Betta Fish Series – Types of Betta Fish
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a photo on Facebook and was totally in awe of the Betta fish tank by Brian Murphy. Here’s the photo below (I’ve edited the size of the photo to suit the site’s criteria):
I was so in awe of the tank and the Betta that I’ve decided to do extensive research on them. I would like to believe that I’m now ready to get my first betta.
I will be sharing what I’ve found about Bettas in the next couple of post such as their feeding habits, the type of tank mates that are suitable for them, ways to breed them and even the different diseases that they might get.
For now, I’ll be sharing the different type of Betta fish out there. Hope you will love the first of my Betta series.
Table of Contents
Type of Betta Fish
If you are like me and have a strong passion for freshwater aquariums, you have probably considered incorporating Betta fish to your tank. I’m sure you’ve heard how wonderful Bettas are and how beautiful they can be.
Another reason to get a Betta fish is the freedom to choose a multitude of colors or patterns to fascinate admirers with an alluring aquarium. They are considered as one of the most colorful freshwater fish.
These are the most common types of Betta fish:
Closely related to the traditional fighting Betta, the Plakat Betta is easily recognizable from its short tail.
If you are unfamiliar with the Betta fish, you may think Plakat are actually females, since they have short fins and tails.
The tail of the Plakat Betta can be rounded or with elongated rays and a spiky appearance.
When breed with other types, this fish tends to look spectacular due to its various colors.
As the name suggests, the tail is what makes this type of Betta so special.
It is the most popular and spectacular type of Betta due to its long, spiky tail.
There are three types of Crowntails: the single ray, the double ray, and the crossed ray.
The crossed ray is the most beautiful type, but also the most difficult to find and take care of.
You should avoid keeping the Crowntail Betta in the same tank with aggressive fish or it will be attacked very often.
These fish also have strict requirements and in order for their tails to keep their shape, the water needs to be completely clean all the time.
They are prone to diseases and aggressive in nature, which is why they thrive better in a smaller tank alone.
Half Moon Betta
With a tail that spreads 180 degrees, the Half Moon Betta is stunning in any color.
To be considered a Half Moon, the tail of the Betta needs to form a complete “D” shape.
Just as the Crowntail Betta, the Half Moon Betta needs to be kept alone or in the same tank with calm species that will not bite their fins.
It is incredibly difficult to breed them because the males cannot wrap the female completely due to the female’s long tail.
Double Tail Betta
The Double Tail Betta fish has two tails due to a genetic mutation.
Depending on the initial type of Betta, this mutation can make the fish look very interesting, but they are also shorter than usual and prone to swim bladder diseases (something that I will touch on another Betta series post).
Not many babies survive, so you will not see them in aquariums and even in pet stores very often.
It is not recommended to breed them with other types of Bettas because the babies might be compromised from the beginning.
This is usually the result of a cross-breed between a Crowntail and another Betta type.
The Combtail has the shape of a Crowntail, but with longer, thinner fins that give a new appearance to the tail.
You can obtain this type by yourself by simply breeding two different types of Bettas.
A result of careful breeding, the Rosetail is very similar to the Half Moon type, but the tail is much bigger and with ruffled edges.
Although this type looks special, it is difficult to breed them.
The tail will be obtained only if a genetic mutation takes place, but this also means the fish can be sensitive to diseases and die prematurely.
Many Other Betta Types
The wonderful thing about the Betta fish is you can obtain the type and color you want by breeding two different types. (another topic that I’ll be discussing in this betta series)
Due to the fact that Bettas have been heavily crossed breed over the years, there are so many types of bettas that I’ve not covered (for sure).
However, I will try to update this post of new types whenever possible.
And if you know other types that I should add, please comment below with the name and a short description of the type.
Check out more beautiful bettas on my pinterest board below:
Follow The Aquarium Guide (TAG)’s board Betta Fish on Pinterest.
PS: Check out interesting facts about betta by EarthsFriends where I get some of my useful information for this betta series.
If you are serious about learning how to take care of your betta, check out Betta Care Made Easy!
Whether you know them as bettas or “Siamese Fighting Fish,” you’ve probably glimpsed these iconic fish circling tiny bowls in a pet store.
The aggressive personalities of the males stand out every bit as much as their dramatic coloring.
Bettas represent the most popular freshwater fish kept in home aquariums. With such alluring colors and elaborate tails, how could you resist them?
They’re also relatively easy to maintain, appealing to aquarists at all stages in their career. However, such simplicity has prompted several misconceptions to arise.
If you aspire to add bettas to your aquarium, make sure you have all of the facts in hand. The last thing you want to do is harm your gorgeous new additions.
History of the Betta
Bettas entered the domestic scene approximately 150 years ago.
Before becoming Thailand, the country was called Siam. Children noticed a particular fish in the rice paddies setting up individual territories.
When placed together, these fish would spar. (Hence the origin of the name “Siamese Fighting Fish)
Betting on the duels sprang up, catching the attention of the King. Recognizing a chance for profit, he set out to regulate the matches and placed a tax on betting.
Mythology led people to believe that bettas fought to the death. This wasn’t the case. Bettas are intelligent, and they only engaged in spars until one male is tired or elected to retreat.
People placed bets on the bravery of one fish or another, not the fish that was likely to survive.
Advancing to 1840, the King presented a specimen to Danish doctor Theodore Cantor. Dr. Cantor studied the fish, mistakenly classifying them as Macropodus pugnax.
It turned out there was already a fish by that name, though. (No one claimed doctors were brilliant)
Dr. Tate Regan later discovered the mistake. Seeing the stunning drama of the fish, he renamed them Betta splendens.
The name means “Beautiful warrior” – a name that suits these gorgeous freshwater fish much better.
The Modern Betta
Bettas migrated to the U.S. in 1910 with Frank Locke. Their name quickly ended up corrupted to “Beta” – as in the second letter of the Greek alphabet.
The correct pronunciation got lost. (Bettas were initially named “bet-tah” after the Asian Bettah warrior tribe)
Selective breeding grew in interest. Different colors, patterns, and tails came into favor. Aquarists combined hybrids with the original wild-type to create the fish you find today.
Few resemble the actual stock you find in ditches, slow-moving streams, or shallow pools.
Wild bettas lack the iconic dramatic fins. Instead, they have dull, grey-green scales and much shorter fins.
They’re native to the tropical waters of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. In Thailand, they’re called Plakat, or “biting fish.”
Types of Bettas
If you’re new to the world of bettas, you may only consider that single species. Of course, you’ve seen myriad colors in the pet store, and maybe you noticed subtle differences here and there.
But did you realize each difference represented a specific type? Believe it or not, there are over SEVENTYtypes of bettas in the world!
Each species is classified based on their:
- Tail shape,
- Pattern of their scales.
(Or all three – just to keep things interesting)
Bettas: Tail Types
That flowing tail is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of bettas. Wild bettas might have short tails, but selective breeding has created a variety of dramatic options.
Tail types are classified based on shape and size, and the name usually provides a clue.
1. Combtail Betta (Betta splendens var. Combtail)
Combtail bettas don’t have an unusual shape or size to their tails. You usually see a full, glorious tail in a typical round shape.
What sets this type of betta apart are the webbing and rays that extend through the tail fin itself.
The rays are quite prominent, with webs that extend at least two-thirds of the way between each ray.
It creates an effect similar to the coxcomb on a rooster’s head, which is where the name comes from. You’ll see a slightly spiked appearance as a result.
2. Crowntail Betta (Betta splendens var. Crowntail)
How to tell a crowntail from a combtail? It’s confusing because they’re very similar.
Both have the same rounded tails. You’ll also notice the same prominent rays and the webbing between the rays. It’s the lengthof that webbing that makes the difference.
The webbing on a crowntail is LESS than two-thirds of the length.
This enhances the spikey appearance, so your betta looks like it’s wearing an impressive crown across its back.
Some people think these types of bettas look insect-like due to those prominent rays.
