Types of betta fish

When you’re selecting your first betta fish at the pet store, the sheer variety can be quite overwhelming. Despite all being classified as Betta splendens, these stunning fish have been extensively bred and crossbred with other Betta species over numerous generations, resulting in the wide array of types we see today. The International Betta Congress (IBC), a global organization that hosts betta fish shows on six continents, has established standards for various categories such as fin shape, tail type, color groups, and patterns. Referring to their latest exhibition standards, let’s explore some of the most popular categories of Betta splendens in the aquarium trade.

Halfmoon Betta

The most renowned variety of Betta splendens is the halfmoon betta. This type gets its name from its impressive tail, or caudal fin, which forms a perfect half-circle or a crisp ‘D’ shape, extending to a full 180 degrees. The dorsal fin, located on the fish’s back, and the anal fin, situated on the underside near the tail, are also significantly elongated. Ideally, these fins overlap with the edges of the tail when the betta fully displays its fins, creating a spectacular visual effect.

Crowntail Betta

Another highly popular form of betta fish is the crowntail betta, recognized for its unique, crown-like tail. In this variety, the webbing between each fin ray is significantly reduced, giving the fins a spiky appearance. This distinctive look extends to the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. There are various types of these “spikes” or ray extensions, including double ray, single ray, and cross ray.

Plakat Betta

Plakat bettas, originally bred for fighting, lack the long, flowing fins typical of many betta varieties. Instead, they have shorter fins and tails, allowing them to swim swiftly through the water. Some enthusiasts claim that shortfin bettas are generally more aggressive than their longfin counterparts due to their fighting heritage, though individual temperaments can vary. Unlike the halfmoon betta, the anal fin of the plakat is less rectangular and has a pointed edge near the tail. Plakats also often feature longer ventral fins, the two fins located under the fish’s chin, compared to other betta types.

The giant betta is a variation of the plakat betta, notable for its continuous growth throughout its life, unlike standard bettas that stop growing upon reaching adulthood. To be classified as a “giant,” a male betta must exceed a body length of 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) and have a significantly thicker and more robust appearance compared to other betta forms.

Doubletail Betta

Double tail bettas have the distinctive characteristic of two separate tails that connect directly to the fish’s body, resembling a single tail split into two lobes. Due to the need for a broad base to support the twin tails, their body appears shorter and stouter compared to other betta varieties. Additionally, the dorsal fin is wider and more rectangular, mirroring the shape of the anal fin. The double tail trait can be found in various types, including halfmoon, plakat, and even crowntail bettas.

Veiltail Betta

The veil tail betta is a classic variety that has been popular for a long time and is usually one of the more affordable options at pet stores. Although it has a longer tail than the plakat betta, it lacks the expansive, D-shaped tail of the halfmoon. Instead, its tail resembles a drooping teardrop, with the caudal fin starting bulbous near the body and tapering to a point. The dorsal fin is narrower, shaped like a curved blade with a pointed end, and the ventral fins are long and thin. The anal fin has a trapezoidal shape, with the front edge being shorter and the back edge longer.

Elephant Ear Betta

Betta fish with enlarged pectoral fins, located just behind the gill plate, are often referred to by various common names such as elephant ear or dumbo bettas. This designation primarily describes the enlarged pectoral fins and can be combined with different tail types and color patterns. However, due to their delicate nature, these pectoral fins are prone to splitting. Therefore, enthusiasts recommend removing any sharp decorations from the tank and maintaining high water quality to expedite the healing process.

Alien Betta

This hybridized betta blends the vibrant colors of domesticated bettas with the petite head and slender physique characteristic of “wild type” betta species. One striking feature of these bettas is the presence of dark, thick banding or bars on their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. They are commonly found in shades ranging from blue to green iridescence, with a face that is typically not black and dark edging around the scales adding to their allure.