Sherolyn-Basement Bettas

The light bodied phenotype or group of phenotypes known as Cambodian has
been traced to a single recessive gene. It is important to clarify the nature of the action of this gene since older papers I’ve found state that it produces an “unvollstaendige Albino” or a “light pink bodied fish.”

A good Cambodian betta has a clean, pale body free of color impurities and bright, solidly-colored fins. Although producing Cambodians is fairly easy, producing goodCambodians is as challenging as producing good fish from any other color line. There are four important things that must occur for the ‘ideal’ Cambodian betta to be produced: there should be no black on the black colour layer, no red on the body on the red layer, no iridescence on the iridescent layer, and no yellow on the yellow layer.Therefore, to produce a clean Cambodian betta with a solid, flesh-colored body you need to work with more than just to single gene that removes the black. 
(Photo: Cambodian red plakat male with fairly clean body and brilliantly colored fins.)

The Cambodian betta has gotten a bad rep for ruining extended red line by muting the red color layer and producing a less intense red. In reality, the Cambodian gene doesn’t affect the red layer at all, but because it eliminates the black it does make an extended red fish appear more pale. Cambodians are also used in NR lines like yellow and orange to produce a more intensely-colored solid yellow or orange betta. 

So what exactly is a Cambodian, from a genetics standpoint?

Cambodian (cc) males are occasionally as red as any normal (not extended) red betta with the only difference being a suppression of black on both the body and fins. Cambodians are not albinos since the eye is fully pigmented with melanin. True albinos happen in the betta world but they are usually either blind or nearly so, which makes both survival and spawning very difficult; hence no albino strain has been established and the relationship between albinism and the C locus has not been tested.

In some strains of Cambodian a considerable amount of black forms on the bodies of adults as a very regular series of dots. Careful examination reveals these to be due to melanophores in the intermediate zone but never in the deep zone and only rarely in the superficial. This black spotting on Cambodians is apparently inherited but I’ve not personally investigated it because of the irregular time of appearance, sometimes developing only after the rather advanced age of 18 months. Red develops considerably later on Cambodians than on dark fish and female Cambodians rarely develop red on the body although their fins are as red as those of males.

One striving to produce a line of good Cambodians would start by choosing a male which is as pale in the body as possible. Occasionally a very pale, clean-bodied male Cambodian without red or black color impurities in the body is available for purchase, and it could be crossed to a very clean-bodied Cambodian female to produce a higher number of true flesh/red offspring. For this purpose, Cambodian breeder fish from NR lines might be better suited than fish from extended red lines, which will still produce a lot of extended red or normal red offspring. Be careful of very pale bodied fish in which the color of the fins is also affected; these are usually carrying the opaque gene and/or are showing a pastel influence. True Cambodians should have a flesh colored body and very BRIGHT RED or VIOLET RED fins. 

Although there are many references out there to ‘blue cambodians’, ‘green cambodians’, and even ‘black cambodians’, it is my belief that the only true Cambodian is the flesh/red color combination. These others, although also possessing a pale body with colored fins, do not behave either genotypically or phenotypically as Cambodians, and are probably better categorized as pastels or marbles. 

male parentfemale parentoffspring
CambodianGreen (Dark-bodied)100% Multicolor (cambodian genotype)
CambodianMulticolor (cambodian genotype)50% Cambodian, 50% Multicolor (cambodian genotype)
CambodianCambodian100% Cambodian

(J. Sonnier)

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