Midnight Betta: A Helpful Guide To This Mysterious Dark Fish

Most varieties of betta splendens have bright, flashy colors.

Dark-colored bettas often get overlooked, as many aquarists prefer vivid colors.

But these dark fish have a subdued beauty all their own.

Black bettas have gained popularity recently due to an increased demand for more unique fish.

One of the most unique variants of black bettas is the Midnight betta.

So, how rare are Midnight bettas? And what makes them stand out from other black betta varieties?

Let’s look closer at what makes the Midnight betta so special!

What Is a Midnight Betta?

midnight betta appearance

Midnight bettas, also known as melano bettas, have solid black bodies and fins.

The color of Midnight bettas is dense, dark black. It sometimes takes on a blue-black appearance like the color of raven feathers.

True melano bettas lack any other colors or iridescence.

This deep black pigment even extends to the betta’s eyes.

Many black bettas get mislabeled as Midnight bettas. The term is sometimes used by fish stores for any type of black betta.

I’ve even seen the term “Midnight Koi” used because a calico betta had black splotches on its body.

But a true Midnight betta stays black and does not change color.

This does not mean melano bettas cannot carry the marble gene, though. Melano and marble genes are both recessive traits.

Mutated melano genes usually outcompete other colors present in the marble genes.

If a betta carries both genes but appears black, its offspring may have the marble patterning.

Do Midnight Bettas Change Color?

Midnight bettas can experience the same color fading as other betta colors due to old age.

Bettas have an average lifespan of 2-5 years. As they age, their bodies slow down, including the cells controlling pigments.

When these color cells break down, a betta’s color can fade slightly.

But Midnight bettas usually do not undergo a complete color change during life.

If a black betta turns into another color, it is not a true Midnight betta. It is more likely this type of betta had strong marble genetics responsible for the color change.

Betta fish can change color because of stress or poor water conditions, as well.

Are Midnight Bettas Rare?

While black bettas are not rare, true Midnight bettas are.

The reason for the rarity of Midnight bettas is their genetics.

Melano bettas get their solid black color from a genetic mutation.

This genetic mutation also causes infertility in melano black female bettas.

Due to this genetic mutation, breeding Midnight bettas without faults like iridescence is a challenge.

There is no set tail or fin type for Midnight bettas. The most common tail types in Midnight bettas are halfmoons and crowntails.

Many Midnight bettas have veil tails, as well.

You won’t find many true Midnight bettas for sale at your local pet store.

Even if these bettas have the label of “Midnight,” they may carry other traits.

Average Cost of a Midnight Betta

The average price of Midnight bettas ranges from $20 to $30.

You must also pay shipping costs when buying a Midnight betta from an online breeder.

Always read shipping policies from online breeders.

Many online breeders have refund or return policies in case of shipping carrier delays.

The Breeding History of Midnight Bettas

Midnight bettas have the mutated melano gene.

This mutated melano gene differs from the regular black gene and is a recessive trait.

If you breed a true melano black betta to a betta without the mutated melano gene, you get multicolored offspring.

But, these offspring become carriers of the mutated melano gene. This means they can produce melano black spawn when paired with another betta carrying the melano gene.

There are four color layers in betta cells:

  • Iridescent
  • Black
  • Red
  • Yellow

The black layer contains melanophores, which control how dark or light a betta’s coloring is.

Melanophores in Midnight bettas are much different than those in other black betta variants.

These melanophores form in clumps and have extra adhesion proteins.

In theory, these sticky proteins are the reason for infertility in melano black female bettas.

Melano females can still produce eggs. But the cells in their eggs burst before they hatch.

Because of this fault, male Midnight bettas get paired with blue females for successful breeding.

Breeders choose steel blue female bettas because they contain the least amount of iridescence in blue types.

This breeding pair produces offspring with the melano genotype. The offspring from this second generation have a higher chance of producing Midnight bettas.

But, this pairing also increases the chance of an iridescent fault in the melano offspring.

Some breeders get around this by pairing a male Midnight betta with a melano marble or melano copper female.

How Are Midnight Bettas Different From Other Black Bettas?

midnight betta breed and varieties

Midnight bettas must have the right combination of genetics for their stable black coloring.

Trial and error in breeding Midnight bettas produced a variety of other black betta variants.

These black betta variants have a different genetic makeup than Midnight bettas.

Black Lace

Black Lace bettas are never as dark as Midnight bettas.

They also have a lot of iridescence, disqualifying them from competing in the same class as black bettas.

Instead, Black Lace bettas have a classification as bicolor bettas.

These fish usually have marble and non-red genes.

The fins edges of Black Lace bettas are clear or cellophane. This trait is how they got their name.

Black Lace bettas are sometimes confused with black butterfly bettas because of their fin coloring.

But black butterfly bettas have a much darker body color and carry the melano genes.

Unlike true melano bettas, Black Lace females are fertile.

Black Orchid

Black orchid bettas have dark black bodies with steel blue iridescent streaks on their fins.

True black orchid bettas have crowntails, but other variations have halfmoon tail types.

The iridescence on these bettas sometimes appears on their bodies.

Black Orchid bettas can have the melano genes and marble genes.

When Black Orchid bettas develop a red wash, this is usually caused by their marble genetics.

Black Devil

Black Devil bettas look a lot like Black Orchid bettas.

But instead of steel blue iridescence, Black Devil bettas have red coloring on their fins and body.

Marble genetics cause the appearance of this red coloration.

Like Black Orchid bettas, most Black Devil bettas have crowntails.

Black Ice

Black Ice bettas also have marble genetics.

The black color in Black Ice bettas is less intense than other black betta variants.

This is because of the high amount of iridescence present on their bodies and fins.

Black Ice bettas can have green, royal blue, or steel blue iridescence.

The Black Ice species does not breed true. But Black Ice spawns from Black Ice betta pairings have increased through selective breeding.

Copper Black

The Copper Black betta is a hybrid of Copper and melano black bettas.

Spawns from early breeding attempts with Copper and melano bettas were metallic green.

Through selective breeding, Copper Black bettas regained much of the dark black coloring. They also lost much of the green and steel blue iridescence and gained the copper shimmer.

Copper Black bettas are not recognized by the International Betta Congress due to their iridescence.

But they are a unique and stunning variation of the black betta and are gaining popularity with betta enthusiasts.

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Toni Tedescucci is a freelance writer who loves all animals, especially betta fish. When she isn’t busy writing for Betta Fish Bay, she’s spending time with her family or getting cozy with her cats and a good book.

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