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Colours      Patterns     Tail Types  Genotypes    Disclaimer


The Betta  has been bred in many different types, having a variety of different colours, colour patterns and tail forms. The selective breeding began in S.E. Asia long ago, with breeding of the Plakat Morh, the true Fighting Fish of Thailand, Plakat Khmer, the Cambodian colour form, and the Plakat Cheen, the long-finned, ornamental varietyModern breeding programmes have greatly extended the range of colours, fin types and patterns so that many combinations exist.  These all derive from the Plakat Khmer and Plakat Cheen. The main forms and colour types are listed here, with a brief description of their genetics and breeding.  At our hatchery, we are developing the Royal Blue/green complex, Crown Tails and the Double-tailed varieties, in an attempt to breed improved Double-tailed Turquoise and Royal Blue Bettas.  Delta Tails and Half Moons will be a future breeding line. We also keep Red, Yellow and Cambodian Bettas.

The pictures on this page are not necessarily of my fish but are images gathered from many places over time.  I thank all those Betta growers and photographers whose pictures I have used for their assistance and co-operation.  This is a free, educational page and all images are used for study purposes.

The Colours in Betta splendens

Solid reds are non iridescent colours and must have the colour spread evenly over the body.  A clean red is desirable, without iridescent colours and no fading.

Reds range in hue from beautiful, vermillion reds to deep crimson and red/brown colours.  The quality of the colour varies among strains, with most red Bettas showing some iridescence or other colours to some degree.

Any opaque overlay detracts from a good red, giving rise to muted reds and pinks.

A brilliant cherry red is most desired in red Betta splendens without any iridescence or opaque colour to mask the solid red. 

The Red Loss factor causes Bettas that are red as juveniles to lose that colour as the mature.  This factor is present in Cambodians and in yellows and apricot colours.


Black (melano)

A smoky Melano with some royal blue
The ideal colour of a true Black Betta splendens resembles that of the Black Mollie. 

Black in Bettas is often a smoky black.

Black Lace forms have transparent, smoky fins. 

Black is one of the most difficult colours to achieve, as the melano gene produces infertile Black females. Several crosses with other colours have tried to alleviate this problem, e.g. Melano x Celophane or yellows.

The Melano x Black Lace lines are infertile; Steel Blue females x Melano males and Royal Blue females x Melano males have produced Blacks with considerable iridescence present. 

Steel Blue

Double Tailed Steel Blues.
Notice the additional rays in the dorsal fin 
of this Double-tailed type-- a characteristic 
of the dt gene.
Steel Blue is also sometimes called Metallic Blue. 

This colour has a metallic iridescence when compared to the Royal Blue Betta.  Steel Blue results from the allele combination blbl.

Steel Blue, Green, Royal Blue, Green and Turquoise Bettas have an interesting genetic inheritance pattern based on the Bl / bl alleles that show incomplete dominance and determine iridescence.

Steel Blue x Steel Blue gives100% Steel Blue off-spring;
Green x Green gives100% Green; 
Green x Steel Blue gives all Royal Blue;
Royal Blue x Royal Blue gives 50% Royal, 25% Steel, 25% Green;
Green x Royal Blue gives 50% Royal, 50% Green.
Steel Blue x Royal Blue gives 50% Royal, 50% Steel Blue
 Turquoise is a variation of the "green" colouring (BlBl alleles).


A green RT female.
Green is the least fixed single colour and varies in shade from fish to fish and line to line.  Most Green Betta splendens have a bluish green hue but less so than a Turquoise variant.  It is often difficult to distinguish these two hues.  Choice greens are dark green.  This and the turquoise hues derive from the same alleles (BlBl).

The much sought after, dark, forest green is rare.





A turquoise HM males
A variant of the green, with a distinct blue hue.  Consistent colour across the fish is rare. The choice colour contains tones of blue rather than any Green or Yellow shades, to distinguish them from the common green. 

Fish with colours close to turquoise are often found in Royal Blue and Steel Blue spawns. 

The ideal is a dark shade of turquoise.


