OK, so you are about
to unpack your newly purchased betta and you just can’t contain your
excitement. In a way, it is a bit like a blind date ;). Will it be all
you imagined it to be? You have had time to live this moment in your
head over and over again. You even already ‘pictured’ in your mind
what your new finned friend will look like. How did you achieve that?
Well, you surfed the net for several days and devoured every yummy color
photo you could lay your eyes on. Your brain has had a serious overload
of sensory delight and now it has forever retained in its memory bank an
imprint of what a betta should look like. Picture perfect.
You haven’t opened the bag yet and Mr. Betta is having a total anxiety
attack. How could it possibly live up to your ever so great (and ever so
unrealistic) expectations? The poor lad doesn’t stand a chance!
let’s take a small break and open a very necessary and helpful
analogy. Have you ever opened a fashion magazine and gazed at all the
beautiful, picture perfect people in it? And wondered how come YOU do
not look like them? The more you flip through the evil pages, the more
like poopoo you feel L.
You look in the mirror and suddenly you do not feel so cute anymore. You
become convinced your hips are too fat, you are too short, your lips are
not voluptuous enough and your waistline… Well, let’s not even go
near your waistline LOL. You scrutinize every possible flaw and promptly
manufacture a few more while you are at it. You go back to the magazine
and flip through a few more pages… Make it to the end of the
publication and it’s Depression Galore (with a capital D – and make
that BOLD) J
(And to think you actually PAID them money to make you feel that way! ).
Fortunately, your reason kicks in just as you reach for a rope to hang
yourself: “Hey, the little voice inside your head says, how many
people do you think REALLY look that perfect?” And come to think about
it you cannot produce a single of your
relatives/friends/co-workers/neighbors names. Cause the truth is, the
perfect people are one in a zillion and then there is the rest of us J.
They are the exception that confirms the rule: We do not live in a
bettas are people too. And just like people, they are not perfect. Every
now and then, an outstanding betta will pop up in a spawn. These near
perfect beauties are often immortalized via photo which ends up
somewhere in a fish magazine or on the internet. Although such bettas do
exist, they are rare and if the breeder was willing to part with them,
it would not be for cheap. Prices for top pairs can easily climb up into
the hundreds ($200 to $400 to be more specific). And there is never any
guaranty that such beauties will spawn for you. Not very many people can
afford to pay such high prices, so for us normal people who must live on
a normal paycheck, we have to compromise. If we cannot afford to spend
$200 but can swing $60, then one should obviously be realistic and not
expect to receive a $400 perfect betta. Some compromise is going to be
necessary. Which brings us to the heart of this article: When it comes
to bettas, which flaw is acceptable and which should be considered a
years of buying, selling, breeding and evaluating bettas, I have
concocted my very own list of ‘can live with’ and ‘will not touch
with a 10 feet pole’ betta flaws. So let’s go over some of them.
-Please note that we
are looking at breeding stock, not stock you are sending at an IBC show
(which would be a whole different E-Magazine article of its own).
flaws you should not lose sleep over (ones you can work with)
betta is small. Smaller
bettas will grow if given time and proper foods. Even if in the end
they do not end up quite as big as others, it still will not affect
their ability to spawn. Small females have been known to produce a
surprisingly large amount of eggs. Small females are easier to breed
than larger ones. A small betta will not produce more small bettas.
Offsprings will be of normal size. For all above reasons, I never
worry if a betta is small. If it has he genes I am looking for and
will get me the results I am seeking, I will use it.
ventrals are not perfect. Ventral
defects may include: uneven length, a ventral that curls or that is
bent, or even lack of ventrals altogether. It is quite common for
bettas to not have perfect ventrals, especially as they mature and
the ventrals grow longer. I wouldn’t worry about such defects,
because they are not genetically transmissible. Meaning that even if
your betta has no ventrals at all (which would be your worst case
scenario), it will produce normal bettas with ventrals. Many have
attempted to start a strain of bettas that would have no ventrals,
breeding selectively bettas with such trait, but couldn’t produce
offspring of the likes. So as you see, ventrals defects are
fins are damaged.
That one can really work in your favor because the betta will more
then likely be somewhat discounted (however do keep in mind that you
generally pay for the betta’s gene pool as much as you pay for its
looks. Hence fin damage may only save you 10 to 30% of the total
price. Still could be worth while). Such a damaged fin betta’s
breeding potential is unaffected and you can get a lot more betta
that way for quite a bit less. Anyone who has ever bred bettas knows
that the pair will suffer from some fin damage during spawning,
ranging from mild to severe. Fins do mend, sometime they grow right
back and even if they don’t your bettas will breed just as well.
