This magnificent creature is Duke. His name is short for Prospero, Duke of Milan. I had to distinguish because, technically, I’ve had another betta sort-of-kind-of named Prospero. I called him Perry, however.
But I digress. We’ll get to Perry later.
Duke is a Multi-coloured, Dragon-scaled (possibly Pineapple?) Halfmoon Betta. I rather suspect he is Over-Halfmoon, actually. (That is to say, has a caudal spread larger than 180 degrees, when fully flared. Also known as really everloving large fins.) Why do I tell you all that? Mainly to say that even I’m lost on the four BILLION (possible slight exaggeration) color and tail designations on betta fish. But it’s almost necessary, because they come in so many different varieties. Each variety has its own specifications and details, but then a lot of bettas don’t quite fit in a label too well. Duke doesn’t, in a lot of ways.
In fact, the way I got him is a good example of that. I bought Duke at a local PetCo. I was debating between a pale orange delta tail (I do love the orange ones quite a bit, and have had several) and a black-with-electric-blue-spots halfmoon when I saw Duke, sitting in a different part of the store. I immediately abandoned the other two back to their shelves. Plus, this new little multicolor boy was in a cup labeled “veiltail!” That meant that instead of either $7.99 or $14.99, he was going to cost me a whopping $2.99, and even that was before my PetPerks discount.
Of course, after I got him home and in a larger bowl…it became incredibly clear that this little fish had been terrifically mislabeled. Veiltail he was not.
I would know — I’ve owned 30 betta fish.
You heard me. 30. I ended up creating a text document to keep track of them all. The list is as follows:
Miss Bluebell [deceased] ((blue))
Scarlet I-IV [all deceased] ((red))
Gaston-Josèphe (Gaston) [deceased] ((red/green))
Louis-Auguste (Beast) [deceased] ((bluegreen))
Athaliah (Demon, Satan) [deceased] ((red, female))
Leonidas (Leo) [deceased] ((Red/Blue crowntail))
Reginald (Reggie) [deceased] ((orange))
Jasper (Jazz) [deceased] ((green/pink/purple/orange))
Prospero/Periwinkle (Perry) [deceased] ((blue and white))
Albus [deceased] ((yellow and white))
Erik [deceased] ((red))
Omega ([deceased] (navy and yellow))
Haku [deceased]((white, a little pink))
Reginald II (Reggie) [deceased] ((orange))
Charlie Chaplin Mischa (Charlie) ((black-blue and white, delta)) [deceased]
Beau ((purple/pink/red)) [deceased]
Calcifer ((white/blue/red crowntail)) [deceased]
Orsino ((red)) [deceased]
Reginald III (Reggie) ((orange delta tail)) [deceased, dropsy]
Banquo ((white delta tail)) [deceased]
Oberon((blue/turquoise/clear halfmoon)) [deceased]
Reggae ((peacock blue half-moon)) (Dec. 20, 2011-Nov 7, 2012)[deceased]
Reginald IV (Reggie) ((orange delta tail)) [deceased]
Mystery Betta Baby ((??)) [deceased]
?? ((White veil tail)) (Nov 6, 2012 – ?) [deceased]
Tabasco ((red-orange veiltail)) (Nov. 4, 2013-April 2014) [deceased]
Duke Prospero of Milan (Duke) ((teal/coral/multi, dragon scale rose petal half-moon)) (July 22, 2014 – ??)
Mind you, Bluebell and the Four Scarlets were all in my childhood. Gaston was purchased during my college years. (Incidentally, the first time I’d ever written and used one of my own checks was to purchase him.)
The poorly-named Miss Bluebell was my first pet. He was named by my mother, and none of us learned about the whole “the big bettas with pretty tails are all male” thing until much, much later. Well after Miss Bluebell’s death.
This photo is from Miss Bluebell’s funeral. Let’s take a moment to appreciate my long-suffering father, seen here, who is clearly trying not to crack up laughing at this impromptu fish funeral. Bluebell was buried in a paper towel, outside of our apartment’s back porch. I designed a headstone from popsicle sticks. The deep solemnity of this occasion could be seen on my face, were it not upstaged by my cat shirt.
Next up were the Scarlets — Scarlett I, II, III, and IV. All red, all bearing the same name. Scarlet IV was the fish that would not die. He lived for four years. FOUR YEARS, people. After that, mom vowed no more betta fish. This was mainly because it was up to her to keep them alive, as I was small and not easily trusted with things like balancing the pH of the water or whatnot.
