Metallic betta fish

Metallic betta fish DEFAULT

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Betta genetics is a fascinating and absorbing aspect of keeping these beautiful fish.

In this article, we will discuss two of the recent color types that are enjoying huge popularity among betta hobbyists: metallics and masked bettas. Breeding metallics and masks is undoubtedly an enjoyable hobby, but the mysteries of these two traits have yet to be fully understood.

What are metallics?

Metallic betta fish have a glorious iridescent sheen. Iridescent colors most commonly seen are steel blue, royal blue, and turquoise. These colors occur because of the light reflection from thin, crystal elements that are present on the surface cells (iridophores).

These colors are often referred to as structural colors, to distinguish them from pigmented colors, such as black and red. It was discovered by Dr. Rosalyn Upson that wild betta imbellis, as well as copper and metallic bettas, contained iridophores that reflected a different part of the visible spectrum – yellow to yellow-green wavelengths – and can, therefore, be classified as a “new” yellow iridophore color.

What are masks?

Masked bettas are those where the iridescent or metallic body color extends across the betta’s head and face.

Meet Dr. Leo Buss

Dr. Leo Buss PhD is a Professor of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, Connecticut. Dr. Buss has also authored many articles for the “Bettas and More” column in the FAMA Magazine, and has given several discourses on betta fish genetics for the International Betta Congress, (IBC).

Dr. Buss’ interest in metallic bettas has led to some interesting discoveries.

In one experiment, Dr. Buss used an electron microscope to look beneath the metallic layer to the colored layer that the metallic scales were obscuring. Based on Dr. Buss’ findings and some experimental breeding by several keen hobbyist breeders, it’s now possible to draw a clearer picture of masked and metallic bettas.

That’s the first step on the long road to understanding what these fish are and how cross-breeding them can affect the other colors.

Findings of Dr. Buss’ experiments

Dr. Buss confirmed that the betta’s masked and metallic color traits come from hybrid crosses of captive betta splendens to wild bettas, such as betta imbellis.

Dr. Buss examined several betta imbellis from different genetic lines under a microscope to try to determine their “wild-type” state. All the wild betta imbellis that were examined displayed yellow reflecting iridiophores in the distribution noted in Dr. Buss’ FAMA article. In this article, Dr. Buss suggested that there is a gene that inhibits the spread of any metallic coloration, which he dubbed the “no metallic spread” or “NMS.”

Dr. Buss’ betta breeding experiments appeared to indicate that the gene could be a simple Mendelian recessive. He also used a “+” notation (implying a “wild” trait) for metallics such as copper, noting that the gene was recessive to the Bl (blue) gene.

Without the + gene, the copper betta fish were simply a steel blue color, the blue/green (“teal”) betta was royal blue, and the dark metallic green betta was turquoise.

Dr. Buss also noted that although both the masked and metallic genes originated from the hybrid crosses, they were not the same, and each type could exist independently of the other. That is what makes fully-masked, solid color, pure iridescent blues not only a very real possibility, but within easy reach in a matter of a few generations.

Dr. Buss states that the metallic influence can be bred-out by the F4 generation, although many breeders are of the opinion that, once the masked gene is introduced, it is virtually impossible to get rid of it completely. Even after several generations of out-crossing bettas to non-metallic, i.e. pure iridescent fish, breeders were still seeing the blue lips and parti-masks that are characteristic of hybridization.

Breeding copper bettas

Solid copper/gold bettas are genetic steel blues; therefore, breeding copper x copper will always produce 100% copper fish.

Exceptions to that rule do occur in those spawns that have another recessive gene, such as marble. For example, take a look at these interesting results:

  • Copper/gold x turquoise green: all green with variable metallic expression present
  • Copper/gold x royal blue: blue/green and grass green, all with variable metallic expression present

In one especially interesting breeding experiment, a copper/gold betta was crossed with a melano. The resulting spawn was all green with variable metallic expression. Some of the fish were more turquoise in color than others, although all were within the spectrum of green.