So I would not worry, and sometimes even select a lot with such a
BF pattern is not perfect. I loooove the look of a good Butterfly (BF) pattern (fins
are half one color and half another. I always breed the most perfect
BF males I have (cause I have that luxury since I have so many to
pick from cause I breed them LOL). But if I had to purchase one and
was short on funds and perhaps couldn’t afford (or find) a male
with a real good pattern (which is going to cost quite a bit more),
then I would gladly buy one that is priced less and has a partial
pattern. Why? Because the BF pattern is variably expressible,
meaning that when breeding BFs you will get a bit of everything,
from solid to solids with only a hint of pattern, all the way to
perfect pattern (rare) and even some marbles. So an imperfect BF
will produce a few perfect ones and visa versa. Not as nice to look
at, but still will get you from point A to point B ;).
is lacking. The
more the finnage is impressive, the more a betta will cost. If you
can afford it, I would recommend always paying more and getting
bettas with better finnage. But if money is an issue and you are
limited, you cannot expect halfmoons or big finnage. Finnage is less
an issue if you are breeding for pattern (such as marbles, BFs etc).
Also a betta with grade B finnage but real great color may be worth
going for if you are going to cross to say, a betta of yours with
big fins but perhaps not so good color. Even if a betta is cheaply
priced because it is a grade B with poor finnage, it could still be
a good buy if you just need a pair to try your hand at breeding
with. The experience gained at spawning and rearing the fry will be
exactly the same whether a pair is a $40 pair or a $400 pair.
Oftentimes the $40 pair may be easier to spawn (Murphy’s law J
). Having said that, if you intend to show or sell the fry, then by
all means always start with the best pair you can possibly afford
(cause in the end you do get what you pay for).
Now let’s look at
some flaws that are a big no-no in my book:
is deformed. Although
that may sound like a ‘duh, pretty obvious!”, I must immediately
bring to your attention that not all deformities are easy to spot.
Some are very slight and may go unnoticed unless your eye is
trained. The experienced breeder can spot such a flaw immediately,
while the novice may not detect it and end up breeding such deformed
betta. And, worst yet, selling the spawn to you over the net! L
Deformities are genetically transmissible, so you will be very
sorry. Here again I must stress how important it is to purchase from
a reputable, experienced breeder.
is crooked. This
flaw is easier to spot and once again a deal breaker in my book. Now
again I must clarify that when working with Double Tails (DT), one
will inevitably have to deal and possibly work with such flaw,
because it is part of the territory. I intend to write a separate
article focusing on DTs, but for now suffice to say that a slight
(and I said SLIGHT) spine deviation is acceptable if working with a
DT line, because almost all DTs have that trait. If the trait is
exaggerated, then I would stay away from the stock. Not acceptable
if dealing with a Single Tail (ST) betta as far as I am concerned,
even if the deviation is super slight. I have been fortunate enough
to start a lot of my DT lines with fish from Bonnie McKinley who was
extremely selective and had very flawless DT strains. One does not
always have that luxury, though. I have seen a lot of DTs on the
market with noticeably crooked or bent spines and I would personally
not touch them or ever sell them.
Double Tail has uneven
lobes. Another big no-no. Of course I am referring to noticeably
uneven, especially when the upper lobe is pointing upwards. I would
never buy such a betta. This trait is highly transmissible and will
ruin your lines. Stay away!! Having said that, just like all people
have one foot a bit longer than the other, most DT bettas have an
upper lobe a hair narrower than the bottom one. That is normal. A DT
with truly even lobes will be priced higher because it is not
betta has a veil tail. I
have heard many complaints from people who purchased bettas through
auctions on the net and received veil tails. By veil tail I am
referring to a betta with a long, very narrow tail that curves
downwards and ‘droops’. You can see such bettas by the hundreds
at your local pet store. Veil tails are not to be confused with fan
tails or deltas which sometimes, as they grow longer, may also seem
to droop some (and could be mistaken for a veil tail if you are
inexperienced). Although a veil tail is not a ‘flaw’ per say, it
is an old fashion tail shape that we no longer breed and that is not
qualified to enter a betta show now a day. It is a sign of very poor
quality and will ruin your line. So it is a huge no-no in my book.
Although you cannot
and should not expect your bettas to look like the top notch, best of
the best, crème de la crème bettas often pictured on betta websites,
you should learn to know where to draw the line when it comes to common
betta flaws. Because although no betta is ever perfect, there are some
things you can live with and some you should never have to.
hope this article will help you choose wisely.
A footnote from Faith:
I wrote this
betta article while driving in the R.V from Los Angeles to San Francisco
(no I was not the driver LOL). The road was pretty bouncy and as a result
of that I KILLED my eyes. The next day I was walking in a zigzag pattern
all over Chinatown cause my whole equilibrium was off. I kept laughing and
telling Mr.181: People are going to think I am drunk!! Morality of the
story: If given the choice between a laptop and potato chips while on the
road, go for the potato chips!! LOL