This leads us to the college years, and Gaston. I cannot find my pictures of Gaston, though I know I took some. So, a drawing I did of him during a Calligraphy class will have to suffice. Gaston was mostly red, with some green and electric blue streaks in his fins. It was with Gaston that my love affair for betta fish truly started.
You know the “crazy cat lady”? I was the crazy betta fish lady. At one point, I had 7 bettas at the same time. And you can’t keep them together, or they fight. So this means I had 7 different tanks/bowls to clean. And that doesn’t even factor in the three goldfish (Siegfried, Sieghilde, & Siegrich) and a snail (Boq) that I had at the same time as 7 of these bettas. Most of my fish had elaborate full names, and then a nickname that I’d actually call them. (The goldfish too…as they mostly went by Spot, Goldie, and Shark.)
My one true demon-fish was Athaliah. She was, as you can imagine, named after I realized her personality. Female bettas are supposed to be calmer, and able to coexist with other fish. True enough, she didn’t mess with Spot, Shark, or Goldie much. However…she killed Boq. She killed that snail, (which mind you cost more than she did), by repeatedly ramming into him until she knocked him off the glass, then eating him. Unfortunately, I did not notice until it was too late, and all that was left of Boq was…well. Let’s not get into the soggy, sordid details. Athaliah was not my favourite.
Some lived a long time, others came to me already sick. The mystery betta baby, for example. I’m glad to say I haven’t seen betta babies available for sale recently…the truth is, few casual fish owners have the sort of resources needed to keep such a little thing alive. Some of my fish passed quietly and suddenly, some were nursed back from disease and fin rot, and then one in particular was a bit agonizing. Reggie III is my only fish to date to have gotten dropsy, and let me tell you, it was rough. I did what I could for him, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Here’s a few more pictures of my bunch:
Albus – yellow/white with some blue
Reggae — the wine glass was temporary until he got his tank, I promise.
Tabasco — untimely removed from this world
Which brings us to Tabasco…my betta right before Duke. Tabasco was a lovely orange-red veiltail. I’d taken about a year off from bettas between a short-lived white betta and when I got Tabasco. Mostly that was because I had enough on my plate with Hashbrown, my hedgehog. That was my first year with him.
But Tabasco and his orangey awesome made me happy. All was smooth sailing. No sign of illness, never a hiccup in eating habits. One day he was being particularly active in the morning, and when I came home that night, he was floating nose-down in the gravel — dead as a doornail. I’m not sure why I took that particular death so hard. I think it’s because I can normally tell when they’re about to head to the great fish bowl in the sky. This time, not so much. Tabasco blindsided me. It took a particularly bad Tuesday and a particularly pretty fish to make me buy another, which is where Duke comes in.
Now, shockingly, I had not actually intended for this post to be the “Lindsay’s Grand History of Betta Fish” post. What I wanted to get to is this.
Have you ever really looked at a betta fish? I mean seriously, honestly, looked. Not just a general appraisal. I mean have you gotten down and pressed your nose to the glass and looked at the scales, the fins, the way they move — their eyes. These fish are two to four or so inches long, and they are so intricate it’s unbelievable. Even a solid coloured betta will have streaks and sparks — like Gaston, in his bright red glory. His electric blue fin streaks made the red stand out all the more. And Gaston had blue eyes, too.
Jazz was one of my prettiest fish. He was also one of the most impossibly small, but if you could get close enough to SEE, he had just about every colour under the sun on him. The delicate craftsmanship on these fish captures my eye and attention every time, and I find myself fascinated.
A lot of my bettas have gotten drawn and painted — over time, I think I’ll end up doing most of them, if not all. My orange bettas, my Reggies, have gotten a lot of the drawing attention.
Reggie I painting from 2010
Reggie IV painting from 2013
I’ll leave off with an excerpt from a journal entry of mine, written some time in 2010.
“Every creative function of man only clumsily imitates Yours. We cannot imagine far outside of our own experiences…you imagined and created from no precedent. Your creativity is infinite, and spans so much –and yet, the smallest detail shows intricate craftsmanship and purpose.
My new betta is beautiful…I think his name will be Orsino, if I ever remember that for long. I keep wanting to call him Gaston, because he reminds me of that first betta fish. He’s that gorgeous silky red, with some electric blue…and those beautiful little dots, one on each scale, that catch the light. That fish is maybe three inches long…You created the universe. My infinite Creator-God…and to think, I worry!”