Owning a betta is a matter of pride. This alluring beauty is always in high demand.

Varieties of betta fish are available due to selective breeding, each looking equally jaw-dropping. They come in a wide range of vibrant colors and patterns, making them desirable.

Intrigued fish lovers often debate about identifying their type(s) and are spoilt for choice.

This article explains all types of betta fish and lists some rare, expensive, and exotic variants, along with some interesting facts about them. Let us begin with some interesting facts.

Unique Facts about Betta Fish

Originating from Thailand, bettas are popularly known as the siamese fighting fish. They are extremely territorial and aggressive. Siam is the old name of Thailand. Back then, kids would place two bettas face-to-face and watch them fight furiously to claim the territory, justifying their name.

A male betta can live peacefully with two to three female bettas in the same aquarium but not with same-gender species. You can also have a female-only betta tank. Choose your betta tank mates wisely.

While fish fighting is illegal in many countries, it is a thrilling legal sport in some southeast Asian countries. Bettas with the best genes are selectively bred and groomed for commercial fish-fighting. Betting on them is not uncommon.

They are intelligent and can be trained to do entertaining small feats (like swimming through a hoop, coming to the surface for a pat, etc.) and can recognize their owner amidst a group of people near the tank.

Male bettas are used in commercial fish fights as they are more aggressive. Besides, brighter colors and slender bodies make them more beautiful, costlier, and sought afterthan female betta fish.

Bettas can breathe oxygen from both – the surface air (using their mouths) and underwater (with gills). Thus, they can tolerate less oxygenated waters. However, that does not mean they are happy in poorly managed tanks. They are jumpers and should be housed in closed lid tanks.

Multiple mutations led to different ornamental and fancy variants. Despite higher prices, lower immunities, shorter life spans, and unique issues demanding extra care, they are a vital part of the international aquarium trade to date.

All bettas are aggressive, but ornamental ones are not apt for fish fighting.

Did you know? Marble betta fish can change their colors throughout their lives.

How are Betta Fish Classified

There are different types of betta fish based on parameters like patterns, caudal (tail) fins, colors, origin, etc. While each betta type is unique, there are overlapping types due to genetic mutations.

Cost of a Betta Fish

Patterns (in colors/fin tails) or body colors make them fancy, rare/exotic. Besides, their source also counts. For example, bettas from Thailand or a reputed breeder are costlier than those from local stores.

Besides, many expert breeders have developed a reputation locally/globally through persistent selective breeding, knowledge, and reliability.

A single betta can cost anything from $5 onwards according to gender, size, availability, deals, patterns/colors, source, grooming (purpose), etc.

Rare bettas are generally auctioned online/offline or sold in exhibitions. An exotic betta can fetch a few hundred to thousand dollars.

Types of Betta Fish

Patterns

To make it easier, we will focus only on patterns (irrespective of tail fin types) in this section.

Solid

A Solid orange betta fish

They have a single color on the entire body, Solid color bettas are challenging to breed. Most bettas have more than one color in varying proportions and patterns.

Bi-color

A Bi-color Turquoise Orange Betta Fish

Their fins and bodies have two different colors. It is a rare pattern.

Some call it a Cambodian betta. However, Cambodian betta is a type of bi-color having flesh color body with red fins.

Grizzle

An Orange Blue Grizzle Betta Fish

In this pattern, both colors merge gently at the borders whenever the color changes.

Besides, the two colors spread randomly anywhere on the body.

Marble

Original Betta

They can change their color(s)/ markings their entire lives. This process is called marbling.

This pattern makes bettas rare.

An inherent jumping gene (transposon) causes marbling. True to its name, this gene relocates anywhere in the DNA sequence and alters the quality of the original gene it overtakes.

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When this mobile gene jumps to the position of a gene that decides the color pigmentation of any body part, that part changes its color.

During marbling, patches of different colors appear, or the whole body color changes. So, your blue betta might change to yellow or have white (or any other) color splotches anywhere on the body.

