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Seam Splitting: Two Species of White-Seam Bettas

Although Betta albimarginata and B. channoides look very similar, they are separate species.

By Ted Judy |

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Common names of fish may vary, but they are usually accurate descriptions of the fish they represent. This is certainly the case with the white-seam bettas (Betta albimarginata and B. channoides). The males of these mouthbrooding species display red, black and white, looking almost identical when compared to each other. This has led some hobbyists to the mistaken conclusion that they are the same species. There are actually many differences between them.

Both species are found in the Kalimantan Timur area of Borneo, Indonesia. They were first collected in 1993 by Swiss ichthyologist Dr. Maurice Kottelat, who then described both species, with Dr. P.K.L. Ng in 1994. The species are separated by mountain ranges. There is no doubt that they are closely related. Maybe at one time there was only a single species, and the geographic isolation that separates them now has resulted in enough speciation to develop the differences between the species today.

The two species will readily hybridize and produce viable offspring. Notable differences between the species are seen when comparing the fry to each other, the color patterns of the breeding females and displaying males to a smaller extent. The only notable behavioral difference between them is that B. channoides is more timid, and it usually only comes out from hiding when feeding or seeking a mate.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the August 2010 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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