Betta splendens is the proper name for the domesticated betta fish species commonly sold in stores throughout the world. Wild type betta species are neither brightly colored nor long finned like the b. splendens variety and had to be selectively bred for the fish many hobbyists covet today. Within the betta splendens species, there are many different tail types that make each breed visually unique. Although often not called by their proper breed names by pet stores that may simply label them as “betta” or mislabel their type altogether, these are the officially recognized names for the domesticated betta fish.
1. Veiltail (VT)
|A young male veiltail betta. Photo by Betta Fish Awareness Day|
Veiltail bettas are the original betta splendens, meaning that they are the first variety of the domesticated betta fish as a pet. Bred from a variety of wild betta types, these fish were sought after due to their colorful and long, flowing, fins. The veiltail’s most distinctive feature is its asymmetrical caudal fin that flows from its body, often in a variety of lengths and shapes. Despite their common availability and ease of breeding, official International Betta Congress shows no longer have a veiltail category and the breed is seen undesirable.
Yet the veiltail strives on, often finding itself defended by lovers of the breed. It is the most common type available in pet stores, sometimes are the only variety, and is often simply referred to as just a regular betta rather than by its tail type.
2. Spade tail
|A male dragonscale spade tail. Photo by AquaBid|
The spade tail is very much what it sounds like, a betta with a tail in the shape of a spade. Often confused with the veiltail, the spade tail has a long caudal fin that comes into the shape of a point.
3. Round tail
|A male round tail. Photo by FishForums.com|
The round tail betta has a circular shaped single tail that has round edges and is often confused with delta tails. Round tails are common but often mislabeled or ignored as a variety.
4. Crowntail (CT)
|A male crowntail. Photo by Betta Fish Awareness Day|
The crowntail is a popular breed that is more commonly found in pet stores in recent years than it has in the past, perhaps popular due to its unique look. The long strands stemming out from the base of the fish’s fins easily identify the crowntail. Severely reduced webbing causes this spiky appearance. The crowntail was originally identified as a breed in Indonesia in 1997.
5. Halfmoon (HM)
|A male halfmoon. Photo by AquaBid|
The halfmoon is a wildly popular breed commonly found in breeding shows. Its long, symmetrical, anal fins and full dorsal and caudal easily identify it. A halfmoon betta spreads its fins out at 180 degrees. Any span more than 180 degrees is referred to as an “over halfmoon” or OHM.
6. Rosetail (RT)
|A female rosetail. Photo by Pedro Emidio|
This breed variety is similar to the halfmoon and is often identified as such, except it is visually distinct from the halfmoon. The rosetail has overlapping rays, which produce a folded, rose-like, look to the fins.
7. Delta tail
|A male super delta. Photo by PetAdvice.com.au|
A true delta tail betta is not merely a single tail betta, as they are often confused. Delta betta fish have straight caudal fin edges that unlike the halfmoon betta do not arch straight upwards. An enhanced version of the delta is known as a super delta and this version describes the fins to be just short of a full 180 degrees required for halfmoon status. Delta tail betta fish carry a dominant gene and breeding them can result in more delta tails, super delta tails, and sometimes halfmoons.
8. Double tail (DT)
|A female double tail. Photo by AquaStar71|
Double tails are a coveted breed, spawned from a mutation. Double tail betta fish have a dorsal and anal fin of the same length in addition to their most defining feature: two caudal lobes. Double tails are often bred to create a single tailed spawn due to the beautiful length of their fins and the fact that many double tails bred with other double tails can result in deformities.
|A male half-sun. Photo by BlackRoseDarkDragon|
The combtail, sometimes referred to as the half-sun, is a combination of crowntail and non-fringed single tailed genes. The result is fringe on the fins with minimum webbing. While crowntails have long spiky looking fins, the combtail has a slightly spiked looking appearance. The half-sun is a combtail that bred specifically with crowntail and halfmoon genes.
10. Plakat (PK)
|A male plakat. Photo by Daniella Vereeken|
Plakat betta splendens are very popular due to their short fins, a look most similar to their wild counterparts. Without the weight of heavy fins that the other breeds have, the plakat is generally more active. It is often sold in pet stores under the name “dragon scale” but that title is not mutually exclusive to being a plakat. Rather, a dragon scale is not a fin type but a scale mutation type defined by a heavy metallic look to the scale caused by being thicker scales than normal and can be found in varieties other than the plakat.
Setsuna. "Tail and Fin Forms In Betta Splendens." Tail and Fin Forms In Betta Splendens. Aquatic Community, n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2012. <http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/bettafish/tailfinforms.php>.
F., Christie. "Veil-tail Betta | Betta Fish Care." Veil-tail Betta | Betta Fish Care. Nippy Fish, 10 Aug. 2011. Web. 06 Sept. 2012. <http://nippyfish.net/bettas-201/veil-tail-betta/>.