Meet the Spade Tail Betta Fish: The Stunning New Species of Betta!

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By Linh Nguyen Updated on 02 Mar 2023

Betta Spade tail has been around for a long time, but they are less known, especially in the prevailing period of Halfmoon and Plakat. However, the Thai people are still persistent with their wildlife fish hobby, and from here we see many individuals with spade tail betta appear.

This fish species is renowned for its striking beauty, with a long tail and a sharply pointed anal fin. They do have one significant drawback, however they are very shy. Nevertheless, this does not diminish their beauty and they still have their own market.

Interest in this betta line has been increasing recently, particularly in the world of wild fish.

In this blog post, we will explore all there is to know about Betta Spadetail, from their natural habitats, diets, and care needs. So read on for more information about these exquisite fish!

A spade tail betta fish

A spade tail betta fish

1. Origin of spade tail betta fish

It is believed that the spadetail fish was derived from its parent breed, the veil tail. This theory has been established due to the observation that the offspring of veil tails are often born as spade tails.

Today, veil-tails are very rare, so we can observe this phenomenon in long-tailed fighters bred for fighting. This line of fighting fish usually produces individuals with pointed tails, like those of spade-tails.

On the other hand, the frequency, number, and extent of spade-tail fish in the wild today are superior to those of domesticated fish. There are even videos of catching wild spade-tail fish.

So, where does the spade-tail feature come from wild fish or long-tail?

We have been breeding and tracking this trait for a while, and we are inclined to believe that the spade-tail trait comes from the long-tailed aquarium fish!

There are two reasons for this conclusion:

In those beloved days of old, when ornamental fish often spawned spade tails, we did not see any wild spade tail fish. This is different from today when people “catch” both “royal blue” and “spade tail”. Just because one catches a fish in a certain pond does not mean it is purebred or native.

In many cases, especially with a distinctly pointed tip such as a bodhi leaf, the fin ray continues to elongate as the fish ages, to the point that the original harmonious structure is disrupted and gradually becomes obtuse. This is a marker of the long-tail gene, the tip tail appears to be a less stable trait.

Introduction video about spade tail betta fish

2. Definition of a beautiful spade tail betta

Interest in spade tails has been growing in recent times, mainly among wild aquarists. Someone has even bred it to the imbellis or siamorientalis phenotype. Observing helps form a concept of the “ideal” spade tail, which we would like to present as follows:

2.1. Sharpness 

Sharpness is the feature that makes the spade tail different from the rest of the ornamental bettas; the odd fins have pointed tips. Whereas modern fish tend to focus on symmetry, spade tail fish emphasize sharpness.


The "sharp" tip at the tail.


The "sharp" anal fin tip is commonly seen in the red gill Betta cf. siamorientalis.

2.2. Fin

The tail should equal ⅓ of the body length, which is sufficient according to Plakat standards. However, in our opinion, it is advisable to breed the tail in the direction of the bow, making it ½ of the body length. But beware that it should not be too long, as it may fall and affect the overall balance. As for the dorsal and ventral fins, they must conform to IBC standards.

Tail scale 1/3

Tail scale 1/3

Tail ratio 1/2

Tail ratio 1/2

2.3. Fin rays branching

Similar to wild fish and traditional Plakat, the caudal fin is primarily branched (one to two), while the anal and dorsal fins are unbranched. The first dorsal fin ray should be long.

The strong branching in modern fish results in a symmetrical D-tail, but the double-tail effect causes the fins to be jagged and wrinkled; we do not need it in spade-tail form.

2.4. Head and body

"Here are two options: a wild phenotype or a domesticated phenotype."

The first is the wild type, which means the body is elongated like a wand (which makes it look very similar to snakeheads when viewed from above), the back is slightly arched, and the head is slightly pointed. Note that much wild fish imported from Thailand are bred with domesticated fish to produce better color and bolder specimens. This leads to defects such as a flat head, a long muzzle, and a broken or bumpy back.

