delta tail bettas

Delta Tail Bettas: The Peak of Greek

The delta tail betta is one of the more unusual varieties of this popular species of aquarium fish.

In this article, we find out more about these beautiful fish, including their care requirements, suitable tankmates, and the colors you can choose from.

What is a delta tail betta fish?

The delta tail is an unusual variety of the betta, or Siamese Fighting fish, which belongs to the Gourami family of fishes.

Delta tails are named after the Greek letter. The fish’s tail becomes narrower as it gets closer to the body, widening toward the edges. So it resembles the triangular shape of the Greek letter, Delta (∆). 

Another variation of the delta tail is called the super delta tail betta. That variety of betta fish has a tail that flares to almost 1800. The spread of a regular delta betta’s tail is much smaller than that. The edges of the tail are uniform with no combing or crowing.

You can check out what the spectacular delta tail betta looks like in this video clip.

Delta tail bettas originate from parts of southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. In these regions, where the fish live in the shallow waters of rice paddies, ponds, and waterways. Bettas grow to a maximum of three inches in length and have a lifespan of two to three years, which is typical for most small tropical fish.

Depending on where you buy your delta tail betta, you can expect to pay between $10 and $30, with fish of a more unusual or vibrant color fetching the highest prices.

Delta tail betta colors

Delta tail betta fish come in a huge range of gorgeous colors. The most commonly seen solid colors are blue and red, but delta tail bettas can also be:

  • Yellow
  • Black
  • Orange
  • Turquoise
  • White
  • Green
  • Multi-colors
  • Marble
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Metallic

As if that color palette wasn’t dazzling enough, bettas come in color variations too.

Bi-color

Delta tail betta fish also come in bi-colors. A true bi-colored betta has a clear and distinct difference between his fins and torso. Most importantly, there will be no overlapping. 

Cambodian betta fish typically fall into the bi-color category, having flesh-colored bodies and red, blue, or green fins. Chocolate bettas are also categorized as bi-colored, as they have brown bodies with either yellow/gold or gold fins.

Butterfly color

Butterfly color bettas have a solid body color, while their fins are split into two distinctly different colors.

Grizzle color

Grizzle colored betta fish are highly unusual, being generally pastel-colored with spots of a different shade spread right across the fish’s body.

Marble color

Marbled betta fish have an uneven mixture of random colors across the whole fish, including the tail.

Multi-colored

Multi-colored delta tail bettas have a minimum of three colors and do not slot into any other of the color categories.

Piebald color

Piebald color bettas have a face of one solid color, while the body is either marble or solid in color.

Pineapple color

Pineapple color delta tail bettas have distinctive black etching across their scales.

Metallic colors

An extremely beautiful and popular color variation that can be found in delta tail bettas is metallic. 

Metallic colors are created by cells called chromatophores. These cells reflect yellow light and cover the whole body and fins of the fish. The covering can be found in any color. For example, a blue fish can appear to be shiny blue or even turquoise, thanks to the metallics. 

A metallic covering over the fish’s lighter body color is usually referred to as gold, silver, or platinum.

Betta fishtail types

As well as the delta tail, betta fish come with many other tail variations, and that can make it difficult for the beginner fish keeper to tell them apart. 

When discussed a fish’s tail, you’ll hear the terms “webbing” and “rays” used. “Webbing” is the term used to describe the fine tissue that joins the longer, more dense structures that look like veins in the fins and tail. Those structures are called “rays.”

Here’s a brief guide to betta fish tail types to help you to know your delta tail from your crowntail!

Veiltail betta

The most common variety of betta fish that you’ll find stocked in most fish shops is the veiltail. You can recognize the veiltail by his long, flowing, downward swooping caudal (tail) that resembles a bride’s wedding veil.

Veiltails are the natural form that the fins take when bred selectively in captivity. The veiltail is considered to be rather common and undesirable among show breeders. In fact, the International Betta Congress (IBC) no longer has classes for veiltails.

Crowntail betta

The crowntail first appeared in 1997 in West Jakarta, Indonesia, and is named for the spikey appearance of the fins and tail, resembling the top of a crown. 

Look closely at the fish’s fins. Most breeders aim for the fin’s webbing to reach only halfway up the tail. If the webbing extends further than two thirds up the tail’s ray, then the fish is not a crowntail.

Combtail betta

The combtail is very similar in appearance to the crowntail in that the rays of the tail are longer than the webbing, and the two are often confused. However, in combtails, the difference between the webbing and the ray is not as pronounced as you will find in a crowntail.

