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What Every Breed Needs To Understand

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There are as many ways to breed as there are stars in the sky, just as there are many ways to get the same color in the end result of your breeding. There is no perfect color or a fast way to get rare colors and koi and marbles are not the same fish. With the introduction of Nemo types now dalmatian now has it’s role in breeding.

Solving a monohybrid cross problem by Punnett Square method is very simple.

The genotype can be determined through genotyping – the use of a biological assay or test crossing to find out what genes are turned on in each allele.

The phenotype can be determined by observing the individual fish.

For bettas I have a custom calculator we redesigned from a zebra fish lab calculator called zebabase from UCLA. But with some work and a little time you can make one to your needs pretty easy in Excel or other programs or download a punnett spuare software and add your cross info and it will give pretty good results.

Some times dihybrid and trihybrid crosses can be done with it also but a little bit of work will be needed to set it up on your part.

So, genetics cross between different parents’ genotypes and find their genotypic and phenotypic ratio is not to hard if you take your time and do the work to set it up.
Gametes of Genotype: This type of calculation lets you know the probability of all possible combinations of gametes (in percentage) and their ratio to both parents’ genotype separately. Such a type of calculation is helpful in large crosses like dihybrid and trihybrid crosses because, in such types of crosses, we first need to determine all the possible combinations of gametes.
Then you will need to do the following –

Genotypes: This calculation determines the genotypic ratio and probability (in percentage) of the progeny.

Phenotypes: This calculation is helpful in determining the phenotypic ratio and probability (in percentage) of the progeny.

Traits Phenotypes: This calculation lets you solve the genetic problems with allelic (incomplete dominance and codominance) and nonallelic (epistasis) interactions.

Might also need a Recombination Progeny Calculator on this also set up how you need it.

Partly inherited by offspring or genotype, the fry where only one of the two alleles is passed on during reproduction but not both will throw off random breeding’s for mapping. There would be no way to track it with any real outcome correctly as every new breed would be F1 again.

An individual’s genotype includes their full hereditary information, even if it is not expressed. This information is determined by the genes passed on by the parents at conception.

An individual fish’s phenotype only includes expressed genes. For example, if one individual has one “red” allele and one “yellow” allele, and they show red, their phenotype only includes the expressed gene: red. An individual fish’s phenotype can change during their lifetime, depending on which genes are expressed and how the environment or other genetics affects them. For example, A marble can be solid red and then as the faulty genes come into paly and get coppied that fish can express a lot or show a lot of new expressed genetics.

The causal pathway of inheritance also will have a lot to do with what you get. Because this means that genomes are passed from generation to generation without being influenced or changed by the environment. A sexually reproducing organism receives two alleles at conception, making their genotype. When they reproduce, they pass an identical copy of one of these alleles to their offspring.

As far as fish phenotypes go they are influenced by some environmental factors like foods, however, they cannot ever be directly inherited. They are only found in the next generation F1 and only when or if the right combination of genotype and environmental factors occurred again, and just as many different genotypes can produce the same phenotype, many different phenotypes can arise from the same genotype in bettas alone there are 29,000+ different gene combinations to create that betta look. Thus although in people identical twins have the same genotype, they can have different phenotypes just like fish.

Each betta has two alleles for every gene, one on each chromosome. If the two alleles are the same (e.g., both coding for red), they are called homozygotes. If they are different (e.g., one for red and one for yellow), they are heterozygotes. In the case of heterozygotes, the individual betta may “express” either one or a combination of the two traits like a orange betta.

Diving in a little deeper “Wild” alleles are used to describe phenotypic characters seen in ‘wild’ population of subjects betta splenden. While wild alleles are considered dominant and normal, “mutant” alleles are recessive and in some cases harmful. Wild alleles are believed to be homozygous at most gene loci. Mutant alleles are homozygous in a small fraction of gene loci and are considered defective with a genetic disease and more frequently in heterozygous form in “carriers” for the mutant allele like marble. Mostly all gene loci are polymorphic with multiple variations of alleles in which the genetic variations mostly produce the obvious phenotypic traits.

So, long story short the only way to trully breed that one of a kind fish with out luck is to identify patterns in the phenotypes (expressed traits) and determine which alleles were dominant and recessive. This can only be done with either known lines or line you have created and not random bettas.

First, we will start off giving you some info and the words and abbreviations you will see below and you should have a basic understanding of each.