Next is the domestication phenotype. We recommend a synthetic body form with a moderate length, widespread, large fins, a large mouth and chin, and a slight or subtle sag on the back. After years of focusing on color and fin set, most aquarium fish have many defects in their bodies, and crossbreeding of fighting fish is necessary to improve them.

Other characteristics, such as color, can all follow IBC's criteria.

If you love something new, exciting, and challenging, then spade-tail breeding could be your choice. Let's make an effort!

Red gill bream Betta cf. siamorientalis with a smooth, well-proportioned back.

Red gill bream Betta cf. siamorientalis with a smooth, well-proportioned back.

3. Spade tail betta fish facts

NameSpade Tail Betta Fish
Size2 – 3 inch
Lifespan3 - 5 years
PersonalityVivacious and unfriendly personality
Tank size2 - 5 gallons
HabitatMany aquatic plants
Temperature78 - 80°F (25 - 27°C)
PH level6.5 - 7.0
Nitrite levelsLess than 10 ppm
Nitrates20 - 30 ppm
Oxygen levels6 mg/L
Food & dietEat 1 to 2 times a day

3.1. Genetically and breeding

Genetically, there are no studies or official conclusions about the inheritance of a spade tail trait. It is known, however, that the female does not show the spade tail phenotype despite inheriting this gene. Some recent crosses have led to the preliminary conclusion that the spade tail is an incomplete dominance trait; i.e., a phenotype that manifests at different levels, similar to that of the crown tail.

To reinforce the spade-tail trait, the breeder needs to aim for the homozygous form, but this is difficult due to the female condition, as mentioned. Similarly to humans, males have sex genes of XY and females XX. It was seemingly the Y allele that acted like an on/off key, allowing the spade-tail phenotype to be expressed in males! Experts are hopeful that the inheritance of spade-tail will be discovered in the future.

3.2. Size

The Spade Tail Betta Fish is a small fish that can reach up to 2 inches in length. Although this species of fish is relatively small compared to other types of betta fishes, it has a unique and striking tail shape: its caudal fin (tail) forms an angular “spade” shape. This trait distinguishes them from other species of betta fish and is also why they have become increasingly popular among novice aquarists. 

The color patterns of spade-tail betta fishes vary greatly. Their bodies can be colored in shades of red, black, or Cambodian. The fins may be transparent or have stripes and dots of varying colors. Some even have an iridescent sheen on their bodies due to a thin layer of slime.

A spade tail betta with beautiful scales.

A spade tail betta with beautiful scales.

3.3. Lifespan

The common lifespan of a spade tail betta fish can range from 2 to 5 years, with the average life expectancy being around 3 years. The age of a spade tail betta fish is greatly affected by the environment and care it is provided with. Proper nutrition, water conditions, and tank setup are all key factors in determining a healthy and long life for your spade tail betta fish. Diet plays an important role in maintaining health and longevity as these fish are carnivorous predators that require high protein content in their food. Feeding them quality live or frozen foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp will help ensure they get the necessary nutrients needed for good health.

3.4. The behavior

Spade tail betta fish are known for their lively and intrepid temperament. They exhibit more of a wild nature than that of the domesticated species, exhibiting a level of enthusiasm and vigor not usually seen in other bettas. Spade tails are incredibly active swimmers, often darting around the tank with speed and grace as they explore their environment. They also show no fear when interacting with their tankmates or objects placed inside their tanks - they can even be somewhat aggressive at times when defending their territory.

3.5. Femal

Female spade tails are difficult to identify, as they do not exhibit phenotypes despite carrying and transferring the spade tail gene. However, some believe that the female still has a tip. This should be carefully considered, as it can have a drastic impact on spade tail breeding. Through observation, we found that this was just a mutation causing a ray tree to stick out, but it lacked the coordination and harmony to create a spike like that of a true spade tail.

