The betta fish is a freshwater fish from Southeast Asia commonly found in shallow rice paddies, stagnant ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams. Also known as the Siamese fighting fish, bettas are a unique pet fish with many different types and classifications.
They come in various shapes, colors, and patterns, and due to this variation, you may need help with classifying them. For instance, you might call your underwater friend a half-moon betta when it’s actually a half-sun betta.
Read on to learn about the different types of betta fish, categorized by tail, color, and pattern.
Betta Fish Fins
Betta fish have five fins. Each serves a unique purpose.
The Dorsal fin: The dorsal fin sits atop the fish, towards the back. It’s unpaired, meaning that each fish has only one dorsal fin.
The dorsal fin functions as a rudder, as it works to help the fish turn and keep its balance. It also comprises several branches of vein-like cartilage.
Anal fin: The fin is more like a prominent dorsal fin and is also unpaired. You can find it under the fish, flaring toward the rear.
Pectoral fins: Betta fish use their pectoral fins for propelling and turning in the water. Pectoral fins come in pairs. Betta fish have one on each side.
Ventral/Pelvic fins: Ventral fish are a pair of fins that correspond to the hind limbs of quadrupeds. Ventral fins have a primary function: to assist the fish in swimming.
Caudal fin: Also known as the tail fin, the caudal fin propels the fish through the water. You can find the caudal fin at the end of the caudal peduncle, which is the narrow part of a fish’s body toward the back, where the caudal or tail fin is attached.
Now that we know the different fin types, here are eight types of betta fish based on their fin shapes:
1. Double-tailed betta
The double-tailed Betta is simple to spot. Just as the name says, the fish seems to have two caudal fins. This is because its caudal fin is divided into two at its base. So essentially, the double-tailed Betta has just one tail that looks like two.
The double-tailed Betta also has more prominent dorsal and anal fins with shorterbodies than other betta types.
These types of Betta can come in any color. As for patterns, the fish has quite a list of options like solid, butterfly, dragon scale, piebald, full mask, grizzle, and bi-color.
Fun fact: The double tail is sometimes called a ‘full-moon’ tail.
2. Crowntail betta
The fish is identified by its spiky dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. These fins look spikey because the crowntail betta has only a small amount of webbing between the fins. This type of betta is extremely popular in homes, among hobbyists, and among fish enthusiasts, and are found in almost every pet store.
These spiky fins sit royally on the fish like a crown, giving it its name. The crowntail Betta can come in any color and can be found in patterns like solid, butterfly, dragon scale, piebald, full mask, grizzle, and bi-color. Its rarest patterns are marble and koi.
It’s important to note that although they are strong swimmers, crowntails can be very fragile regarding disease and injury, so keeping them in perfect water is essential.
Fun fact: the average size of a crowntail betta is about 2.5 inches from the snout to the tip of the tail. Crowntails are typically shorter on female bettas than on male bettas.
3. Half-moon betta
The half-moon betta is a gorgeous type of betta fish. Its tails spread 180° to make a beautiful capital D. This capital D is made by overlapping dorsal and anal fins.
The fish’s dorsal fin is very large and has a rounded shape. The anal fin, on the other hand, forms a large curtain under the fish’s belly. Together, these fins give the fish a sort of half-moon shape, the origin of its name.
This kind of Betta can exist in any color, adding to its beauty. The patterns they can come in are solid, butterfly, dragon scale, piebald, full mask, grizzle, and bi-color. Marble and koi are, however, quite rare.
Although getting a half-moon tail betta is not hard, they’re less common than the crowntail and are available in most pet stores.
Fun fact: The double-tail half-moon betta is one of the rarest species of betta. This is due to its low survival rate amongst offspring.
4. Spade tail betta
This beautiful fish gets its name from its caudal fin that looks like a spade from classic cards. Its tail has a broad base that narrows smoothly.
People mostly mistake the spade tail betta for a roundtail betta. Although it looks like a roundtail betta, the main difference is that the caudal fin has a single point instead of having a rounded shape.
Fun fact: They are a scarce form of betta. They were once very popular in the early 90s but have grown to become less common over the years.
The plakat betta is the closest to the wild form of betta. They have short fins and large, stronger bodies. They are much faster than long-finned varieties and much stronger swimmers.
The plakat is bred in Asia for fighting. So, these little fish have adapted themselves to lean, mean, rage-filled fighting machines over the years. Although bred for fighting, they retain their aesthetic appeal as they come in various vibrant colors.
These feisty little guys have a terrible habit of jumping out of their tanks so they must be kept in sealed tanks. They generally seem happier in big tanks because it gives them room to be active.
