Last Updated: January 21, 2021
Betta fish, known as Siamese fighting fish, are exceedingly popular freshwater fish favored by aquarists the world over. Their striking colors and flamboyant fins give these feisty fish the appearance of a Spanish flamenco dancer, weaving their way through their tank with their colorful fins on display.
When it comes to betta fish, it is the males that are most renowned for their fancy flowing tails, vivid colors, and unique patterns—hence it is also these male fish that are most highly prized by both hobby and professional aquarists alike.
Native to the Mekong Delta region of Southeast Asia, there are over 70 different wild varieties of the betta fish, with many more developed in captivity. The key to understanding and classifying betta fish is in knowing that their wide variety of looks comes from the many different combinations of colors, patterns, and tail types that these stunningly beautiful fish can have.
Betta Fish Colors
Betta fish come in a wide variety of solid colors from the most vivid to plain whites and black, yet many are also two-toned, and others have a range of different pigmentations. These fish are quite plainly colored in the wild, but those bred in captivity can be found in almost any vibrant color or shade.
Without a doubt, the rarest of betta fish is the albino. As with albinos in other animal species, the albino betta fish has no pigmentation at all, they are totally white, and have eyes that have a pink or reddish tinge.
So rare are albino betta fish that some people question their existence at all, with most reported albino fish being white or cellophane varieties that have been mistaken for albino—with the giveaway being that if the fish has black eyes, they are not an albino.
Breeding albino betta fish is made particularly difficult as they are extremely susceptible to UV light which often results in the fish going blind at a young age.
Black is a common betta fish color.
Of the three, melano betta fish are the most popular due to their rich black color. However, as the recessive gene that causes them to be so dark also causes female melanos to be infertile, breeding them can be difficult.
The black lace betta fish isn’t as dark as the melano, but they are more common as the females are not infertile. While the metallic, or copper, black betta has a black coloring like the black lace betta, only with some metallic coloring in their scales.
There are also several black betta fish varieties that are bi-color or marble, including the black opal, black devil, and black ice varieties.
Blue is not a commonly occurring color in most fish varieties, but there is always an exception to the rule, and the betta fish is such an exception.
Steel-blue bettas are a grayish-blue in color and have a ‘blue wash’ appearance, while the royal blue and turquoise blue bettas have a vibrant and rich blue coloring, which, in the case of the turquoise, also has a hint of green.
4. Clear / Cellophane
Often mistaken for the rare albino betta fish, the clear betta fish has a translucent skin with no pigmentation.
These fish have a soft pink coloring, but their color does not come from their skin tone, rather it is the coloring of the fish’s insides visible through their skin. These fish often appear to have green or blue tails; however, this is just the color of the light passing through the water they are swimming in, as these betta fish have no pigmentation in the tails or fins either.
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The term ‘chocolate’ is commonly used to describe a popular variety of betta fish with a brown or tan body and striking orange fins.
Interestingly, despite the popularity of the term ‘chocolate’, is not an officially recognized betta fish color. The correct way to refer to these fish is as being bi-color brown and bi-color orange bettas. It is made even more confusing because the chocolate bettas have a remarkably similar coloring to mustard (see below) betta fish.
Green betta fish are usually solid green in color but can come in various shades, from turquoise to a deep green that in a certain light, looks almost black. The one predominant feature of all green bettas is that they have a metallic wash that shimmers in the light.
Mustard betta fish are extremely common. Like the chocolate betta, they are bi-colored and have a dark-colored body with translucent orange tail and fins.
Whereas chocolate bettas have a brown body, mustard betta fish typically have a blue or green body and may also have a tail that shades to black on its outer tips.
Also commonly known as opaque, the pastel betta fish isn’t really a color variety in itself. Rather, it results from a recessive gene that gives the base color of the fish the appearance of having a whitewash overlay. It is this softening of the color that gives the pastel or opaque betta fish their name.
These fish’s actual color can vary significantly, but they are often found in soft pinks and blues.
When people typically think of an orange fish, it is the Common Goldfish that comes to mind. However, solid orange betta fish that resemble the coloring of a goldfish are exceedingly rare. Usually, orange bettas have a bright tangerine color.
If you plan on keeping orange betta fish, it is important to have full color-spectrum lighting in your fish tank, as tanks with poor lighting often make orange bettas appear to be a reddish color rather than their actual orange/tangerine.
