The black orchid betta is a variety of Betta splendens known for its dark coloration and steel blue fins.
Betta breeder Henry Yin first coined the term “black orchid” when describing his development of a dark bi-colored crowntail betta.
Yin’s black orchid bettas were derived from melano bettas. Black melano betta fish have a mutated gene, making black coloration more prominent on the body and fins.
Today’s version of the black orchid betta is descended from bettas with marble genetics. Black orchid betta fish with the marble gene usually have other colors on their bodies.
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Black orchid bettas have black bodies with streaks of steel blue in their fins. This unusual color pattern forms a butterfly shape.
The blue colors on the fins are usually iridescent.
Iridescent blue colors on a black orchid betta are considered a fault by the International Betta Congress. Black orchid bettas with iridescence are usually disqualified from most competitions.
Many black orchid bettas develop a red tint on their bodies. This red coloring is due to the mutation of marble genetics.
The black orchid pattern can appear on a betta with any fin type from half-moon to plakat. But, the black orchid crowntail betta is the most common variation.
Female black orchid bettas have a similar coloration to the mails, but their tails and fins are much shorter.
Black orchid bettas with long fins have a disadvantage in swimming abilities.
Crowntail and half-moon betta types cannot swim well due to the weight of their fins. This problem is because bettas breathe air from the surface through their labyrinth organ.
Bettas are better at swimming horizontally rather than vertically. Your betta may struggle when swimming to the surface for fresh air in deep water.
Your betta may also have difficulty swimming to the top during feeding time.
Maintain a maximum depth of no more than 12″ inches in your betta tank. Avoid vertical tanks, as they are not ideal for betta fish.
Do not add too many plants or decorations to your black orchid betta tank. You must give your betta plenty of space for swimming.
The average lifespan of a black orchid betta is between 2-5 years. A betta can live longer with perfect care, but it is uncommon.
Your betta fish has already reached old age by the time it is 3-4 years old.
Most bettas sold in pet stores are at least one year old before you buy them.
The only way to know your betta’s exact age is to buy it from a reputable breeder with the birth date recorded.
The average body size of a black orchid betta is 2-3″ inches.
These fish can appear much bigger because of their large fins.
Bettas use this to their advantage by flaring at potential threats to seem larger and scare them away.
Black Orchid Betta Care
Black orchid bettas do not need special care compared to other betta types.
But if your betta has long, flowy fins, you must ensure your tank setup does not cause issues.
Long-finned bettas are more prone to injury from sharp objects and poor water conditions.
Creating a healthy environment for your black orchid betta is crucial.
Despite the setups in many pet stores, betta fish cannot thrive in small bowls or vases.
Betta vases and fish bowls do not give a betta room for swimming. These types of setups also create unsafe water conditions.
The minimum tank size recommended for bettas is 5 gallons. This is the smallest size for establishing a proper nitrogen cycle.
A 10-gallon tank is even better, especially if you want many plants and decorations.
You need a larger aquarium when planning a community tank or betta sorority.
The smallest tank size for a betta community tank is 20 gallons. You may need an even larger tank, depending on how many fish you add.
Most betta sororities need at least a 30-gallon tank for a peaceful existence.
Choose a long tank over a vertical one. A longer tank provides less distance between the substrate and the water’s surface.
Ideal water parameters for bettas are as follows:
Ideal Water Parameters for a Betta Fish Tank Include the following:
- Temperature: 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-27° C)
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: < 40 ppm
- gH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)
- kH: 3-5 dKH (53.6-89.4 ppm)
- Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons
Bettas are sensitive to sudden fluctuations in temperature and pH levels. Maintaining stable water parameters is an important part of keeping your fish healthy.
Ammonia levels rise due to fish waste and other decaying organic matter. Keep ammonia levels at zero through weekly cleaning and partial water changes.
Remove uneaten food and dead plants from the substrate during a partial water change.
Green algae is not toxic to your fish. But, high algae levels can deplete nutrients from the water.
If you do not have algae eaters in your tank, use an algae scraper for removing build-up on the sides of the glass.