Marbled Betta (after 3 weeks)

It is difficult to know if you have a marble betta fish unless it changes color(s). They are an owner’s delight but a breeder’s pain.

Every attempt to breed them might not succeed. One can never know at what age/size marbling will occur (if any). However, a breeder can tip you about possible marbling.

Sometimes, a betta fish has already changed several colors in a rotation before its sold. Hence, the seller can inform the exact colors it will change. But the patterns and timings remain unpredictable.

Note: If a betta is under stress, its color fades. Do not mistake this as marbling. Always be on top of your aquarium maintenance.

Koi

A Koi Betta Fish

Bettas with colors and markings on the body resembling a Koi fish are called Koi bettas.

Koi patterns make betta rare.

They may be marble bettas. Thus, you may have a Koi marble betta too!

Koi Galaxy

Koi Galaxy Betta Fish

A betta with a fusion of koi colors, dense markings, and prominent blue/red coloring is called Koi Galaxy. They may be marble too.

A look at both pictures makes it easier to distinguish a koi betta from a Koi Galaxy Betta.

Dalmatian

A Rare Orange Dalmatian Betta Fish

These bettas have red speckles. Some suggest that the dalmatian markings should be on the fins only. Many include any color dalmatian markings anywhere on the body.

The picture shows the unique speckles that set them apart from the rest.

Butterfly

A Butterfly Betta Fish

As depicted in the picture, the outermost part of their fins and tails is opaque white, or transparent. Butterfly bettas have two to three colors on the parts where fins start.

Piebald

Pale, flesh/light-colored faces with darker bodies distinguish them. A piebald betta may be a marble too.

A Piebald Marble Betta Fish

Full-mask

A  Small Blue Full Mask Betta Fish

It has a dark marking on both sides of its face resembling a mask. Hence, the name.

Dragon Scale

A Red Dragon Betta Fish

Due to a genetic mutation, the dragon scale betta is distinct. Thicker, pronounced scales with a metallic shine that looks like a coating. They are also known as dragon betta.

They are available in all colors.

Alien Betta

An Emerald Green Alien Betta Fish

It is one of the newest hybrid bettas. It is a cross between wild bettas (Betta smaragdina Guitar and other Betta splendens). Its unique geometric patterns and vibrant colors distinguish it from the rest.

A Purple Alien Betta Fish

It comes in vibrant colors like emerald green, copper, blue, yellow, purple, or a combination.

Kinds of Tail Fin Betta Fish

Variants of tail fin bettas are available in almost all colors and patterns (refer to section 4.1). However, Koi and Marble betta patterns are rare. We will discuss some rare colors in the later section.

Veil Tail (VT)

A Vibrant Red-Blue or Pink-Blue Veil Tail (VT) Betta Fish

Tall swaying fins define a veil tail. Notice the tail/caudal) fin in the picture. It rises a little in the start and falls due to weight, making a broad-u shape on the top.

VTs are slow swimmers due to their heavy fins. They should be kept in slow-moving water flow to reduce their swimming woes.

The blue and red colors merge seamlessly at all places, in the accompanying image. It might be a Grizzle VT betta.

The grizzle and dalmatian betta we saw earlier are VT. Right?

Crown Tail (CT)

A Bi-Color or Blue-Orange Crown Tail (CT) Betta Fish

As shown in the photo, a web connects each fin-spread initially but spikes out towards the end. The spikes may begin from any point (and not just midway).

All the fin spikes together appear like a crown (semi-circular) on the betta fish, explaining its name.

If the spiking starts earlier, the fin spikes droop due to the lack of a strong connecting web that can hold them in place. CTs need extra care as they are more prone to injury/disease due to their delicate fins.

Comb Tail or Half Sun

A Bi Color Green-Yellow Comb Tail Betta Fish

People often confuse comb tails and CTs in some borderline cases. There is no abbreviation for comb tail.

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It is a rare variety.

To qualify as a half sun betta, the fin-webbing that connects

the spikes should be more than two-thirds of the fin size. When the tail fin spreads 180 degrees with spiky ends, it looks like sun rays or a comb with neatly arranged spikes, explaining its name.