3. Double Tail Betta (Betta splendens var. Double)
The gene for the double tail betta exists in every type of betta. What results is a betta with two distinct caudal fins.
It isn’t a simple split in the tail. There are two caudal peduncles for the tail to attach to, as well. The tails aren’t always identical in size, though (for show bettas), that’s the ideal.
While dramatic and beautiful, this type of betta comes at a price. For some reason, double tail bettas are more prone to swim bladder disorder.
4. Elephant Ear Betta (Betta splendens var. Elephant Ear)
Elephant ear bettas break the mold. They AREN’T named for their tails, colors, or patterns.
However, they usually fall into the tail category for simplicity’s sake. Instead of tail fin shape, they earn their name from the prominent pectoral fins on either side of their body.
Some people fondly refer to this type of betta as a Dumbo betta.
They resemble fanciful Flamenco dancers. Just take it easy on their water current as those fins make it difficult for them to swim correctly. They need a much gentler water flow than other types of bettas.
5. Halfmoon Betta (Betta splendens var. Halfmoon)
As you might expect, halfmoon bettas have tails in an elongated crescent of 180 degrees.
They also tend to have longer dorsal and anal fins than other types of bettas – a side effect of the selective breeding for their beautiful tails.
Halfmoons come with a few warnings. Those long, flowing fins are prone totearing. This is known as “blowing a tail,” representing a site for infection to enter the body.
Also, for some reason, this type of betta is more aggressive than others.
6. Plakat Betta (Betta splendens var. Plakat)
If you’d like a more “traditional” type of betta, the plakat betta is the one for you.
These colorful fish most closely resemble the wild version. They have short, rounded tails, and some people mistake them for females.
Plakats have a faster swimming ability than other types of bettas. Unencumbered by those fancy fins, they can dart around the tank.
However, they also have a strong jumping ability, so keep a firm lid on the aquarium to prevent accidental escapes.
7. Rosetail Betta (Betta splendens var. Rosetail)
Rosetail bettas developed out of the halfmoon betta. The difference is extensive branching of the rays within the tail itself.
The branching creates a ruffled appearance similar to the folded petals of a rose – hence the name.
While stunning in appearance, rosetails require careful monitoring. This type of betta is prone to tail-biting behavior. They’ll attack and start chewing on their tails.
No one’s figured out the cause yet, but tail-biting DOES result in infection and possible loss of the tail.
8. Spade Tail Betta (Betta splendens var. Spade)
You’re familiar with a spade from a deck of cards, right? This is where this type of betta got its name.
The shape of their tail looks precisely like a spade turned on its side. The taper gives it just enough difference to distinguish it from a rounded tail.
Spades make an excellent compromise for aquarists that want a betta that’s unique but has some speed behind them.
The tail’s dramatic, but it doesn’t hinder their swimming ability as much as some of the more extreme tail designs out there.
9. Veiltail Betta (Betta splendens var. Veiltail)
The bettas you find in the pet store are almost always going to fall into the veiltail type. It’s the most dominant tail gene, and this type of betta breeds easier than any other.
While they can’t get considered “show bettas,” they rank at the top in popularity for aquariums.
Veiltails have long, droopy tails. The upper and lower segments of the tail aren’t symmetrical, assuming you get your veiltail to flare the tail in the first place.
That dragging weight makes these bettas slow swimmers. They’re NOT streamlined.
Bettas: Color Types
As crazy as it sounds, there are only three pigments that reside in the chromatophores (pigment cells) of bettas:
- Erythrin (red),
- Melanin (black),
- Xanthin (yellow).
The colors you see in individual types of bettas depend on the combination of the pigments and how deeply the chromatophores lie within the scale. (The deeper they are, the darker the pigment expresses itself)
In the wild, betta chromatophores change shape and size throughout their lives. This allows them to brighten their colors when they feel threatened or during the breeding season.-
Unhappily, domestic bettas don’t retain this ability (a result of selective breeding).
1. Blue Betta (Betta splendens var. Blue)
Blue bettas may not seem like they need a lot of description. Everyone knows the color blue, after all, right?
However, when you set out to add a blue betta to your collection, you have three different options to choose from.
The “blue wash” color is the easiest to track down. This is a standard blue color.
If you mix blue with tones of gray, it’s called a “steel-blue.”
And if you’re lucky enough to find a betta with bright, iridescent blue scales, it’s labeled a “royal blue betta”.
2. Red Betta (Betta splendens var. Red)
Just as the veiltail shows a dominant trait in all types of bettas, so does the red color. It’s the most prevalent of any color, which is why you often see it in pet stores.
Bettas of other color types may even have a “red wash” due to the prominence in their genetic code.
Solid-color red bettas look stunning in aquariums. The dazzling hue looks just as good as highlighted across the fins.
If your red bettas appear “washed out,” quickly check your water conditions. The fading red color’s an indication of poor health.
3. White Betta (Betta splendens var. White)
White bettas may seem plain and boring to some people.
With one of the more dramatic tail types, though, these bettas look majestic against a planted tank.
The stunning white color stands out against a mixture of colors in a community tank, too.
White bettas differ from the albino betta. Albinos are exceedingly rare, and they lack pigmentation, appearing dull rather than bright white.
Albino bettas are also notoriously unhealthy and prone to dying early. You’re better off with a white betta.
4. Yellow Betta (Betta splendens var. Yellow)
Due to the familiar presence of the yellow shade, yellow bettas may appear as “non-red” bettas. (Inventive, no?)
You’ll see a wide range in the yellow hue, from a soft butter up to vibrant sunshine.
Included in the yellow type of betta is a version known as the pineapple betta.
These fish have the expected yellow color along with darker edges to their scales. This grants them the expected resemblance to the fruit, and it makes a more dramatic statement in your tank.
Bettas: Pattern Types
Iridocytes are cells that provide the metallic sheen to a fish’s scales. When combined with the pigments, bettas develop different patterns.
The expressions between the two create an entirely new grouping of bettas for you to choose from.
1. Cambodian Betta (Betta splendens var. Cambodian)
The Cambodian betta arose from careful selective breeding of light-colored bicolor bettas.
The body features a pale pink body branching out to bright red fins. Sometimes, the body is almost a flesh tone rather than pink.
You may see other color variations than red in your Cambodian.It’s not that common, though. And the main body needs to retain that pale pink shade to officially hold the Cambodian name.
This type of betta is still relatively new, so they aren’t as easy to find.
2. Bicolor Betta (Betta splendens var. Bicolor)
Bicolor bettas are common and easy to pick out. The fish sport one color on their bodies, with a second color on their fins.
Bicolors can only have TWO colors to qualify as this type of pattern. If they have more than two, they’re known as multicolored bettas.
There are light-colored bicolors, where the body is lighter in color than the fins.
Or you can find dark-colored bicolors, where the opposite is true: the body’s darker than the fins.
Contrasting colors are the preferred option (for show), but you can choose the colors you like.
3. Butterfly Betta (Betta splendens var. Butterfly)
As you might guess, butterfly bettas resemble the fluttering wings of a butterfly.
This type has a single color, typically, which gradually fades from the body to mid-way along the fins. The outside edge of the fin then remains white. You can see a second color on the outside of the fins in some butterflies.
Ideally, the split of the shade should be around half-way to meet show standards.
However, this is difficult to achieve, so as long as you get a beautiful change of color, you have a butterfly betta.
4. Dragon Scale Betta (Betta splendens var. Dragon)
Dragon scale bettas are one of the newest types of betta. As a result, you may need to find a specialized breeder to track one down.
The iridocytes play a big part in this type of betta, maximizing the scales’ metallic sheen. Dragon scales have rich colors with prominent iridescent scales.
The pattern along their sides resemble lizard scales. (Which is how they got their names).
The scales are larger than you see on most other types of bettas, making them stand out in a crowd.
Bettas, regardless of type, hold a reputation as easy-to-manage colorful freshwater fish. They make stunning centerpiece additions to aquariums.
