Many creatures in the animal kingdom have the trait of albinism.
Albino animals have a complete lack of pigmentation, and their eyes are usually red or pink.
The most common animals with the albino trait are rabbits and mice.
But have you ever seen an albino betta fish?
Chances are, you’ve seen all-white bettas or cellophane bettas.
But without the characteristic red or pink eyes, these bettas are not true albinos.
The appearance of albinism in betta fish is so rare many aquarists doubt their existence.
In this article, we discuss how the appearance of albino bettas differs from white bettas. We also take a look at the breeding history of this ultra-rare betta.
Table of Contents
What Is an Albino Betta Fish?
Albino bettas lack pigmentation anywhere on their bodies and fins.
This lack of pigment gives them an appearance much like cellophane bettas.
But unlike cellophane variations, true albino bettas have red or pink eyes.
The translucent body of an albino betta sometimes has a pinkish hue. This is due to the visible blood vessels and organs underneath the skin.
Albino betta fish with the opaque trait can have white scales.
Another difference between albino and cellophane bettas is the lack of iridescence.
Iridescent cells are a form of blue or green pigmentation. This trait is very common in white opal bettas, giving these fish their signature opalescent sheen.
Platinum white bettas have a different form of iridescence in their metallic scales. Instead of a blue or green sheen, platinum bettas have a silver color.
But since albino bettas lack pigmentation, they do not have iridescent bodies or fins.
Albino bettas can have any tail type found in other betta varieties.
Long fin types have dominant genes over short fin types. This is why long, flowy fins are more common in bettas.
Are Albino Bettas Rare?
Albino bettas are the most rare type of betta fish.
Betta fish with albinism are so rare many betta fish enthusiasts do not believe they exist.
While there is very little documented evidence of albino bettas, photos prove their existence.
The trait for albinism is a recessive gene, so breeding albino bettas is difficult.
Albinism usually appears at random due to a genetic mutation.
Most breeders do not produce albino bettas on purpose because it is unethical.
Betta fish with albinism have severe health conditions due to this genetic disorder.
Most albino bettas do not survive to adulthood, making breeding almost impossible.
Due to the complicated genetics of bettas, there is no guarantee of albino offspring, even if the parents have albinism.
Cellophane bettas are sometimes confused with albino bettas. But cellophane bettas have black eyes instead of red or pink.
Average Cost of an Albino Betta Fish
The average cost of an albino betta fish is not known. Seeing these fish for sale is very rare.
Many online breeders advertise albino bettas for sale. But these fish are actually regular white or cellophane varieties.
When breeders discover albino bettas among offspring from a breeding pair, they usually do not sell them.
Instead, a breeder may keep the albino bettas in their collection for later attempts at albino offspring.
But these attempts are usually unsuccessful, even with careful breeding.
Albino bettas are not usually found in pet stores. If you find one, it is likely a mislabeled cellophane betta.
Finding true albino bettas online is also a challenge.
Be wary of online breeders advertising albino bettas for sale. A majority of these listings are false advertisements.
The Breeding History of Albino Betta Fish
The first known instance of albino bettas occurred in 1927.
German aquarist Wilhelm Schreitmuller discovered an albino betta in a tropical fish store in Leipzig.
Schreitmuller bought the albino betta from store owner Herr W. Glaschter.
But the German betta suffered from several ailments common in albinism and died shortly later.
Wilhelm Schreitmuller never bred the albino betta, but he preserved it and took it to the Magdeburger Museum for further study.
Many years passed before the next recorded sighting of an albino betta.
In 1953, an albino betta appeared in a breeder’s stock.
The breeder first thought the betta was a Cambodian color type. After a close inspection, the breeder realized the betta had red eyes.
Unlike the first albino betta on record, this albino betta was more robust.
More Breeding Attempts
The breeder made three unsuccessful breeding attempts with this albino betta and a Cambodian female betta.
Even though the male albino betta made a bubble nest, the fish could not see the breeding female because of his blindness.