Bearing in mind that copper/gold is + over steel blue with no melano gene, you would expect to see 100% steel blue offspring from this spawn. However, because of the fact that a fish that is heterozygous for the metallic trait still displays the metallic phenotype, the yellow-reflecting iridiophores that are present give these fish a greenish tinge.

The variation of the metallic expression exists partly because the quantity and spread of the yellow iridophores is variable between fish, and also because the crystals that are contained within the iridophores vary in size.

Other Experiments and Variations

One breeder crossed a copper/gold betta to a yellow betta. The intention of the experiment was to see how the + gene would affect red and non-red. The result was fascinating:

  • Copper/gold x yellow: Gold scale reds, green/red multis (like imbellis), Cambodians
  • F2 (green/red multis): Gold scale reds, Cambodians, Yellows, Green/red multis
  • F3: Brass (gold body, red fins)

Also, the breeder crossbred Copper/gold with:

  • Opaque, producing platinum
  • Red, producing metallic red
  • Cambodian, producing metallic Cambodian
  • Black lace, producing black/green and black/copper
  • MG, producing metallic MG

Looking at the results of all those matings, it can be deduced that the + gene does not work as a recessive that needs two carriers for + in order to appear. However, the + gene affects other colors in more subtle ways from the very first filial generation.

The masked trait

In regular iridescent bettas that do not carry the + gene, the fins, and body of the fish are green, blue, or steel. Also, their heads are usually black or dark brown.

Breeding to metallic generally introduces the masked gene. That causes the fish’s body color to spread into the face and head areas of an iridescent betta, producing a true, solid-colored fish. That masked effect can work independently of the metallic gene. It can also be reduced in expression, meaning that you can have a copper-gold fish with a solid, dark-colored head. Or you’ll get a color that’s increased to the extent that it covers the fish’s head and body, resembling a suit of armor.

You can also breed to metallic to get the masked trait then remove the metallic gene. If you also keep the mask through selective breeding, the result will be a solidly iridescent fish.

The pluses of the metallic gene

Iridophores of various sizes in the crystalline layer of the fish’s skin cause the characteristic metallic/copper iridescence. In bettas where the coloration is pure iridescent steels, greens, and blues, the iridophores are all the same shape and size, producing the normal iridescent appearance.

The different sizes of the iridophores in metallic bettas affect how light is refracted. That’s one theory used to explain the color changes that can be observed in metallic bettas.

One effect of the metallic gene on other colors is that it can produce a “whiter” white opaque. It can also achieve a more intense extended red by thickening the color and causing it to spread over the fish’s face and head. The metallic gene can also produce a more intensely black melano. It covers the iridescent color that’s usually faulted in black fish through the effect of the reflecting yellow iridophores.

An extremely iridescent black betta would appear to be copper-bodied with black fins, rather than steel-bodied. A good melano with just a minimal amount of iridescence will appear to be very solidly black. Interestingly, the reflective yellow scales of some metallic black bettas may eventually flake off, leaving a flat, dark black color underneath.

The metallic gene has produced a glorious variety of the most stunning betta fish ever seen. Their beautiful colors reflect the light and dazzle the eye. There’s just one cause for concern. The “old” color lines will be lost entirely if breeders don’t make a concerted effort to preserve them.

That’s because the + gene affects the outcomes of crosses so profoundly. Therefore, it’s critical that hobby breeders strive to keep pure lines of reds, yellows, iridescents, melanos, and opaques, and more that are completely free of the + gene.

Final thoughts

Used responsibly, breeding and crossbreeding betta fish with the + gene is fascinating and fun to do.

Just how many new colors can you create? That question still needs to be answered. But all betta hobbyists are sure to have a whole lot of fun finding out!

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Class Color Guideline Dark Metallic all types

Class color guideline Dark Metallic all types

Daily Class Guide: Dark Metallic.

Dark Metallic is a classification for all Betta fish of a single colour visually represented solely by the iridescent layer. They are:

  1. Steel Blue
  2. Royal Blue
  3. Super’ Blue variations
  4. Turquoise
  5. Green
  6. Copper

All Dark Metallic are represented by a single metallic colour full covering a black base body.