The simplicity surrounding their care has also prompted numerous assumptions to surface, leading to improper management.
Fish in a Bowl
Bettas share the same labyrinth organ as gouramis. This specialized structure, located above the gills, allows all labyrinth fish to “gulp air” at the surface to provide supplemental oxygen to their bodies.
It’s an evolutionary adaptation in response to their native environments. In the wild, bettas inhabit oxygen-poor waters. They favor ditches, rice paddies, and other shallow streams that may experience drought conditions.
The labyrinth organ allows them to continue to breathe even in the absence of quality oxygen.
Unfortunately, many people translate this to keeping bettas in tiny bowls or even flower vases.
Similar to goldfish, asmall bowlis NEVER appropriate for fish! It allows the buildup of inappropriate waste products. Your betta will suffer and die.
The Lily Vase
Popular gifts include peace lilies containing a betta below the plant’s roots. Many believe the betta can thrive on the nutrients produced by the plant.
After all, bettas survive in rice paddies, right? The plant vases must work equally well.
Bettas are carnivores, not herbivores. The roots deny your betta the high levels of protein their diet demands! Also, the plant obscures their ability to reach the surface to breathe.
While such vases are beautiful, they’re NOT healthy systems for bettas!
Betta Tank Setup
People deem every type of betta as easy to manage. However, many bettas pass away from poor tank choices and water quality.
If you want your bettas to remain healthy, take the time to do your homework and set up the best aquarium possible.
|Tank Size||5-10 gallons (19-38 l)|
|Water Hardness||5-35 dH|
Bettas are tropical species, and they CANNOT survive in a tank without a heater.
Bowls or vases sitting out at room temperature fall several degrees BELOW the thermostat reading. A betta in cold water ends up with a suppressed immune system and quickly falls ill.
Make sure you get a filter for your tank, as well.
While it may sound like bettas are hardy – if they survive in ditches – a healthy tank is crucial for healthy fish. Wastes quickly build up when carnivores feed, and you don’t want your betta to develop an infection.
Tank Mates or Living solo
Most people are familiar with the pugnacious habits of male bettas.
The aggressive streak runs so strongly in some types of bettas, they’ll even attack their reflection. This prompts many people to believe bettas must stay alone.
Male bettas DON’T tolerate the presence of other males. That rings true. However, you CAN keep a single male with a group of females.
If you maintain an aquarium with heavy plantings, and you provide the right amount of space, a betta tank IS possible. Community tanks aren’t out of the question, either.
Depending on the type of betta you choose, they’re slow swimmers. Pairing them with one of the following groups is safe and makes for a colorful freshwater aquarium:
Ensure you avoid fish with a nipping habit, especially if you have types of bettas with luxurious fins. Like freshwater angelfish, they’ll end up prone to attack.
And skip guppies – bettas aren’t smart enough to figure out they’re not a betta!
Bettas thriving in the wild vary their diet. They subsist on worms, mosquito larva, Daphnia, and smaller fish.
To keep your chosen type of betta looking their best, you want to recreate this menu as closely as possible. This isn’t as difficult as it seems. Freeze-dried foods retain all of their nutrients.
You can also rotate between live and frozen options. Popular items for bettas include:
Twice-dailyfeedings are PLENTY. You don’t want to overdo the amounts you offer, either.
Bettas are food-gorgers. They’ll eat until nothing remains in the tank. Not only does this slow down their ability to swim, but it can also kill them.
Bettas rely on their swim bladders to maintain their position in the tank. By inflating or deflating the swim bladder, they move up and down through the water column. Overeating increases their risk of swim bladder disorder.
Since you DON’T want a betta trapped on the bottom of the tank (or stuck at the top), monitor the amount you sprinkle.
The quantity they can finish intwo minutes is more than enough. After all, that gruff attitude will ensure they get their share, even in a community tank.
A Betta for Everyone
Bettas encompass an astounding array of colors and patterns.
If you’re interested in the results of decades of selective breeding, these freshwater fish make fantastic tank acquisitions.
Just skip that tiny bowl the pet store offers.
Do you share a passion for bettas? Which variety do you keep?
Let us know here!
Searching for information about rare or unique betta breeds can be a frustrating proposition. Not because there’s a dearth of information. It’s actually the opposite problem—there are so many varieties of bettas that it’s overwhelming for novice fish keepers!
If you’re trying to sort out the differences between bettas, it helps to have a primer like this one to refer to. Europeans have been breeding bettas for their bright, intricate colors and tail configurations for well over a hundred years.
When you add in some of the newer crosses coming out of Thailand, your options for the prettiest betta fish become rather dizzying. To avoid confusion, here’s a detailed list of bettas, broken down by color, scale pattern, and tail type!
The ever-popular betta is practically the runway model of the freshwater fish trade.
Male bettas are especially coveted by aquarists for their elaborate, flowing fancy tails, unique patterns, and vivid colors. Female bettas are also very pretty but lack fancy fins and an aggressive attitude.
I hope to cover as many betta varieties as possible here, but the truth is I’ll probably miss a few. Breeders are constantly announcing new varieties, and types that were rare a few years ago may now be found in big-box pet stores.
The situation is constantly evolving, and there are so many different types of betta it can be hard to keep up!
Pet Bettas—What Species Do You Have?
Before we can sink into the topic of betta varieties, it helps to understand a bit of the science behind betta classifications.
You may remember hearing about the scientific classification system in your high school biology class. It’s a huge and complicated way for biologists to explain how different living organisms are related to each other.
At one end of the scale, we have really broad categories such as kingdom, phylum, and class. At the lower end, we start to narrow down the relationships into smaller and tighter categories.
These are the classification categories you’ll probably recognize: genus, species, and subspecies or variety.
What are Betta splendens?
The colorful and fancy type of betta you’ll typically see available in pet stores and online aquarium shops is the Betta splendens.
Bettaidentifies the genus, and splendens is the species, in the same way, that your pet dog can be identified by the genus and species Canis familiaris. If you have a betta fish, chances are it’s a Betta splendens, since that’s the most popular type of domesticated betta available around the world.
Betta splendens have a long and complicated history. We know that they’ve been bred for their aggression and fighting ability in their native regions for hundreds of years. That’s how they’ve earned their nickname as the Siamese Fighting Fish. We rarely use the term subspecies when we’re talking about fancy betta fish and usually opt for variety instead, but the terms mean the same thing.
Your betta’s variety will depend on their colors, patterns, and/or tail configurations. Some varieties include the Red Veil Tail Betta and Bi-Colored Double Tail Betta, for instance. They may be different varieties, but they’re all the same species.
How Did Pet Bettas Become So Diverse?
The long and fancy tails and vivid, flashy colors we think of when we hear “betta” were actually created by Europeans. Since the 1800s, collectors and hobby breeders on the Continent have selectively bred generations with ever-more-diverse traits.
Fancy Betta Fish are the Descendants of Mutants
These traits or physical characteristics may be inherited and passed down to the fish’s offspring. But sometimes, something in the mixing of genetic material goes wrong.
A mutation, or “deformity,” may appear spontaneously in a line and alter the appearance of the offspring unexpectedly. The double tail and elephant ear betta are great examples. Oftentimes, these fish are prone to other health problems, such as swim bladder disease, that may be related to their genetic mutation.
Mutations in the wild are usually a bad thing, because they are either fatal (such as a fish born without a mouth) or because they make it harder for a wild animal to survive and/or breed. Fancy betta males, with those bright and flowing tails, would not likely survive in the wild today.
But humans love to collect animals with odd-looking or unique appearances. That’s how animals like pug dogs and munchkin cats made it into our living rooms. We pamper them and then help them to spread their mutation to the next generation. It’s the same for betta fish—breeders collect and carefully manage their stock to produce a wide variety of colors, patterns, and tail configurations. There’s always a lot of excitement when a new inheritable mutation is discovered, even if these varieties of betta are more likely to develop health issues.