In the next attempt, the breeder created a very small breeding area with only 10 square inches of space.
This small space made seeing the female less of a challenge for the male albino betta.
Breeding was a success and the female spawned eggs.
But the albino male did not care for the eggs. The nest broke apart, and the eggs never hatched.
Then, the breeder came up with a new idea.
Once again, the breeder placed the albino male betta with a female in a small breeding space.
After the bettas spawned, the breeder placed a three-inch laboratory Petri dish underneath the nest.
The Petri dish contained the eggs and the nest. This time, most of the eggs survived.
There were around fifty fry in this small spawn.
When the fry reached a length of 5/8 of an inch, they started gaining their colors.
All the fry were a bluish-purple color with no signs of albinism.
The original albino male betta died before the offspring reached the breeding age.
Brother and sister breeding pairs never produced an albino betta. Instead, there was a mix of light and dark-colored offspring.
This was not an unexpected outcome since the trait of albinism is a recessive gene.
The Last Known Breeding Attempt
A successful albino betta breeding attempt was not accomplished until 1994 by Kenjiro Tanaka.
Unfortunately, there is very little information about this experiment.
The mystery of breeding albino betta fish remains to this day.
What Health Issues Do Albino Bettas Have?
Bettas with albinism have a wide variety of genetic disorders.
The most common health issue in albino bettas is blindness.
Some albino bettas are blind from birth. Albino bettas with limited sight usually go blind after long-term exposure to light.
Bettas with albinism are also more prone to deafness.
Without dark pigmentation, albino bettas lack skin protection.
Exposure to direct sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer in these fish.
Tumors on the betta’s stomach may also lead to a higher chance of developing swim bladder disorder.
Female albino bettas are infertile due to their genetic mutations.
This is another reason why albino betta fish are so rare.
Breeders cannot line-breed albino bettas because they cannot produce offspring together.
Breeding an albino male betta with a light-bodied female does not usually produce albino offspring.
Both parents must carry the recessive albino genes for a chance of albino offspring.
Albino bettas also have a weakened immune system because of their genetic disorders.
This makes albino bettas more prone to common fish diseases.
Non-life-threatening diseases may be fatal for albino bettas because they cannot fight the illness.
How Long Do Albino Betta Fish Live?
The average lifespan for most betta fish is between 3-5 years.
Many albino fry do not live to adulthood.
If the albino fry reaches adulthood, they have a much shorter lifespan of only 1-2 years.
Common diseases are usually fatal for albino bettas.
Albino bettas also have a poor quality of life due to blindness and other inherent health issues.
Caring for an Albino Betta Fish
Albino betta fish need special care when compared to other types of bettas.
Since these fish suffer from poor eyesight or full blindness, they have a difficult time eating.
Without a healthy diet, these fish can become malnourished.
A feeding ring can help your albino betta find its food.
The feeding ring keeps the food in one area so it does not get scattered around the tank by the filter current.
Albino bettas are also very sensitive to light.
Choose dim lighting for your albino betta tank and limit the amount of light during the day.
Another option is adding plenty of floating aquatic plants to the betta tank.
Floating plants protect your albino betta from aquarium lighting.
Never place your betta tank near direct sunlight. Sunlight can increase tank temperatures and encourage algae growth.
Albino bettas also have an increased risk of skin cancer with exposure to sunlight.
Keep the decorations in your albino betta tank safe and simple.
Avoid tank decorations with sharp edges or rough textures, as they can damage your betta’s fins.
Do not overcrowd your albino betta tank with decorations, either.
Albino bettas are usually blind and can injure themselves by swimming into objects in the tank.
Maintaining clean water conditions can keep your betta healthy.
You must establish a tank cleaning schedule with weekly water changes.
Treat the new water with a water conditioner before adding it to the betta tank.
A water conditioner removes harmful chlorine and chloramine from tap water.
Regular tank maintenance lowers the risk of your albino betta developing diseases from bacteria and fungus.
Learn more about maintaining healthy water parameters here.
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