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Betta Topline Shape


splendidbetta
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.... Continued Discussion from Najricks "Metallic Green/Blue" Photo Thread

:D I am a bit obsessive about betta topline shape (only a bit? :balloons: )

Yes it all comes down to what each individual person prefers to see in fish.

I'm not saying that you should abandon your passion for DTs in your lines. But there are some very clean DT lines around without irregularities of the topline.

And I agree that in many spawns there are a percentage of fish with topline irregularities.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be part of a bettas genetic composition. And through selective breeding you can eliminate such traits while still keeping the positive traits that your bettas have.

I have to say that even though an actual betta might have this topline trait, what bothers me just as much is that some people just can't see that the fish has it. Regardless of whether they find it a big deal or not. :D

I'll stop talking now... :fish:

Edited by faewyn
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And I agree that in many spawns there are a percentage of fish with topline irregularities.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be part of a bettas genetic composition. And through selective breeding you can eliminate such traits while still keeping the positive traits that your bettas have.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Pardon my ignorance Stefan,

But I'm not sure, when you are referring to breeding out "topline irregularities" whether your assertion is based on an assumption that "topline irregularities" are a genetic defect for the species Betta Splendens or whether you are referring to a flaw which needs to be corrected according to the show standard for the "fancy" version of Betta Splendens.

If you are referring to a species type genetic defect, can you please point me to the scientifically based literature that your assumption is based upon? :cheer:

Additionally, any type of domesticated animal, derived from a process of artificial selection, by definition, is going to represent an accumulation of genetic defects as far as the original species is concerned, because those combinations of phenotypic characteristics present in highly artificially selected animals don’t occur in nature because they are not compatible with survival in a natural environment...i.e. where they have to fend for themselves.

In the case of the fancy Betta's, those long flowing fins would surely be considered to be genetic defects by any species based standard. I'm also not convinced that "irregular toplines" are causing any problems for the fish themselves, unlike in other domestic species such as certain breeds of domestic dog of ultra short stature that as a breed tend to suffer with slipping patellas and hip dysplasia.

If on the other hand, the "topline irregularities" you are referring to, are flaws which are articulated in the show standard, then that is a very different issue. In this case we are talking about improving the standard according to human based notions of what is perfect, and not those of Mother Nature. :)

I'll get off the soapbox now and give someone else a turn: :lol:

Nick

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Hi Nick,

The “topline irregularities” to which I most obsessively refer are mainly due to my own preference as to how the perfect betta should be shaped.

I assume that this trait is genetically and not environmentally based. My main evidence is the observation that many DT and DT-genotype fish have these defects of the topline, and spinal and topline defects are usually associated with DTs. This would be due to the double caudal that DTs have. However, many DTs have perfectly shaped toplines, which leads me to believe that it is a genetic trait that can be bred out.

DTs have also been bred into normal ST lines, which means that such defective traits are also in the genetic composition of some STs.

There is an article for show standards on the Bettas4all forum, which mentions how the topline should be.

http://www.bettas4all.nl/viewtopic.php?t=68

The body should be a modified spindle shape that is somewhat heavier in the area of the ventral fins. It should taper cleanly toward the head and caudal fin with the tail junction, or peduncle, being thinner from side to side.

My issue with the topline is mainly concerning aesthetic appearance of the fish. Irregularities of the topline do not, to my knowledge, adversely affect the health and wellbeing of the fish. But I have seen several cases in my own spawns in which the topline/spine was so severely defected that the fish’s head protruded up from the body at an abnormal angle and its gill covers were exposed. I would think that this would have adversely affected the long-term health of the fish. It was culled.

I’ve had my rants about topline irregularities in the recent past, and I’m not going to force my beliefs onto anyone else. However I would be worried if you could not see the topline irregularities that I describe, firstly because I know that it does exist, and secondly because I would begin to wonder if I were becoming paranoid and insane.

If you can see the "defect" and would prefer that the fish didn't have it, that's great! But if you can't see anything wrong with it, that's equally as great!