Alleles Another word for Genes
Butterfly Pattern of coloration on a betta. Betta’s body and first half of fins will all be one color and the outer half of their fins will be another color.
Cambodian This is a color term, it refers to the reduction of dark pigment on the bettas body. Resulting in a light-colored body with darker fins.
Combtail Slight ray extensions on the edge of the betta’s fins.
Crowntail Extremely extended rays on a betta’s fins, most importantly their tail. Crowntails are an extreme form of a Combtail.
Double Ray In reference to a crown tail, they will have two rays in each extension.
Double Tail A betta’s tail that has two sections or lobes. Ideally these lobes would be even with a deep split between them.
DR Double Ray
DT Abbreviation for Double Tail.
F1/F2…. Indicates which generation your bettas are. F1 indicates the first generation between two unrelated bettas. F2 is the second generation where brother/sister of father/daughter and so on, were bred together. It would continue on to F3, F4 until you bred one of them to an unrelated betta, making it F1 again.
Geno Short for Genotype.
Genotype Indicates that a betta carries this trait or genes. In example ‘DT Geno’ would indicate that the betta carries the Double Tail gene.
Halfmoon A Tail shape where their tail has a 180° spread with straight outer rays. These are very gorgeous and hard to produce.
Juvenile A Young betta that is definitely past the fry stage but not yet an adult. I usually consider my bettas juveniles once they start looking like little bettas instead of little clear babies. I stop considering them juveniles when they start being jarred and their sex is evident.
Non-Red Non-Red is the technical term for yellow. This gene keep red pigment from forming causing the fish to appear yellow.
Non-Red2 Non-Red2 is the theoretical term for orange.
NR Non – Red abbreviation.
NR2 Abbreviation for Non-Red2 (theoretically Orange)
Opaque A milky-white deposit that will appear most strongly on the betta’s head. It can make a pastel blue betta appear white. Opaque ‘White’ bettas are technically steel colored but the opaque deposits make them appear white.
Outcross Introducing fresh genes by breeding an unrelated betta into an established line. This is important to do after so many generations of inbreeding to prevent weakening the line. Deformities can also result from inbreeding too long which is another reason you ‘outcross’.
Pheno Short for Phenotype.
Phenotype Indicates that a betta exhibits a certain gene or trait. In example ‘DT Pheno’ would indicate that the betta exhibits a Double Tail.
Piebald A betta with a flesh colored face regardless of the color of his body & fins.
Punnet Square A Genetic tool to determine what percentage the genotype and phenotype of your fry will be for certain traits.
Red Loss This gene will cause red to disappear in a betta as it grows older. This is an excellent gene to have in your bettas that you do not want to have red, like Opaque Whites and blues.
Ray or Rays These are the lines you see in the betta’s fins. They are the support for the fins. The rays in the tail will in many cases split and branch out. In crown tails it is the rays that extend past the membrane of the fins causing the crown appearance.
Spawn or Spawning This is what the mating of a male and female betta is called. See our Breeder’s Corner for more info.
ST Abbreviation for Single Tail.
Single Tail A Betta with one tail section or lobe. This is the normal betta tail.
Trio Three bettas, usually one male and two females but it can also consist of two males and one female. Always ask the breeder to be sure.
Ventrals The two fins that hang down under the betta’s front belly.
Variegated fins A color term, refers to the streaking of color in fins. It also is the gene that produces Butterflies

Genetic Abbreviations used by Breeders

Genetic Abbreviations
c Cambodia Recessive
Keeps black pigmentation from forming on the body or greatly reduces it. Body then appears lighter than the fins.
b Blonde Recessive
Reduces black
B1 Green Incomplete Dominance
Iridescent color of blues.
B1B1 – Green/Turquoise
B1b1 – Royal Blue
b1b1 – Steel Blue
dt Double Tail Recessive
Two tail lobes and wider dorsal. Usually will increase the width of finnage on ST/dt.
Er or R Extended Red Dominant
Red is spread over the body as well as fins.
HM Half Moon Unknown
180° Tail spread with straight outer rays.
L Red Loss
Red color fades Dominant
m Melano Recessive
Increases black pigment greatly. Females used to be 99% infertile. Now days this is no longer true.
mb Marble Recessive
Causes color or lack of color.
nr Non-Red Recessive
Stops the red pigmentation from producing at the yellow stage, fish then appears yellow.
nr2 Non-Red 2 Recessive
Stops the red pigmentation from producing at the orange stage, fish then appears orange. This is still in experimental stages
Op Opaque Incomplete Dominance
Controls the deposit of the opaque layer.
p Comb Tail Recessive
Slight ray extension past the fin webbing
Vt Veil Tail Dominant
Long, sloping tail
Si Spread Iridocytes Dominant
This controls the spread of iridescence on the body.
ST Single Tail Dominant
Single Tail Lobe
Vf Variegated Fins Dominant
Streaking of color in the fins. This gene produces Butterflies.
w White Eye Recessive
This controls the color in the outer ring of a betta’s eye.

Here is a chart of fin types you could breed for and what you would get.

male parent female parent offspring
Short Fin Long Fin 100% Long Fin (Short Fin genotype)
Short Fin Long Fin (Short Fin genotype) 50% Long Fin (Short Fin genotype), 50% Short Fin
Long Fin Doubletail 100% Long Fin (Doubletail genotype)
Long Fin (Doubletail genotype) Long Fin (Doubletail genotype) 75% Long Fin (67% Doubletail genotype), 25% Doubletail
PKHM Dumbo PKHM Dumbo 100% PKHM Dumbo
Short Fin Dumbo 50% Short Fin Dumbo
Long Fin Dumbo 100% Long Fin,(some breeders warn of the heavy fins stress causing rot/tail bite)

Next is a color chart 2018 of the colors you can get and what some crosses could produce.

