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Pedigree and lineages: basic concepts

We understand that the core concept of lineage betta corresponds to:

“Lineage Betta is that specimen that transmits a set of visual characteristics (colors, color arrangement and formats) that is perpetuated in subsequent generations”.

And pedigree, whats is its meaning?

Pedigree is a document (a certificate) that approves the origin of the animal. This certificate shows the genealogy of the animal lineage.

A bloodline (or lineage) animal must no changing in color, formats and so on. It is a pure race. In bettas, we should talk about colors and colors distribuition.

It will be important to understand what we bring in this article. Different concepts will be needed to understand how the above statement works.

NOTE: If you are an Aquaculture Engineer, Biologist or Zootechnician, we emphasize that the concepts here have been translated into simple language in order to explain, in a simple and didactic way, the information contained here to new breeders.

The concepts will be applied directly to bettas, summarized and simplified as much as possible for the purpose of this article, presented in an accessible and easy-to-understand language.

Read with attention:

Gene: is the smallest unit of transmission of hereditary characteristics from parents to descendants.

Genotype: set of two or more genes that result in a given characteristic (trait or phenotype);

Trait or phenotype: is a characteristic of a living being, resulting from the genotype associated with this characteristic. In bettas, we can have traits for their colors, color arrangement and shapes. Note that there are traits that are not visible to our eyes, such as the functioning of the organism, and so on.

DNA: This is where genetic information is stored. It resembles a double helix;

Chromosomes: is an organized structure that contains the DNA;

Locus: is a fixed and specific position on a chromosome. Attach it like a tape measure: 1, 2, 3, 4, ... n.

Allele genes: are genes that are in the same position of the father's and mother's DNA (locus), which will be linked in the act of fertilization (sperm + ovum);

Homozygosity: occurs when the genotype has the same genes. Ex: “A A” or “a a”;

Heterozygosity: occurs when the genotype has different genes. Ex: “A a” or “B b”;

Going back to bloodline bettas, we have defined, then, that a bloodline is composed of a set of visual characteristics that is perpetuated in subsequent generations.

Note that this definition is used for dogs, cats, and other animals that compete with each other in exhibitions and tournaments for their aesthetic beauty or other purpose.

Particularities in bettas regarding the concept of lineage betta

There are some peculiarities that exist in the world of bettas. It is important for you to know them in order to better establish what bloodline bettas are. Come on!

There are phenoypes that can or can not perpetuate in subsequent generations. That is, the breeder's choice of matrices can destroy the lineage even having the same phenotype. And we are not here talking about the marble and red loss traits in bettas.

So, there are phenotypes that may or may not be perpetuated over subsequent generations.

Here we highlight the problematic of the melano betta, different populations and the unstable multicolored bettas (possessors of the marble and/or red loss genes). Let's go to the details...

Example A: Melano bettas

The melano trait is an exacerbation of the black pigments of any living being, in our case, specifically in bettas. In practice, it works in the phenotype as if it were a coal dust that is thrown on a surface with any color, covering it entirely.

In this case, we can have bettas with a blue color or a red color and, on top of that, that “black powder”. When you see that “black betta” and you don't know for sure its origin, the problem is created: in melano bettas we have multicolored bettas without any possibility of working genetically in order to fix a color.

It is important that, when aiming to maintain this exacerbation of black – which are melanic bettas – the following is done:

- Use a lineage of melanos of origin exclusively of blues; OR

- Use a lineage of melanos that originates exclusively from red: those that become darker (Dark Red, slightly reddish, tending to brown), which darken over the generations until they reach the black color over the course of crossings.

Let's take an example: crossing melanic bettas where the male has red origins and the female has blue origins.

The male has a very dark red, almost brown, very difficult to identify;

In the black female, of blue origin, there are some scales with a slightly blue or turquoise hue, predominantly black.

In this case, you will be breeding matrices that, over future generations, will give rise to multicolored bettas.

Example B: Betta salamander

The problem of different populations (one betta from China and the other from England), both Pink Salamander, results in specimens that may not be lineage bettas, because when crossed, they result in a significant amount of fish in the litter with a different phenotype from the matrices (without lipstick – that white mark on the mouth – and other characteristics).

Example C: Unstable multicolored Bettas

Additionally, unstable multicolored bettas, carriers of the red loss and/or marble genes, which modify the phenotype randomly throughout the betta's lifetime, as they result in unstable multicolored fish, we understand that they are not bloodline bettas.

We have two articles related to this topic. in case of interest , see articles titled “The Unstable Multicolors: Betta KOI, Fancy, Monster, Galaxy, Black Mamba, Black Samurai and Others” and “A Strategy for Eradicating the Marble Trait”

Three possible bloodlines in a single cross?

Royal blue bettas have the Bl bl genotype (one dominant gene and one recessive gene). A cross between two royal blue bettas will give rise to:

resulting in 25% Bl Bl (turquoise blue), 50% Blbl (royal blue) and 25% blbl (steel blue).

From the interpretation of the Punnett square shown above, see the following:

a) Crossing between two steel blue bettas -> always and only generates steel blue bettas (homozygous lineage – see the concepts at the beginning of the article);

b) Crossing between two turquoise blue bettas -> always and only generates turquoise blue bettas (homozygous lineage – see the concepts at the beginning of the article);

c) Crossing between two royal blue bettas -> always generates steel blue, turquoise blue and royal blue bettas (heterozygous lineage – see the concepts at the beginning of the article).

We then conclude that, from the crossing of a lineage of royal blue bettas, we will have 3 different potential lineages: royal blue, turquoise blue and steel blue.

Returning to royal blue bettas, which is our example in focus, we will have a stabilized royal blue lineage. In this case, we will have pedigree bettas.

Standards in bettas: the bloodlines standards

Now that we have the concept of bloodline bettas defined and clarified, it is important to emphasize that each bloodline has its aesthetic standard already defined - for decades!

Returning again to the central concept of the article:

“Lineage Betta is that specimen that transmits a set of visual characteristics (colors, color arrangement and formats) that is perpetuated in subsequent generations”.

Note that you can also create new lineages, obeying the concepts exposed here.

If you are interested in judging bettas, please visit our articles on bettas judgements.

Are you now able to understand the essential difference between pedigree bettas and non-breed bettas? Write to us! Your feedback is important so that we are always improving!

Good luck with your bettas!


[1] Betta Project internal archive.

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