The solid single tone of the fish is favoured with minimal lacing, hyperextension of the metallic iridescence onto the ventral fins, the full head and up to the gills & pectorals as a bonus. A presence of Red or Yellow wash beneath the iridescent layer is not favoured and will not score well in the colour grading.


Example in Half moon

Credit Nations Cup 2019 

What is UBF? 

UBF exists as international conglomerate to unite, assist, incubate and preserve information and worldwide standards of Betta fish. UBF is primarily and information resource and round table of continuous knowledge base networking with the objective of developing high level genetic understanding while preserving the heritage of Betta as and iconic show fish.


Class Color Guideline Grizzle betta all types.


Class color betta fish Guideline Solid color


Class color betta fish Guideline Copper series


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Betta fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They’re extremely common among beginner and expert fish-keepers alike due to their beauty hardy nature.

When selecting a betta fish, a lot of people simple choose whatever fish first catches their eye – but did you know that there are actually tons of different types of betta fish?

Types of Betta Fish

When it comes to picking the type of betta fish you want, there are hundreds of different combinations that can be made with the various tail types, scale types, colorations, and patterns.

The commonly available species, betta splendens, has a massive variety of tail and scale types, so much so that individual bettas may look like entirely different species.

In this guide, we dive into tons of different types of betta fish that you can keep at home!

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Recommended: 700+ Awesome Betta Fish Names!

Betta Fish Fin Types

When referring to the different tail types, we are referring to the overall length and shape of the tail.

While most store bettas do not have their tails measured down to the degree of the angle, this will be done for show quality bettas.

The definitions in this article will be laxer and may not be up to the standard of show quality qualifications.

Veil Tail

veil tail betta

The veil tail is arguably the most common tail type found in pet store bettas. They have incredibly long, drooping tail fins, which gives the appearance of a veil.

Their anal and dorsal fins are longer than most other bettas’, normally long enough to touch the tail fin, making the betta appear as if it is entirely surrounded by finnage.

While many people find this fin type incredibly attractive, it is highly discouraged to breed this particular tail type. The market is currently oversaturated with veil tails, and this is not expected to change anytime soon.

While they used to be the prized type of betta, many have shifted their attention to rose tailed, plakat, comb tail, and many other “fancier” varieties of bettas.

Veil tails do not appear to seem more prone to any particular disease, aside from fin rot and tail biting, which afflicts all long-tailed bettas. If this is your favorite type of betta, by all means, go buy them!

They are one of the healthiest strains and come in essentially every color and pattern.

Halfmoon and OHM

halfmoon betta

The term Halfmoon refers to any betta who’s tail fully spreads out to 180 degrees, creating a perfect semi-circle, or halfmoon, shape. While this typically refers to long finned bettas, it is possible to categorize certain plakats as halfmoons, which we will discuss later.

Halfmoons are also wildly popular, similar to the veil tail, though their numbers are slightly smaller.

Many breeders who currently specialize in halfmoons focus on creating exclusive colors, such as the Mustard Gas betta.

While it is difficult to find a veil tail with exclusive and prized colorations, Halfmoons can be found in normal, pet store colors, as well as show-quality patterns and colors.

Breeding a halfmoon and a halfmoon doesn’t guarantee that the offspring will also have perfectly shaped tails.

A great number of them will be over-halfmoons, where their tail fans out larger than 180 degrees, or deltas, where their tails fan out less than 180 degrees. They are not more prone to any specific illnesses aside from fin rot and tail biting.


delta betta

When a delta betta flares, or extends their fins out to appear as large as possible, their tail fin fans out at less than 180 degrees.

Delta tails are still incredibly magnificent and look very similar to halfmoons, and most people cannot tell them apart. They are either imperfect halfmoons or a cross between a halfmoon and a veil tail.

They come in high quality colors and patterns as well as pet shop standard colorations, which means that you will have a wide variety to choose from.

They are a long finned type of betta, so they are more prone to fin rot, but not excessively so.

Double Tail

Double tail betta

Double tail bettas, also called twin tails, have very large anal, dorsal and tail fins, though the tail fin appears to consist of two separate fins, hence their name.

While this type of betta can come in a wide assortment of colors and patterns, they are generally regarded as the least healthy tail type.