male parent female parent offspring
Black Red 100% Multicolor (Black genotype)
Black Multicolor (Black genotype) 50% Black, 50% Multicolor (Black genotype)
Black Black (Black females are infertile)
Multicolor (Black genotype) Blue 100% Multicolor (50% Black genotype)
Multicolor (Black genotype) Multicolor (Black genotype) 25% Black, 75% Multicolor (67% Black genotype
Cambodian Green (dark bodied) 100% Multicolor (Cambodian genotype)
Cambodian Multicolor (Cambodian genotype) 50% Cambodian, 50% Multicolor (Cambodian genotype)
Cambodian Cambodian 100% Cambodian
Multicolor (Cambodian genotype) Red (dark bodied) 100% Multicolor (50% Cambodian genotype)
Multicolor (Cambodian genotype) Multicolor (Cambodian genotype) 25% Cambodian, 75% Multicolor (67% Cambodian genotype)
extended Red Multicolor 100% extended Red
extended Red extended Red 100% extended Red
non-Red(Yellow) Multicolor (normal Red) 100% Multicolor (non-Red genotype)
non-Red(Yellow) Multicolor (non-Red genotype) 50% Multicolor (non-Red genotype), 50% non-Red(Yellow)
Multicolor (non-Red genotype) Multicolor (non-Red genotype) 75% Multicolor (67% non-Red genotype), 25% non-Red(Yellow)
non-Red(Yellow) extended Red 100% extended Red (non-Red genotype)
non-Red(Yellow) non-Red(Yellow) 100% non-Red(Yellow)
Red-loss(Marbles) Multicolor high% Red-loss
Red-loss(Marbles) extended Red ?Red Marbles?
spread Iridescence normal Iridescence 100% spread Iridescence
spread Iridescence spread Iridescence 100% spread Iridescence
Green Green 100% Green
Green Blue 50% Green, 50% Blue
Steel Blue Steel Blue 100% Steel Blue
Steel Blue Blue 50% Steel Blue, 50% Blue
Steel Blue Green 100% Blue
Blue Blue 25% Green, 50% Blue, 25% Steel Blue
Giant (7″) Giant (7″) 100% Giant (7″)?
Giant (7″) Half-Giant (3.5″) 50% Giant (7″), 50% Half-Giant (3.5″)?
Regular Size (2+”) Half-Giant (3.5″) 50% Regular Size (2+”), 50% Half-Giant (3.5″)
Half-Giant (3.5″) Half-Giant (3.5″) 25% Giant (7″), 50% Half-Giant (3.5″), 25% Regular Size (2+”)?

Next is dominance chart 2019.

Extended Red Er Dominant over Basic Red
Non-Red/Yellow Nr Recessive to Basic/Extended Red
Non-Red2/Orange Nr2 Recessive to Basic/Extended
Red Loss Rl Dominant over Basic Red, but not Extended Red
Melano M Recessive to Black
Blond B Recessive to Black
Cambodian C Recessive to Black
Marble Mb Dominant
Piebald Pb Recessive to Black
Black Lace L Recessive to Black
Black Orchid O Incomplete Dominance
Green B1 Incomplete Dominance
Steel Blue B2 Incomplete Dominance
Royal Blue B1B2 Incomplete Dominance
Normal Iridocytes Ni Recessive
Spread Iridocytes Si Incomplete Dominance
Non-Opaque On Recessive
Opaque Op Incomplete Dominance
Single Tail St Dominant
Double Tail Dt Recessive
Veil Tail Vt Dominant
Delta Tail X Recessive
SuperDelta T Rcessive
Halfmoon Hm Multiple Inheritance

The Iridescent Colors/First Layer:

Turquoise: This betta displays green and blue iridescence in their top layer.

Steel Blue: This is a lighter, grayish kind of blue.

Royal Blue: Royal blue is the darkest of the three iridescent colors and sometimes almost looks purple.

Opaque: These bettas have a solid layer of white scales that covers all other layers and often covers the eyes as well. If the expression of blue/green iridescence is minimal then you have an Opaque White betta. However, you can also have full expression of blue or green and the result is a very high-quality betta. They are simply called “Blue” or “Green” but are of much higher quality than Blue/Green bettas lacking the opaque layer of scales.

Opaque Based Patterns Dragon: This refers to any betta with opaque scales covering most or all of its body. Usually the scales are opaque white and are noticeably different from normal scales (they appear thicker) and the fins are a different color such as red, blue or black. Because the dragon trait is due to the opaque factor in the 1st Layer, if there is a solid covering of blue or green above the white, you get a blue or green dragon. You cannot get dragons of colors controlled by the lower 2 layers. Ideally, the entire body is covered, especially the mask.

The Mask: The mask refers to the scales around the betta’s head. Bettas with full coverage of the desired colored scales on the head are sought after because creating strains with Full Masks is difficult to say the least.

Platinum: These bettas appear to have a silver sheen usually covering white (platinum white) but it can cover any color to give it a shiny appearance. Sometimes called Pearl Bettas when the platinum has a blue or purple hue.

Platinum Based Patterns Copper As their name suggests, Copper bettas appear almost metallic. The metallic sheen is due to an even spread of platinum iridescence.

Platinum Red: Platinum white body with red fins, not to be confused with red dragons which have opaque white bodies and red fins.

Pastels: These have only a light covering of opaque or iridescence that softens the colors in the lower layers.

Pastel Patterns Sky Bettas: Another name for blue pastel bettas. They often have opaque or platinum white bodies.

Grizzle: Grizzle is another way to refer to pastels. I’ve been hearing more often than “pastel” lately. From what I can see, breeders use “grizzle” for bettas that are slightly richer in color than your average pastel but still have noticeable opaque coverage. They are often marbles as well.

Black Layer

Melano: When the black layer is solid you get a melano betta. All melano females are infertile, so steel blue females are used to breed melano blacks because they have the least iridescence. The fry from a F1 generation of this pairing must be breed again to obtain true melano bettas.

Black Orchid: These bettas do not have solid black coloring, instead black is only expressed in certain cells resulting in a lacing pattern.