Half Moon (HM)

They have a tail fin spreading 180 degrees. Besides, the tail, dorsal and anal fins overlap due to the tail fin spread.

Most butterfly bettas are half moon, including the one we saw in section 4.1. Scroll up and verify!

HMs come in all patterns and colors.. Watch the tail fin in full glory as he swims.

Over Half Moon (OHM)

A half moon betta with a tail fin spread exceeding 180 degrees is an OHM betta.

The accompanying image can also be names as a  grizzle/blue-black grizzle betta. So, the nomenclature can be different.

A Blue Over Half Moon (OHM) Betta Fish.

Rose Tail

Half moon (HM) betta fish with overgrown tail fins are called Rose Tails. The tail fin spread remains 180 degrees but has too many folds due to overgrowth.

Due to multiple folds, the fin tail of the betta fish resembles a rose petal.

Rose tail bettas are slow swimmers due to their heavy tails.

Typical behaviorTail biting.Though the exact reason for them biting their own tail fins is unclear, some believe that they do in an attempt to reduce the tail fin weight bothering them.

The aquarium water quality has to be top-notch to avoid infections due to own tail biting.

Watch the rosetail majestically move as it swims. The tail fin edges have a black lacing, which also makes a black-lace rose tail name apt for it!

Feather Tail

A Blue-Pink Feather Tail Betta Fish

When the tail fin edges of a rose tail are ruffled and uneven, they resemble feathers, explaining their name.

Double Tail (DT)

A Piebald Double Tail Betta Fish.

Its tail fin is split into two on the outer side but single at the base. It has two tail fins on the outer side. They are also known as twin tail betta.

Plakat (PK)

A blue rim HMPK betta Fish

They have shorter fins and larger bodies. PK bettas resemble the wild betta splendens.

They are more aggressive and move quickly due to shorter fins, making them apt for fish-fighting matches to date. Ensure the tank lid is closed, as they are mighty jumpers.

The full mask betta fish explained in section 4.1 is also a blue HMPK.

Spade Tail

Its tail fin is evenly spread upwards and downwards from the centre bodyline. All the tail fin ends meet at a single point in the outermost portion forming a spade shape, explaining its name.

Spade tails are rare. They come in all colors and patterns.

A Full Mask Spade Tail Betta Fish

Delta (D) Tail

It is similar to HM bettas. However, the spread of its tail fin is much less than 180 degrees and looks like the greek alphabet delta (Δ), justifying its name.

A Rare Opaque White Delta (D) Tail Male Betta Fish

Super Delta (SD) Tail

The tail fin of an SD betta has more spread than a Delta tail but is still less than 180 degrees (HM).

A Super Delta (SD) Tail Male Betta Fish

Single Tail (ST) or Round Tail

Round Tail or ST bettas have tail fins with a less than 180 degrees spread. However, unlike deltas and super deltas, the edges of the tail fin form a smooth curvy round shape.

A Round Tail Betta Fish

Dumbo/Elephant Ear (EE)

A Half Moon(HM) Dumbo/Elephant Ear (EE) Betta Fish

This classification is on pectoral fin shape. Pectoral fins are the fins near the gills.

Due to a rare mutation, its pectoral fins are large and resemble an elephant’s ears. Hence the name EE. It is a rare variety.

Fan Tail

Fan Tails are one of the rare bettas.

They have a pair of tail fins, one on each side. The two caudal fins merge at a small point on the top. The beauty of this betta fish can be seen from the rear side when it swims. The caudal fins open and close beautifully, except for the single joint on the top.

Here’s an HMPK fan tail betta for sale at an exhibition for a whopping $5000!

Betta Fish Colors

As discussed earlier, betta fish come in every color due to mutations. Bettas have layers of color pigmentation like blue, yellow, green, black, and red. Some (like turquoise) are luminous colors. Thus, a betta can assume any of these colors or combinations.

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Let us look at some unusual colorations and distinguish them.

Candy Betta

depicts a candy koi betta fish

They have many colors. However, the placement of colors has high contrast, and there is a lack of balance of colors on the body and fins.