Hybridization Also Introduces New Traits
But mutation isn’t the only way new betta traits get discovered. Over the centuries, breeders have also introduced new traits to their lines intentionally by breeding their fish back to wild stock. That’s how the dragon scale betta came to be.
Some of the rarer traits have been brought into the Betta splendens fold by crossing domesticated bettas with select wild specimens who have the trait the breeder desires.
The offspring, which are hybrids, hopefully, inherit and pass the trait down themselves. But it’s not always a smooth or straightforward process.
Recent Developments in Betta Breeding
Recently, breeders in Thailand have begun crossing wild bettas splendens with their aggressive stock of Siamese Fighting Fish, resulting in new varieties of betta fish, like the plakat.
Some of these hybrid Betta splendens varieties have become very popular in America. They may be rare or difficult to find, and often have slightly different behavioral characteristics than the traditional varieties.
Varieties of Bettas by Color and Pattern
So what makes a betta fish so colorful, anyway?
Fish pigmentation is a complicated business. Here’s a highly simplified version that will help you understand how color and scale patterns are related.
Pigment Cells Determine Betta Color
There are three primary types of pigments, and they exist in special cells called chromatophores:
- red (erythrin)
- black (melanin)
- yellow (xanthin)
The color of a betta is partially determined by the combination of pigments expressed in their chromatophores, and how deep under the scales the cells are.
When the black and yellow pigments are expressed, for instance, a fish will appear brown. The deeper the chromatophores are under the scales, the darker and more vivid the color appears.
Wild vs Pet Betta Colors
Wild bettas are not generally as colorful as their selectively-bred cousins, although there are some stunning exceptions.
The pigment cells in wild bettas alter size and shape constantly, so the fish’s appearance is ever-changing. Domesticated betta’s cells don’t change as much, and so their colors are more stable.
Wild betta only shows their brightest colors when threatened or breeding, but domesticated varieties are always colorful unless they are sick or stressed. It’s one of the traits that make domesticated bettas so desirable.
How Are Color and Scale Patterns Related?
There are other types of cells that play a role in the color and pattern of your betta. They further alter the fish’s appearance and create many of the patterns betta collectors find so desirable.
Fish also have cells called iridocytes, which give them a shiny, iridescent look.
Depending on the depth of these cells, a fish may seem to have metallic highlights or stripes, or may even appear nearly white.
Just to complicate things further, sometimes iridocytes and chromatophores combine to create new colors. If you take a xanthine-containing chromatophore and put it in an iridocyte, you’ll end up with a metallic, shiny gold-colored fish.
Diet and Environmental Factors to Betta Colors and Patterns
The color and scale pattern of betta fish is dependent on their genetics, but it’s also influenced by their diet and the environment in which they live. Since fish can’t naturally produce pigments, they have to get them from their diet.
To keep your betta looking their best, be sure to feed them a varied and high-quality diet, and keep their water sparkling clean. Their water temperature plays into this as well, so be sure your tank stays between 75-86°F.
Varieties of Bettas by Tail and Fin Configurations
The trait that makes the male betta stand out among other aquarium fish is his elongated tail. Female bettas are pretty, but have a duller color than the males and lack the elaborate tail or fins. So what’s the story with male betta tail types?
Long Tail Bettas are Different Than Short
Fish have several individual fins and a couple of pairs of fins around their body, and bettas are no different. They use these fins to swim and orient their bodies in three dimensions underwater.
Certain varieties of betta have been selected and bred for longer, wider, or specially-shaped fins:
- The tail, or caudal fin, is the most common fancy feature in rare betta fish
- Their bottom or anal fin is another
- Some varieties may have elongated or elaborate pectoral, dorsal or ventral fins as well
Why Don’t Wild Bettas Have These Traits?
One hazard of elongated tails and fins is it hampers movement when swimming through vegetation. The fanciest and most beautiful betta fish would be at a severe disadvantage in the wild.
List of Betta Varieties
I’ve tried to put together the most up-to-date list possible of the various types of bettas. Several varieties may be known by multiple names throughout the world, so in those cases, I defer to the most common usage.
My descriptions of these varieties are not meant to convey show-standards, however. It’s merely meant to give someone new to fancy bettas a solid idea of the many fascinating variations they might consider for their tank.
Betta Fish Colors
Bettas come in a rainbow of solid colors, from bright reds all the way to the deepest blacks and the purest whites.
Of course, many betta fish are not simply one color but show several distinct areas of pigmentation. I cover some of these cases in the patterns section.
Some color varieties typically have a two-toned appearance, where the body and fins might be different colors or shades, like the chocolate betta.
Here’s the widest-recognized list of bettas colors I could assemble, including facts and information about each color variety and any health concerns that might be known about them.
An albino betta completely lacks any pigmentation. An albino betta should have whitish to clear-colored scales and fins, and pinkish or red eyes. Their muscles and organs may be faintly visible through their scales.
In the wild, albino animals are at a great disadvantage, because the UV light from the sun causes a high rate of damage, often resulting in blindness and cancer. They frequently have other mutations and health problems as well.
True albino bettas are so rare, it’s actually questionable if they exist at all. Most reports are probably either clear/cellophane or actually white varieties instead. They are incredibly difficult to breed and have a low survival rate.
The clear or cellophane betta, as they’re often called, also have whitish to translucent scales. Sometimes you can see the pinkish color of their muscles and internal organs through their scales. Their fins are usually clear to opaque. Their eyes should be a solid black.
Unlike albino bettas, clear or cellophane bettas do have one of the three pigments in their chromatophores. The trait isn’t expressed, and so the fish appears nearly colorless.
White bettas should have solid white scales and fins, although the fins may be more opaque in some specimens. Unlike the cellophane varieties, a white betta’s body should not look pinkish.
This might not sound very impressive, but the detail you can see on the body and fins of a pure white betta is absolutely stunning.
There’s a few different varieties of black betta fish, and they have subtly different appearances:
- Black Melano bettas have the deepest, purest black-colored bodies and fins. They are the opposite of an albino, in that they have an overabundance of melanin pigments. This variety is often sterile and can have health issues.
- Black Lace bettas have a dark body, but not as vivid as the melano variety. Their fins are usually entirely or partially cellophane-colored. They are usually fertile.
- Black Orchid bettas are a type of bi-color crowntail, with a dark body and a slight amount of iridescence. Some may also be crossed with marble-patterned bettas, giving them a metallic or red overtone on their bodies or along with their fins. The Black Devil and Black Ice varieties are derived from black orchid crosses.
- Black Copper bettas are descended from a mix of a fertile female black melano and a copper betta. The offspring have a mix of deep black and metallic scales.
Blue is not a very common color in nature, but betta fish are an exception.
What’s funny is that blue colors are not caused by pigments, but by the shape of the pigment cells and scales, and how the light reflects off of them. Usually fish only show bits of an iridescent blue, but bettas can be a deep and vivid shade of blue.
The colors of blue bettas you’ll most commonly see includes:
- Steel Blue bettas, which are a grayish blue color
- Royal Blue bettas, who have a deep, dark blue body and fins
- Turquoise Blue bettas, with rich, vibrant color and a hint of green
In the dim light, a copper betta looks brown or tan colored. But once you turn on the light, you’ll see the sparkling iridescence. These fish have highly reflective metallic scales and fins.
A chocolate betta has a brown or tan body that fades to orange or yellow-colored fins and tail. These are usually a bi-colored variety of betta.
Green bettas are usually solid colored, but you have to angle the light just right to really see the green. Their bodies and fins may appear black, turquoise, or blue at certain angles. Nearly all green bettas have a metallic wash overlaying their color as well.
Mustard gas bettas are very common and typically appear as a bi-colored fish with a blue or green body that shades orange or yellowish fins. The edges of their fins may also be shaded to black. They resemble the chocolate betta but lack brown bodies.
A pastel betta has a pale pastel-shaded body and fins with a whitish wash overlaying the primary color, giving it a paler appearance.
Solid orange bettas are fairly rare and are usually a bright tangerine color. They are much less common than red or blue bettas, but more common than the green or purple bettas.
