When getting your betta fish, of course you want to get the best one. Different bettas have different qualities, and some actually are better than others.
So which type of betta is the best? In terms of health, Plakats are the best. In terms of looks, Rose tails and Halfmoons are the best.
“Best” is normally very subjective. However, there are different health, color, and scale aspects for each type of betta. Therefore, you can objectively state which ones are better in different categories. Today we will discuss which breed of betta is the best kind to get.
Which Breed of Betta is the Best?
When it’s finally time to pick out your betta, you may realize there are several dozen breeds. Some are new and flashy hybrids, like the King betta, while others are old classics, like the Halfmoon.
The first thing you should consider is what size tank you can have available. Do you only have room for a 2.5 gallon? Or could you potentially get a larger aquarium? Do you have time to do weekly 25% water changes on a larger tank, or only a smaller 2.5?
Longer finned male bettas struggle to move around. The long tails are not natural, so they are less active. These fish can easily thrive in a 2.5-gallon tank with proper care, though a larger tank won’t harm them.
Short tailed bettas, such as Plakats and females, are the most active of the bunch. It is rarer to see them rest, as they are nearly always moving around. A five gallon is the minimum for them, though of course, bigger is always better.
King bettas can grow over three times the size of normal bettas, have short fins, and are relatively active, so a 10 gallon is good minimum tank size.
As far as personal color and scale preferences go, the choice is up to you! Patterns and colors have been repeated in every breed, so they aren’t exclusive to a single breed. If you see one with a pattern you like, but you’d prefer it on a longer or shorter tailed betta, rest assured you will be able to find the perfect one for you.
Common Betta Health Problems
Classic bettas, which are primarily of the species Splendens, are more prone to certain illnesses, such as tumors and fin rot, than some of the newer hybrids are. Even so, tumors are rare and normally benign, though fin rot can be a more persistent issue.
Long finned bettas, most notably Halfmoons, rose tails, crown tails, veil tails, and others, very often suffer from fin rot. They have been selectively bred for beautiful long tails, which natural bettas do not have.
Unfortunately, this can cause blood flow to the ends of the fins to be very low, leading to fin rot in the edges. They often require much more pristine water than some of the shorter finned varieties, and it is important to always have medication on hand.
Shorter tailed bettas, mainly Plakats, are not prone to fin rot or tumors, and rarely suffer illnesses specific to their breed. Many consider them the healthiest domestic betta breed.
On the other hand, the breed considered the least healthy is the double tail. Double tail bettas are moderately popular but have significantly shorter lifespans than other breeds. If the betta you get is the result of a double tail crossed with another double tail, it will suffer a host of genetic issues and premature death.
Double tails appear to be more heavily inbred than other breeds, and suffer more from tumors, fin rot, sudden death, swim bladder issues, bloat issues, and stunting. Some double tails that came from a cross between a double tail and another tail type will have less health issues, but some will still be present.
How to Pick a Healthy Betta
After hearing about these awful health issues, you may be wondering how to pick a perfectly healthy betta. Unfortunately, betta fish are often kept in small, unheated cups at stores. These are always full of ammonia and nitrite, and the bettas aren’t frequently fed.
These conditions are breeding grounds for disease, and it is best to always quarantine and pretreat when you get your betta. Most illnesses can be visually identified, and some are easily treated.
Expect most, if not all, of the bettas to be somewhat listless if there are no heaters. Bettas are only truly active at 78-82 degrees, so they will be somewhat subdued. However, they should still have some reaction as you approach them.
A healthy betta will notice your approach and often swim closer to check you out. The fins should be perfectly intact, the betta should have good gill movement and bright eyes. The scales should be colorful and reflective, as a sick betta will have dulled scales.
Be sure they have the ability to swim both up and down in the water, as swim bladder issues can be difficult to treat. White, fluffy, cotton looking growth on the exterior of a fish, anywhere from the mouth to the body, is often columnaris. This bacterial infection has a high mortality rate, and is not always treatable.
Fin rot is easy to identify and normally easy to treat; the edge of the fin(s) appears ragged or torn, and is lined in black, gray, or white. Parasites may also be present, some of which are invisible to the naked eye. It is always a good idea to treat your new betta with a mild antiparasitic, such as PraziPro. In the upcoming weeks, keep an eye out for gill fluke symptoms, velvet, and anchor worms.
Basic Betta Medications
There are some medications that are always good to have on hand. Betta fish sometimes get sick, just like people, and some illnesses need immediate treatment.
Two of the more severe ones are columnaris and dropsy, both of which affect bettas of any breed. Columnaris, as previously mentioned, is a bacterial infection. It is not uncommon for a betta to appear healthy for several days or weeks, then appear to suddenly develop the illness.
Dropsy is a type of swelling that makes a fish look like a pinecone if viewed from above. This is caused by extreme fluid retention caused by kidney failure. Kidney failure is also normally bacterial in nature, and both can be treated with the same medicine.
Keep in mind the mortality rate for both illnesses is high, and if at a late stage, euthanization may be kinder. If you happen to have Kanaplex on hand, start treatment immediately.
Parasites can also show up months after first getting a fish, and symptoms can be hard to detect. Gill flukes in particular are very lethal, and the treatment regimen is rough. PraziPro has been noted to have some success, though dosing methods vary.
Prazi is also very good at dealing with internal parasites, which are easier to identify and manage. If your fish is eating a good amount but appears strangely skinny, it likely has internal parasites.
Velvet and Ich are two external parasites that affect bettas. Ich appears as white spots, like salt, while velvet appears as a golden sheen. Both can be treated with the same readily available medicines, often labeled to treat Ich.
True fungal infections are extremely rare, as dead flesh must already be present for them to set in, so you don’t need to have medicine on hand.
So Which Breed is Best?
Any healthy betta is the best breed. There are outliers of each breed, so you may even end up with a healthy double tail, though this is more uncommon than a healthy Halfmoon. Pick a betta that you feel a connection to, whether you just love their colors, or you love the way they interact with you. You will have this little buddy for around 4 years, so be sure you like them.
In conclusion, different breeds have different care requirements and tank size needs, so be sure to pick on that works for you. If you want a big planted tank, a short-finned male or any female would greatly appreciate the extra space. On the other hand, if you just want a small 3-gallon desk tank that takes 5 minutes to do weekly water changes, a long-finned male will thrive in the space. Some breeds are more prone to health problems and shorter life spans, so you may want to avoid those.