Basic Colors in Bettas

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by
Victoria Parnell
from http://bettysplendens.com

Bettas come in a wide array of colors. They can be jewel-bright to soft pastel and even pure white or completely colorless. The colors available can be combined or crossed to make even more colors. For this reason they are one of the most popular hobby fish of all time.

Here are the colors recognized by the International Betta Congress:

RED: The color red in bettas is a layer of color that is just above the black layer. In wild bettas the distribution of red is limited to the pelvic, anal, and caudal fins. In solid red bettas the normal red pigment has been increased in density and extended in distribution to cover the entire body and fins of the fish. This mutation is called 'Extended Red', and it is dominant over normal (wild type) red coloration.

The most brilliantly red bettas are those that possess both the extended red gene and the blonde gene. A betta without the blonde gene appears considerably darker, almost drab by comparison. Extended red bettas that also possess the blonde gene are cherry red, ideal for show purposes. Some extended reds appear lighter in color, with pale chins and minimal black scale. These are usually showing a cambodian genotype.




BLACK:There are currently four types of developed black betta in the hobby today, the MELANO BLACK, and MARBLE BLACK, the SUPER BLACK, and the DOUBLE BLACK.

Black Melano is probably the oldest and most popular form of black, and it produces a very dark black that is pleasing to the eye. The drawbacks to the black melano is 1.) the tendency toward iridescence on the body (a fault), and 2.) true melano females cannot produce living fry. You will sometimes hear this referred to as 'female infertility', but that is not definitively true. They spawn and release eggs as any female will, and the eggs are fertilized. But the shell membranes disintegrate before the embryos are able to survive independently. Nobody yet can confirm why this may be, but some think it is due to experimental radiation that was used to initially create the black betta. Melano bettas must be propogated using females of another color (usually steel blue) that carry the genotype for melano. These spawns will produce only 50% melano bettas, the others being multicolors, or whatever color their mother was. Of this 50%, only 25% (the males) can be used for breeding. For this reason the pure melano remains challenging, and a good one is highly prized.

Marble black is growing in popularlity. This category includes Black Orchid, Black Ice, and a whole pell mell of bettas that are being sold as Black Lace. However the original Black Lace betta was a pale black with transluscent fin edges, far different from the 'Black Lace' phenotype that is widely accepted today. Original Black Lace probably came from melano, as the females were also infertile. Because of this the true Black lace isn't a marble type at all, but a melano type. Most bettas you see these days labeled 'Black Lace' are actually marble types, though, and very similar in appearance to the Black Orchid and Black Ice. The Black Orchid is a black fish with streaks of steel blue in the fins, Black Ice has streaks of royal blue, and Black Lace can have either. They all have the same basic roots, and that is in marble. For this reason they can be difficult to propogate, as the color will not often breed true or may throw a lot of fully marbled fish and even some butterflies and cellophanes. For show purposes the marble type blacks are usually heavily penalized for their iridescence and the lack of deep black color.

Super Black is a new development, a very dark black fish that comes from melano and metallic. These fish combine the deep black of the melano with the metallic type, which was originally a hybrid. This line produces good, dark blacks using copper instead of steel, thus eliminating most of the blue iridescence. It is replaced by copper iridescence, which does not stand out as dramatically. The ultimate appearance is a very dark, solid black betta. The best part is that the females from Super Black are often able to produce fry, depending on their level of coppery iridescence. The more iridescence on the black female, the more she is likely to be productive. Breeders of Super Black have developed an eye for which females should be able to produce fry, and which ones will behave like normal melano females.

In the quest to produce fertile black females, the Double Black was developed by IBC breeder Connie Emery and popularized by veteran Jim Sonnier. These are mixes between melano and marble type blacks and are producing darker fertile black females than what is normally seen with marble types.

BLUE: There are three different types of blue, the royal blue, the steel blue, and the turquoise. The royal blue looks exactly as it sounds, a dark true blue. The steel blue is more silvery in appearance, and is also known as a gunmetal blue. The turquoise is an intermediary shade between blue and green, but the greener looking turquoise fish are preferred in betta shows. Breeding royal to royal will give you 50% royal, 25% steel, and 25% turquoise. Breeding steel to turquoise will give you 100% royal. Breeding any of the other combinations together will yield half of one color and half of the other.

YELLOW: Yellow bettas are produced by a mutation known as the Non Red gene, which causes a red betta to appear yellow instead of red. The shade can vary from pale yellow to dark, pineapple yellow. For show purposes the bright banana shade is preferred.

CELLOPHANE: As the name might suggest, cellophane bettas are completely colorless, with flesh or transluscent bodies and transparant fins. Credit for their creation is sometimes given to a breeder by the name of George Torres, but cellophanes are fairly common in marble spawns or from spawns that carry the marble genotype. Somtimes marble bettas will lose color and become cellophane with age, and vice versa.

PASTEL: Pastel bettas are identifiable by their softer, muted shades of color. In the Pastel betta, the colors lack the typical dark undercolor of the non-pastel forms of the same colors. For example, where normal green would be a deep, dark green color, pastel green is much more of a minty shade. Many pastels have light bodies coupled with pastel-colored fins of green or blue. These are sometimes referred to as green or blue cambodian, but they are not true cambodians and will not reproduce the same as true cambodian. There are also some pale bodied fish with black fins, but this is purely a phenotype that sometimes appears in marble spawns, and will not breed true. At this time there are no true black cambodian bettas.

WHITE: Also know as 'Opaque', the white betta was developed by IBC Founded Dr. Gene Lucas from Non Red (yellow), Spread Iridocyte, Steel Blue, Cambodian, and some of Walt Maurus's 'gold bettas', which were from his cambodian/black crosses. The end result was a pure white betta with heavy color termed the 'opaque factor'. They are very beautiful fish and popular among hobbyists.

MULTICOLOR: Multicolored bettas are those with two or more colors that are distributed at random. Ideally the colors should be in high contrast with each other. The colors should be those normally seen in bettas, however, simply having the head alone a different color, or having a different color of on the tip of the ventrals is not sufficient to be designated a Multicolor.

METALLIC: The Metallic bettas are newcomers to the hobby. They originally came from crossing the common Betta splendens to wild type bettas such as Betta imbellis, Betta mahachai, and even Betta smaragdina. This was done for the first time many years ago, and the result was called the 'Neon Betta', as the scales seemed to glow. Further selective breedings in more recent times produced the metallics. We now have metallic bettas available in copper, green, blue, yellow, platinum, purple, and just about every other color imaginable.

ALBINO: Albinism in bettas is rare, so few albino bettas have been reported. Of all the ones that have been reported, most were very weak and died before they were able to be spawned. The only true albino that I've heard of being successfully spawned was a female that came out of Marianne Lewis's orange marble line. The female was spawned to a brother but no albinos were produced. Albino bettas completely lack pigment of any sort and are clear-bodied with cellophane fins and pink or red eyes. Don't be fooled by someone trying to sell you a cellophane as an "albino". If it doesn't have pink or red eyes, it's not an albino! On the other hand, I've seen sellers trying to auction fish that were fully colored, and yet possessed pink eyes, as albinos. These are not true albinos either, and could only possibly be classified as partial albinos. So be watchful!



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