- Orange Dalmatian bettas are a pale orange color with bright orange, almost red spots along with the fins.
Purple bettas are one of the rarest colors, and if you find one it will probably be the most expensive betta fish you could buy. True purple bettas are almost unheard of.
Many fish have purple colors shading to blue, red, or lavender. Violet and pale lavender-colored bettas are slightly more common but still a rare find.
Red is a common color in the fish world and one of the most common colors of betta you can get. Many bi-colored and other patterns of betta have red highlights.
A yellow betta should have a bright lemon-colored body and fins. Yellow bettas are not terribly common and a bit challenging to breed.
Patterns and Scale Designs
Bettas come in an ever-widening variety of patterns, from solid colored fish to those who look decked out for a party.
Some fish have a prominent metallic wash overlaying their scales, giving them a shimmering appearance. Others may have scales or fins edged with a metallic overtone.
The most common patterns and scale designs are:
A solid-colored betta is a single color. The color may appear deeper or more intense along the body than the fins because the pigments lie deeper, nearer their muscles.
Solid bettas are very beautiful fish and make a good choice for breeding stock.
While a true bi-colored betta will have a body that’s one color and fins that are another, some people use the term “bi-color” to refer to any fish with two colors.
This is one of the most common patterns to see in betta fish.
Butterfly bettas have a solid-colored body with their fins shading to cellophane. In higher-quality specimens, the line between color and cellophane will be stark and very noticeable. They may be two or three colors, with one-half to one-third of their bodies showing each color.
Although this variety can also be bred with the marbled trait, it’s considered undesirable in the betta show world.
Cambodian-style bettas are classic bi-color fish with a white or pale pink body and deep, bloodred fins. This type used to be quite common but has become much harder to find recently.
This is a trait that was intentionally bred into the Betta splendens line from wild bettas. Dragon scale bettas have thicker scales, so you can see the outline of each scale on their body and head. It looks like the fish have been covered in jewels, similar to scale-mail armor, in fact.
Dragon scale is a particularly beautiful trait and can mix with solid colors or other patterns of pigmentation. Depending on the mix, a dragon scale betta can be quite the showstopper!
The marble is a unique betta with one very frustrating quality. The marble trait doesn’t show up right away. It’s activated suddenly during the fish’s lifetime, at random. It causes their primary color to darken and splotchy pale patches to develop on the body and fins.
You’ll start out with a fish with one color or pattern of colors, and suddenly they change. It can be a very dramatic shift, too. This trait is undesirable when bred with certain others, like the butterfly betta.
- Koi patterned betta are related to marbles. This trait is most commonly seen in plakat type bettas. Koi betta has been bred to look similar to the koi fish often seen in Japanese ponds.
A mask betta has a head that’s the same color as his body. Most bettas have a head that is a different color than their bodies unless they are bred for the full or half-mask gene.
- Half Mask bettas have half of their head colored like their body, and half in another color.
The grizzle betta is a variety that has a 50-50 split between a lighter and a darker color. They often appear to have been painted with fine brush strokes.
Tricolored bettas have an uneven mix of three colors along their body and fins. Multi-Colored bettas have a mix of at least three colors and can have more than three. The mix tends to be random and unpredictable.
A Piebald betta has a white or flesh-colored face and a darker body. These fish don’t carry the albinism trait, unlike the piebald coloration in other animals.
Betta Fin and Tail Types
Now that I’ve passed on everything I know about the colors and patterns of bettas, it’s time to talk about their fins. Those fancy tails are one of the key features that draw people to these magnificent fish.
Let’s talk about the betta varieties in terms of their fin configurations:
The most common type, and the variety most of us think of when we hear the word “betta,” is the Veil Tail or VT.
The VT betta has a long, drooping tail that streams out behind him when he swims like a sail dragging on the seas. These fish are beautiful, fertile, and generally healthy, although they may nip at their fins when stressed.
A newer variety is the combtail, which may also be called the half sun betta fish. Instead of having webbing that extends on the tail from ray to ray, the combtail has a dip between each ray. This gives the tail the appearance of a wide-toothed comb.
This variety is generally fertile and healthy, but the tail sometimes suffers from a lack of support. Some combtails develop droopy tails, which are not very attractive. This isn’t a health concern but may make your fish look a bit sad.
Another related variety of combtail is the crown tail betta. These fish also have a webbing that does not extend all the way down each ray of the fin. But instead of looking like a comb, their tail looks spiky, or like an upside-down crown.
Like the combtail, the crown tail is prone to breaking the rays of their fins, and even the shorter-tailed females can suffer from a bent tail. But otherwise, crowntails are usually healthy and fertile. They also don’t usually nip at their own fins, since the webbing is reduced compared to other bettas.
The delta betta is an interesting variety. When they fully extend their tails it makes less than a 180-degree angle from the base of the tail to the edges. They are named after the Greek letter delta, because their extended tails are triangular in shape, with straight edges.
Deltas are a popular and beautiful variety of fish and come in a wide selection of colors and patterns. They resemble the half-moon bettas, and it’s actually difficult to tell them apart. Both the delta and super delta are usually healthy and no more prone to fin rot than other varieties.
- The Super Delta is similar, but their tails are wider and extend to almost 180 degrees.
Also known as twin tail betta, the double tail has wide and long anal, dorsal, and tail fins. The tail fin looks like it’s really two separate tails, hence their name and nickname.
These fish are especially showy and uncommon and may be considered a rare variety. They usually come in a fairly wide variety of colors and patterns too.
Double tails are the result of a mutation, and these fish suffer from ill-health as a result. They often have problems with their swim bladders and are prone to fin rot and other diseases of the fins. They are some impressive bettas, but they usually don’t live as the other varieties.
The half-moon betta, as I previously mentioned, looks nearly identical to the delta variety. A true half moon has a full 180-degree tail and can be any color or mix of colors. Their tail makes a D-shape when viewed from the side.
They are usually considered a long-finned betta variety, except when they are specifically listed as a plakat betta.
Next to the VT variety, the half-moon is the most common type of betta. You’ll see many of these fellows in pet stores and aquarium shops. They are prone to the typical betta health problems but are otherwise considered a healthy variety to own.
- Over Half Moon is a variety of betta where the tail extends past the 180-degree mark.
If you prefer bettas with the longest, most outrageously wide tails possible, then you’ll likely love the rosetail. These bettas have the longest, most elaborate dorsal, caudal and anal fins in the betta family.
Their fins are so wide they almost look slightly rumpled along the edges, similar to a flower petal as it starts to wilt.
The downside to this variety is that it tends to suffer from ill-health. The fins are prone to disease, and sometimes these fish nip at their own tails too. Since they have been heavily bred for these flashy fins, they may develop tumors and issues with their swim bladders.
The plakat is a newer variety of betta that’s recently become a phenomenon in Thailand and other parts of Asia. These fish are bred from the Thai Siamese Fighting fish line and have been crossed back with their wild betta splendens forebears.
Plakats have the same color and pattern variations seen in the long-finned varieties of betta, and many also have similar tail configurations too. But the plakat’s tail is much shorter and resembles the wild type instead of the fancier, domesticated bettas.
Novice betta keepers often mistake male plakats for female long-finned bettas. Since the plakat has been selectively bred from hybrid species of betta, they have a different behavior profile than the other bettas in this list.
Plakats are more aggressive, and usually can not be housed with other fish. They also prefer fresh food and many will not eat commercial diets. They are typically healthy and don’t suffer from problems with their fins like the long-finned varieties do.
Similar to the rosetail, the feathertail has long and wide, ruffled fins. Instead of being a half-moon shape, though, their fins and tail have triangles along the edges, which give them their “feathery” appearance. They are less common than the rosetail, and come in a variety of colors and scale patterns.
Like the rosetail, the feathertail is prone to health problems. They often nip at their tails and swim bladder problems are common.
