Male betta fish, also known as Siamese Fighting fish, come in a dazzling range of stunning colors and finnage varieties, making one of these spectacular fish the perfect addition to a community display tank. Of all the colors of bettas that are widely available, the black orchid betta is among the most popular and sought after.
So, what is a black orchid betta, and how do you care for one of these beauties?
What are betta fish?
There are over 73 varieties of betta fish, of which the black orchid is just one.
Bettas are freshwater fish of the Osphronemidae family. The black orchid is a betta splendens, which is the variety of betta that are most commonly kept as pets.
Bettas come from the Mekong and Phraya river basins in Thailand, where the fish live in stagnant, shallow water, including flood plains, marshes, and rice paddies. Betta fish are able to breathe air through a breathing organ called a labyrinth, which enables these resourceful fish to survive in oxygen-starved, dirty water during the dry season.
Bettas are also very capable jumpers, using that ability to move into new territories in search of mates, food, and to escape from predators and other aggressive males.
If properly cared for, a betta fish can live for up to three years.
What is a black orchid betta?
The black orchid betta is a variety of betta splendens or Siamese Fighting fish.
The black orchid betta is dark black in color with streaks of iridescent steel blue in the fins that form a butterfly pattern. Many black orchids have a red wash in their coloration, further adding to their stunning looks.
Crowntail black orchid betta
The black orchid crowntail betta is a particularly popular variation of this type of betta. The male crowntail betta has a caudal fin with large extensions that can grow to reach a diameter of eight inches, around three times the size of the fish’s body.
The webbing between the rays of the fish’s caudal fins is greatly reduced, producing a spiky, crown-like appearance from which the variety takes its name. That, combined with the fish’s eye-catching coloration, makes these fish truly impressive.
Other varieties of black betta fish
The black orchid is not the only variety of black betta. Over the years, studies of betta genetics have enabled breeders to create some remarkable variations of the black fish.
Black melano bettas
The black melano betta has extremely dense black coloration, sometimes giving the fish the intense blue-black coloration of a raven’s wing.
Black lace bettas
Black lace bettas are not as dark as melanos, mainly because they have a lot of iridescence on their body and fins. The very ends of the black lace betta’s fins are almost clear or cellophane in color, making them look like lace, hence the betta’s name.
Black devil bettas
The black devil betta has red in its fins, rather than iridescence, but the fish’s body has a dark, intense black coloration.
Black ice bettas
Black ice betta fish have lots of iridescence in their fins and body, presenting with a beautiful sheen of steel, royal blue, or green color.
Care of betta fish
Betta fish are quite straightforward to care for, as long as you provide them with the right water conditions and correct diet.
Many inexperienced hobbyists assume that a betta vase or similar container is suitable for one of these fish. But, in the wild, bettas patrol a territory of around three feet. So, ideally, tank-kept black bettas should live in an aquarium of at least five gallons, preferably larger.
The tank should be long, rather than tall. That’s because bettas are surface feeders, and they also need to take gulps of air every so often. So, be sure to leave at least an inch of space between the surface of the water and the cover slides of the tank so that your betta fish can take air from the surface when he needs to.
Betta fish can be hampered by their spectacular tails and fins, which can make it difficult for the fish to swim up to the surface of the water. For that reason, a long, shallower tank is more suitable for bettas than a tall one, because the fish don’t have as far to swim to reach the top.
Also, your tank must have a well-fitting lid. That’s important because bettas can and do jump, especially if pursued by an aggressive tankmate.
The lighting that you choose for your betta tank should be fairly bright, as these fish live in shallow water and tend to spend much of their time in the upper regions of the habitat.
Even though bettas can live in stagnant water in their wild environment, your aquarium should have an efficient filtration system.
A filtration system helps to remove organic waste and uneaten food from the tank, keeping nitrate levels low, and maintaining a healthy environment for your fish. If the level of nitrates becomes too high, your black betta will become stressed and more susceptible to disease.
Bettas are highly vulnerable to temperature shock, so it’s important that the temperature in the aquarium does not fall below 690 Fahrenheit, and should ideally be between 780 and 800 Fahrenheit at all times.
By placing the tank heater next to the filtration system outlet, you can ensure that warm water is circulated around the tank, keeping the temperature even throughout. Put an aquarium thermometer at the end of the tank that’s farthest away from the heater. That will enable you to check that the water is a consistent temperature right through the environment.
Betta fish prefer water with a neutral pH that ranges between 6.5 and 7.5, so be sure to check the pH levels in the tank every week, using a strip test kit, which you can buy at any good fish store or online.
Decoration and toys
Bettas thrive in a tank that is well-planted and has plenty of hiding places where the fish can retreat if they feel threatened. Also, black bettas like to rest from time-to-time; it’s hard work dragging such luxuriant finnage and tail around all day! If you include flat-leafed plants in your tank, your betta will rest happily on a comfy leaf.
You should also give your betta fish some toys that will provide interest and keep him active and entertained, especially if you decide to keep your black betta on his own.
The decorations, toys, and substrate that you choose for your betta tank should have smooth surfaces to prevent injury and damage to your betta’s fins and tail. Also, choose a substrate that has no sharp pieces or fragments of very abrasive material that could injure your precious black betta.
Feeding betta fish
Wild bettas are omnivores, living on vegetation, insect larvae, and insects that land on the water surface.
In captivity, betta fish can be picky eaters, especially when they first arrive in their new home. Tempt your betta into eating by providing him with a variety of live and frozen food, including bloodworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and the like.
When feeding frozen food, always soak the food in a little tank water before offering it to your betta. Always obtain live food from a reputable fish store, and never use anything that you have taken from the environment. Wild-caught food can contain parasites or bacteria that could harm your black betta.