Cambodian Pattern: Cambodians have flesh colored bodies and red or blue fins. The black layer has to be empty but the genetic coding that controls for Cambodian pattering is located in the Black Layer and has to be activated. Therefore, the Black Layer controls the other layers in coding for color in some areas (the fins) and no color in other parts (the body). It is a recessive trait and is extremely rare. Cambodian females are rather common, even in pet stores, but good luck finding a true Cambodian male! To this day I have not seen one in person and there is only one breeder I know of who sells them and they are no longer in business. Many people mistake platinum red bettas for Cambodians, but for a betta to be a traditional Cambodian there cannot be any iridescence, the body has to be colorless (flesh colored), and the fins have to be completely red, blue or green.

Blond: Blond bettas have a creaming yellow color. The Black layer contains genes that control the expression of the other layers for this pattern. Blond bettas have a reduced density of the black pigment on the body. A Red Betta showing the Blonde mutation is bright red rather than the usual dark “Cherry” Red.

The Red Layer

Extended Red: These bettas have a solid covering of bright red. It is a dominant trait and is extremely difficult to get rid of since it often hides under blue and black bettas.

Reduced Red: Reduced Red bettas have bright red fins but their body is darker (Cherry Red); often covered in black or iridescence from the higher layers.

Variegated/Butterfly Pattern: The Red Layer carries the genes that control Butterfly Patterning on the fins. The ideal butterfly pattern shows an equal division between color and clear fins. The variegated fin mutation is dominant but the results are unpredictable. You are lucky to get 1 or 2 perfect butterflies in a batch where both parents had the same pattern.

Butterfly Patterns Salamander: These generally have a purple/lavender body and red and white butterfly patterns on all fins with the white ring on the outside.

Lavender: Lavenders are similar to salamanders but have a platinum-lavender body with a butterfly pattern that has a ring of purple closest to the body followed by a ring of red.

Mustard Gas: The original Mustard gas bettas had a solid blue/greenish body and yellow fins but today the colors differ fish to fish. They are considered to be in the bicolored class.

Orange: In non-red bettas the red pigment is replaced by yellow. This is caused by the non-red gene (nr), which is recessive to the red gene. It results in orange bettas.

Orange Based Patterns Cherry/Orange Blossom or Dalmatian: These have pink or orange bodies and fins with darker orange or pink spots (the spots appear like faded paint drops). They can have platinum bodies.

The Yellow Layer

Yellow: Yellow bettas have no pigment in the three other layers and solid yellow pigment in the bottom layer. Sometimes there is some black pigment which results in “Pineapple” bettas

Yellow based Patterns Gold: A new strain of betta that appear “golden”. They are yellow bettas with platinum iridescence.

Pineapple:” Pineapple” refers to yellow bettas that have black outlining around the scales on the body giving them the appearance of a pineapple.

Cellophane: Cellophane bettas are flesh colored bettas. They have no pigment at all but are not albinos as they do not have red eyes. Cellophane based marbles are very common; they have a flesh colored body with colored patches.

Other Patterns

Albino Bettas that lack all pigment, including in the iris resulting in red eyes. Albinism in bettas is extremely rare. Attempts to create albino strain usually result in fatal mutations. There are a few out there and they tend to sell for a few hundred dollars.

Marble: The true marble mutation is believed to have incomplete dominance and is extremely unpredictable. The pattern can change throughout the betta’s life, which makes then interesting fish to keep. Some owners will freak when they see their fish form pale areas, especially around the head, and jump to medicate them only to find that it wasn’t sick at all! Any fish can carry the marble mutation, even solid colored fish. There are also fish that are called marbles because of their mixture of colors but do not carry the marble gene. They are technically both considered marbles because its color but may or may not carry the gene that caused color change I.E. jumping gene.

Marble Based Patterns Tiger: These bettas have a rough stripe pattern. Usually there are not many stripes, maybe just one or two.

Monster: These bettas have white (piebald) heads and colored bodies. Any type of betta can have a piebald face.

Chocolate: Tey have a brown body with yellow or orange fins and are in the bicolored class.

Mascot: Bettas with blue bodies and red fins.

Black/Red/Gold Devil: These bettas have a black body with red fins. Sometimes there is gold, green or blue iridescence. They look a lot like their wild ancestors.

Apocalypse: These have turquoise or green bodies and orange fins.

Apocalypse Koi: These have white or cellophane bodies and orange, red, black, blue spotting on fins and body.

Thai Flag: Refers to bettas with butterfly patterns that sport light blue or platinum bodies, blue rings closest to the body followed by white then red on the outside. Bettas with perfect Thai Flag patterns are really difficult to come by and extremely gorgeous.

4th of July Betta: Bettas with any combination of red, white and blue. Of course, a clean butterfly pattern is preferred but marbles are also acceptable and quite beautiful.

Red and Gold: Gold body and iridescence with red fins. Another common version of this is Black and Gold. They simply have black instead of red fins.

Hawk: “Hawk” is not a color, it refers to bettas whose dorsal fin angles forward sort of like a Mohawk.

Color Genetics Guide

We start off with some theoretical (mainly from bettysplendens.com and our reseach) and experience-based probabilities. Here they will be grouped in according to their layer (not wild Type);

Iridescence layer (Green, Steel blue, and Royal blue)
These colors are found on the top layer and would create relatively similar variations when crossed to other colors. This layer is dominant over all colors and will physically effect coloration.

True green genes should produce green fry

True steel blue genes should produce steel blue fry

True royal blue genes should produce a combination of royal blue, green and steel blue.

Though most have mixed genetic codes, nevertheless mixing irid colors should produce these three colors. A “stray” due to mixed genes might be a dark blackish/brownish body with a tint of blue or green on the body or fins.