Similar to both the half-moon and the delta, the round tail is a popular and common betta often found in big-box pet stores. Their tails don’t come from their bodies in a straight line, like the delta, and have a rounded appearance instead.
They are usually healthy fish but are still prone to the typical betta diseases and problems.
The spade tail slightly resembles the VT betta but has a definitively spade-shaped tail. They are available in a wide assortment of colors and patterns too. Otherwise, they are generally a healthy variety with no special or unique health concerns beyond the typical betta problems.
The elephant ear, or dumbo bettas, are not classified based on the shape or length of their tails, like most of the betta on my list. Instead, it’s their pectoral fins we’re interested in; what you might think of as the fish’s arms if they were human.
Elephant ears have broad and long pectoral fins, which makes them look like they have gigantic ears and are flying through the water with them. They usually have shorter tails, though. Elephant ears are the one variety where fishkeepers tend to prefer female betta fish over males.
Since the males don’t have the elaborate tails common to the other varieties (other than the plakat, of course), they tend to look rather drab. The extended pectorals on the females, however, really make them stand out. This is a great option if you’d like to have a stunning female fish in your betta tank.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on when you break down and consider all the different types of bettas.
While different varieties may be prone to health issues, based on their genetics and tail configurations, keeping your tank warm and clean will go a long way to maintaining a healthy betta fish. Feeling a high-quality diet will also help them shine with color (literally).
Whether you prefer to choose your fish by color, intricate scale pattern, or for their amazing and beautiful fins, there’s a betta on my list that’s probably perfect for your tank. Tell us about your betta fish, or post your questions in the comments!
If you’re still unsure which variety to choose, consider these factors:
If you want a fish that’s pretty but inexpensive and easy to find, stick with a more common color and variety, like:
- The Veil Tail
- The Crowntail
- The Delta
- The Half Moon
- The Bi Color
- Red, Orange, or Blue colors
If you want an amazing fish that will be the showcase of your aquarium, look for:
- The Rosetail
- The Feathertail
- The Double Tail
- The Elephant Ear (Female)
- The Multicolored/Tricolored
- The Dragon Scale
If you want a fish that’s less likely to have problems with their fins or swim bladder or other health problems, consider getting:
- The Plakat
- The Delta
- The Moon Tail
- The Spade Tail
Think these Betta fish are beautiful? Why not spend some time and learn how to draw a Betta fish here.
Jen has more than 30 years experience as a biologist, aquarist, and fishkeeper. She is an expert in setting up new tanks and maintaining naturally-planted freshwater habitats, and has experience raising a wide variety of aquatic species.
Betta Fish Tail Types: Guide on the Most Common & Different Varieties
Betta fish are well known for their beautiful tails but do you know all the different betta fish tail types out there? Do you know what type of tail your betta fish has?
Which tail type is my betta fish?
The following infographic was designed so you and your friends can identify which tail type your betta fish has – or maybe which one you want next!
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The Different Betta Fish Tail Types
The veiltail is by far the most common tail type for betta fish. To recognise it look for a long, flowing, downwards swooping tail.
Crowntail betta fish are a very popular choice. Named because of the spikey appearance of the fins – just like that on the top of a crown.
You will be able to recognize a crowntail due to the extended length of the fin’s rays and the small amount of webbing. If the webbing reaches further than 2/3 up the tail’s ray it is not a crowntail. Most breeders aim for the webbing to reach only half way.
Combtail betta fish are similar to crowntails in that the tail’s rays are longer than the webbing. However combtails use this feature more subtly. The difference between the fin’s ray and the webbing is not so large.
A double tail betta will be recognize due to possessing two distinct tails which are separated to the base. Double tail betta fish also tend to have a larger dorsal fin.
Named because of the very clear spade like appearance of the caudal fin. The tail has a wide base which then narrows smoothly to a point.
Halfmoon bettas are perhaps the most wanted type of betta fish. The halfmoon tail is large and when flared the caudal fin will fan a 180 degrees which causes the tail to create a half circle – and that is where the name comes from.
Over-Halfmoon betta fish have similar fins to halfmoon bettas. The difference is that when flared the caudal fin will fan over 180 degrees creating a shape that is larger than half a circle.
A delta tail starts narrow towards the body of the betta fish and widens towards the tip giving it a triangular shape.
The delta tail type is similar to a halfmoon fin however the tail does not reach 180 degrees
The difference between this tail type and the veiltail is that if you were to draw a line horizontally across the centre of a betta fish there would be an even amount of tail above and below the line (The veiltail would have most of the tail below the line).
The super delta tail type is very similar to the delta tail type however when it is flared it extends further. A super delta tail will flare between 120 to 160 degrees – it does not reach the 180 degrees of a halfmoon tail.
The Half Sun tail type is a combination of the crowntail and halfmoon. This results in a large tail with a spread of 180 degrees plus with slight crowning between the fins rays and webbing. The Half Sun is a very rare fin type.
The rosetail is a beautiful variation of the halfmoon tail type. The appearance differs from halfmoon tails due to excessive branching on the rays of the fins which causes overlapping on the fins giving a rose like aesthetic.
The feathertail is very similar to the rosetail however there is even more excessive branching of the fin rays giving an extra ruffled appearance.
Plakat / Short Fin
Generally speaking the term Plakat betta is used to describe a short finned betta fish. The tail is short and round (sometimes going to a point) on the traditional Plakat.
Dumbo Ear / Elephant Ear
Ok, not quite a “tail type” however the dumbo ear or elephant ear betta fish has a fantastic aesthetic due to its fins. Dumbo ear bettas have extra-large pectoral fins which resulting in these fins looking like elephant ears. These fins can be a matching color to the betta’s body or contrasting.
Did you find the betta tail you were looking for?
Now you know how to identify which betta fish tail your betta fish has. What do you think of all these betta fish tail types? What did you think about the guide above? We would love to know in the comments.
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Last Updated: October 5, 2021
Fish breeds fighter
37 Types of Betta Fish: Breeds, Patterns, Colors & Tails
Due to their popularity, betta fish, (also commonly known as Siamese fighting fish) have been selectively bred over many years to create a wide variety of different looking types of betta fish.
Although technically they all belong to the same species, there’s an astounding amount of variety in their appearance.
There are so many wildly different fin types, patterns, and colors that can occur, that to an outsider, two different bettas may not even look like they’re the same species at all!
Even to experienced betta fish keepers, the sheer scale of the number of variations can get confusing.
To help clarify, we’re going to describe in this guide all the different betta types out there, first by fin-type, then by pattern and finally by color.
That said, new types of bettas crop up from time to time so you might encounter the occasional oddball that doesn’t truly fit in with any of the ‘standard’ types in this guide. But we will cover the vast majority, along with images for illustration.
Table of contents
How Many Types of Betta Fish are There?
This is not a simple question to answer, as there is a lot of disagreement on what is a true type, and what is not, with more and more being selective bred and ‘created’ every year.
The most reliable source I could find, Aqueon.com, states there are73 recognised types. However, before the ink has dried on me writing this, there will probably a handful of breeders pushing to get a new type recognised.
Types of Betta Fish – By Tail Type
One of the most startling differences between the many betta fish types is down to tail and fin type. From amazingly long and flowing fins, to short but striking, neat fan-like tails, there is a lot of variety to be seen.
Let’s take a look at the main betta fish tail types you’ll find on commonly available varieties.
1. VeilTail (VT)
The veiltail betta, or VT for short, is the most common kind of tail that you’ll find in any aquarium and is what you’ll see on most pet store varieties.
In fact, due to its popularity and over breeding, veil tailed bettas are no longer seen as desirable or accepted on the show circuit.
That said, this is still a nice looking fish with a beautiful tail which is long and flowing, and tends to droop from the caudal peduncle. The anal and dorsal fins are also long and flowing.
Veil tails have an asymmetrical tail, so if you split the tail horizontally in half, the upper and lower parts would not be the same.
In almost all specimens, the tail droops or constantly hangs, even when flaring, which likely adds to them being seen as inferior when compared to many other tail types.