Spade tail betta

The spade tail betta was extremely popular during the early 1990s but has rather gone out of fashion in recent years. This tail form is quite basic, with the caudal having a wide base that narrows to a point, giving it the appearance of a spade.

Double tail betta

The double tail betta is also known as the DT or DTM (double tail male) and DTF (double tail female). Double tails are, in truth, a cultivated genetic mutation that you never see in wild bettas. 

The double tail has a dorsal fin that is the same length as the fish’s anal fin and two distinct caudal lobes. Double tails are often thicker-bodied than other varieties of betta and often have physical deformities such as wider rear ends and crooked spines.

Double tails are often cross-bred with regular, single tail varieties because the defective gene brings advantages, including better branching and wider dorsals. If you’re interested in breeding bettas, you should know that it’s recommended that you cross a single-tailed type with a DT, because two double tails often produce offspring with deformities. 

Round tail betta

Round tail bettas are extremely popular with hobbyists around the world. These are single-tailed fish with large, rounded tails, and they are often confused with the super delta tail and the delta tail betta.

Half-moon betta

The half-moon betta is a spectacular variety that is hugely popular with betta enthusiasts, and for very good reason.

The half-moon betta has a huge tail that flares straight down and straight up, as well as a symmetrical anal fin and a full dorsal. For showing purposes, half-moons must have a caudal where both ends are precisely a minimum of 1800 apart or more, spreading out toward the front of the fish. The caudal edges must be curving outwards or straight rather than bending inward. 

Over half-moon betta

The over-half-moon betta has similar fins to the half-moon, although when flared, the caudal fin fans over 1800 to create a shape that’s larger than a half-circle.

Rose tail betta

Interbreeding, as a result of the quest to produce the perfectly formed half-moon tail, has produced another variant of betta fish called the rose tail betta. 

Rose tails have excessive branching of all of their three, unpaired fins. Look out for overlapping caudal rays, which produces the appearance of a rose in bloom. Extreme forms of rose tails can produce the feathertail betta, although these are very hard to find unless you go to a specialist betta breeder.

It’s worth noting here that excesses in the rose tail form can cause problems, including fish that can’t swim properly, have shorter ventral fins, and poor scales. In some cases, the betta’s fins may collapse altogether.

Half-sun betta

The half-sun betta is a spectacular combo of the half-moon and the crown tail. 

The result is a fish with a massive tail that has a spread of over 1800 with very slight crowning between the webbing and the fins’ rays.

Half-sun betta fish are extremely hard to find and consequently carry a hefty price tag.

Plakat Betta

The Plakat, (pronounced “Pluh-cot”), is the short-finned version of the common betta splendens. 

Modern show plakats have multi-branching caudals, longer anals/ventrals, extended dorsals, and come in a range of cultivated colors. Plakats are typically livelier and more active than their long-finned cousins because they are not hampered by excessively long fins and tails. Plakats also have a greater resistance to disease, making this type a good choice for beginner hobbyists.

Elephant ear/Dumbo ear betta

Elephant ear or Dumbo ear bettas are real eyecatchers! Although, as the name suggests, it’s the fish’s fins that give the variety its name, rather than their tail. Dumbo ear bettas have huge pectoral fins, with the result that they resemble elephant ears. The fins can be the same color as the betta’s body or a different, contrasting shade.

Delta tail betta behavior

Delta tail bettas originate from the betta species, more commonly known as Siamese Fighting fish. Bettas come from parts of Asia, including Thailand, which was once known as Siam. Male bettas are known to be highly territorial and can be very aggressive toward other fish that invade their space. So, you can see where the name Siamese Fighting fish comes from!

So, what kind of tank requirements and habitat do captive delta tail bettas need to thrive?

Delta tail bettas tank requirements

Caring for your delta tail betta begins with the right tank setup.

Tank size

The smallest tank that you should consider is ten gallons, which will give your delta tail plenty of space, especially if you are planning on introducing a few tankmates for your betta. Also, remember that your delta tail betta has beautiful, extravagant fins, and you don’t want him to damage himself by crashing into things in a tank that’s too small.

Cover the tank!

Although delta tails are not the most athletic of fish, they still retain their wild cousins’ ability to leap right out of the water. In nature, wild bettas use that ability to jump from puddle to puddle in search of food, new territory, or mates. 

So, you must put a lid on your tank or at least cover the top with fine-gauge wire to prevent your delta tail from leaping right out of his tank. 

That said, delta tail bettas are labyrinth breathers. That means that they extract oxygen from the air, as well as from the water. You’ll see your delta tail betta frequently surfacing to breathe, so make sure that you leave at least an inch of clear air between the tank cover and the water’s surface.

