Have you ever seen a Betta Plakat line and thought to yourself, "What makes this different from all the other Bettas?" You're not alone. With so many variations of the species, it's difficult to determine what makes each type unique. But don't worry; today we are going to delve into the Plakat classifications, explain in detail the differences between them, and share our insights on why they have such distinct personalities! So if you've ever wanted to understand more about Betta Plakats - their origins and how they differ - then keep reading. This will be your ultimate guide.
A Halfmoon Plakat
Short-finned bettas have gained much popularity in the betta world because of their compact, vivacious appearance. They often also have the advantage over long-finned bettas that they are better able to maintain their finnage throughout their lives and are less prone to fin rot. Shortfinned bettas, also known as Plakats, are finnage-wise the closest related to the wildtype form. For ages, Thai breeders have bred this form from wild-caught bettas in order to develop its fighting nature, style, hardiness, size, and color. This practice of selective breeding has stood at the base of the different colors and tail types we know today.
It was the selective breeding of Guy Delaval (France) in the 1980s, with fish originating from pet shops in Paris, Jones (USA), and Peter Goettner (USA), which gave rise to bettas with an increased caudal spread of up to 180 degrees. In 1993, the cover of FAMA magazine featured a picture of a turquoise Halfmoon male that had been bred by the international CHENMASWIL partnership, consisting of Laurent Chenot (France), Rajiv Massilamoni (Switzerland), and Jeff Wilson (USA). When this was released, the D-shaped caudal fin quickly conquered the betta world. Over the years, HalfMoon were further perfected, resulting in the standard we know today. This development also had an effect on the evolution of other tail types. Nowadays, the standards of both single-tail and double-tail fish ideally describe a D-shaped caudal. But keep in mind that there is more than just the caudal and that the ideal HM is characterized by an overall balance that can be captured in a circle.
Read more about the journey of forming the HalfMoon betta line.
For many years, traditional Plakats were the only type seen at betta shows, but the HM fever also led to the evolution of the short-finned tail type. Crossing long-finned HMs with traditional PKs led to the development of the Halfmoon Plakat (HMPK). Like the traditional PK, the form of the HMPK is asymmetrical but combines traits of both traditional PKs and HMs. In 2005, the IBC officially distinguished asymmetrical traditional PKs and asymmetrical show PKs by creating a separate standard for each form. Both standards have great overlap but differ in two essential points: the caudal and dorsal finnage.
When breeding long-finned HMs, the ultimate goal is a fish with a balanced appearance. Isn't it strange, then, that the standard for HM PKs was describing an asymmetrical fish? Logically, the increasing interest in show Plakats has led to the development of another type of PK -- the symmetrical PK, the short-finned equivalent of the long-finned HM also often referred to as "short moon". The IBC responded to this trend by developing a trial standard, which can be considered the short-finned variant of the standard used for long-finned HMs.
Keeping in mind that the three classes for PKs point out the ideal situation, in real life, the existence of these classes also creates difficulties. This is especially true when classifying fish for shows. Crosses between the different PK types or long-finned fish often also give rise to "in-between forms" which are often referred to as "transitional PKs". The existence of three different PK classes logically leads to two types of "transitional PKs."
"Transitional PK-Type 1" is an intermediate form between traditional PKs and asymmetrical show PKs. The caudal of this type usually shows multiple branching, varying from four to eight rays, as seen in the caudals of asymmetrical show PKs; however, the edges are usually rounded, which reminds us of the caudal of the asymmetrical traditional PK. The anal fin is often also less pointed as in the (asymmetrical) traditional PK but longer as in the asymmetrical show PK.
"Transitional PK Type 2" is an intermediary form between asymmetrical and symmetrical show PKs. The difficulty lies here in the shape of the dorsal, anal, and ventral fins. The dorsal is usually rectangular-shaped. The anal is less sloped than in asymmetrical shoal PKs but also less parallel than in symmetrical PKs. The ventrals usually have a length between both forms.
In general, these fish usually do not make it to the top placings in either class, but they are often good material to work with and to build a nice line.
Of course, the expansion of one PK class into three PK classes can create some confusion. So, what are the similarities and differences between these standards?
As the name indicates, asymmetrical (traditional) and show PKs have an unbalanced appearance mostly caused by the length of the ventral fins and the shape of the anal fin. Symmetrical PKs, on the other hand, have a balanced appearance and ideally can be captured in an oval.
The body shape in all three PK types is more or less similar. It is important that the body matches the finnage of the fish. Ideally, the body should have a full volume with a strong peduncle. The "mouth-to-dorsal" topline should be smooth, without dips or bumps. The back of the body should be nearly symmetrical, almost like a mirror image when an imaginary mid-lateral line is drawn, with a strong peduncle. The scaling on the body should be nicely aligned.
In all three PK types, the spread of the caudal ideally should be 180 degrees, but the differences lie in the shape and branching of the rays. The caudal of asymmetrical traditional PKs is allowed to be rounded or spade-shaped. In my personal opinion, the ideal asymmetrical traditional PK should have a primary two-ray branching. According to the IBC standard, both primary and secondary (4-ray) branching are allowed. The spread in the caudal is not caused by an increase in branching, but by an increase in webbing between the rays. The caudals of both asymmetrical show PKs and symmetrical PKs have straight rays, sharp edges, and the shape of a semi-circle (capital "D"). The rays in the caudal often have secondary branching (4-ray) or more (but should not be excessive). A spread greater than 180 degrees (over half-moon, oHM) is not preferred over a 180-degree spread. Here, the caudal should not be longer than one-third of the body.