* Irid colors x cherry red = mostly irid colored body with red fins (both full or partial), irid colors and cherry red (both with or without irid markings on the body).

* Irid colors x black = irid colors, black, and black with irid colors throughout the body and fins – traditional/wild colors

– Irid x black + some red = same as above plus multis with red fins.

* Irid colors x Cambodian = irid with red fins, red cambodian (with or without irid layer), cambodian like colors with irid fins, celophane/whitish with irid layer on it, irid colors (often softer shade), pastel.

BY purple I mean a true purple, not a blue, salamander/lavender, copper or any other color with a purple-ish shade.

Marcus Gutzeit : pinkish male from a multicolor line x red female = bubblegum/light purple.

Victoria Parnell : A purple-ish shade of royal blue male from a BF line x blue-red female from a black-red and steel (melano geno) cross = violet blue

Black layer (cambodian, Blond, and Melano)
Scientifically speaking, this layer carries at least one of three main color genes; ie. Cambodian, blond, and melano which are said to be recessive (Chris Yew, Basic color genetics of betta, bettysplenden.com). Most recessive is the blond, followed by Cambodian and then black (Jim Sonnier + experience). Unlike irid colors, mix breeding this color layer with other colors will produce contrasting results.

* Cambodian x irid color = irid-red multi, red Cambodian (with or without irid layer), Cambodian like colors with irid fins, cellophane/whitish with irid layer on it, irid colors (often softer shade), pastel.

* Cambodian x cherry red = cherry red, Cambodian, a lighter shade of red or darker shade of Cambodian (with and without tints of iridescence – depending on the Cambodian’s background).

*** a combined genetic Cambodian may also throw yellow and orange

* Cambodian x bright red = mostly Cambodian like colors with more red on the body, a few red, yellow and orange (often rather pale – depends on the background of both)

* Cambodian x black = multi black with red fins. Some may have a rather dominant irid layer on the body, some may show less color (whatever color) which may indicate “blond” effect, Cambodian like colors

Blond bettas have a creaming yellow color. The Black layer contains genes that control the expression of the other layers for this pattern. Blond bettas have a reduced density of the black pigment on the body. A Red Betta showing the Blonde mutation is bright red rather than the usual dark “Cherry” Red.

Blond beta color is always a washed out looking color and a lot of cambodian show this as well as orange bettas. Some yellows show this also.

Scientifically this gene is said to show intense black. But physically, IMO, the regular black looks darker but displays too much iridescence. Since most female melanos are infertile, to produce melanos, you have to cross melano males to steel blue females (or other colored females)– the reason many melanos physically have steel blue layer on the body.

* Melano x any color = multi colored (melano geno – F1)

* Inbreed F1 (melano geno) = some melano, melano geno, regular

* Inbreed F2 melano x melano geno = Black melano, melano geno

Black lace (recessive to normal dark colors – Joep van Esch)
Is considered to have less black and always have too much irid layer on body and fin. The end of the fins should fade to a clear or smoke appearance.

* Black lace x irid = Multi – darker shade of irid with or without black/dark fins, irid, if either carry red genes – multi with red fins, traditional colors – black/irid body with red, black or irid fins.

* Black lace x Cambodian = multi black, multi irid, Cambodian,

* Black lace x red = black body with red fins, multi black (wild color), darker shade of cherry red, regular cherry red (with or without black marking/irid. on the scale’s edges)

Red layer (Extended red, Reduced red, Non red, Variegated fins)
The traditional or common red color we see is the classic cherry red, a darker shade of red due to pigments in the black layer.

A brighter shade of red , extended red, has a denser spread of red pigments. One way to achieve this color is by crossing regular red to a Cambodian with blond genes.

* Cherry Red x Red Cambodian with no iridescence = cherry red, Cambodian, a lighter shade of red or darker shade of Cambodian.

*** Since there aren’t any bettas with true/original genes – the above pair will often produce yellow, orange, cherry red, extended red, and Cambodian like colors of different shades. Inbreed the Cambodian like color with more red on it either to the same color or to a rather bright red to get extended reds

***Red is partially dominant over all colors in the sense that they will always show red markings, at least on the fins. Like iridescence color, it is difficult to absolutely clean red out of a line.

***Extended red is dominant over normal red

Red loss/reduced red
is a trait seldom, if ever, discussed in this forum and seems to be undesired. It works similarly to the marble gene but only eliminates red pigments, bringing out the black layer. It is dominant over all red except extended.

Non-red (Yellow, Orange)
Although non-red genes have been identified (nr1, nr2), but for either yellow or orange to apear physically involves a combination of genes. This color is highly recessive towards all colors thus will unlikely show when crossed to other colors.

* To achieve this coloration extended red x Cambodian (pale body/no iridescence – nr genes) – F2 or F3 should throw some yellow and or orange.

* Breeding yellow x yellow or orange x orange will eventually wear the color to a dull shade. To regain its intensity, you must breed back to nr2 Cambodian and repeat the above.

Dalmatian (Orange)
Dalmatian works similarly to marbles in that they are unpredictable. But unlike marbles that are partially dominant, Dalmatian spotting are dominant affecting most of the batch (Victoria Parnell, bettysplendens). With dalmatians now days you will notice that they show more bar type patterns and are the base for a great nemo line.

Dalmatian can be achieved from crossing a melano to a yellow or orange. F1 will produce multi colors. F2 will produce only a few Dalmatian. F3 will produce dominantly Dalmatians.