There is also a second betta fish within the orange color category commonly referred to as the orange dalmatian. These fish are technically considered a bi-color variety and tend to have a lighter pale orange color with bright orange spots on their fins.
True purple is an extremely rare coloring for a betta fish, and it is virtually unheard of to have a true purple betta. A fact that makes these fish one of the most expensive colored bettas available.
Often, purple betta fish have a shading of blue, red, or lavender. Yet even these shaded purples are quite rare, and while fish with these colorings won’t be as expensive as a true purple, they are still quite pricey to buy.
Although quite a striking color, red is an extremely common color for a betta fish. A solid, consistent bright red is what betta fanciers typically look for, and is considered the desired look.
However, like some other colors, it is a little unusual to see a completely red fish, and they are often bicolored, with darker bodies and bright red highlighted tails and fins.
Although not itself a color, and often used to describe a pattern rather than a shade, wild-type betta fish usually have an iridescent body that is either green or blue and reddish tails and fins, often with blue/green tips.
13. Yellow / Pineapple
Yellow betta fish are often described by fanciers as non-red, rather than yellow, but they actually come in several yellow tones—from light yellow to a beep buttery color.
Although technically still yellows, pineapple betta fish tend to have a darker definition around their scales, which gives them the look of a pineapple, and hence also their name.
Betta Fish Patterns
In addition to having many different colors, betta fish also have, and can be classified by the many different patterns they have on their bodies and fins. Hence, when discussing betta fish, it is a matter of considering their base color and their distinctive color patterns.
Bi-colored betta fish are extremely common, and many of these fish have more than one color on their bodies or fins. Rarer, and hence more sought after, are bi-colored bettas that have a single solid color on their bodies and fins that have another, completely different color.
For competition purposes, regardless of the color configuration, it is important that bi-colored bettas only have two colors, and fish with any other marking will be disqualified.
Butterfly betta fish have a solid color that extends part-way into their fins and tails, before stopping at a distinct line, leaving the rest of their fins and tail pale and translucent. Ideally, the color change occurs halfway through the fish’s tail and fins so that there is a 50:50 split between color and translucent, but an exact split is exceedingly rare.
Butterfly bettas can sometimes have a marbled coloring through their tails, and while this is quite beautiful, this is considered undesirable for competition purposes.
Cambodian patterning is a variation of the common bi-colored pattern, and Cambodian betta fish have a light-pink or white body and blood-red colored tail and fins.
Once a common pattern, Cambodian bettas have become rare in recent years as fanciers have concentrated on breeding more exotic looking fish.
Despite their appearance, the dragon betta fish is a bright red or orange-colored fish with thick, white-colored shimmery scales that give them the appearance of having metallic, dragon-like armor. Their tails and fins remain brightly colored as they are not scaled.
However, not all scaled betta fish are dragon bettas, and to be classified as such, the fish must have thick white, or opaque, metallic scales that cover their body and face.
Grizzle betta fish have a pattern in which their coloring is half a single dark shade and half a single light shade of the same base color. To look at, these fish appear to have strokes of the lighter shade color drawn or painted over their dark bodies with a fine pointed pen or brush.
Marble betta fish are known for their uniquely colored splotch-like patterns covering their bodies, tails, and fins. Most of the time, marble bettas have a light-colored body with dark marble patterning that is usually a single bold color.
Most interestingly, Marble bettas aren’t born with their marble patterns, but rather develop these as they mature, and it is often the case that their pattern will change several times throughout their life.
Most betta fish have a face that is darker than the rest of their body. However, this is not the case with mask bettas, as these fish have a face coloring that matches the rest of their body. From their head to the base of their tail, their entire body is a single consistent color—leaving only their fins and tail to display a different shade or color.
Half mask bettas have, as their name suggests, half of their face the same color as their body, and the other half a different shade or color.
Multi-colored betta fish are extremely popular, and the term is a bit of a catch-all phrase that is used to describe any betta fish with three or more colors on its body that doesn’t fit a prescribed pattern type.
These fish can be extraordinarily beautiful, and the range of possibilities in terms of color and patterning is virtually limitless.
Betta Fish Fin and Tail Types
Just as there are many different colors and patterns, betta fish also comes with a significant number of different fin and tail types. This is the final component of describing and determining different varieties of betta fish.