Nemo Betta

It has red, orange, yellow, and black colors. The colors are in balance throughout its body and fins.

A classic Nemo betta has only two colors that do not overlap.

The photo shows a Nemo Koi betta.

Multicolor Betta

A competition winner Multicolor Betta Fish

They have at least three colors. The colors are splashed all over the body in balance.

Cellophane Betta

A Cellophane Betta

They lack pigmentation and have black eyes. Their flesh lends them a pinkish hue.

Glofish Betta

A Glofish Betta Fish

They are developed by injecting jellyfish genes into fertilized betta eggs. It is called genetic modification.

They assume neon colors like electric green or yellow that glow in a blue LED light and need a day-night cycle.

Metallic Betta

A Blue HM Metallic Betta Fish

Bettas having turquoise, royal blue, or steel blue colors display a luminous shine when light falls on them. It is due to a crystal element in their skin cells, which creates a light reflection.

They are not dragon scale.

Mustard Gas

A Super Delta (SD) Blue Mustard Gas Betta Fish

They have blue bodies with long yellow fins (like HM, VT, CT, etc.).

Giant or King Betta

A Giant Blue HM Betta Fish and its Bubble Nest

This type is based only on size. Bettas which are larger than the usual adult size are known as giant or king bettas.

Rare and Expensive Betta Fish Types

Let us begin by eliminating what is not rare. Veil Tail (VT), red, and blue colors are the most common betta fish varieties.

A Thailand Flag-colored betta holds the world record for the costliest betta sold. Its flag has red, blue, and white colors. Many breeders tried to develop a betta having these colors without any mix-up/overlap.

Fan Tail betta is the rarest and most expensive betta fish. As per the video we watched earlier, a single plakat (PK) half moon (HM) fan tail is likely to fetch $5000!

However, Mr. Kachen Worachai successfully developed this multicolor betta with three discrete colors and sold it in an online Facebook auction for $1530.

Albino Betta

Lack of pigmentation, red eyes and transparent fins make them fairy-like. Their flesh gives them a pinkish tinge.

Never confuse it with a cellophane betta, which has black eyes.

They are sensitive to light and prone to health complications like skin cancer, blindness, etc., reducing their life span.

Despite this, they are one of the rare, highly sought-after, and expensive betta fish.

The image shows a double-tail (DT) albino betta.

Other rare betta tail types are listed below.

  • Double Tail (twin tail).
  • Dumbo/Elephant Ear.
  • Spade Tail.
  • Rose Tail.
  • Feather Tail.
  • Comb Tail or Half Sun.
  • Over Half Moon (OHM).
  • Round Tail.

Other rare betta fish colors are:

  • White or Platinum – They have opaque white bodies with black eyes.
  • Solid Purple.
  • Solid Pink.
  • Solid Orange.
  • Solid Green.
  • Solid Black.
  • Glofish Betta.

Rare betta patterns are:

  • Marble.
  • Koi.
  • Orange Dalmatian.
  • Alien Blue – It requires a rare gene (homozygous) for breeding.

It is not possible to place a price tag on any of these. The price will vary according to the source, size, source, and availability.

Conclusion

Bettas come in a spectrum of colors and patterns. Honestly, even the most common bettas are astounding. It is unfair to rate any of these beauties as the coolest or prettiest.

A few wild varieties are on the verge of extinction. Most breeding/cross-breeding is captive. Wild betta fish are not as aggressive as captive bettas. Releasing any captive bettas in the wild is a threat to wild varieties.

Fancy varieties (like Rose Tail) have lost the sheer joy of existence and the right to a healthy life. Our experiment has moved to the next level with the introduction of genetic modification (Glofish). We need to draw a line in fulfilling our curiosity.

Besides, we strongly oppose any tail trimming (surgically or otherwise) unless it is necessary to cure a disease or comfort the betta fish. It should be performed by a fish vet only.

Hopefully, you will now be able to recognize and choose the right betta fish for your collection. We wish you a happy fish parenting time!

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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