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!
- 1 Types of Betta Fish
- 2 Betta Fish Fin Types
- 3 Betta Fish Scale Types
- 4 Betta Fish Colors
- 5 Patterns
- 6 Wild Betta Fish
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.
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
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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.