is usually a colour such as blue or red on a pale base. A marble Betta has irregular patterns throughout the body and fins, that can change with age. It is a partially dominant gene meaning that if a solid Betta is crossed with a marble it is likely to get many fry in solid colours that carry the marble gene.
A piebald coloured fish has a pale flesh-coloured face no matter what the body colour is. The rest of the body should be fairly solid, some other butterfly patterning may be present. Piebald fish carry the Marble gene.
The term "mask" is mainly applied to Copper, Blue and Turquoise colours and refers to the face being the same colour as the body rather than what it would naturally be which would be darker than the body.
A relatively new pattern that is proving to be exceptionally striking and popular. It features a rich strong base colour, often red, with the scales on the main part of the body a pale iridescent, sometimes copper colour. Both silver dragon and gold dragon strains have been created.
A multi Betta is that with 3 or more colours on the body that does not fit into any other pattern category.
The colour red is dominant in Bettas, and can show in other colours as the undesirable red wash.
There are several shades of blue seen in Bettas. These are Steel Blue, where the blue is cold and greyish in appearance, Royal Blue, where the blue is rich, deep and vibrant and Turquoise, where the fish can appear both green and blue in certain lights. A Baby Blue is also available, but not often seen. Blue Bettas often have a dark blue or black face. The colour blue can show in red Bettas as "blue wash".
True green is not often seen in Bettas, it is more often to be Turquoise.
Wild-type Bettas' colouration consists of a green or blue iridescent body with blue rays in the fins and all fins otherwise mostly red. Wild-Types can often also be hybrids with other types of Betta including Betta imbellis.
Cellophane Bettas have a colour-less body and translucent fins with black eyes. Pastel Bettas have the almost-translucent fins with hints of colour including blue, red or green, and the characteristic black eyes. The Grizzled Pastel has smatterings of broken colour in some of the scales on the body.
Opaque Bettas are a misty white in colour with hazy eyes. The gene that makes Bettas this colour also causes internal organ problems. A true pure opaque white is rare, and often there will be imperfections.
Yellow & Pineapple
Yellow Bettas usually carry the desirable red-loss gene that causes Bettas to not have redwash. They will often also carry and throw fry that are iridescent Blue and Green. Yellow varies from very pale yellow to rich buttery yellow. Pineapple refers to yellow Bettas with darker definitions around their scales on their body, giving them a slightly "dirty" appearance.
Not often seen, Orange Bettas are usually a rich tangerine colour and can appear red in bad lighting.
Again, this is not often seen and can also be referred to as Apricot Spots. It is when the body is a pale orange as are the fins, but throughout the fins are much richer orange-red spots of varying size and shape.
There are 3 classes of Black Bettas. The first being Melano which are generally infertile, fertile Blacks or Black Lace/Black Orchid, and copper Blacks (with iridescence).
Pure purple Bettas are almost unheard of but those close to it have been seen including rich violets, or blues with copper iridescence. Some purples may look blue or red in certain lights, and only show their true colour under bright light.
This strange name refers to Bettas with a green, blue, or steel blue body and yellow or orange fins, it is a bicolour pattern.
Chocolate Bettas are so called as they do appear a rich brown in colour, and will often have yellow colouration through the fins. Not often seen.
This is a highly iridescent strain of Betta that is proving to be very popular. It is silver or brown when under weak light, but when under good lighting it will shimmer a copper colour with purple or blue highlights. This colour originates from wild type Bettas who had a gold sheen to them. The copper gene has now been bred into various colours and new patterns are emerging all the time.
The Holy Grail of Bettas. Albino Bettas are very rare, only a few have been confirmed. They do not have long lifespans and will go blind fairly early on in life, making it near impossible to breed them.
And then there are some fish that don't quite fit into the categories above, or are indeed the breeders are striving to create their own colour, tail or pattern types! Here are just a small sample:
A relatively new variant where, instead of breeding for tail differences, they have bred Dumbo, or Elephant, Bettas to have enlarged pectoral fins. Is a fairly new trait and so far only males have been seen with pectoral fins larger than their head. Expected to become more popular with Half Moon breeders breeding this trait into their HM lines.