The double tail gene is recessive, and after multiple generations of inbreeding, some unfortunate genetic difficulties have come to the surface.

These bettas generally have shorter bodies, swim bladder disorders, fin rot, fin biting, are more prone to bloat and obesity, and overall have shorter lifespans.

While this fish is beautiful and variable in coloration, fin variety, and pattern, they simply will not live as long as the other breeds. They are relatively uncommon and will likely stay this way.

There is still some demand for them, but their limited lifespan and lower than average fry survival rates prevents the supply from being high.

Comb Tail

Combtail Betta

Comb Tails are quite flashy and relatively new to the betta scene. The webbing in their tails does not fully extent from ray tip to ray tip, but rather has a significant dip between each ray, resulting in a comb-esque appearance.

They are more prone to tail curling, due to the lack of support between each fin ray, though this does not affect all comb tails. It does not directly impact the betta’s overall health, though it does make them less visually appealing.

On the other hand, they are more likely to break the rays in their tail, which can make it more difficult to move around. Once a ray is broken, it will not grow back.

Crown Tail

crowntail betta fish

Crown tails are very similar to comb tails. The webbing of their fins does not extend all the way to the rays and instead dips between each one. However, the dips are not as deep as comb tail’s, and instead of the webbing coming to a comb point, it levels out and has a rectangular appearance at the top, similar to a castle’s tower.

The male crown tails also have issues with broken rays and bending tails, while the females are only more prone to bent tails. Aside from this, they generally do not have the fin biting and fin rot issues that other long finned bettas do, due to the reduced size of their fin webbing.

Rose Tail

rosetail betta

Rose tails have some of the largest and most beautiful fins, and a great variety of colorations and patterns. Their fins are so large that they overlap and rumple, almost giving the appearance of flower petals.

While these bettas are quite gorgeous, they do have several health issues.

Since they have long fins, they are prone to fin rot and tail biting, but they are also more line bred than some of the other bettas, so they are more likely to develop tumors and other odd health issues.

In terms of tumors in bettas, the vast majority are entirely benign and do not occur in vital areas. Due to this, in most cases the natural lifespan of your betta will not be affected.

Feather Tail

feathertail betta

Feathertails are similar to rose tails in terms of health issues, though their tail size and shape can vary greatly. Instead of a ruffled half-moon shape, their tails have multiple large ruffled triangles at the end, giving the appearance of a feathered tail.

Depending on the quality of the feather tail, these “feathers” will range from being longer than the average halfmoon, smaller than the average halfmoon, appearing as multiple separate “tails”, similar to a double tail, or all as one single cohesive tail.

The highest quality feather tails will have joined tails with only minor separation of their giant, halfmoon tails. The lowest quality will have very short, highly separated “feathers” in their tails.


Dumbo Betta Fish

A Dumbo betta normally has a shorter tail type but can technically have any type of tail. Their fin classification is all about their pectoral fins, which are the fins that stick out to the side right behind their gills.

While these fins are normally very small and translucent in any other fin type, a Dumbo betta has very large, opaque, colored pectoral fins, which gives them the appearance of large, Dumbo-like ears. While it is not necessary, these fins often rumple similar to a rose tail.

Since their pectoral fins are not large enough to slow blood flow to the ends, they are not necessarily more prone to fin rot or tail biting, unless they have an at-risk tail type. This fin type is incredibly popular in females, as otherwise, females often look quite drab.

Plakat OHM, HM, etc.

Plakat betta

The plakat betta has recently been growing in popularity amongst both long time keepers and newcomers, as they have none of the health risks that the other bettas suffer from.

They display a naturally short tail, greatly reducing the risk of fin rot, and they have not been selectively bred for nearly as long, which also reduces the risk of tumors and any other health issue.

While their tails may be shorter than the others, they make up for it in the vivid coloration across their bodies and their fins. Part of their increase in popularity is due to new colors and patterns that were recently made available in plakats, as well as the declining health of the other betta breeds.

A plakat generally has one of four tail types; halfmoon, which is very desirable, over half moon, delta, and spade. A spade tail is just as it sounds and can be slightly longer than the halfmoon plakats, though not by much.