Royal Blue and Corn-flower Blue

Royal Blue Male Veil Tail

The consistent, solid royal blue is the choice form: the genotype Blbl or blBl gives a deep, rich royal blue in the green/steel blue/royal blue complex.  The most common form has a dark head and royal blue body and fins.  The ideal colour lacks reds and greens.

Corn-flower blues are the same genotype as royal blues but with a dark head and corn-flower blue body.

Royal blues with red factors may appear violet or purple when young and will lose it if the red-loss factor is present and so produce royal blues.  Red loss occurs also occurs in Steel Blue, Turquoise, and Green. 


 AVT yellow.
 Brilliant lemon yellows or even a butter yellow are the best yellow colours produced so far, although some breeders claim to have produced a golden yellow.  Colours that tend to be either a very pale yellow or a yellow-brown tinted are inferior colours. 

Yellow results from a gene that transforms red so sometimes the presence of red is also visible.

Golden yellow Bettas, with golden iridescence, are rare.  In my yellow/apricot strain, only the operculum is iridescent gold.

A lutino form exists, in which the eyes are yellow, too. 

Apricot and Peach

 A Peach Male Betta.
These are yellow pastels of varying intensities.

Apricot yellows have a distinct pale orange tint to the yellow.

Some yellow Bettas show a faint orange tint to the fins and are called Apricot.

To continue the fruity colours, "Pineapple" Bettas are yellows with a
distinct black outline to the scales, giving a net-like or pineapple
appearance.  Pineapple Bettas are pattern form, not a colour type.


Clear or Cellophane  Has completely transparent fins, with body flesh-coloured; colour from the body organs can cause the fish to look pink.  Eyes are pigmented (not albino).

Rare.  A characteristic of any true Albino fish is that the body lacks  all pigmentation, including the eyes which appear red.  Like Cellophane, these are completely colourless fish and may appear pinkish white or solid white if the opaque factor is present. True albino Bettas have red eyes, with no pigmentation.
White (Not albino)
Some solid, white Bettas are a truly beautiful dense white due to the Opaque factor.  Whites may have black eyes if they are not albino.

The image, left, shows blue due to the colour rendering.  The fish is white.

Whites of this type have black eyes.


Opaques (Pastels)
The Opaque allele gives the fish a milky white overlay that dilutes the underlaying colours to pastel shades, including the eye colour in most cases. 

There is an opaque form of each of the main colour types if the Op allele is present.  White Opaques appear dense white to opaque steel blue.

Pastels can be almost any pastel colour.

Chocolate Betta splendens look brown to the eye, but are actually a black and yellow mix. 

Chocolate variants can be bred to yellow to improve colour of both the yellow and the chocolate fry.



Orange Betta
Orange Bettas are a new strain of Betta splendens, and concepts of "orange" varies with individual breeders.  I have not seen any true orange Bettas in Australia, except for light reds that look more vermillion/orange than true orange and yellows that have a slight wash of orange/red. 

How "orange" is orange?

Perhaps an agreed colour chart would help distinguish true colour classification.

Lavender, Purple and Violet


A lavender Betta is genetically a Cambodian Betta splendens with extended Red and a layer of light iridescent blue-green. 

Truly Purple Betta splendens are also very new and rare and it appears that the colour results from blending red and blue. 

My Royal Blue strain throws purple or violet fry that appear violet at their first show of colour and darken to royal blues within a few months, as the red fades (due to the red-loss factor, L) as the fish mature .

Truly violet coloured Bettas are rare. 

The many colours of aquarium-raised strains of Betta splendens can be grouped into several colour patterns:
"wild type"

Betta splendens or Betta imbellis?
The typical red/brown Betta splendens is a dull red, with some blue/green iridescence.  Pictured is a specimen sold to me as a wild type Betta splendens but it looks very much like B. imbellis.  The two species are closely related and the modern varieties of Betta splendens may descend from a hybrid of B. imbellis.


solid colours
Any continuous, solid colour covering the entire body as well as the fins gives a fish of one colour.  Includes both iridescent and non-iridescent colours, the main colours being red, steel blue, royal blue, yellow, steel blue, green, turquoise, purple, lavender, chocolate brown, black and white.

Solid colour forms should have no colour breaks or 
show any iridescence.


