copper gold betta

Copper Gold Betta: Prize Winning Fish?

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If you’re a newbie to the wonderful world of bettas, you may have noticed that many hobbyists enjoy dabbling in breeding these beautiful fish. As well as the fascination of creating something truly beautiful from your very own stock, you might just breed a prize winner.

Professional betta breeders are always looking for the next big thing, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing and matching betta genetics. So, it seems, is the financial reward that can be gained from breeding a fish that enthusiasts latch onto, as was the case when a breeder produced a pair of gold bettas that commanded a record high bid of $1,000 on back in 2003.

In this article, we look at the record-breaking metallic gold betta and find out how this stunning color strain was achieved.

Golden Beauty

When it first appeared, the new strain took the betta world by storm. The shiny, pure metallic gold color was unique and utterly beautiful, and it also seemed to breed true, in that spawning two gold bettas typically produced 100% gold offspring.

Thanks to the ease of perpetuation and no doubt inspired by the record-breaking price that the new color strain achieved, more and more betta breeders began raising their own lines of golden bettas. Now, gold bettas are regularly seen in auction houses and fish stock shops alike, albeit at a much more affordable price!

Origins of the Metallic Gold Betta

Going for Gold

The metallic gold betta came from crossbreeding betta splendens with other species of wild betta, namely betta mahachai and betta imbellis. Betta mahachai naturally has a high degree of iridescence on its scales to compensate for the murky waters in which it lives. The subsequent outcrosses with betta splendens resulted in a Plakat betta that showed the first metallic scale trait.

Asian betta breeders selectively crossed fish that showed the most metallic. This eventually produced a copper color was very thick and heavy. Breeders dubbed the first batch of these gold fish that bred true as the copper imbellis.

These bettas became common on the overseas market in their short-finned form. However, the strain did not enjoy such popularity in Europe and the United States. The half-moon fish still held the attention of Western hobbyists at that time. So they didn’t pay much attention to the metallic Plakat.

Developing Finnage

Through more selective breeding, those same Asian breeders were able to further develop the short-finned copper imbellis. They produced a long-finned, delta form and elaborated on the finnage from there. 

Crossbreeding the copper long-fin with a half-moon green produced the very first metallic green deltas and half-moons. However, most of them had a heavy red wash. The following generations of brother and sister spawnings served to clean up the color. The result was fish with a green base overlayed with iridescent copper, which presented phenotypically as a bright, golden color.

The Final Stretch

Crossbreeding those “golds” with pure iridescent turquoise, steel, and blue fish produced the “masked” bettas. Masked bettas are fish that are steel, blue, or green. But instead of having the usual dark head of a pure iridescent, the copper gene caused the color to spread across the whole of the head of the fish.

Showing and Variants

At the time of writing, the International Betta Congress (IBC) only acknowledges those bettas of solid, dark-bodied copper type for showing purposes, including metallic green, gold, metallic steel, metallic blue, and metallic black. However, copper types are also available in a beautiful platinum color. The platinum is simply copper over opaque. Coppers also present in metallic marbles, metallic bi-colors, metallic multicolors, and more.

Final Thoughts

The golden betta is now a relatively common sight in fish stores worldwide. However, the hobbyist can still enjoy many hours of fun by experimenting with different crosses. 

Who knows, you could be the lucky breeder who produces the next “big thing” in the betta world!

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