purple betta fish

Purple Betta Fish: Elusive Genetics

As well as enjoying the experience of keeping a betta fish, many keen betta hobbyists enjoy breeding and crossbreeding their specimens to see what colors and forms can be produced.

Now, although betta fish come in a huge range of gorgeous colors and with numerous spectacular tail forms, the purple betta fish is something that’s prized by enthusiasts right around the world.

In this guide, we take a closer look at the genetics of breeding the elusive purple betta fish. That’s not as straightforward as it seems!

Breeding purple betta fish

At first glance, breeding a purple betta fish seems to be a simple matter of using blue to cover up a layer of solid red pigment. Many times, some of the shades of royal blue do lean toward violet or purple, as you can see from the betta fish in this video clip.

With that in mind, you might assume that it would only take one small step to produce a true purple shade. However, it’s not as easy as you might think.

In theory

Introducing red into a line of royal blue bettas generally produces blue betta fish with an excessive red wash or red/blue multicolors. This crossbreeding won’t result in any purple bettas in the spawn.

However, a few variations of purple-bodied/secondary fin colors have appeared under various names, including Purple Popsicle, Purple Gas, Purple Salamander, and other such variants. Now, whilst these are undoubtedly very attractive fish, by definition, they are not a pure, solid-colored purple.

That is because, at a genetic level, “Purple Gas” are genetic royal blue bi-colors. And crossing one Purple Gas with another will simply give the results that you would expect when crossing a royal blue with a royal blue. Meaning, you’d see steel/yellow, royal/yellow, and turquoise/yellow.

In theory, you could create a purple betta by using the Mustard Gas line and selecting two fish that have a high degree of iridescence in their bodies and less yellow coloring in their fins. However, crossbreeds of this nature have proven to be rather unstable, resulting in a majority of the typical colors seen in Mustard Gas, i.e., black, green, and blue.

In practice

With the surge in popularity for metallic, and later the dragon, genes, breeders seeking to produce purple betta fish had a whole new arsenal to play with. Copper bettas that carried a red influence could look intensely purple under certain lighting conditions. So, breeders crossed Purple Gas lines to produce bettas that had very electric purple bodies.

The First Step

German breeder, Marcus Gutzeit, had managed to achieve a tentative line of purple bettas. He selected a male HM betta of pinkish coloration from a multicolor line and crossbred him with a red female. The resulting spawn produced a pale, bubblegum purple. Many breeders thought that coloration could be the first step in creating the deeply colored purple shade that they are striving for.

Pursing Purple

In their quest to produce a true purple betta, some breeders experimented with using a royal blue male. That male, a blue butterfly spawn, was a more “purple” shade of royal blue than the typical blue coloration. That male bred with a blue/red female [a Black Devil (black/red) and steel (melano geno) cross]. The resulting spawn was a very violet-blue fish–pretty close to the Holy Grail of the perfect purple betta.

Another spawn was raised from the same blue/red female that had produced the violet male. But this time the breeder used a pink/blue pastel male. The result was a spawn of grizzled pastels showing varying amounts of red wash. Some were pinkish pastels and others were white/red/blues. That said, when matured, three of those fish showed a distinct purple body and red fins.

The breeder then crossed the best of those female specimens with her half-brother, the violet-blue male. Most of the spawn produced from that mating were light or brownish-purple in color. However, a few did show a definite breakthrough in color, as they had purple fins and purple bodies too.

So far, one of the most perfect and purest purple bettas has been produced by a breeder from Bangkok, Mr. Chiawcharn Chaisaeng of the fish producing farm, Minburi Betta, although how he produced this beautiful fish is somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Final thoughts

So, selective breeding can produce the elusive pure purple betta. But amateur hobbyist breeders will need to be patient and choose their crosses very carefully.

Breeding bettas for color is an extremely enjoyable hobby that can give you immense satisfaction when you create something truly beautiful. Hopefully, this article will give you a deeper understanding of the genetics involved in producing a pure purple betta.

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