2. Combtail Betta
The comb tail isn’t really a distinct shape of it’s own, it’s more a trait that can be seen on many other tail shapes. It commonly consists of a fan-like caudal fin with a sizable spread, though normally at less than 180 degrees where it would be considered more of a ‘half sun’ (as detailed later.)
A combtail betta’s fins will have rays that extend beyond the fin webbing, giving it a slight spiky appearance, said to look like a comb, but nothing too dramatic such as seen in the crown tail below.
The tail can have the droop typically seen with the veil tail, though it’s not preferred.
3. Crown Tail (CT)
In the words of ‘bettySpelendens.com’ (link to source removed as the site has, sadly, recently gone offline):
“The Crowntail betta was founded 1997 in West Jakarta, Slipi, Indonesia. The webbing between the fin rays is reduced, producing the appearance of spikes or prongs, hence the name “Crown Tail”.
The crown tail betta (abbreviated to CT) is perhaps one of the easiest tail types to recognize as the reduced webbing and very extended rays give them a highly distinctive spiky appearance.
There can be double, triple, crossed and even quadruple ray extensions. Crowntail betta can have a full 180-degree spread, but less is also acceptable and indeed most commonly seen.
The term ‘crowntail’ is often abbreviated to ‘CT’ when describing such fish.
4. Delta (D) & Super Delta (SD)
Delta tail betta fish are so called because it’s shaped somewhat like the Greek letter d, but on its side and more rounded at the end.
The main difference between a super delta betta fish and a standard delta, is that a super delta tail is approaching – but not quite – a 180-degree spread (180-degree would be a half moon), whereas the spread of a plain delta tail is much smaller.
What differentiates both delta and super delta from some similar tail types is that it should be evenly spread. If you drew a horizontal line through the middle of the body of a delta or super delta, it would be symmetrical and there would be an equal amount of tail above and below the line.
Finally, there should be no ‘combing’ or ‘crowning’ of the rays, the tail edge should have the webbing right to the ends so the tail does not appear ‘spiky’.
Delta’s are abbreviated to ‘D’ and Super Delta’s are abbreviated to ‘SD’ during discussions.
5. Double Tail (DT)
The double tail betta, also known as the DT, is just as it sounds: It has a double caudal fin.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t just a single caudal fin split in half, but a true double tail with two caudal peduncles.
Double tails don’t necessarily have caudal fins even in size, but an even split is extremely desirable. They also tend to have shorter bodies and broader dorsal and anal fins, which usually mirror each other more or less exactly.
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6. Half Moon (HM) / Over Half Moon (OHM)
The caudal fin of a half moon betta fish has a characteristic full 180-degree spread, like a capital D or, fittingly, a half moon.
Both the dorsal and anal fins are also larger than average in halfmoon betta.
Although they are striking and sought after, it’s worth noting that this unnaturally large tail can lead to issues of tearing and tail damage, often referred to as ‘blowing a tail.’
Half moons are abbreviated to HM in descriptions.
The over half moon is basically an extreme version of the half moon. It is the same tail in all ways except one: the spread, when flared, is more than 180 degrees.
7. Half Sun
The half sun tail type has come about by selectively breeding the half moon and the crown tail varieties together.
This type has the full 180-degree spread of the half moon, but has rays extending beyond the webbing of the caudal fin, as you would see with the crown tail.
That said, the rays are only slightly extended, not nearly enough to be confused with a crown tail.
8. Plakat (PK)
The plakat betta, or PK for short, is a short-tailed variety, which is more closely related to the betta splendens found in the wild than other varieties.
They are sometimes mistaken for females (who all have shorter tails), but the difference is the males have longer ventral fins, more rounded caudal fins and sharply pointed anal fins.
The traditional plakat simply has a short rounded or slightly pointed tail. However, there are now two other types of plakat thanks to selective breeding: the half moon plakat and the crown tail plakat.
The half moon variety has a short tail but with a 180-degree spread like a traditional half moon. The crown tail type has extended rays and reduced webbing, like a regular crown tail, but again this is with a short tail characteristic of a plakat, rather than a long one.
9. Rosetail & Feathertail
The rosetail is similar to a HM or extreme half moon, so the spread of the caudal fin is 180 degrees or more. The difference being that the rays have excessive branching, which gives a more ruffled look to the end of the tail, said to look like the ruffled petals of a rose.
If there is a larger than usual amount of branching (even for a rosetail) giving an even more pronounced, or perhaps ‘extreme ruffled effect’, with a slight zig-zag look, then this is referred to as a feather tail.
10. Round Tail
The round tail is similar to a delta, but is fully rounded, without straight edges near the body that makes most tails the shape of a D.
It’s also similar to a basic plakat, but is significantly longer and fuller than the plakat’s characteristically short tail.
11. Spade Tail
Betta fish are among the most popular freshwater fish around. They are so well-loved due to the many different shapes and colors which they can be found in.
There are so many variations that betta fish are usually classified by their colors, patterns, and tail type.
Their aggressive behavior is often off-putting for newcomers to the hobby. However if properly fed and cared for, you shouldn’t have any problems.
In this article we will discuss all the different variations, to help you find the best fish for you.
Types of Betta Fish
Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are very common with beginner aquarists. They are small and colorful fish with striking personalities.
They have been cross-bred over years creating the most amazing colorations and tail variations.
They do not require a lot of maintenance and their physiology and behavior are quite captivating and amazing.
This fish can learn to recognize their owners, and they also create bubble nests. Betta fish have an organ known as the labyrinth organ which allows them to breathe air as their gills cannot always get enough oxygen from the surrounding waters.
There are different ways to classify Bettas by looking at the shape of their tails, their patterns, and finally colors.
Tails can have a lot of variation, from long and flowing to short and neat. Body patterns can also have lots of variation, from multi-colored patterns to single body patterns.
However, it’s their color that is the most striking characteristic. Betta fish have been bred in all the colors of the rainbow.
When you combine all the different tail shapes, colors, and patterns, there are hundreds of different Betta types available and no one fish is the same.
The tail is one of the most appealing characteristics of all the different betta variations.
Your betta fish will often be classified by the shape and the size of its tail. From short and spiky to large and majestic, you will find all kinds of tail variations full of striking colors.
The different names usually give you an idea of the tail shape, from the most common such as veiltail, crowntail, and halfmoon.
There are many types and coloration you just have to find the one you prefer the most.
The crowntail betta is one of the most popular freshwater fish. This species is relatively young, first bred by Ahmad Yusuf in Indonesia around 25 years ago.
The fins of this species have a long spikey crown appearance, however, if the webbing reaches more than 2/3 up the tail then it is classified as a different type – the Combtail Betta.
While the males show striking colors with long fins and tails, females look quite different.
Usually, the female has lighter colors with a shorter tail with a less majestic overall appearance.
This is another very common variation of the tail type which is widely available.
The male of this variation has a long, flowing downwards swooping tail. It comes in many different color variations and the overall appearance is quite remarkable.
If you want to breed Betta fish, you should know this is a dominant tail type over other variations, and therefore is one of the easiest to breed.
The female is again quite different. She does not have any of the remarkable characteristics of the male but sometimes has bright colors. Females tend to have lighter colorations and short fins and tails.
Contrary to most betta fish, plakat bettas have short and round tails. They are almost the exception to the rule. Their fins are also quite short when compared to other variations. Still, the male shows amazing colors.
This betta type is considered the traditional form that would have been found in the wild.
The name plakat derives from the Thai word “plakad” meaning fighting fish. These fish were commonly used and bred for fighting.
The name Halfmoon Betta is quite self-explanatory. The tail is large creating half a circle similar to the shape of a half-moon.
This type is strictly bred in captivity, you won’t find them in the wild.
Halfmoon Bettas are commonly bred among experts to exhibit during Betta shows. First bred in the 1980s, the Halfmoon Betta didn’t take long to reach Europe and then became internationally famous.