Fun fact: These species of betta fish are used for selective breedings worldwide. This means plakats is responsible for the different varieties of betta available today.
6. Feathertail betta
A feathertail betta has anal, dorsal, and caudal fins that are extremely ruffled, making them look like a sideways rumpled-up skirt.
The fish looks like a cross between a rosetail and a crowntail, and when their fins flutter as they move, you can’t help but stop and stare. They come in every color and have patterns like solid, butterfly, dragon scale, piebald, full mask, grizzle, bi-color, marble, and koi.
Fun fact: Owners of feathertails should be extra careful because the fish can be prone to problems like ragged fins, broken tails, tail biting, and shortened lifespans.
7. Dumbo ear/elephant ear betta
As the name implies, the dumbo ear betta’s fins looks like the ear of everyone’s favorite Disney elephant, Dumbo.
The beautiful fish has extra-large pectoral fins that look like elephant ears. This kind of Betta is known to exist in any color like solid, butterfly, dragon scale, piebald, full mask, grizzle, bi-color, marble, and koi.
Fun fact: although remarkable, this breed of Betta is highly aggressive and we don’t recommended it for a beginner or a small tank.
8. Half-sun betta
Did you know that the half-sun betta is the betta species with the biggest tail? This is because of its large tail that spreads 180° wide.
Often mistaken for a half-moon, many call the half–sun a mixture of the half-moon and crowntail because it has half-moon fins, but its tail has spikes like a crowntail.
They are available in every color and spot pattern.
Fun fact: The fantastic fish got its name from its tail that looks like the sun.
Types of bettas based on color
Bettas are known worldwide for their unique and vibrant colors. This was not the case a few years ago, however. Wild bettas are dull-colored fish, but thanks to years upon years of selective breeding, the bettas of nowadays have an extensive range of beautiful colors to showcase. Some bettas can even change color during their lifetime.
Bettas have 4 color layers on their body:
- Iridescent layer (top layer)
- Black layer
- Red layer
- Yellow layer (bottom layer)
Each color layer has its own genetic code, which means the combination of beautiful colors we see in bettas is just a result of various ways the color layers are bred.
Here are six types of bettas based on color:
9. Cellophane betta
Celophane bettas have translucent bodies owing to their lack of skin pigmentation. In other words, they have no color, and you can see right through them.
Often, clear bettas have some pink on them, which they get from their internal organs, visible through their skin.
10. Purple betta
The purple betta is one of the rarest ones of the species, so it’s not surprising that it’s also one of the most expensive breeds of betta.
It’s common for purple-colored bettas to have fins and tails of different colors, such as green, yellow, black, and blue.
Most purple bettas are a mix of colors from deep violet to blue. Sometimes, they may also sport some black. Solid purple bettas are the hardest to find and most expensive of purple bettas.
11. Green betta
The green betta is a stunning shade, usually existing as a solid color, but has been known to mix with various colors, from deep green to turquoise. The green betta breed is rare compared to other colors like blue and red.
Another fantastic feature of different kinds of betta fish with a green body is a metallic wash that coats its color, gives the fish an ethereal appearance.
12. White betta
Commonly assumed to look dull, the white betta breed carries an air of elegance, especially ones with big dramatic tails like half-moon or the half-sun.
White bettas can exist as solid colors or as a mixture of shades from darker hues like red, blue, or even black to lighter ones like yellow.
A beautiful way to make white betta stand out is mixing them with different colored fish in the tank. It’s important, however, to remember that bettas are aggressive and have a famous reputation as fighting fish.
Bettas, like humans and most animals, each have their own personality. This means some might fair well with cohabitation in a large tankwhile others might not. It’s important to know your fish’s personality and act accordingly.
13. Red betta
Red is the most popular and dominant color of betta species, which is also why many bettas have a reddish wash, even if red isn’t their dominant color. The intense hue casts an enchanting spell on whoever watches the fish swim in its tank, intensified by bettas with elegant tails.
Most of the time, the red hue is a vibrant color, often standing out in the tank. If the fish’s red hue looks washed out, it can indicate something is wrong with the water quality and its stressing out the fish. Be sure to check the pH and temperature of the water if your red betta is looking dull.
14. Blue betta
Blue is also one of the most common betta colors, however not as common as red. It’s often easy to find this color, as most pet stores have them.
The blue variation gives a broad palette of options, likes royal blue, which has an iridescent coloring, and steel blue, which is a greyish shade.
The standard color, often the easiest to find, is known as blue wash. It looks like a mix of very light blue and a little white, giving a calming soft blue color.
