OK, I have heard so many people’s ideas on black betta’s and most of them are lost on black genetics or what goes into creating a good foundation. The info we see, much of it bad info and some of it just wrong is not helping anyone. I will try to make it as easy as I can to understand and get the B.S. story of black bettas corrected.
How to Breed black betta fish
The first very wrong info you will read online or in breeder forums is that all solid black betta females are not fertile. Well 20 years ago this was kinda true to some extent but not true as of the early 1990’s. The double black betta’s of modern times are now-days fertile, in fact very much so even to the extent of being better breeders than fancy types! When this type of female betta fish is spawned to a Double Black male, a melano- male, black super or a black lace male the resulting spawn will produce 100% viable Black offspring.
The reason for this and an ongoing hypothesis among my wife and I, that the fertilized Double Black (black x black) female eggs have two types of protein producing genetics and come into play very random. Now remember that this genetic mutation comes in to play at random and either turns on or turns off and nothing you can do to change the outcome. You could think of it as flipping a coin or playing a slot machine, some will be a win and some will not. The more pairs you try the better the chance.
Let start breeding Black betta fish
Let’s start out simple and say life the fertilized eggs go with the Melano type genetics (coin toss – heads), the eggs will not hatch. If the fertilized eggs go with Black Lace genetics (coin toss -tails), they will develop mostly normal. The reason the whole blacks cannot breed thing really came down to chance in the early years. Because in the beginning generations of blacks this gene was not yet understood or known, and for sure some Double Black females were and are fertile and yet some are not. People just did not connect the dots back then and nor did we. In about 1997 the lights came on and we decided to breed or cull all of our blacks. Over 200 pairs we crossed and we started to notice a pattern. That was when we first started to do super blacks. The first super blacks were more of a orchid type with later years going to more jet black as we removed iridescence and strong blue and green genes and latter adding red to make it even darker.
But through selective breeding programs the black bettas of today produce viable fry and are jet black, if you breed one of the good females (black lace) then all Double Black females among those fries will be fertile and can be used as your foundation breeders in your black lines. Latter you can work on fin types or size correction out crossing to your blues or reds or greens as needed. The one issue with super blacks is the fins are never great. So once you have the fins fixed keep the line..
Super blacks have some form of either steel blue, or green or royal blue in them to give the jet-black look people love. Now that we are in the year 2018 and not 1990 red lines have been able to produce blacks also. This could be in part to the wilds being more readily available and the red and black layers have ben flipped or just better understanding of genetics by caring breeders. So, in super blacks you can either have a red line or a blue line foundation stock for super black. In black suppers keep in mind you will always see some red or blue in the fins if you look close and melano- and lace types you will not see the red or blue in any fin rays. If you take your time selecting the right blacks it is possible to get jet black super blacks without any color or very little blue or red showing. Though genetically speaking this is not a double black..
What you are really looking for is a fish that is Homozygous on your foundation breeders. Or in other words two identical alleles. An individual that is homozygous-dominant for a particular trait, in this case double black carries two copies of the allele that codes for the dominant trait. So, you are looking for XX and not Xx if you understand.
Homozygous = has 2 copies of a gene (eg 2 copies of black lace, 2 copies of melano)
Heterozygous = has only 1 copy of a gene
Recessive/dominant = if a gene is recessive the presence of the gene won’t be apparent from the creature’s physical appearance unless it has 2 genes for that feature. It will be ‘masked’ if the creature has a different gene for the same feature which is dominant.
If you cross black lace x black lace both parents will contribute a black lace gene and the offspring will all be black lace. Easy Right! (Unless I missed something obvious).
If you cross melano x melano
the embryos will die, due to a protein reaction that occurs after fertilization which is understood to be related to the way certain proteins clump together in a melano – which is what causes the denseness of the black but also is fatal to the embryo. There are a few that have been able to get some fry from melano x melano but later I do not know how the genetics will play out. You can fel free to have me add your info if you have done this cross and had any living adults from the spawn.
If you cross a black lace fish with a melano fish, the black lace will contribute a single black lace gene. The melano fish will contribute a single melano gene. So, the offspring will have only 1 black lace gene and only 1 melano gene. Because they do not have 2 of either gene for black, the fry will not be super black.
So, now you are asking yourself what is double black? As best I can describe it that is easy to understand, it is a fish that is homozygous for black lace (ie both parents gave it a black lace gene, so it has 2 of them) and it is also homozygous for melano (ie both parents gave it a melano gene, so it has 2 of them). It looks jet black, and the females are fertile.
I bet know you are asking how do you produce more melano fish, if the melano females are ‘infertile’ and crossing a melano with a black lace doesn’t give you black fish?
You can cross a melano male with a blue fish (usually steel as it is the least iridescent of the blues blue type or a wild will also work, keeping in mind the red and black layer in wilds is reversed when compared to domestic bettas) or black lace type hybrid male. All the offspring will inherit 1 melano gene from the melano father. You then do a F1 cross, or preferably cross a female from F1 back to the melano father. We know that she has at least one melano gene as her father is melano. This will result in 50% melano offspring and 50% that are not black but carry the recessive melano gene.
OR you can use a steel blue, solid green, royal blue x black lace female you know is melano geno (ie has 1 melano gene from her father) who is not necessarily related to the melano male. Again, you’d obtain 50% melano offspring.
How do you get double blacks?
This is where years of breeding come in and the wife tails go out, Ok, this is how I do it and proof it works. Black lace and melano are not mutually exclusive. You can have genes for both types of black in the same fish. So Melano x Black Lace gives you offspring with one melano gene and one black lace gene. Cross 2 of those offspring and you’ll get:
25% homozygous for black lace
25% homozygous for non-black (not black phenotype)
50% heterozygous for black lace (not black phenotype)
AND (hope I have not lost you yet)
25% homozygous for melano
25% homozygous non-black (not black phenotype)
50% heterozygous for melano. (not black phenotype)
So which ones do you breed to get double blacks in 2018? well … here we go > a melano (denser black) pair and if the embryos survive, you know the female is heterozygous for both both black lace and melano. There is no other good reliable way I see yet for beginners, as I don’t believe you could tell from a phenotypically black fish if it was also homozygous for black lace until you get some breeding under your belt.
In any case if you have more info on a newer way or a way the is more or less fool proof for new breeders please let us know.