These fish can be a bit challenging to breed and come with more aggressive behavior.
Double Tail Betta
The Double Tail is easily recognizable as it has two distinct tails separated from the base. Usually, this variation has a larger and longer dorsal fin with a shorter body.
This gene can be found in any Betta, of any tail shape and size.
This often means that single tail Bettas already show double tail characteristics such as dorsal fins with more rays than normal which give them a richer appearance.
Elephant Ear Betta/Dumbo Betta
This is a very unique fish that doesn’t really fit into the tail or color category. Instead, its unique feature is its pectoral fins.
Elephant Ear Bettas or more commonly Dumbo Bettas, have quite a unique shape. Usually, with brilliant striking colorations, the fins of this variation are quite funny.
The name is given by the two pectoral fins resembling the ears of an elephant.
These are also found in the wild exhibiting more dull coloration from dark green, grey, and brown. Among the aquarium trade, more striking colors are found such as bright blue, turquoise, red and yellow.
Delta Tail Betta
The Delta Tail Betta has a rather large tail. It is named after the Greek letter d as the tail resembles the shape of the letter delta (∆). The tail starts to narrow towards the body and it widens toward the edges resembling the triangular shape of the Greek letter.
There is also another known variation called the Super Delta. This variation almost reaches 180 degrees flare.
The spread of a normal delta tail is usually much smaller. The tail edges are uniform without any combing or crowing.
The Rosetail Betta is a variation of the half-moon where the total spread of the caudal fin is larger than 180°.
The feature of this variation is that the rays of the tail are particularly branchy. This branching gives a striking look to the fish and makes the caudal fin looking like a rose.
If the tail becomes particularly branchy with a very ruffled appearance then it’s considered a Feathertail.
Other Tail Types
More tail types include the Combtail Betta, Round Tail, Spade Tail, Over-Halfmoon, Super Delta, Half-Sun, and Feathertail.
- Combtail Bettas are similar to Crowntails. The difference is in the length of the webbing and the rays. Combtails have webbing which reaches more than 2/3 of the way up the tail.
- Roundtail Bettas are very similar to Deltas with the difference being the shape of the tail edges. Roundtails have fully rounded tail edges.
- Spade tails take their name from the spade of a deck of cards as the shape of the tail perfectly resembles this round and pointy shape.
- The Over Halfmoon is an extreme version of a Half Moon. The spread of the tail reaches over 180° around the body.
- The Half-Sun was created by selectively breeding Half Moons and Crowntails. Reaching over 180° around the body, the tail and fins also have a slightly crowning among rays and webbing.
Some Betta Fish might have a uniform color whereas others will be a mix of lots of different colors.
They can be most colors of the rainbow, some will be black, white, electric blue, translucent skin, copper, green and more.
Blue Betta Fish
You might think that choosing a blue betta fish is really simple, but this is not always the case. There are many different shades of blue around.
The most common colors are Steel Blue (almost grayish which gives the fish a cold coloration) and the Royal Blue Betta, which is a vibrant and gorgeous coloration showing an iridescent bright blue.
Black Orchid Betta
The black orchid betta fish variation has a dark overall coloration. Occasionally you might observe purple or blue highlights along its body.
An interesting fact about the black variation is that this group can be divided into three different types, Melano, Black Lace, and Metallic.
The Black Metallic has iridescent scales almost like the color of copper and translucent.
Red Betta Fish
Red is the dominant color with Betta Fish.
Usually appearing as a striking and full-bodied red color, sometimes this red can appear washed off too. On this occasion, you should watch their diet and water condition as your fish might not be feeling at ease.
From Plakat to Veiltail, this color is commonly found across most variations of Bettas.
If it doesn’t appear as one of the dominant colors, it also often shows as a highlight across the fins or the body of other colored fish.
Pink Betta Fish
The Pink Betta Fish can sometimes appear almost translucent.
Transparent-looking Bettas often get confused with the albino variation. These fish have almost no pigment with the flesh shining through the skin.
If the color pink is fuller, the fish will have a bright and rich pink color on their body and fins. However, is not always this simple and even though the overall color is pink, they will probably have more color variations, from red to purple and white along their fins, tail, and body.
Rose Petal Betta
The Rose Petal Betta Fish is perhaps one of the strangest types as there is no one way to define them.
They come in the most color variations, generally electric light blue with some color variations (generally dark blue, copper) and have a darker face.
They are one of the rarest Betta Fish.
Yellow Betta Fish
Yellow Betta Fish are also a very common color found. This fish generally shows a full rich body yellow coloration extending along the fins and tail.
This variation can have many different yellow shadings, from extremely yellow to a more tamed soft coloration.
This variation is also known as “non-red” as they exhibit similar characteristics but are yellow.
White Betta Fish
The White Betta Fish might appear a bit plain when compared to other color variations.
These Bettas are completely white. However even though the coloration can appear a bit dull, if you choose the right tail type, they are quite majestic.
You can combine coloration and tail type to find the best for you. Long flowing swooping tails are quite majestic even though completely white.
Purple Betta Fish
True purple Betta Fish are quite difficult to find.
You will often find them in rich violets or purple-blueish with other color variations such as copper and black. It’s often common to find them with purple bodies and the fins or the face another color.
They have all types of tail types and color patterns. You will just have to find the one that best suits your taste!
Green Betta Fish
Full green Betta Fish are quite rare. Most commonly they appear as turquoise.
Often the green is masked under a darker coloration, and if you shine light against it an iridescent green tone can appear.
Bright green and dark green variations which are visible with the naked eye do exist but are very rare and often considered very precious.
Mustard Gas Betta
Mustard Gas Betta Fish are quite remarkable. They are a bi-colored variation showing different colorations between body and fins.
The body is dark usually varying from either blue or green. Their fins are usually yellow or orange hence their name.
This variation is often mistakenly called Chocolate as the color of the fins are quite similar. However, the chocolate variation has a brown body.
The last way to classify the different types of Betta Fish is through their pattern.
Colors can be arranged in different patterns on their body and fins which make this fish so remarkable and appreciated across the fishkeeping community.
Some of the color patterns have been carefully selected over the years by selective breeding.
Dragon Scale Betta
This is a relatively new pattern created through selective breeding. This pattern is very popular for its bright metallic coloration.
The Dragon Scale Betta Fish has a strong full-bodied color with body scales resembling those of a lizard or a dragon.
Their base body color is usually a rich color such as red with iridescent pale scales across its main body (often copper in color).
The Butterfly Betta is another common pattern and fairly distinctive.
Typically, it has a solid body color that extends to the base of the fins and tail. This color suddenly stops and is replaced by a paler and iridescent color. Usually the fins and tail are white or transparent.
Another variation of this pattern is to have the body of one color and then the inside of the fins and tail of another to then become white or transparent around the edges.
Marble Bettas are another very popular variation as they have an incredible color variation.
Their colors appear blotchy and irregular, often with a light pale solid body color with rich reds and blues creating a pattern.
Fins can show a marble-like pattern or solid translucent coloration.
The best thing about this type is that they develop their coloration over time.
Sometimes they will appear a certain color one week and the following week you will find a different one. However, as the fish ages, this ability will slow down.
The koi betta is a variation of the Marble type, carefully selected through breeding. As the name suggests, this variation was bred to resemble the very popular Koi pond fish.
This is not a species found in the wild and was carefully bred over the years by aquarium hobbyists to preserve the most amazing characteristics and features.
There isn’t a distinct coloration for this type, their brightness, richness, and colors vary considerably.
These are small fish that are easily kept in 5-gallon tanks.
Also known as Siamese fighting fish, these aggressive small fish have the most striking tail variations, colors, and patterns.
Tail variation, colors, and patterns have been carefully and selectively bred over the years by experts and now there are hundreds of betta fish types.
Usually, in nature, they have duller colors, but the Betta destined for your aquarium will show the most exciting and striking combination.
Have you ever kept a Betta Fish – what is your favorite variation? Leave a comment in the section below…
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