Although these are only six colors bettas come in, there’s a huge variety of betta fish colors including yellow, black, orange, alien, gold, green, candy, nemo, metallic, copper, and mustard sas.
Fun fact: Bettas can appear to change their color concerning environmental lighting. Their select colors are created through refraction within a layer of guanine crystals within their skin.
Types of bettas based on pattern
Besides color and shape, another differentiating factor between different breeds of bettas is the various patterns that adorn the betta’s body.
Some types of bettas based on the pattern are:
15. Solid colors
This isn’t necessarily a pattern, as it is a way of classifying fish with just one color. Bettas with solid color patterns have only one vibrant color on their body from head to tail.
16. Butterfly betta
This is one of the most beautiful variations of betta fish species. Their colors form a pattern that mimics a butterfly’s fluttering wings. This breed is an absolute delight to watch swim around.
This kind of betta fish has a single color that eventually fades from its body to its fins. The edges, on the other hand, are white, and the outside fins have another color. Bettas with a butterfly pattern have a split shade halfway. To spot a high quality betta, make sure to scrutinize its color. The more concentrated and bright the betta, the higher its quality.
17. Marble betta
The marble Betta is one of the most magical breeds of the betta species, and the fish seems to change its color as it grows older. The marble betta has a pale body, usually with a solid color, adorned with blue and red beads of color.
This pattern loses its color over time, making it appear as if the fish changed its color. This process of color change is called marbling.
Fun fact: The marble betta was accidentally created by Orville Gulley, a prison inmate who bred bettas in a peanut butter jar.
18. Dragon scale betta
The dragon scale betta’s pattern looks like what a medieval dragon would look like, especially as the fish swims around in the tank.
The underlying body is made of a bright color such as white, red, green and yellow. Although this color is not as bright as other breeds, the color comes to life because of the thick scales that cover the fish. This thick scale is usually white, essentially making the faint color of the fish’s body come to life.
19. Bicolor betta
This breed of betta is made up of only two colors. Usually, it has a solid color on its body and a secondary color on its fins and tail. When it comes to this breed, the name says it all.
To be a bicolor, the betta only needs to have two colors. If it has more than two, it’s classified as a multi-colored Betta.
How to identify a betta’s breed
Now that you know three ways to classify a betta finding out your bettas breed or the breed of the fish you intend to buy is as simple as studying it and checking the boxes.
To make things easier, here are some criteria you can check to identify the breed of the betta:
Check the tail length: some breeds are easy to spot by the size of their tails, like the feisty but loveable plakat and its short tail. Some types, like the veil tail betta, are known for their long tails.
Determining the sex of short-finned Bettas is hard because while female bettas typically have shorter tails than male bettas, the difference is hard to spot in short-finned bettas.
Check the color: this step is about identifying the betta’s primary color. The prominent color of the betta is usually the color of the betta’s body.
Check the pattern: this process is pretty straightforward if you can identify the significant design of the betta. Then you can deduce the fish’s species, such as solid color, bicolor, or butterfly betta.
Check for double tails: when a betta seems to have two tails, it is most likely a double-tailed betta. We can identify the tail by spotting an even split at the tail base. Also, the tail and unpaired fins should be mirror images of each other.
Check for a crowntail: a betta with long or short spikes at the end of its fins is most likely to be a crowntail betta. The crowntail and fins (spikes) can come in various colors and lengths. The spikes are typically long and straight but may start to curl in response to unfavorable water conditions.
Check the shape of the tail: finally, check the shape. The spade tail has a spade-shaped tail, and the half-moon has a capital D-shaped tail. Breeds like the spade tailed have telltale signs in the shape of their tail.
It’s important to note that we can blend different criteria. That’s because there are various breeds of bettas, some of which mix two or more species. So a double-tailed half-moon is not an impossibility.
Rarest types of betta fish
The rarest type of betta fish is the fantail variety. This fish has two caudal fins that are side by side but fused at a small point at the top, making it look similar to a fantail goldfish.
This fish is so rare that almost every pet store does not have a single one. This unicorn of the betta fish world is so elusive that even information on the fish is hard to find.
Last I heard, this breed of little fish can sell for $5000 each at an auction.
Betta fish have been around for about a thousand years, dazzling the world with their beauty. This fish species has made itself the perfect pet for both the experienced and beginner fishkeeper.
From beautiful and elegant looks to being highly interactive, the Siamese fighting fish is one you can bond with.
To be a good pet owner, it’s essential to understand your pets and how they interact with their environment. Every betta is different, so knowing your betta’s breed is important to take care of them correctly.
Are there other betta types that I missed? Is there anything else that you would like to add? Let me hear you out in the comments below.