Betta Fish Scale Types

While most think that the only contributing factor to different types of bettas are their fin types, they can also have a few different types of scales. While the scale types do contribute to the overall aesthetic appearance of your betta, they can also be responsible for several health issues.

Metallic Scale

metallic scale betta fish

While all bettas were initially wild, metallics and dragons were created by breeding domesticated bettas back with wild bettas, primarily betta mahachaiensis, which we will cover in detail later.

A metallic scale betta’s scales have a thin layer of iridescence over their normal scales, which gives a shimmering and shining effect. While the initial metallic bettas were healthier due to the reintroduction of wild betta genetics, they normally do not have an advantage over other bettas anymore.

On the other hand, they do not have any specific health issues associated with their scales. The only issue that may occur is that it can be difficult to diagnose velvet, but they are not more prone to velvet than any other betta, and velvet is relatively rare.

Velvet is a type of external parasite that normally appears as a gold metallic sheen on a betta. As you can imagine, finding a harmful gold metallic sheen on a gold metallic betta can be quite tricky.

Dragon Scale

Dragonscale Betta

Dragon scale bettas have solid, sometimes iridescent or metallic, large and distinctly separate scales. While you normally cannot see the separation of each individual scale on a betta, it is impossible to miss every single detailed, outlined scale on a dragon scale.

This gives them a powerful and imposing look and can be coupled with the mask pattern to create stunning fish. Black samurai bettas are some of my favorite bettas due to this, though they wouldn’t be nearly as impressive without the dragon scale trait.

Dragon scales are much thicker than any other betta scale, and this can cause some problems. While rare, it is possible for a dragon scale betta to develop an eye issue, known as diamond eye, snake eye, and dragon eye. While these all sound like great superhero names, the affliction is a serious threat.

While the exact cause of diamond eye is unknown, it often occurs after mild or moderate eye infections, which may mean that it is an abnormal immune system response. While the thick scales of a dragon scale are attractive, they are much less so once they begin to grow over your betta’s eyes.

Diamond eye initially starts as small scales appearing in your betta’s eye(s), which eventually thicken and grow over time, obscuring the entire eye. While a blind fish in an aquarium is not a huge issue, it can be difficult for them to find food. If you see scales appearing in your fish’s eye, begin to establish a routine feeding schedule so that they know when and where to get food, even when they can’t see it.

Betta Fish Colors

Bettas are well known for their wide range of colors, but most people only see the most popular colors. So how many colors can bettas actually be?

Blue and Red

blue and red betta

Blue and red are the most common colorations in bettas. While all bettas started out in their natural, dull, normally brown coloration, they have been selectively bred into a wide variety of colors. Red colors are very popular, as it can be difficult to find flashy red fish for aquariums, especially for small 3-5-gallon desktop aquariums.

The red coloration comes in a wide range of hues, though a bright red is more popular than darker red colorations. In addition, a red betta with solid coloring throughout its body and fins is more popular than a red betta with splotchy coloration.

When referring to a blue animal, this normally refers to a slate gray color that is somewhat reminiscent of blue. However, blue bettas are actually quite blue, with the most common colors being turquoise, royal blue, and steel blue, though some variants upon these colors also exist. Blue also contributes to a wide range of popular patterns, most notably the butterfly betta.


Cellophane Betta

A cellophane betta is generally a betta lacking most coloration, though it is not albino. The body is generally a fleshy color, and you can occasionally see some of the darker colored internal workings, though this is by no means a glass fish. They have black eyes and entirely see-through fins, though they tend to have halfmoon, over halfmoon, and similar tail types.

While this is the classic definition of a cellophane betta, they have been expanded on to include certain colors, normally in the body, while their fins remain perfectly translucent. S

ome patterns, particularly koi plakat bettas, include the cellophane trait, but only to a small degree. Some of the moderate to high quality koi bettas have light colored bodies, with a few patches of color, and partially translucent fins.


While cellophane bettas may sound like albino animals, true albino bettas are extremely rare. A true albino betta lacks any and all skin pigmentation and will have red eyes lacking color instead of normal betta eye coloration.