“To get dalm. the male gene need to be 100% dalm + a full solid orange female then you will get dalm or a solid orange male + a female with gene 100% dalm = dalm”.

Dalmatian male x dalmatian female = NO dalmatian

100% Dalmatian male x solid orange female = dalmatian

Opaque and Pastel
Both are from a steel blue line and need the Cambodian/non red gene.

* The genetic make-up of Opaque White is C Bl Si Nr Op. (full mask white)

* The genetic make-up of Pastel is C Bl Si Nr + very slight Op. (not full masked with more iridescence body)

The difference between the two colors is the amount of Op genes present. Pastels only need a small amount of Op factor.

* Opaque/pastel x iridescence = pastel (mostly with more iridescence), irid-Cambodian like colors, iridescence

Variegated fins (Butterfly)
This gene is more of a pattern than a color. It causes the end of the fins to be clear or white (sometimes black on melano cariers). This gene is partially dominant over all colors and will produce butterfly patterns for generations.

genes causes unpredictable color changes. Often this “jumping gene” stops when the betta is fully grown but sometimes it continues to a later age.

In earlier cases I’ve seen, marbling causes the color to fade and change into a fleshy color leaving only slight dark coloration. But lately I see them change from dark colors to flesh then turn dark again (both regaining the original color or changing into a different darker color)

This gene is partially dominant and will produce marbles for generations.

* Cellophane is a clear or fleshy color, often achieved from marble genes. But IME, they can also be produced from the Cambodian line.

A koi betta is viewed from the top down and should show uniform patters the body should be white or cellophane based. This fish is confused a lot with marbles. But unlike marble it does not continue to change through out it’s life. At some point the marble gene turns off and what you see is how the fish will remain for the most part.

Mustard gas
Was originally a blue-green body with dull yellow fins and blackish butterfly markings. Nowadays the term MG is used for any bi color with yellow fins.

* The genetic make up of MG’s is at least Si Bl Nr Vf

* Foo Hong suggests that black is one of the genes in the make up.

Was originally a cross between MG and other colors which produced coloration similar to MG. Due to “trade mark” issues, these where then called salamander. Today salamander refers to a multi blue-ish red color which many SE Asians call lavender.

This trait is present in the iridescence layer which is most visible on the green and sometimes steel blue color. Metallic coloration was developed by crossing a wild splendens to wild imbillis (which reflected a different spectrum – yellow to yellow-green smaragdina, and mahachai are used in the Thai hybrid types for a very long time and used in the fighting rings. Wild coppers are also used. Lots of people take credit on being the first but is a very old cross just remade.

Among the first popular metallic color was the copper. It’s a steel-grey color that blends to a tint of red, giving it that copper look. Due to the nature of the metallic properties, it often exhibits different colors with different light angles – copper, gold, green and gold.

* Genetically, metallic is dominant over normal color.

* Full mask is dominant over regular dark head.

* Red is partially dominant – will always show on the fins and sometimes on the body.

Copper has the same genetic code as a steel blue but with metallic genes (++). In the first few years of its creation; Copper was recessive over iridescence it acts a little different in wild coppers where layers are reversed.

Copper x green = mostly green (of different shades, both metallic and normal), very few copper and steel blue.

Copper x royal blue = green, steel blue, very few copper.

Copper x red = muti copper with red fins (mostly fully red)

***Most of the time this cross do not produce full masking.

Copper has mutated and are now equally dominant.

* Copper x green = green (metallic and regular) and copper (fairly equal)

* White opaque x copper = platinum, copper, a mixture of both, strays are irid pastel/Cambodian like colors, irid colors (both metallic and regular).

*** Keep in mind that copper has been excessively cross bred to different colors. Thus it’s safe to say that there are no longer pure copper genetics. That being said –

* Copper x platinum = traditional Cambodian (with some iridescence), red Cambodian, yellow, solid copper, copper with red fins (red copper), green (mainly multi), both green and copper with yellow fins, pastel like colors

* Copper x red Cambodian (metallic line) = red copper, gold copper, silver-ish copper, Cambodian (metallic and regular), Cambodian-red copper mix, pastel like colors

Dragon scale
Was produced from further cross breeding to wild types and selectively breeding their offspring. Dragons are metallic based bettas with thick looking scales covering the whole body (full masked dragon). This trait was designed to have white/silver body with different colored fins – which gives them their names;

Red dragon = white body with red fins

Yellow dragon = white body with yellow fins

Black dragon = silver/grey body with black fins …….. And so on

Iridescence colored dragons does not display this pattern. Instead iridescence color covers the whole body and fins. Thus, a green dragon has thick green scales and fins. A blue dragon has blue body and fins, etc.

Since dragons need double metallic allele, they are recessive. Crossing a dragon to a regular will produce dragon genos. Physically they will show partial dragon scales. Usually after inbreeding to F3 will return the full masked dragon feature.

Iridescence colored dragon works similarly to that of regular scale. So pure iridescence colored dragons:

* Green dragon x green dragon = green dragon

* Steel blue dragon x steel blue dragon = steel blue

* Blue dragon x blue dragon = green, steel blue, blue (all dragons)

***As repeatedly stated, there are no “pure bred” betta. It’s more likely that you will end up with other color variations as well.

* Ideal Red dragons are white body with red fins – no iridescence or other colors on the rays.

Many “red dragons” sold carry white or iridescence rays.