In all three types, the overlap of the dorsal with the body is not desirable and the front rays (near the head) should not be too short (as often seen in fish carrying DT). The dorsal of asymmetrical traditional PKs has the shape of a semi-circle with a possible slightly pointed appearance and has full volume. The dorsal of asymmetrical show PKs should be semi-circular and preferably snap open like a fan. The capacity of the fin to open in this fashion is often achieved not by an increase in volume, but by an increase in fin ray branching. In symmetrical PKs, the dorsal fin is usually a bit rectangular, but it is important that both the shape and size do not disturb the overall balance. The desired effect is typically achieved through an increase in the number of fin rays.
The anal fin starts at the thickest point of the body (just behind the stomach) and continues towards the peduncle. In the most ideal situation, the anal fin overlaps the lower part of the caudal fin during flaring. In asymmetrical traditional PKs, the anal fin has a trapezoidal shape, with a shorter part in front and a longer part in the back that runs into a clear, pointed tip. The length of the last ray is usually about two times the lower part of the caudal. The shape of the anal fin in asymmetrical show PKs is quite similar, but it lacks the clear, pointed tip which is not desired here. In symmetrical PKs, the anal fin is expected to be more rectangular and run parallel to the body. The rays of the fin should be of more or less equal lengths; this length should be equivalent to that of the lower part of the caudal fin and the height of the dorsal fin in order to maintain overall balance.
The ventral fins of asymmetrical traditional PKs can be either full or thin. The length should be minimal two-thirds the length of the body (as measured from the base of the ventral fin to the caudal peduncle) or longer. The ventral fins of asymmetrical show PKs should be of equal length but preferably should have a full appearance. In contrast to both asymmetrical PK types, the ventrals of symmetrical PKs should ideally be in full balance with the length of the unpaired fins in order to preserve the symmetrical appearance.
Although the amount of information is very comprehensive, some readers still find it difficult to differentiate between the Plakat lines. Below, I will give some examples of how to distinguish Plakat Bettas from each other. Hopefully, this can help you distinguish and judge for yourself how "qualified" a Plakat is.
Siamese Fish and Traditional Plakat have distinct differences when it comes to their physical characteristics. Siamese Fish are typically smaller, with regular-sized fins and a limited selection of colors: blue, red, and Cambodian being the most popular. On the other hand, Traditional Plakat features larger fins and comes in more diverse colors such as white, black, orange, and yellow. Furthermore, while there are several varieties of Plakat that differ slightly in appearance, siamese fighting fish generally maintain a consistent look across all specimens. Therefore both species can be readily distinguished by size and coloration.
The Traditional Plakat is distinguished from the Show Plakat by its tail spread, which is 180 degrees with a rounded edge. It also has two branches of its caudal ray and long ventral fins. The tip of its anal fin is long and pointed. By contrast, the Show Plakat's tail spread is still 180 degrees but with a straight edge that resembles the letter "D". Its caudal ray is divided into 4 or more branches and it has short ventral fins.
Show Plakat, sometimes referred to as Asymmetrical Plakat, and Symmetrical Plakat, also known as Halfmoon Plakat, are two varieties of Betta fish that have different distinct characteristics. Show Plakats have a tail that curls forward when raised and is divided into two unequal parts by the base of the tail. On the other hand, Symmetrical Plakats have a straight line through the base of their tail which divides it into two equal parts. Additionally, Symmetrical Plakats has an outer margin of their anal fin that is shorter than Show Plakats and three odd fins that form a seamless arc when viewed from above. As such, for a true symmetrical Plakat, the ventral fin should be really short to match this arc.
When the fish raises its fins, the tail curls forward. The straight line through the base of the tail divides the tail into two unequal upper and lower parts (asymmetrical).
With fins out, bettas are one of the most beautiful freshwater fishes! However, not all fishes are "standard". The reason for setting standards was to encourage breeders to go in different directions, and that is what makes up the variety of betta lines we see today. The Plakat fish is no exception; new breeding trends in recent years have been updated by the International Betta Congress (IBC) and included in its exhibition system. Even though the standard is the goal for breeders to aim for, in fact, maybe a fish that fully meets such standards has not yet appeared!
Here are some illustrative examples of Plakat assessment:
The caudal fin ray is 2 and the rounded caudal edge suggests this is a traditional Plakat. The dorsal fin rays protrude like spikes, causing the outer edge not to be in contact with the tail; this feature does not affect the examination, but some people do not like it. Note that the tail slightly overlaps the anal fin, which is rare in wild and Siamese fish.
The tail ray of four and the slightly curved tail indicate that this is a Show Plakat. However, the caudal edge is not straight and the anal fin is slightly elongated.
This is an example of a "missed" fish. The tail ray is four, and the caudal fin is straight. It's hard to say what kind it is. If crossbreeding is in the direction of Show Plakat, the caudal and anal fins must be improved.
The tail ray=8 and straight tail indicate that this is a Show Plakat. The outer fins are quite harmonious, but the anal fin is still somewhat long.
This is a symmetrical Plakat with well-balanced fins but an irregular anal fin and slightly elongated ventral fins. It appears that the gene that shortens the anal fin also makes it "jagged".
Now that you have a general background of the three different lines of betta Plakat fish, you should feel more comfortable navigating your way into the fish keeping world. Being able to identify betta Plakat fish can help you narrow down exactly what kind of finned friends you would like to take home. But don't forget, each type of betta might not always follow the given criteria and can show variations in size or coloration. When it comes to owning bettas, it is important to remember that all fish are unique and can surprise us with their individual characteristics.
A lot of research and reading can be done to become an educated hobbyist and make sure these beloved animals are well taken care of, but one must also trust one’s own judgment when deciding on their pet fish. After all, a little extra knowledge never hurt in making sure these beautiful creatures live a long healthy life. I truly hope this post gave you an insight into how to determine different types of betta Plakat, but if I still left any queries unanswered please let me know in the comment below!