In future, any time that I mention "topline irregularities", please keep in mind that I am speaking of how I would prefer to see a bettas topline looking. It's just my personal preferance and opinion. :cheer:

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Stefan, Point taken and I can see the topline irregularity myself in some of the girls. For me though it isn't an issue since I try to look at the other factors as well and not get obsessed on one. If you do that you'll be sadly dissapointed as a breeder. You will never get a perfect spawn. I guess the "critique" in a showroom is not etiquette though (netiquitte) :cheer: The biggest problem with the irregularity perspective is that there are very few fish out there that are 100% perfect. Can anyone say they have actually seen the absolute "perfect" betta? They generally fail in one area be it dorsal or anal finnage, ventrals, masking, "topline", colour and one of the most important... attitude. So what do breeders aim for? For us and this line it was an experiment in colour foremost and then to some extent form. Both parents had no "topline' irregularities but both had excellent colour. In the case of the male he is a CG HM with "near" perfect mask. The female a RB HM. So if the only fault of one breeder was the topline but every other aspect of both breeders was as near to my definition of 100% perfect then do I not breed them? Would anyone breed bettas or any animal for that matter. To me a Rose tail is very messy, too delicate and very abnormal. Definately not something I want yet I can see it would have value in certain breeding plans. An OHM is for me personally too much. I prefer the perfect, even finnaged HM, a neat CT with ballooning, a full a heavy looking DT and a PK with lots of attitude. I like thick and long ventrals and most of all I like the colour. A fish having a majority of my desired traits is what I want to breed from. Of course Najina has some different ideas to me in what is her ideal betta. Perhaps someone should open up a thread on "Desired Breeding Traits" :lol: Cheers, Pat.

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But it doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be part of a bettas genetic composition. And through selective breeding you can eliminate such traits while still keeping the positive traits that your bettas have.

Sorry, but I totally disagree. I personally find that the "defect" as you call it has no impact whatsoever on the aesthetic value of a betta. It does no harm to the betta. In fact, I am one of the people who ordinarily just can't see it, and I am not a newbie who has no idea what to look for in a quality betta. I actually quite like it, it often gives a fish a unique character.

I didn't see the one you culled, so I don't know how severe it was in that fish. But to suggest that something inherently present in bettas - and not just DT bettas, as you know from your own experience - which is harmless to their existence "shouldn't be part of a betta's genetic composition" is, IMO, overstating the position. You personally don't like it. Few (if any) people feel as you do about it. I don't like the colour yellow and I find yellow bettas usually (not always) to be unfortunate, washed-out looking creatures. But I don't state that because I don't like it, yellow shouldn't be part of a betta's genetic composition, or that the colour should be bred out of them, LOL! :cheer:

I wonder if one of our IBC judges would step in and indicate whether any of the fish photographed above would be scaled down for the characteristic (as I think we previously agreed it would be more appropriately referred to as, rather than "defect").