* Since dragons are metallic based plus the fact that they have been crossed bred:

Breeding red dragons (pure or otherwise) = red dragons (both pure and multi), yellow, orange, gold, platinum (mostly dragons, possibly some regular) – some more severely crossed may throw coppers.

It is said that adding marble may result in a dragon scale with darker shade of red (the whole body and fin) – sort of maroon (very rare).

Breeding Black dragons may result : copper, green, steel blue (both dragon and regular), Platinum (solid and multi),

It is said that stray (by adding marble) may result in super black (a totally black color). These super blacks have been selectively bred and are now breeding true. But for some reason, this coloration most often comes in a less perfect form.

Key: Don’t mix bettas without thinking or researching, otherwise you may get a junk of undesirable babies.

The color of Fancy Bettas is based on the color pigmentation in different types of their cells. These different color cells are present in different layers within the skin. There are basically four, some say 5 but not proven yet types of color layers in a betta with each its own kind of color cells. In wild Betta splendens these color layers are: (1) iridescent layer (top layer), (2) Red layer, (3) black layer, (4) Yellow layer (bottom layer).
In our domestic brightly colored betas the distribution of these layers is a bit different from the wild type Betta splendens:

1. Iridescent layer (top layer):
This layer is also known as the blue layer and controls the amount of blue pigments. The iridocytes (also called guanophores), which are the blue/green cells in this layer contain the following traits:
– Iridescent colors
– Spread iridocytes
– Non-blue

2. Black layer:
The layer black layer contains melanophores or black cells which control the amount of black pigment in this layer. They contain the following traits:
– Cambodian
– Blond/Bright
– Melano

3. Red layer
The red layer contains erythrophores or red cells which control the amount of red pigment in this layer. They contain the following traits:
– Extended red
– Reduced red
– Non-red
– Variegated fins

4. Yellow layer (bottom layer)
The yellow layer contains xanthophores or yellow cells. So, far no genes have identified that control the yellow layer of pigmentation.
– The absence of the red layer, black layer and iridescent/blue layer.

Each of these color layers has its own genetic code which is determined by series of genes which combined eventually determine the color of the betta. The different genes either increase of decrease the pigment in the different layers. In this chapter I will try to explain something more about these different traits.


Notes on pet store bettas:

  • It is best to buy fish of known genetics from established breeders
  • Most ‘pet store’ bettas are ‘mutts’ and will throw random colors
  • Don”t work with pet store lines if you want to show your fry–they”re of a non-show-able type called the veiltail.
  • Many pet store males are too old to breed well, females are usually younger.
  • That being said, if you know your stuff, you can get some good finds at pet stores.
  • If you’re just getting started, start with the best you can for genetics and cheap bad genetic bettas will make your life hell when you breed.
  • In all honesty, I have never bred anything BUT the best bettas. And it”s still my #1 rule and I still get neat stuff and new colors.
  • On Genetics:
  • the general rule of thumb people say is that if you breed two solid color or two-color fish that look alike you”ll get mostly the same thing and this is as farm from true as it gets.
  • For marble fish and patterned fish, all bets are off. Marble pairs throw marble fish, solid-colors, bi-colors, and just plain randomness. That”s of course because this is a mutation and it is very dominant.
  • There are very few instances where betta genetics fail to follow standard punnett square genetic layouts. Keep this in mind and fill out the boxes before crossing.
  • Only with really recessive genes exhibited can you be sure an unknown betta carries the mutation fully. A blue fish (dominant) can carry a white gene underneath. A white fish has to have both white genes from parents. Most pet store fish are blue and red, so their genes are unknown.

Betta coloring goes something like this, for solids:

If you were viewing a slice of betta skin through a microscope you’d see the pigments stacked atop each other like so:

—iridescent (blue/green) layer—

—red layer———————–

—black layer———————

—yellow layer——————– (** see note below)


** This layer is so weak it isn’t usually factored in except when cellophane are used in a cross with blond. But most yellow fish for sale now days still come from a mutation of the red layer.
Keep in mind here that if any gene for a `higher’ layer exists, the fish will exhibit that color even though they may carry `lower’ colors. To display other layers, the higher layers must be bred out. (This can been done. For new breeders – Don’t bother, it’s generations of work. Start from the color you like.)

From these basic layers:

  • iridescent can carry red or black recessive
  • red can carry black
  • black is “the end” and must have both genes to display.

Iridescent have an odd quality–they don”t always breed visually “true”. There are three shades of iridescent.

  • Turquoise (sometimes called green) T
  • Royal blue or blue B
  • Gunmetal or steel blue have an incomplete dominance with each other. The royal blue exhibits when the fish carries one turquoise gene and one gunmetal gene. If a fish shows royal blue, you know it has one turquoise and one gunmetal gene. However, if a fish shows turquoise or gunmetal, it may have only one iridescent gene and a “hidden” red, black, or Cambodian gene. (Hidden Cambodian genes are the most common.)Hence:
  • TxT cross yields all T fish
  • GxG is all G
  • But a BxB cross gives 25% T, 25% G, and 50% B
  • A TxG cross gives 100% B
  • TxB is 50% each of T and B
  • GxB is 50% of G and B


Reds are the easy ones. What you see in stores are called extended reds—their whole bodies are red, not just the fins. Wild type reds have brown bodies and red fins. Extended red is dominant over wild red. Cross two reds and nearly always you come away with 100% reds.


Blacks are tricky. There are two strains of black. Melano and lace or “fertile” blacks. The problem with the melano, the old strain of black, is somehow ALL the females are sterile. The males must be crossed with a turquoise or gunmetal female that carries black in her makeup. This of course yields only 50% blacks per spawn, somewhat of an unrewarding percentage. The fertile strains (rarer and more costly) breed 100% true.