Light body - dark fins type bi-colour
Essentially,  the body is one colour and the fins and tail are another colour. The body and fins can be any combination of the recognised solid colours .

There are two types of Bi-coloured Betta:
a) dark body types, with light fins, and ...
b) light body types, with dark fins (including the cambodian trait). 

In each case, only two colours should appear on the fish. These colours should be well defined and high in contrast

The butterfly type is a variety of bi-coloured patterning in Bettas. 


Cambodian Crown-tailed Betta
The pla kat kmer: a pinkish or white body with coloured fins (normally red) was the original Cambodian. This is a sub-group of the bi-coloured Betta splendens.



 Butterfly Betta.

A bi-coloured form in which the colour pattern of the body (which may be of any colour) partially blends into the transparent or white fins and tail (body / blend / fin edges). The effect is to create an oval band around the fish, which ideally is separated from the body by a narrow, white or transparent zone. 

Choice Butterfies have a coloured body with a white blend into the fins and then a final blend back to the body colour towards the edge of the fins.  Fins should display a distinct banded pattern, with strong contrast and well defined edges. The bands should also encircle the body of the fish with a well defined oval shape.

new variegated types

Butterfly: a variegated butterfly type in which the band near the body is particularly wide.
<<  Pictured is a beautiful fish, displayed on the California Betta Society web page.  It shows the trend in modern breeding lines for colour and pattern development.

BettaBiz displays some choice new varieties.

Variegated types show beautiful patterning that may 
or may not match the "butterfly" look.


tri-coloured Butterflies (incl. the "Tutweiler" BF)

Claire McHendrie's tri-coloured Butterfly:
note the enhanced dorsal fin and the lack 
of ventral fins in this fish.

<<  Beautiful tri-coloured "Butterfly" types: while not a true BF in the strict sense, this pattening is more frequently encountered.

Some butterfly trains are tri-coloured. Both light bodied and dark bodied forms exist. 

"Tutweiler" BF Crown Tail

A notable early expression of this pattern was in Tutweiler"s BF,  in which the body is paler than the band closest to the body.  However, that pattern was not a fixed strain. 

Above, is Diwa's "Tutweiler", a modern attempt at reproducing the Tutweiler BF in Crown tails bred in Indonesia.  The strain is Cambodian based and not yet stable. 





A Coloured Marble
White or salmon pink faced Bettas in which the colours are splashed or blotched with no defined borders between the body and the fins or tail.

Two types of Marble Betta exist:
a) the traditional Marble or Piebald, which is a dark bodied fish with a white head or face and lacking in the colours red, green, blue and steel blue; and 
b) the Coloured Marble. The fins of the choice Coloured Marble show a sharp-edged mix of light and dark colours (red, green, blue, and steel blue) and the face and chin are white or pink / salmon coloured. 



"Multicoloured" includes those fish that do not fit into any of the above mentioned pattern categories and have two or more contrasting colours.
Tri-colours fit in this category.

<< Pictured left: a tricolour with Cambodian, opaque and variegated alleles.  A true butterfly would have a well defined colour break where the fins are blue in this specimen.

Many modern Bettas fit this category.

speckled In this colour pattern, the body and fins are speckled with irrigular, dark spots like freckles.


There are four layers of color--the yellow is the bottom most, then black, red, and the iridescent layer is upper most.

Colour Genotypes, notation:
[+ denotes wild or "normal" form; upper case denotes dominance over +; lower case denotes a recessive or semi-dominant trait.  Thus, ++ or +w or w+ give normal coloured eyes and ww gives white eye.)

w  white eye  recessive white outer ring to the eyes.
c  Cambodian  recessive limits black
b  black or m melano recessive black males; deadly in females.
Si  spread Iridocytes dominant causes spread of iridescence over body and fins
Op  opaque  dominant produces an opaque, white coating on the body and fins; present in all pastel colours.
bl  incomplete dominance metallic blue-green iridescence*
Bl incomplete dominance green iridescence*
nr  non-Red recessive removes red; present in yellow, white and some Cambodians
b  blond  recessive dilutes colours by reducing melanin; 
L  red-Loss dominant all red colour fades as the fish matures, revealing the other colours if present.
mb  marbled pattern  recessive colour blotches
Vf variegated fins dominant streaked fins and butterfly trait 
ER (or R ) extended red  dominant all red, colour varies from cherry red to vermillion, depending on other factors present.
*N.B. the Bl & bl alleles determines steel blue, blue-green, turquoise, corn-flower and royal blue colours.  Blbl or blBl gives royal blue, BlBl gives green and blbl gives steel-blue. 