The combtail is a relatively new variety of betta fish that many aquarists argue is not a distinct tail type, but rather a trait that can be found in many other tail types. Fish with a combtail have a large fan-like rear fin with a wide, but less than 180 degrees, spread. Fish with a caudal fin that is 180 degrees or wider are not considered to be combtails, but half suns, which we will discuss below.
Importantly, a combtail betta fish also has rays that extend beyond the webbing of their tail, giving them a pointed, or comb-like, appearance.
Crowntail betta fish are very closely related to the combtail. They are an easy fish to identify as their fins and tail webbing only extends a short way down each ray. As a result, their tails look very spiky and crown-like.
Because they have such little webbing in their tails, crowntail bettas often break their tail rays and can end up with a bent tail.
Crowntail bettas can also have double or even triple ray extensions, in which multiple rays in their tails or fins appear to extend from larger central rays.
Delta bettas are an extremely popular and beautiful variety of betta fish with triangular tails with webbing that typically extends to the tip of each ray—meaning there is no crowning of their rays. Instead, their tails have a rounded looking edge. They are named after the Greek letter delta, and they can be found in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Delta bettas come in two sub-varieties, which are referred to as being delta or super delta. Super delta betta fish have a wider tail than the standard delta.
25. Double Tail
As their name suggests, the double tail delta has a double caudal (rear) fin. It is a popular misconception that their double-tail is actually just one tail split in half; however, that is not the case. Double tails have to complete and separate fins that are not conjoined or split in any way.
While a popular trait among aquarists, the double tail is actually the result of a genetic mutation that causes the fish some difficulty and usually results in a shortened lifespan. Specifically, the double tail interferes with the fish’s swim bladder and can make them more susceptible to fin rot and other fin diseases.
26. Half Moon / Over Half Moon
Half moon betta fish are manned for the widespread of their tails, which typically spread to a full 180 degrees, giving their tails the shape of a capital D.
As well as having very wide caudal fins, their dorsal and anal fin s are also much wider than a typical betta fish, although these do not spread to a full 180 degrees.
The difference between the half moon and over half moon betta fish is that the over half moon has a caudal fine that extends beyond 180 degrees.
27. Half Sun
The half sun betta is a relatively new hybrid fish that is the result of selectively crossing a half moon betta with a crown tail betta. The resulting fish has a full 180-degree wide tail with rays that extend beyond their tail webbing.
The plakat betta fish is known for its short, almost stumpy tail, closely resembling the tail found in wild betta fish.
While traditionally, plakat betta fish have only had rounded or pointy tails, thanks to selective breeding, they can now also be found with short half moon or short crown tails. In this case, they are referred to as half moon plakat and crowntail plakat, respectively.
29. Rosetail / Feathertail
Considered by many to be the same variety, and by some as two distinct fish, the rosetail betta fish has the most magnificent, free-flowing tails of all betta fish varieties—making them both the most beautiful and also most sought after of all betta fish.
Yet their flashy appearance comes at a cost, both in their price and to the health of the fish themselves. After years of constant cross-breeding to develop their flashy tails, the gene pool within which these fish are bred has shrunk. This, combined with some less than ethical breeding practices, has led to rosetail bettas being much more likely to suffer from tumors, genetic disorders, and other health conditions that many other more common betta fish varieties.
Their long flowing fins also tend to be more susceptible to fin rot than other varieties, and rosetail bettas are also more prone to nipping at their own tails and fins than betta varieties with shorter or more compact tails.
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30. Round Tail
The round tail betta is an immensely popular betta fish that can usually be found in a suburban pet store. Their namesake tail resembles that of the delta betta, only without straight edges, resulting in their tail having a round, almost circular appearance.
31. Spade Tail
Spade tail betta fish are quite similar in appearance to the round tail, except that their tail is not rounded, and rather comes to a single point at the tip, forming the shape of a spade from a deck of playing cards.
From a competition perspective, the spade-shaped tail should be symmetrical and even on both sides.
32. Veil Tail
The veil tail is by far the most common tail variety in betta fish. Long and flowing, the veil tail’s dangling caudal fin flairs out behind them as they swim as does both their dorsal and anal fins.
A very pretty looking fish, veil tails were at one time extremely popular on the show and competition circuit; however, due to their mass-market appeal and over breeding they are no longer seen as desirable for these purposes.
Featured image credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.
- Betta Fish Colors
- Betta Fish Patterns
- Betta Fish Fin and Tail Types