Most betta fish will take dry food in the form of pellets or flakes. However, you do need to check the list of ingredients on the packaging to see that the protein content of the food is at least 40% meat-based.
Many of the most common problems in captive betta fish are caused by incorrect feeding. Overfeeding your fish can cause bloating, swim bladder problems, and constipation, and the stress caused by these conditions could be fatal for your fish. Also, you need to make sure that pellets are small enough to fit into a betta’s tiny mouth. Remember that betta fish are surface feeders, so choose food that will float rather than sink.
It’s best to feed your betta once or twice daily, offering him just enough food to keep him busy for a minute or so. A betta’s stomach is roughly the same size as his eye, so you can see how easy it is to overfeed your fish. You should also set aside one day per week when you do not feed your betta. That fasting day can help to avoid constipation and bloating.
Male betta fish are highly aggressive, and you cannot keep two males together in the same tank. However, a sorority of female betta fish can sometimes be kept with a male, as long as he is not too feisty. Female bettas are much less impressive than males. They lack the brilliant coloration and spectacular fins of their male counterparts, but a small group of five female bettas still makes a nice addition to a community tank.
When it comes to choosing tankmates for your black male betta fish, it is best to pick peaceful, relatively quiet fish such as Corydoras catfish or gouramis. Snails and shrimp also make suitable companions for betta fish, although fish with bright coloration and trailing tails should be avoided, as they can trigger aggression in some bettas.
Breeding betta fish
Bettas will spawn quite readily, and providing your male betta with some female company will often encourage natural breeding behavior. Many hobbyists enjoy experimenting with crossbreeding their bettas to see what colors and forms of fish they end up with.
The male betta will build a bubble nest, usually inside a cave or underneath some leaves near to the surface of the water. When the male and female betta are ready to mate, they will swim around each other, nose to tail, until the female finally hangs motionless, vertically underneath the nest.
The male collects the eggs and carefully places them in the bubble nest. Within a few days, the eggs hatch and tiny fry are born. The fry remains attached to the eggs, feeding on the egg sacs. Once the nutritional content of the eggs has gone, the fry becomes free-swimming. At this stage, you will need to give the fry live foods, such as nematodes. You can order live fry food from fish stores or raise your own, although that can be time-consuming.
Betta genetics is a fascinating field. Check out the article at this link for an introduction to the art of breeding different colors and forms of bettas.
Common diseases of betta fish
If you provide your betta with the correct water conditions and feed him correctly, you should not experience too many problems. Indeed, many betta diseases are caused by stress due to poor tank hygiene or dietary imbalances.
Here are a few of the most common health problems that affect all varieties of betta fish:
Constipation is one condition that commonly affects bettas. When a betta fish is constipated, his digestive system becomes blocked. The fish stops passing feces and will sometimes float to the top of the tank, appearing bloated.
Usually, fasting the betta for one or two days resolves the problem.
Dropsy is a condition that causes the fish’s belly to swell massively. The disease is also referred to as bloat. Dropsy is caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria that cause dropsy exist in all aquariums, but usually, the condition only affects fish that are already unhealthy or weak.
Although you can treat dropsy with reasonable success if you catch it early enough, many fish are too far gone to save, and eventually, die from organ failure.
Fin rot is caused by a bacterial infection that eats away at the betta’s fins, leaving them looking ragged and damaged. Fin rot is usually caused by poor water conditions that stress the fish, lowering its immune system and leaving it unable to fight off the disease.
Fin rot can be successfully treated by carrying out frequent water changes and treating the water with a suitable antibacterial agent.
Ich is a parasitic infection that manifests itself as tiny white spots on the betta’s scales, fins, and tail, which gives the disease its common name of “white spot.” The parasites are usually present in all fish tanks, only attacking fish that are weakened by stress or other diseases.
Ich is easily treatable by adding malachite green or a proprietary antibacterial treatment to the water.
Swim bladder disease
Swim bladder disease is usually caused by a bacterial infection brought on by poor water conditions. The betta has problems keeping his balance, swimming on one side, upside down, or being unable to swim to the top or bottom of the tank.
Swim bladder disease is treatable by correcting the water problems and treating the water with a suitable antibacterial agent.
In this section of our guide to black orchid betta fish, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these remarkable creatures.
Q: What is the rarest color of betta fish?
A: Thanks to crossbreeding and genetic study by keen hobbyists, betta fish now come in pretty much every color and color combination that’s known to man! However, the rarest color of all is the purple betta. A true purple betta is a deep purple in color, including its fins.
Q: What is the most expensive betta fish?
A: Currently, the most expensive betta fish you could buy is a half-moon betta with the exact coloration of the Thai flag; that’s red, white, and blue. This fish sold at auction to a collector in Thailand for a crazy price of $1,530!
Q: Are there black betta fish?
A: Yes. There are several types of black bettas, including black orchid, black ice, black melano, black lace, and the black devil. The intensity and depth of the black color vary between varieties, and some have a lot of iridescence in blue, green, and steel grey that overlays the black.
Q: How much does a betta fish cost?
A: Betta fish vary in cost from a few dollars right up to thousands for the best and most prized colors and forms. One gold betta once sold for $1,000, and more recently, a multicolored fish sold at auction for over $1,500.
The male black betta fish makes a stunning addition to any display tank and can do well in a community setup, as long as his tankmates are peaceful species that don’t possess floating fins and bright coloration. Bettas are pretty easy to keep, as long as the water quality and conditions are maintained to their liking, and you provide your fish with a correct and varied diet.
A black betta is certainly one of the best choices if you’re looking for an unusual specimen, and you fancy trying to breed from your fish. Why not begin your journey as a betta enthusiast by spending a few dollars on a nice male betta splendens, add a few females to the mix, and see what happens?