How would you describe this fish?  A dark bodied bi-colour or cellophane? 
This is a fish showing the red-loss factor, L.  It also has the recessive white eye and double-tail factors, ww & dtdt.  It was bred from a Red strain.

Notice how the dorsal fin (upper most fin) almost matches the lower most, anal fin for size- an effect of the dt allele that imparts additional rays to the dorsal fin.  Breeding from this fish may improve colour depth in yellows and, of course, throw nice trailing DTs if the female carries that allele, too.  Even dt-splits from this line will show improved dorsal fins.

Alleles for Fin type
+ round-tail

Female Round-tail Betta


All alleles dominant or 
recessive against this allele.

the "wild form" tail type

The specimen pictured at the right, has a tail form that is better than the wild form and approaches the delta-tail shape.    >>


Round-tail Male juvenile.
P  veil tail

long, drooping tail


dt  double-tail

Above: DT Steel Blue Male

Heart Tails, Fuse Tails and
Triple Tails are all due to
the dt allele.

Multi-DTs.  This fish almost has perfect, evenly sized caudal fins,  which
is hard to achieve in DTs.

a true double caudal fin, in which there are two distinct tails (two caudal peduncles) and not just a split in a single tail:

the dorsal fin mirrors the anal fin in approx. size and shape and has additional rays. 

Even dt-splits show an enhanced dorsal fin.

Heart Tails have a partially fused twin caudal fin that gives them their characteristic shape.

Fuse Tails have caudal, dorsal and anal fins fused as one entire fin (rare).

Triple Tails are very rare.   







DT Melano-Yellow Butterfly male

I have bred from a fish very similar to the above specimen, except that the fins were outlined in royal blue.  His  body was also pineapple patterned- each scale was outlined in black against a pale body.

The dt allele in a single dose is used in breeding to give improved tails and dorsal fin count (bred from one parent only and therefore not expressed  as the recessive characteristic).







Delta Tail

Delta Tail

Greek D shaped tail, held well, with wide spread but less than 180o;

possibly a multiple factor inheritance.

I  have no definite information regarding the allele(s) for this trait.



One of improved delta tails


 hm  half moon

One of Sherri Kish's HM Bettas.


recessive: Possibly a multiple factor inheritance is expressed in this type:
tail shaped like a capital D; an enhanced form of the Delt tail, with multiple branching of the rays of the fins. 

Dorsal and anal fins are also enhanced with this trait. straight edges to tail fin desired in this trait, to give a semi-circular outline with caudal fin spread of 180o

Many so-called Half-Moons (HMs) do not have the full 180o spread and are sometimes known as "Super Delta" Tails.

 A turquoise HM males: the tail spread is <180o, in this photograph.


p  comb tail

fin rays extend beyond the fin webbing: this is usually a single, extending ray.


crown tails; a new trait

Note the double-ray extentions in the 
caudal fin.

A new type originating in Asia in the 1990s.

This type is becoming very popular


caudal fins have long, double ray extensions like an improved comb-tailed Betta.; other fins have long extensions.

There is considerable variation in this
trait, with double ray, triple ray and quadruple ray (double-doubles!) extentions. 

Crown tails are also crossed with other tail forms such as short, long, double and delta-tailed forms to give considerable variation.



One of Indra's Java Crown Tails flaring. 
Note the long, extended, double rays.
"clown tails"

The name "clown tails" is a corruption or 'crown' tails, reflecting the attitudes and experience of some growers who have experienced variable (and perhaps disappointing) results in the breeding of this trait.  



Other tails types include spade tails, fuse tails, heart tails, triple tails, and pla kat tail forms. I have no information regarding the allele for these traits.


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