In addition, albino bettas are very rare in part due to their health issues. They go blind very early in life, which can prevent reproduction, and they have very short lifespans, often dying before they reach maturity. It is nearly impossible to breed these bettas, meaning they will not become a regular appearance anytime soon.


Copper bettas are highly iridescent, and normally appear to be a light brown color in dull light. However, once they have proper lighting, they will appear as a heavily metallic copper color. Most of them have metallic scales, though unlike other metallic bettas, their fins also have a metallic and reflective sheen.

Orange, Yellow, Green, Purple

Just like red and blue bettas, orange, yellow, green, and purple tend to be solid colorations. The rarest is purple, as it is difficult to find a deep purple betta, though a light lavender is more common. Orange, orange dalmations, and yellow are more common than green and purple, though they are much rarer than red and blue. Yellow is also often seen mixed with a cellophane betta.

You can usually find green metallic bettas, but the green coloration is rarely seen in onn-metallics. In addition, they will only appear green if light is reflected off their scales in a certain way, otherwise they may appear black, blue, or another darker color.


Black bettas come in a few different colorations; melano, black copper, black orchid, and black lace. The black melano, or melanistic, betta is almost the opposite of an albino one. While albinism occurs due to a lack of pigmentation in the skin, a melanistic animal has an unusually high level of black pigmentation in the skin.

While this produces the purest type of black that can be found in bettas, the bettas are often infertile. Just like albino bettas, the gene is recessive and hard to replicate, though they are somewhat more common due to having fewer health issues than the albino bettas.

Black copper bettas are a type of copper betta crossed with a fertile black melano betta. After selectively breeding this strain for a period of time, the slight blue iridescence found in black melano bettas can be removed, though the bettas will still have copper iridescence of another color.

Black lace bettas have a dark body, without a melanistic condition, though they are unable to be as dark as melanistic bettas. In addition, their fins, or at least the tips of their fins, need to be cellophane in order to earn this classification. Black orchid bettas are a type of crown tail with very dark bodies, often appearing black, with some slight iridescence. Both the black lace and black orchids have been more popular recently and are becoming much more available. 

Mustard Gas

The mustard gas coloration is a widely popular variant that is graded on several different points. While you will almost definitely be able to find one in your local pet store (for a price), it will not be a top-quality mustard gas.

This coloration includes bettas that have blueish/greenish bodies and stark yellow fins ringed with black. The quality is determined on the shade of each color, the iridescence, width of the black on the fins, and overall body shape. While you may not be finding a top tier mustard gas near you, you will still find a gorgeous array of them.


White bettas are different from cellophane bettas, as they have stark white coloration in their bodies and fins and lack translucency. These generally have halfmoon tail types, and do not display any coloration other than white, though they can come with or without iridescent scales.

While this coloration is not more prone to any specific health issues, owners who are not familiar with a betta’ sensory pits normally panic once they see them on their fish, believing it to be HITH (hole in the head) disease. While these pits in a betta’s face are not noticeable on other color types, they stand out on opaque bettas, which can cause some concern to newer owners.


Even though bettas come in all sorts of colors, the specific hue and placement of those colors places them into different pattern categories. Some patterns are rare and hard to find, while others are a dime a dozen. Either way, each betta turns out quite beautiful!


A solid colored betta is exactly like it sounds; just one single color. Red and blue bettas are popularly found in simple solid colors, and despite the plain sounding name, they are still gorgeous and can add a lot to your tank.


A butterfly betta generally has a solid colored body, and this solid color extends partway into the fin. The rest of the fin is see-though with cellophane coloring. If the betta is a higher quality butterfly, the divide between coloration and transparency on the fins is a stark line.

Some butterfly bettas have the marble gene, which we will discuss below, and while it can create very attractive patterns, it is generally considered undesirable in a high-quality butterfly.


While the marble gene can create some beautiful fish, can also ruin some high-quality bettas. It is a gene that is randomly activated, sometimes more than once, during a betta’s lifespan. It causes their colors and patterns to shift erratically, though their colors darken overall and take on a splotchy pattern.