A quality aquarium filter and live plants also help reduce harmful toxins and bacteria in the water.
Nitrates are the by-product of beneficial bacteria breaking down ammonia and nitrite. Any level of ammonia and nitrite is toxic to bettas.
Low nitrate levels (below 40 ppm) do not harm bettas and benefit live plants. Live plants consume nitrates as part of the photosynthesis process.
An aquarium water testing kit lets you closely monitor your water parameters before toxins reach dangerous levels.
What To Put In Their Tank
Put some thought into what you place in your betta tank.
The goal is to create a healthy environment without overcrowding your fish.
Bettas become stressed in a crowded tank. This stress is usually the cause of many common fish diseases.
Most betta fish owners prefer a gravel substrate over sand. Gravel is low-maintenance and helps anchor aquatic plants.
Gravel substrate comes in a variety of sizes and colors.
Avoid smaller gravel pieces, as your betta may eat them by accident. This can lead to a digestive blockage and cause severe health issues.
Since black orchid bettas have a dark appearance, a light substrate helps them stand out in the tank.
Neutral colors like tan, light gray, or white help showcase your black orchid betta’s attractive coloration.
Neon gravel colors are also available, but use these with caution. The dye from this brightly-colored gravel can leach into your tank water and cause problems.
An aquarium heater is necessary for maintaining the warm water temperatures bettas need.
The correct output for a quality aquarium heater is 3-5 watts per gallon of water.
This means for a 10-gallon aquarium, you need a 30-50 watt heater.
Most aquarium heaters have a built-in thermostat, but they can sometimes fail.
Keep a separate thermometer handy for measuring accurate tank temperatures.
An efficient filtration system helps the water stay cleaner by removing harmful bacteria and toxins. It also circulates heat and oxygen throughout the tank.
Choose an aquarium filter with an adjustable flow or a low output.
Bettas, especially those with flowy fins, cannot swim in strong currents.
Sponge filters are the best choice for black orchid bettas because they produce slow currents.
Place the filter near the heater for better heat circulation in the water.
All betta fish need a day and night light cycle. This helps the fish regulate their eating and sleeping habits.
LED lights are the standard for betta fish aquariums. They do not produce a lot of heat, and they help aquatic plants thrive.
Ensure the light is not too bright for your betta. Too much light also encourages excess algae growth.
An adjustable LED lighting setup lets you dial in the perfect amount of light for your betta and plants.
Aquatic plants help create a more natural environment for your betta. This provides your fish with comfort and reduces stress levels.
Live and artificial plants are suitable for a black orchid betta tank. Both create a natural look in your aquarium.
But live plants offer more benefits than artificial ones.
Live plants filter bacteria and help oxygenate the water. They also offer hiding places for your betta.
Flat-leafed plants provide your betta with resting and sleeping spots.
Some excellent live plant choices for your betta tank include:
- Betta bulb
- Java moss
- Java fern
These aquarium plants are sold in most pet stores and online shops.
If you decide on artificial plants, choose ones made from silk instead of plastic.
Plastic plants have sharp edges, which can tear your black orchid betta’s delicate fins. Silk plants are smooth and do not pose a risk of danger to your betta.
Tank Decorations and Hiding Places
Hiding places help your betta feel more secure and reduce stress.
There are a variety of objects your betta can hide in and around, including:
- Coconut caves
- Smooth rocks
Choose objects with round edges and smooth surfaces. This decreases the risk of injury to your betta’s fins.
Test the objects in your aquarium with a small net. If the net snags on an object, it is unsafe for your betta.
Avoid decorations made from metal or coated with paint. The metals and paints can leach harmful toxins into your tank water and create an unsafe environment.
Black orchid bettas usually do not carry any inherited diseases. They can get the same common betta diseases as other types, such as:
- Swim bladder disorder
But long-finned black orchid bettas have a higher risk of fin issues.
Fin rot is a common illness in half-moon and crowntail black orchid bettas. The disease usually occurs due to fin injury or poor water conditions.
Without treatment, fin rot can spread to the body and kill your betta.