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Hi Stefan, I agree with you that one doesn’t want to encourage deleterious genetic traits when breeding any domestic animal. I also remember reading about your bad experience of having to cull a previous spawn due to the presence of severe spinal abnormalities. I can also understand your “obsessiveness” about the “topline”. Its normal when an individual has had a very bad experience, that they become really worried about the possibility of it happening again and are often on the lookout for signs of it potentially reoccurring. The problem, however, is that there are a lot of factors associated with, in our case, the appearance of spinal defects. There is the presence of the DT gene and associated spinal defects which makes one suspect that DT causes spinal defects. There is also the observation that you can have DT without the defects, which can cause one to suspect that DT has nothing to do with spinal defects. There are also the phenotypic markers that “may” be associated with spinal defects or the propensity to spinal defects (spinal bumps and dents). The problem is, without empirical research, one cannot assume that one thing necessarily causes the other. In our case, we have a correlation between a number of variables, but this does not prove one causes the other. This premise is basic to all scientific research: “correlation does not prove causation”. Scientists have to develop sophisticated methodologies to test out whether various correlations are likely to be causal. We don’t even know whether spinal abnormalities in Bettas are caused by a single gene (eg DT) and/or a whole bunch of other genes (poly genetic inheritance). We don’t know whether the genes involved are dominant, recessive, sex-linked and to what extent they may be variably expressive. We have the added complication that because our Fancy Bettas are very inbred, it may be just a coincidence that fish with genotypes containing the DT gene have thrown offspring with spinal deformities. When animals are inbred, they tend to have a lot of the same deleterious genes in common, which is the risk associated with inbreeding. With spinal defects you often get a lot of variation of expression. In humans you get the same thing with Spina Bifida, which is a type of spinal defect, which is highly variable in terms of its phenotypic expression. What I’m suggesting is that yes, one should endeavour to lessen the possibility of breeding Bettas with Spinal deformities. However, one can't make the assumption that the presence of any and/or all “bumps and dents” in the topline have anything at all to do with spinal deformities and are going to cause spinal deformities down the track in a “line”. Otherwise we get into the problem of “throwing out the baby with the bath water” and throwing away other desirable characteristics a fish can contribute because we are assuming something that isn’t true (commonly referred to as a Type 1 error in scientific research). The best we can do is make use of anecdotal evidence (i.e. evidence that hasn’t been empirically validated, and is based on “one's experiences”) to make decisions re various pairings. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence is often unreliable. Often the best we can do is make decisions after the deformity has occurred. Unfortunately, when breeding any kind of animal, you have to be prepared for this possibility. Hence, if you get a spinal or any deformity in a spawn you should avoid that particular pairing again. If you find that a particular fish throws spinal deformity when mated to several other unrelated fish, you can probably assume that this fish has a genetic problem, and avoid using it in your breeding program. I hope the above has clarified rather than muddied the water. Nick

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:cheer: I too don't like yellow bettas. So I can see what you mean Lisa.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be part of a bettas genetic composition. And through selective breeding you can eliminate such traits while still keeping the positive traits that your bettas have.

Sorry, but I totally disagree. I personally find that the "defect" as you call it has no impact whatsoever on the aesthetic value of a betta. It does no harm to the betta. In fact, I am one of the people who ordinarily just can't see it, and I am not a newbie who has no idea what to look for in a quality betta. I actually quite like it, it often gives a fish a unique character.

It is a defect in my eyes, whether others see it as one or not. It does affect the aesthetic value of a betta in my >personal< opinion.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't like it. But if you like it, how can you be one of the people who can't see it? Do you mean you can't see it as a negative characteristic?

With your other points, I feel that I had rebutted them in my post before yours already.

And of course few if any others share my opinion on this topic. That's why my opinion is my personal opinion...

Point taken and I can see the topline irregularity myself in some of the girls. For me though it isn't an issue since I try to look at the other factors as well and not get obsessed on one. If you do that you'll be sadly dissapointed as a breeder. You will never get a perfect spawn.

I guess the "critique" in a showroom is not etiquette though (netiquitte) 

The biggest problem with the irregularity perspective is that there are very few fish out there that are 100% perfect. Can anyone say they have actually seen the absolute "perfect" betta? They generally fail in one area be it dorsal or anal finnage, ventrals, masking, "topline", colour and one of the most important... attitude.

Pat, I agree that I shouldn't only be looking at one aspect of a fish, but the whole fish as well. I do that whenever I can, it's just that topline shape is a rather large piece of the pie for me. I know it seems that that's all I care about, but that is because that is what I more frequently post about.

And if ever I am going to settle for second-to-perfect breeding stock in my spawns, fish with topline irregularities will never be one of them.

If you do that you'll be sadly dissapointed as a breeder.

And you know what? I have 'not gotten obsessed on one' charecteristic in my last spawn, and look where that got me. I was sadly dissapointed as a breeder then.

Hi Nick, just saw your post. I have to say that I agree with you completely. :) I wish there was an aquatic zoologist and a genetisist who could jump in and solve all our guess work once and for all :lol:

Could the posts in this thread related to this topic concerning the topline of bettas perhaps be moved to a new thread in the Lab titled "Desired Breeding Traits", if everyone thinks that's a good Idea?