While a marble betta may start out as a white bodied fish with orange and yellow fins, it may soon marble into a blue or dark bodied fish with patches of white, though the fins will likely remain the same. While most marble gene bettas will change color, not all will. They are characterized by some patchy colors, but overall have extremely vibrant colorations and come in all tail types.

Bi Color

While bi colored simply means two colored, the bi colored pattern does have some more specific qualifications. For a betta to have a true bicolored pattern, their body must be one solid color, while their fins are another solid color.


While a betta’s face and head are normally a different color than the body, a masked betta’s head and face is the same color as their body. The face and head do not necessarily have to have the same iridescence as the body in order to be labeled a mask.


Tri colored bettas have an uneven mix of three different colors, while multicolored bettas have mix of three or more colors. The mix tends to be random, and there does not have to be a clear divide between the various colors.


A piebald betta is one that generally has a dark colored body and a fleshy colored face, similar to the coloration of a cellophane betta. While piebald normally refers to patches of albinism in other animals, in bettas it is simply patching of areas with less coloration, rather than full albinism.


The koi patterning has become very popular in plakat bettas. This patterning normally includes a lighter colored body with patches of red and black, similar to a koi. The light-colored body is necessary, but the added colors can be any color, as long as the colors are patchy. Partial cellophane fins are considered desirable, but not necessary.

Wild Betta Fish

Wild bettas differ from domestic bettas in several different aspects, primarily the care aspect. They require much more intensive care, and unless otherwise stated, are soft water fish that require high levels of tannins in their water. They are more skittish than other bettas and will require live food for the first few weeks to months you have them. Unlike domesticated bettas, they can also be kept together in groups. They also need extremely tight-fitting lids without gaps, as they are jumpers.

There are over 70 different species of bettas, but this short list will cover those that are easiest to take care of and that are the most available species.


imbellis betta fish

This betta, also known as the peaceful betta, has a medium to light brown body and green iridescent scales. They are capable of some slight color change, which can either make them appear much browner to blend in, or brilliantly green when they become excited. Their fins are distinctive, with blue/green ovals over their rays and a ring of red around the outer edge of their tail fin.

Betta imbellis has not been domesticated long and only has two tail types; crescent and spade. Crescent is their natural tail type and is similar to a delta. They are on the easier end of the spectrum in terms of care but are still more difficult to care for than normal bettas.


Smaragdina betta

Also known as the emerald betta, this betta displays a brilliant blue/green coloration as opposed to the imbellis’s green coloration. This species comes in a wider range of color, primarily metallic colorations, such as green, gold, blue, and several colorations between those colors. Some of them have similar tail colorations to imbellis, but their body coloration is entirely different.

They also come in spade or crescent tails, but like imbellis, while they are more difficult to care for than other bettas, they are still easier than other wild types.


Mahachaiensis betta

Betta mahachaiensis, unlike most other bettas, is a hardwater fish normally found in brackish water areas. They have a dark brown body with green or blue iridescent scales, but often have very little to no red coloration. Their tails can be either crescent or spade, and they are one of the only hardwater betta fish.


Betta albimarginata

When you first see this fish, you may be surprised to find out that it is a betta. Betta imbellis, smaragdina, and mahachaiensis greatly resemble the domestic betta, but Betta albermigata and macrostoma do not.

They have much flatter, more snakelike heads, and have longer bodies than the normal betta. All of their fins are rounded, including their ventral fins, which gives an entirely unique appearance. Betta albimarginata has a dark brownish reddish body, with slightly redder fins and gill plates. The ends of their fins are white, but they have a thin black ring on the interior of the white ring.

This fish is much rarer than the other bettas, primarily due to their reproductive strategy. They are a mouth brooding species, unlike the normal bubble nesting species. The males will hold fertilized eggs in their mouth and release them once they have hatched, but in captivity, it is nearly impossible to prevent the male from swallowing the eggs.


Betta macrostoma is rare for the same reason but are generally more valuable, partially due to their complex patterning. Also called the spot fin betta due to the large black and red eyespot on their dorsal fin, they have a light red/brown colored body with a black face, black stripe down their gill plate, black edged ventral and anal fins, and alternating black stripes separated by yellow and red on their tail.