Tank décor and planting

In their natural environment, betta fish live in slow-moving water and paddy fields filled with vegetation. So, you will need to provide plenty of live plants in your delta tail betta’s tank where he can hide if he feels stressed. Floating plants are ideal, as they closely mimic the delta tail’s natural habitat and can encourage spawning.

When choosing decorations and ornaments for your delta tail betta’s tank, be very careful to select only items that are smooth-sided and have no sharp edges that could inflict injury to your fish by snagging his flowing tail and fins.

You should also provide a hiding place or cave for your delta tail betta where he can chill-out if he’s feeling stressed.

Filtration

Like all fish, delta tail bettas produce waste, which creates ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, all of which are toxic and potentially very harmful to your fish. To keep the water clean, you should install a filter system in the tank.

Make sure that the filter flow is not too powerful. Delta tail bettas are not strong swimmers and will not be able to cope with a rapid, strong current, which could also damage their beautiful caudal fins.

Water conditions

There are three very important variables in your delta tail betta tank’s water that you must control if your fishy friend is going to thrive.

You must keep the pH level at 7.0, which is perfect for bettas. Water hardness should be between two and five carbonate hardness (dKh), and the water temperature must be set at 780 Fahrenheit.

Delta tail bettas are highly susceptible to temperature shock, especially if the temperature falls too low. Fluctuations in temperature can cause harm to your betta, so make sure that you have a tank heater and an accurate thermometer so that you can monitor the environment. 

When choosing a substrate for your tank, avoid large gauge gravel, as it may have sharp edges that could damage your fish’s tail and fins.

What about tankmates?

The perfect tankmates for a delta tail betta are female bettas, and a sorority would make a harmonious addition to your setup.

However, if you prefer, you could consider including other species in the tank that enjoy compatible conditions and are peaceful community fish. Be sure to allow plenty of space for everyone! As previously mentioned, delta tail bettas are fiercely territorial and will fight with a perceived competitor, often to the death.

When looking for suitable tankmates for a delta tail betta, consider midwater or bottom dwellers, such as tetras, Corydoras catfish or shrimp. African dwarf frogs can also make suitable companions for a delta tail betta, and a group of guppies will add lively interest to the tank. 

Take it slowly …

It’s always better to introduce a delta tail betta to an existing tank community than to do the reverse. If the betta is the only fish in the habitat, he may regard any newcomers as a threat, and that could trigger aggression.

When you first introduce a delta tail betta to your tank, put him in a plastic cup or betta cup and float him on the water surface for half an hour or so. Observe the betta closely to see whether he shows signs of aggression, such as puffing up his gills or flaring his dorsal and pectoral fins.

Once the betta has settled down and is not fazed by the other tank occupants, you can put him into the water with them.

Feeding your delta tail betta

Delta tail bettas are omnivorous, needing a diet of both plant matter and meat. In the wild, bettas’ staple diet consists of insects and insect larvae that he takes from the water surface. So, you will need to replicate that diet by feeding your fish a combination of frozen, live, and freeze-dried meat protein, such as mosquito larvae and bloodworms, as well as special betta pellets.

Check out our in-depth article on the perfect diet and feeding regimen for your betta fish at this link.

Breeding delta tail betta fish

Delta tail bettas are pretty easy to breed, provided your tank is set up properly, and you’ve included plenty of planting and hiding places.

Bettas can begin breeding when they reach around 14 months of age. If your betta is less than two inches in length, he’s not yet sexually mature.

You will need to have a few female betta fish in your collection for successful spawning to take place. Female bettas are easy to distinguish from males, as they don’t have flowing fins or tails and are rather plain in appearance.

The male delta tail will build a nest of bubbles close to the floating plants you’ve provided. Courting then commences, and the male betta will drive the female underneath his nest, where he “embraces” her. Eventually, eggs begin to fall from the female. The male delta tail collects the eggs and puts them into the bubble nest.

To begin with, the fry will feed on the egg yolk sac, hanging from the nest until they are strong enough to swim. At this point, you will need to start feeding the fry. Offer them live food, such as micro-worms or specially formulated fry food, which you’ll get from good fish stores.

Final thoughts

Delta tail bettas are a spectacular variety of betta fish that make a fascinating and impressive addition to any peaceful community tank.

Be sure to provide your fish with the correct tank environment, ideal water conditions, the right diet, and peaceful tankmates, and you will be rewarded with the enjoyment of seeing this stunning betta variety for at least three years.

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