I've recently decided to start breeding betta fish again after a long break, and I've cut down my choices to the following 3 males and 2 females. Now, I realize that my fish are far from perfect, but I would really like some advice on the best possible combination working with the fish that I have. All the males depicted can reach a 180 degree spread when in full flare, and the first male has two pictures to show his spread, as the first picture does not show him flaring at all. I'm not so sure about the females unfortunately, as I hardly ever see them in full flare. Additionally, I have noticed that the last male has a slightly smaller caudal fin in proportion the the rest of the body; is that an issue? I've also heard things about red and blue as a bad combination, and an undesirable blend on one fish? If someone could explain that for me, that would be great. Based on the pictures, which pair would be the best for the most ideal offspring? All help and critique is very much appreciated. Thanks!
Id go with male in the 3rd picture and the fist girl.
He has a bad topline but his fins are the most balanced. His dorsals pretty weak too though. Hopefully the female can compensate for his topline, she also looks hmpk.
The other girl has a long uneven weak looking body and poor dorsal.
The males seem to have some rosetail genetics, which will produce a lot of deformed (scale/body/fin) in fry.. very highly recommended to not breed rose/feather tails... especially for first time breeders. He is pretty, but you will end up culling a lot more babies due to his deformed genetics :(
I breed red/white/blue cambodians personally, have a line going now.. just like your first boy (but I prefer the "richer" colors). If done right, they are highly liked by many - I sold all mine from a spawn within a day, and have preorders for the spawn growing out now. It all depends on how it's done.. what isn't liked is if you have a blue fish with "redwash" in the fins.. a little bit of red.. or a red fish with some blue in the fins. But a good, even butterfly pattern (such as the pattern in your first boy) is what you are wanting.. there is a coloring based off of the red/white/blue (usually grizzled bodies) called Thaiflags, and those are a big hit.. So don't discount red/white/blues :) Either the Thaiflag style or the cambodian style (such as mine - pictured below is a young male, he lost his white, but the females he has been with have a lot of white to compensate and I will work with those babies - he was representing a strong, bright red/blue base).
It looks like all of your males may have that defective rosetail traits/genes.. a couple not as bad.. I would make sure your F1, F2, F3s, etc are clean edged when you breed them to remove the deformities. They aren't bad, but it's slight and you just need to keep an eye on the offspring a little closer.
As for pairings.. depends on what you want. The first boy will bring in grizzle to the bodies, as will the second girl.. so if you like grizzled bodies put those two together, if you don't then avoid them and work them out of your line if you breed either of those to a different one. Do be careful with breeding HMPK (your first girl) with any of the boys, as long finned HM is more dominant, but you will still get quite a few smaller finned ones in the mix - they won't be as short as HMPK fins, but not as long as a regular HM either.. so if you breed that girl with any of the boys I would make sure that you bring (or breed back to one of the parents) in either a long finned HM or an HMPK to breed with an offspring from the F1 spawn to either lengthen or shorten the fins. You would only breed girl 1 with a boy for a color, after that you will need to bring in another male/female to fix the fins.
If you don't mind some work, you could go with boy 1 and girl 2 - will get some marbling, some grizzle and a mix in the fins.. it will take a few generations and possibly bringing in another NR male/female (non red (zero red in them) if you want to remove the red) and end up with blue cambodians, blue grizzles, blue marbles..
If you go with boy 2 and girl 1 you would get some that look like the boy, but with some grey in the fins as well. You will have to bring in another long finned or PK HM to breed to the offspring of them to create the proper fins.. and then select breed to either bring out the grey more or remove the grey and work on the red/white fins.
The 3rd boy and 1st girl would give you more like the 3rd boy, again will need to bring in another to breed with the F1 to get the fins to be the proper length (unless you wait until they are fully grown at 7+ months to see how their fins have grown.. fins grow until roughly 7 months of age) and then breed only the long finned or short finned as you prefer.. (this can be said with any of the boys that girl 1 is bred with). This pairing is like the pairing with girl 1, boy 2.. can keep the grey/blue with the red/white if you want or can work it out in a few generations.
Either pairing you do, it will take at least til F3, F4 before you start seeing results that you are wanting.. unsure what you want, whether you are wanting a specific color, a pretty combination, to show fish, etc.. either way be prepared that you will probably need to purchase a male or female that has the better lines/fins within a short time during the line to work out the body/fin faults of those fish you have. You may get lucky and get a few gems in F1 that will help greatly, but just in case, keep an eye out for another.. honestly, I would look for a blue boy - either a blue marble, or a blue (with no red) that has a good topline and even fins.. and place him with girl 2.. if you can, find a blue boy with a green layer to bring out the green in her as well.
This is when one of my boys I had raised was young.. just lost his white, but with the right girls he has been with, the white banding will be back. He was mainly to keep the body clean and the color bright. But you get the idea.. not always bad to have red/blue together if done a certain way :) And silly him.. he was flaring non stop at his neighbor, but as soon as I went to his container he had to stop and look like a delta >.>
Wow...thank you Myates for such a detailed reply, I think you covered it all! You gave me a lot to think about, and this will be really helpful as I map out my general "plan" for what I want to achieve. I too, like the richer, more flashy colors, and I think that in the future I want to create something similar to the thaiflag style fish, or variations of the cambodian male I have (also the one in your pic, he looks like a mini version of mine!) Right now, I am leaning towards the first male with the second female, and depending on the offspring, introduce a blue/marble male to strengthen the F2s. The first male also seems to have less of the rosetail trait than the others, which is a good thing. The only downside though, is that he has a poor looking dorsal (the spikiness at the top). Lastly, I'm almost completely positive that the first female is HM, not HMPK, what makes you and trilobite think that she is HMPK? I do however, know that the two can be confused sometimes. Again, thanks for the thorough reply, I really appreciate it.
What makes it look like an HMPK is the dorsal is of the PK style.. compare the two dorsals in the two females pictured. HMPK will have a "rounded" dorsal, when HM will be a little more off.. comes to somewhat of a point in the girls (unless there is DT genes, which then the dorsals are more like a marlin's).
Also look at the anal fin - a PK female's anal will be more even to the tail, whereas a long finned HM will come down at an angle more and generally is a bit longer than the tail (ideally)... you don't want a large point, but it should be noticeable.
Here are three of my HMPK girls.. you should be able to see the similarities to your HMPK female and then compare them to your long finned HM girl. Can see how their fins are a bit different than yours (a couple of the girls have the wide dorsal, just was at an odd angle from swimming).