BE CAREFUL buying blacks. If you buy a pair (from a breeder, or online) and they advertise a pair, be sure it’s labeled as a fertile strain, or that it says the female is a carrier exhibiting an iridescent. Many folks find themselves cheated when their prize pair lays nothing but dead eggs time and time again. If you buy a pet store pair, assume they are melano.


Yellows actually have nothing to do with the old yellow color layer and are a mutation of the extended red gene mentioned above. They are often called “non-red” yellows because they display no red anywhere. They breed nearly 100% true, with an occasional mutation. Yellows do tend to be more fragile than most, so not necessarily a good pair to start with.


These are white-bodied fish with colorful fins. Red fins are the most common. They will breed true as to body color 100% of the time. If you are breeding the rarer iridescent Cambodians (blue or green fins) remember the rules for iridescent dominance listed above.


Arising form several strains mentioned, starting with Cambodian and yellow and a handful of chance mutations, we arrive at white bettas. They are not albino, just true whites.

There is argument about the nomenclature of these fish. They are called in turn pastel, opaque, super-white and the like. It’s basically the same set of genes and same principles apply.

Common terminology has fish with pinker bodies and more shine to them (usually blue or green dusted on top for a pearl-like look) as “pastels” and fish of a darker, more solid, matte white as the true opaques.

These are some of the rarest fish around currently, and are quite sought after. Many white strains are more fragile than other betta strains.

WxW yields a whole spawn of white fish, BUT few of them will be perfect. Because they are still unstable strains, many will have flaws like faint red washes in the fins (these are near impossible to get out, even generations in), tiny specks of color on the bodies, or fins that are part opaque and part clear. You’ll get a spawn of beautiful fish your friends (and maybe pet store) will gladly take off your hands, but you may get one show/breeder quality fish out of every 50 fry.

Patterned bettas:

The basic colors breed true, but like whites, you only get a handful of perfect fish from an entire spawn.

Marbles again throw just about anything that their colors will let them.

Butterflies—where the fin where it touches the body is one color and a different one at the end—breed ‘true’ but very few of the spawn will have a perfect pattern. The (admittedly awful) drawing below shows how a true butterfly should be—clean color separation following perfectly the shape of the fins. Many fish will exhibit it perfectly on one fin or the tail, but not all three. A “true butterfly” has the pattern on all three fins.


|~~~~~~~\ \

| red | clear |

|~~~~~~~/ /



Fin dominance is 100% true as well.

There are many kinds of tails, some rarer than others. Breeders are working to insert them into all color lines, a daunting task to be sure. But if you can find a pair with the tails you want, they should breed true for you.

Double tails are exactly what they sound like. They are any betta of any finnage type or coloration that literally have two tails atop each other across the lateral line. This is a wild-type mutation that has arisen in captivity time and time again but has also been seen in wild-caught pairs. They breed 100% true, but keep a lookout for fish with a bad split. The tails should separate all the way down to the body, and should have roughly the same number of rays on each lobe.

Veiltail, ‘pet store’ tails, droop like scarves. If you were to extend the fish’s lateral line, the tail would not be symmetrical about it. This tail is not show-able and not desirable anymore except for pets.

Delta tails, which have sprung up to replace the veiltail, just means a symmetrical tail over the lateral line. They fan out in a rough triangle, much like an overhead view of a river delta. The tails are usually stronger and less droopy than the veils.

A subset of the delta is the “half-moon”. This is a delta tail with a tail so large that it is a full 180 degrees when flared. These are very rare and usually only one or two a generation arise. “Half-suns” are the result of crowntail/halfmoon genes, with a full 180 spread and the extended rays.

combtail is where each single ray extends slightly behind the fin membrane, creating a scalloped look. Also going out of fashion. (bad art to follow displays what the edges of the fin look like.

FROM the combtail, however, evolved the crowntail. The rays—which usually branch at least once and are stiffer, present a look like a circlet or crown. The rays extend further from the membrane than with a crowntail. This is one of the most ‘in’ fins right now. Breeders are working on ‘triple’ and ‘quadruple’ ray, which is when that many branches are exiting together before the bit of membrane. With more rays, there evolve smaller scallops between ray pairs.
Standard: ||__||__||__||
quadruple: ||_||___||_||___||_||___||_||

*****Information provided from IBC (older info), DarkMoon17, Hester, Google, Betta Blogging, Thailand Animal Research, WorldBettas. Golden Betta Thailand, non-of this info is copyright and can be freely copied edited and shared as anyone would like. This is simple public info great betta breeders have given the world.

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  1. So which betta Color I Should breed to get emerald color/nemo ( Yellow Based) , Like this picture above. yellow male x koi isn’t it?

    • Most good nemo come from dalmatian lines now days. You need the vertical lines to show. I start with a yellow dalmatian and cross in candy both with as little iridescence as possible.

      • You will then cross back and forth between your fry and cellophane marble type to keep breaking the colors how you want 3 color or 4 color nemo or add cellophane iridescent to get galaxy nemo.
        A good line will take about 2 years or so or till you reach F8 or so. You will need to keep working each layer for the colors. Clear base or yellow base is the bottom layer. Your reds and orange would be next and then black and the top would be either no iridescent or Si …
        Remember Nemo have marble and dalmatian and take a while to show in your fry 4 months to show what you will get or so.

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