The tail shape of a female spade tail betta

The tail shape of a female spade tail betta

4. Spade tail betta care

4.1. Tank size

Generally speaking, a 2 - 5 gallon tank is suitable for one adult spade tail betta fish with additional space being preferable if possible. While they do not require any special type of filtration, it is beneficial to ensure the water is adequately circulated and oxygenated. Bettas are surface feeders and require a heated tank with temperatures between 76-82 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 Celsius).

When setting up an aquarium for your spade tail betta fish, it is important to make sure there are plenty of hiding places. This can be done by incorporating decorations such as rocks, driftwood, live or artificial plants, etc. Live plants will also help to keep the tank relatively clean in addition to providing additional oxygenation.

4.2. Food & diet

Nutrition is essential for the overall health of any animal, and this includes spade tail betta fish.

Betta fish are carnivorous and require a diet that consists primarily of proteins, such as live or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, mealworms, and other high-protein foods. It's also important to feed your betta in moderation; too much food can cause digestive problems. Additionally, you should avoid giving bettas processed foods like flakes or pellets because they lack the nutrients needed for strong growth. 

Make sure to vary the diet of your betta fish over time to ensure they are getting a balanced range of nutrients. A varied diet not only ensures that your fish get the vitamins they need but also provides them with mentally stimulating meals that help keep them happy and healthy! 

4.3. Water parameters

Maintaining proper water parameters for spade tail bettas is essential for their health and well-being. These tropical fish prefer warm waters with temperatures between 78-80°F (25-27°C). The pH should be slightly acidic at 6.5-7.0, while total hardness should range from 5-15 dGH (degrees of General Hardness). Spade tail bettas also need frequent water changes, with one-third to one-half of the water replaced every 1-2 weeks. 

Ammonia levels should remain at 0 ppm (parts per million), while nitrites and nitrates should be kept as low as possible — ideally less than 10 ppm for nitrites and between 20-30 ppm for nitrates. Lastly, dissolved oxygen levels should stay above 6 mg/L (milligrams per liter), making aeration important in keeping spade tail bettas healthy and happy.

A yellow spade tail betta

A yellow spade tail betta

4.4. Tankmates

One great option for tankmates is small fish such as tetras or rasboras. These species typically require similar water conditions to those needed by the spade tail betta, so they will be compatible in terms of the environment. It's best to choose non-aggressive varieties that won't nip or otherwise attack the betta. If you're looking for a larger tankmate, you may want to consider a peaceful community fish such as gouramis or angelfish. 

In terms of invertebrates, there are several species that can coexist with spade tail bettas. Snails and shrimp make great additions to the aquarium, as they will provide supplemental food sources for the betta while also helping to keep the tank clean.

There are many plant varieties that can be kept in the same aquarium as spade tail bettas. For example, floating plants provide great targets for the betta to rest on, while root-feeding plants like java ferns and Anubis can help provide a natural food source for the fish. Just make sure to avoid any plant species with sharp edges or leaves that may injure the betta's delicate fins.

4.5. Common possible diseases

Spade tail bettas can be susceptible to several diseases, including bacterial infections, fungal infections, and fin rot. However, the most serious health issue associated with spade tail bettas is called fin atrophy. This disease seems to be associated with spade tail, and it should occur in all individuals. This can be a degenerative tail, an early onset, or a late onset, but it will certainly happen.

Fin atrophy occurs suddenly, often overnight, and can cause the fins to shrink or disappear entirely. Fish may still be able to swim and spawn normally with their reduced fins, but unfortunately, the fin atrophy is irreversible.


All in all, spade tails betta fish is a beautiful and versatile species of fish with plenty of interesting attributes to explore. From their rich history and natural habitats to their diets and care requirements, it's no wonder that they have been captivating enthusiasts from around the world for years. Whether you're considering incorporating them into your existing aquarium or just know a fellow enthusiast who would appreciate learning about them, the spade tail betta is sure to bring joy. I hope this blog post has encouraged you to consider adding these dazzling creatures to your life. If you have any questions or would like to share any personal experiences, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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