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Could the posts in this thread related to this topic concerning the topline of bettas perhaps be moved to a new thread in the Lab titled "Desired Breeding Traits", if everyone thinks that's a good Idea?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If you move the post to the Lab, then I can't participate because its in a protected forum and I still dont have senior member status. :cheer:

Nick

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A discussion on genetics is what is going on so actually no I don't think the discussion that was created by comments made should continue here. This started as a showroom thread not a critique or precis on genetics. I like my fish and think as an experiment in colour and form that they have turned out just fine thanks. The bump on the head may only have been caused by running into the brick walls that we run into so often in life :cheer: Big Fish admin types can we have the genetic discussions relocated to a Lab post please :lol: Cheers, Pat.

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Regarding the topline of bettas, I actually prefer the ones with a dip to the nose - now I know that they are necessarily preferable in IBC comp terms however I do find them cute.

As to being obsessive well yeah, thats when my dorsal thang kicks in :cheer: you see I have the picture of the perfrect dorsal in my head. However when someone says to me "aren't my fish pretty?" I don't go "yeah, 'cept for the ugly dorsal", no I say "hrmm, I prefer the dorsal to be a little broader" etc. It comes down to:

It's not what you say but how you say it

:):) :lol:

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But if you like it, how can you be one of the people who can't see it? Do you mean you can't see it as a negative characteristic?

I cannot see it - at all - in Pat and Najina's fish photographed at the beginning of the original thread.

In the fish where I believe I can discern the presence of the characteristic you are referring to, I often find it attractive.

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I cannot see it - at all - in Pat and Najina's fish photographed at the beginning of the original thread.

In the fish where I believe I can discern the presence of the characteristic you are referring to, I often find it attractive.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, my bad :(

It's not what you say but how you say it

Which is something I really need to master... :lol:

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I'm with you Di re the dorsals... I am hoping to breed some big ass dorsals hehe.

Stefan, can you show us some examples of your ideal and not so ideal topline? I think the angle the photo is taken and what muscles or pose the fish is using would play a large part too.

eg. here are two picks of the same fish...

Posted Image

Posted Image

As you can see from the first picture his topline is nice... but with flexing of different muscles and camera angles the shape can appear different. I love this guys muscular body.

Cheers, Luke

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Hi Luke, I agree with you that the angle the photo was taken and the pose of the fish play a part in how the topline looks. Unfortunately I do not have a clear photo of my own fish which displayed such topline characteristics, and unless I produce more of these fish in future spawns and remember to photograph them before I cull them, I can't show you what these definite topline irregularities look like. However many fish in side-on photographs which have this topline characteristic are likely to have it in real life. I've seen some bettas that look so bad they look like those rainbow fish :D As for my ideal topline, and my ideal betta, for that matter, I am currently working on creating "My Perfect HM Pair" using Photoshop, to be able to more clearly visualise my ultimate breeding goals. It should be ready to show in a few months :D The female might be finished before Feb. Again, I must stress this point: I am speaking from my own experience and with my own personal opinion of these fish. Period :D

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That's more of a Thai plakat shape than the American fancy splendens shape. I prefer the Thai shape too. They seem to have stronger rays, and I prefer fins that are shorter and more rigid than longer and kind of billowy. Slightly OT, LOL.

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OK, the HM PK in the Aquabid auction below has what I consider the ideal topline. The overall body is also nearing that of my ideal betta :)

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auc...shmp&1136733022

The following fish have what I consider to be "(much) less than ideal" toplines.

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auc...ashm&1136644103

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auc...ashm&1136643167

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auc...ashm&1136643562

The Platinum white and the BF in the very top of the page also have a less than ideal topline in my opinion. For some reason I find this to be an almost even bigger deal than the toplin characteristics of those above...

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt...2005-50,GGLG:en

See what I mean? :cheer:

Edited by splendidbetta
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I can see the difference you're referring to in the Aquabid pics, Stefan. But to my eye, the difference is mainly postural, because the three fish you find less than preferable are all in full flare with their heads braced to the extreme, which naturally distorts the curve of the spine and the line of the head. The other two have minor bumps, which I guess are less than perfection, but in objective terms this would be regarded as a very minor defect, if at all.

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