Some of them also have a beautiful blue iridescence, normally on their dorsal fin. They are larger than the average betta, reaching over four inches in length. While they can be housed together, multiple males may become aggressive towards one another, so it is best to house only one male in each aquarium, though they can be housed with females.

No matter which betta you choose, you will have a little friend to take care of for 2-4 years, and possibly longer. Be sure that you can handle potential health problems for each type of betta, and always start getting experience with a domesticated betta before moving on to wild types. All bettas are heavily interactive fish and will make a great pet for you, as long as you take care of your little buddy.

Metallic Copper Full Mask Halfmoon MALE BETTA FISH
The Types of Betta Fish: A Guide to Colors, Patterns and Tails - Pin

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!

Betta Varieties

Action of many beautiful bettas colorful and soft movement swimming photo and mixed in studio technic.

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?

man's hand holding a glass of water with betta fish inside

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.

betta Fighting fish

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

double tail siamese fighting fish, betta splendens isolated on white background

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

Siamese fighting fish fight yellow fish, Betta splendens, Betta fish, Halfmoon Betta.

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

Colorful with main color of blue betta fish, Siamese fighting fish was isolated on black background.

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 nature betta splendens or wild siamese fighting fish with black background.

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.

siamese fighting fish , betta isolated on white background

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

Male and Female Siamese fighting fish in front of a white background .

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

Best Betta Tanks—A Complete Buyer’s Guide - Two betta fish put inside on a separate tanks.

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.


Betta fish, siamese fighting fish "half-breed between Half moon and Elephant ear fins" isolated on black background beautiful movement macro photo

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.


Close up art movement of Betta fish,Siamese fighting fish isolated on black background.Fine art design concept.

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.


Betta fish, siamese fighting fish, betta splendens isolated on black background

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.


Copper black betta fish.

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.


Close up of blue half moon Siamese fighting fish in a fish tank

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


Copper betta fish, siamese fighting fish on black background.

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.


Betta splendens on black background.

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 Siamese fighting fish isolated on blue background.

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

Beautiful siamese fight fish or exotic betta splenden on black background, isolated

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.


Fancy Halfmoon Betta on Black Background

A pastel betta has a pale pastel-shaded body and fins with a whitish wash overlaying the primary color, giving it a paler appearance.


Fighting fish (Betta splendens) Fish with a beautiful array of colorful beauty.

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.


Ourple betta fish in aquarium.

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 siamese fighting fish

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.


Yellow Betta fish in black background.

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:


Aquarian fish swims in aquarium water

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.


Capture the moving moment of blue yellow siamese fighting fish on black background. Dumbo betta fish

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.


Colorful 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.

Dragon Scale

Betta Red Dragon Crowtail CTPK Male or Plakat Fighting Fish Splendens On Black Background.

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.

Betta Koi Halfmoon Plakat HMPK Male or Plakat Fighting Fish Splendens On Black Background.

  • 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.


Red and blue fighting fish from Thailand.

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.


siamese fighting fish , betta isolated on black background

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:

Veil Tail

Red Veiltail mail Beta or Siamese Fighting Fish in planted tank

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.


beautiful of siamese fighting fish on black background

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.


Crowntail multicolored betta fish.

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.


Delta tail betta fish in white background.

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.

Double Tail

Betta Fish Or Fighting Fish (Half Moon Double Tail) On White Background

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.

Half Moon

Siamese fighting fish

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.


Power color betta fish "Rosetail betta fancy" isolated on black background Fine art concept.

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.


siamese fighting fish , betta isolated on blue background

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.


Betta fish, siamese fighting fish, betta splendens isolated on black background

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.

Round Tail

Siamese fighting fish Fancy Betta

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.

Spade Tail

Betta fish Fight in the aquarium black blackground

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.

Elephant Ear/Dumbo

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.

Abstract close up art movement of Betta fish,Siamese fighting fish isolated on black background.Fine art design concept.

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!

Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish with green plants

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 Clifford

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 metallic


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How to breed betta fish - Easy and Simple steps to breed betta successfully


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