Curing fin rot involves moving your betta to a quarantine tank and administering an antibacterial treatment. Treat secondary fungal infections with an antifungal medication.
Aquarium salt baths are an effective treatment for mild cases of fin rot.
Your betta can fully recover from fin rot if you treat the disease early. Its fins will grow back, but it may not be the same length or color as before.
Food & Diet
Wild bettas eat mosquito larvae and small bugs found in their native habitat.
Since bettas are carnivores, they need a balanced diet rich in animal proteins and other essential nutrients.
A suitable staple diet for captive bettas is a high-quality pellet food with at least a 35% animal protein content. Look for commercial foods with whole animal proteins and little to no fillers.
Add variety to your betta’s diet by supplementing some of its meals with live or frozen foods, which include:
- Baby brine shrimp
- Mosquito larvae
- Blood worms
Always purchase live foods from reputable sources. Poor care and management of live foods increase the risk of parasites.
Read our article on the best betta foods for more information on betta nutrition and diet.
Choose the same day every week for fasting your black orchid betta. This allows for proper digestion and lowers the risk of bloating and constipation.
Behavior & Temperament
Black orchid crowntail bettas have a more aggressive temperament than other betta types.
Both male and female bettas can show aggressive behavior.
Aggression is a known trait in bettas and is how they became known as “Siamese Fighting Fish.”
Since bettas are an aggressive species, pairing them with tank mates is challenging.
Never keep two betta males in the same tank. They will fight for territory until one of them dies.
A betta sorority is possible, but only for experienced betta owners.
You may have luck in pairing your betta with more peaceful species, such as:
- Otocinclus catfish
- Mystery snails
Shrimp species like Amanos and Ghost shrimp can make good tank mates for bettas with a few precautions. Even with their dull colors and larger size, there is no guarantee your betta won’t eat them.
Provide your shrimp with plenty of hiding places so they do not become your betta’s next meal.
Avoid cherry shrimp with black orchid bettas. The bright red color of these shrimp makes them an easy target for a betta attack.
Learn more about suitable tank mates for bettas with our helpful guide at the link.
Provide a large tank of 20 gallons or more so your betta can ignore its tank mates.
If there are any signs of aggression between your betta and its tank mates, you must separate them immediately.
Breeding black orchid bettas is a challenging process.
Betta genetics do not always breed true. It can take several generations of breeding for the desired results.
Melano black female bettas can lay eggs, but they are not viable. The sack bursts before the eggs hatch due to a genetic defect in the melano gene.
Male black orchid bettas are usually bred with females who have a bright coloration. This leads to offspring with an increase of colorful pigments on otherwise black fish.
Black orchid bettas with marble genes have unpredictable spawn outcomes as well. This is due to the marble gene constantly mutating.
Black orchids usually sell for around $15-$20.
The price usually depends on the tail variation.
Crowntail, half-moon, and plakat types are usually more expensive than veil-tails.
Black orchid bettas are not rare, but their popularity makes them difficult to find.
Most pet stores do not sell black orchid bettas.
You may need to seek a reputable local or online breeder.
Frequently Asked Questions About Black Orchid Bettas
What type of betta is a black orchid?
A black orchid betta is a color variety of Betta splendens. Betta splendens are the most common captive-bred bettas you see for sale in pet stores.
These bettas are selectively bred for a wide variety of color patterns and fin types.
Why is my black orchid betta turning white?
Black orchid bettas with marble genes can change color over time.
These genes constantly mutate throughout the betta’s life. When the genes controlling the black pigment move to another area, white and other colors can develop.
Bettas also become lighter or darker because of stress. If your black orchid betta is pale or develops white spots, check your water parameters and tank setup.
Are there other types of black betta fish?
There are other color variations of black betta fish besides the black orchid.
Black lace bettas have black bodies with iridescence on the body and fins. The ends of the fins are clear or cellophane in color.
The black devil betta is similar to the black orchid. Instead of blue, these fish have a red hue on the body and fins.
A black ice betta has iridescent coloring over its entire body and fins. This variation is caused by marble genes, and the iridescent colors range from green to royal or steel blue.
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