Black Betta – The Tiny Hermit Betta
By Elizabeth Christopher
The Black Betta, one of the smallest betta splendens, reaching only 1.5 inches in length, is naturally found in Southeast Asia and Malaysia. This is the betta that started the myth that all bettas can live in nothing more than a puddle of water. While its small size and poor-water tolerance definitely aid its survival, not all bettas share these tendencies.
Mostly brown to black in color with dark green blue fins, the coloration of the male becomes more intense at the start of the betta mating period. This helps identify the sexes of the black betta. The male generally has larger dorsal and caudal fins as well.
Subsisting of fresh or packaged live foods of appropriate size in the aquarium as well as in the wild, the black betta is a very reclusive fish. Its small size and ability to live in very acidic water mean it tends toward high vegetation levels, and will not be as showy as other bettas. They like to hide under and around vegetation, with minimal light. A great betta plant is the water lily, or any other plant which congregates at the surface of the water.
Found naturally in shallow water in tropical forests, its occurrence is strongly influenced by rainfall, and this is where it has learned to heed high levels of acid due to leaf and plant decomposition over many generations.
Not generally the favorite of betta owners because of its hermit-like nature, the black betta is best kept in single pairs with much vegetation. The pH level should be kept at 5.0, and a great filtration device for this fish should use a peat filter to replicate their natural habitat.
These are bubble nest bettas, and the heavy plant presence allows them many places to raise their fry. Bubble nest bettas blow bubbles that have a mucus coating, and then rise to the surface to be trapped by plants of leaves. This creates a “bubble nest” for the betta fry, usually about forty eggs in one breeding, and the male betta plants the females eggs in this protective nest and guards them there. The male may even lose weight during the betta mating season due to his diligence in watching over his young, and passing on meals.
Black betta young prefer a diet of rotifers, infusoria or other similar tiny food items until they have been free-swimming for about a week. At this point, brine shrimp nauplii can be introduced.
The hermetic black betta grows slowly, and will probably not be able to breed until nine months of age. They are safe in the aquarium with their parents as long as there is plenty of plant cover to protect them, although the males will become territorial eventually, and all young fish should be removed at this time.
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