betta finnage

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cause it's all in the fins, baby! :)  

 

As you already know, male bettas originally had short fins. In the wild, all bettas still do. Long fins was a mutation from the original form and (surprisingly) is dominant. Selective breeding has created many different shapes of tails and finnage variations and I know some breeders who are focusing all their efforts in obtaining specific tail shapes. As years go by, the standards of what is a desirable tail shape have changed, and continue changing. The "droopy" veil tails have been replaced by the more showy fan tails, then by Delta tails, Super Delta tails and full Halfmoon tail spans. Last but not least teh latest finnage variation is the crowntail, which was created by selectively breeding combtails. confused and lost? :) Don't worry, by the time you have looked at all the photos I am going to provide you with here, you will become quite the betta finnage expert (or at least think you are LOL). 

So here are a few pictures to illustrate these otherwise abstract shape names:

 

 

ushort tail
imbelliscopper2.jpg (45367 bytes)


Initially , ALL bettas had short tails. The small fins of a fully grown wild male betta may not be showy but think about it, would you rather be beautiful, or be alive? In the wild bettas need to be fast to escape predators and the long fins would be nothing but trouble. Kind of like going to a war zone in a wedding dress!! These short finned bettas look like our female bettas, which as you know, don't grow long fins. Perhaps in the future this also, may change.

 

uveil tail
veil-tail.jpg (116497 bytes)

A mutation caused short finned bettas to have longer fins. And the veil tail was created. Veil tails hang down when the betta is not flaring, and are not much to look at even when bettas flare. The tail is larger at the base, but almost immediately narrows down. It is asymmetrical, meaning that if you divide the tail horizontally (see red line) you would end up with 2 non identical parts.  All pet store bettas are veil tail, and veil tai is no longer a desirable tail shape. It is my understanding that veil tails are not even allowed to compete on the show circuit anymore. Hence, breeding pet store bettas is a huge waste of your time because you will never get quality finnage.

 

ufan tail
my cambodian flaring 1.JPG (49002 bytes)

A fan tail, or round tail, looks like a fan with rounded edges. It is much wider at the ends than it is at the base, resulting in a tail that spreads out open beautifully. If you divide the tail horizontally with an imaginary line, you will have 2 symmetrical parts. Again, there is roundness of the edges (unlike the delta tail which has sharp edges). The tail angle may be wider or narrower, depending on the quality of the line. Now a day a rounded tail is considered a fault and so you will notice that I never sell any on my stock page. I pride myself on selecting only bettas with halfmoon genes, showing good tail shape and sharp edges.

 

udelta tail

Delta tail was the first step before achieving halfmoons (see below). Delta tail shape ism like its name indicate more of a delta or a triangular shape if you will. It is like a fan tail but with crisp, sharp angles at the tail edges. The sharper, the better. Delta tail are also symmetrical, and the angle may vary, but of course the wider the angle, the better. If the angle is wide, say above 130, then we have what we call a "super delta tail" (see below). And if the angle reaches a perfect 180 (or more) then we have a halfmoon! 

 

usuper delta tail
Golden crusaders 023.jpg (130979 bytes)

The super delta tail is one step above a delta tail and one step below a halfmoon. In short it is an almost halfmoon, but not quite fish. The tail shape is the same, it is just the span that ranges between a wide delta and about 170 degrees or so. Super delta tails are very desirable, although of course not quite as desirable as a full halfmoons. they are however less pricey and easier to produce. A super delta tail can also be called a "halmoon geno" because it usually carries the same genes as its halfmoon siblings. here agin, look for crisp edges and avoid rounded tails!!

 

uhalmoon tail
OrangeHM.jpg (31644 bytes)

Halfmoons were once very rare but now, thanks to the efforts of many top breeders, we have them in almost all color variations. Halfmoons remain the standard by which all bettas are measured. A Halfmoon, like its name indicates, is a betta with a tail in the shape of half a moon (or 180 degree tail span). Generally speaking bettas with spans of about 170 and above are tagged "halfmoons". By far the most beautiful of tail variations, it is also the hardest to produce and the most fragile. With that big of a tail, bettas usually end up tearing them, a phenomenon called "blowing a tail". It is very common of halfmoons. The orange male on the left does not have very heavy finnage but I selected his photo because his fins are sheer so you can very clearly see the tail rays and see how they branch (4 branching or more) to create the wide span. 

 

udouble tail
Yellow DT gorgeous copy.JPG (185603 bytes)

Another cool gene all my strains carry is the double tail gene, my all time favorite. A Double Tail betta (dt) has two tail lobes instead of one. It also has twice (sometimes more) as many rays in the dorsal fin (top fin) as a regular Single Tail (ST) betta, resulting in a dorsal fin that is twice (or more) larger than a ST betta. Yes, you get twice as much for the price of one! hehehehe. The ideal Double Tail betta is one with two large even lobes (such as the yellow betta to the left, born in my fishroom and with which I started my Gorgeous Yellow line). Notice how even both lobes are, and how the entire finnage looks like a perfect circle. This is an outstanding Double Tail.  DT is recessive, but ST bettas that carry the DT gene have better finnage and larger dorsals then bettas who don't carry DT. Pretty much all my ST bettas carry the DT gene. (indicated by the symbol: ST/dt). 

 

ucomb tail

Comb tail is not a tail shape per say but it does affect the way finnage looks so I wanted to cover it here. Combtail is a genetic trait that extends the ray beyond the fin edge, hence making the edge of the fins look like a comb. It can be observed in any betta tail shape variation. I personally always loved the combtail trait and was thrilled when breeders starting working on improving it and tried to create a version with exaggerated long extending rays (see below)

 

ucrowntail
DVC00019.JPG (74606 bytes)

This is the newest fin variation and originated from the far East. By selectively breeding together bettas that showed strong combtail traits the first crowntails were created. Fringes can get very long and are very striking looking. Crowntails can be found in a single ray variation, or double ray or even double double ray. On the left we have a double ray pictured: Notice that each fringe is made out of two ray (fork). Now a day crowntails come in almost all colors :). And their advantage is that they do not blow their tails. the downside is that they remain quite aggressive and may be a bit more challenging to spawn. 

 

udouble split tail

I have never seen this mutation other than in this picture. This betta was bred by Mr. Tanaka, a Japanese breeder. Although the lobes seem to be split I wonder whether we are not actually looking at a regular DT betta with clear spots on his marbled fins, which is quite common in marbles. Note: the top lobe is considerably smaller than the lower lobe, which is a fault.

 

ulyre tail

This is a lyre tail betta and is also one of  Mr. Tanaka's bettas. Mr Tanaka had, by the way,  some amazing bettas!! This to the left is a blue cambodian. I have actually never seen a tail like this one in real life but it seemed worthy of being displayed on this page! Whether it would breed true (and therefore could be propagated) is another issue altogether.

Well, that sums it up. If you have a betta with a yet to be discovered tail shape, email me!! Till then, tata!