Just like we, humans, like to have company around, so do fish. That’s why when you get betta fish as a pet, you might want to get a male and female together so that they can enjoy each other’s company.
But can male and female betta live in the same tank? How about two males or two females?
Well, betta fish aren’t called Siamese fighting fish for no reason. Keep reading to find out whether you can place two betta fish in the same tank.
Understanding the Nature of Betta Fish
Placing two betta fish in the same tank is not easy. It’s not always impossible, but it is certainly not easy, and to understand why you need to understand the nature of these fish first. Betta fish, by nature, are very aggressive and territorial.
That’s why they have earned the nickname of Siamese or Japanese fighting fish.
This is because any time they come into contact with other betta fish or even other types of fish at times, they can start acting violent and attack the other fish.
They are highly possessive about their space and don’t want anyone intruding on it. This is also one of the reasons why it is recommended that you keep even a single betta fish in a large tank of at least five to ten gallons.
They like their space and don’t thrive or live as long in small fishbowls. So, then does this mean you can’t place male and female betta fish in the same tank? You can, but you need to be careful.
How to Keep Male and Female Betta in the Same Aquarium
When it comes to betta fish, there’s always a risk of fighting. However, if you take the right precautions beforehand, you can reduce the chances of them fighting. Here’s what you need to do.
Get the Right Tank
As mentioned earlier, even a single betta fish requires a big tank. Therefore, when you are planning to house two of them, you need an even bigger tank.
For two betta fish, the tank should at least be large enough to hold 15 gallons of water. If you plan to keep three betta fish, the tank volume should be 25 gallons and so on.
This will ensure that each betta fish has enough for its own territory within the tank.
If they wish to retreat or hide from the other betta fish, they should have enough space to do so. Additionally, make sure you have a backup tank. In case the fish don’t get along, you’ll have to separate the two right away.
Add Lots of Plants in the Tank
It’s not enough to have a big tank. You also need lots of plants and decorations in the tank to allow the fish to hide when they need to.
Betta fish keep behaving aggressively and get stressed out when they can see other fish in their territory.
The plants allow them to hide from each other’s sight, allowing both fish to relax. A major portion of the plants has to be real vegetation to improve the tank’s water as well.
If you add any artificial decorations such as caves and driftwood, it should be a smaller percentage.
Let the Betta Fish See Each Other First
As soon as you have your tank ready, you can’t simply dump both of the betta fish at once. You have to let the fish see each other first from a safe distance.
You can place two clear tanks side by side and let the fish see each other from afar.
Otherwise, you can also add a clear divider in the original tank and add each to either side. The divider should have small holes which allow the water to pass through but prevents the fish from interacting or fighting each other.
When placing the divider, make sure both fish have plenty of space even with the divider. Otherwise, the sudden shortage of space can make the fish feel stressed out and less likely to get along with the other fish.
Let the divider stay in the tank for two to three days as this will give the fish plenty of time to get familiar with each other from afar.
Remove the Divider and Keep a Close Eye on the Fish
After you’ve given them enough time to see each other, it’s time for the ultimate test.
It’s time to remove the divider or, if they were in separate tanks, placing them in the same tank. Once they are together, you have to keep a close eye on them and watch out for any signs of trouble.
Ideally, the fish should be able to live together peacefully by staying in their territories. However, sometimes, they can turn aggressive suddenly as well, even if it seemed like they were getting along.
In that case, you will have to separate the two right away or add an opaque divider so that they can’t see each other.
Sometimes, they might get along for weeks and then suddenly start fighting. So, you have to be prepared for that possibility always.
Be Prepared for Breeding
Whether it was your intention or not, placing a male and female betta fish in the same tank can lead to them breeding.
This brings its own set of challenges. If you had planned to breed them from the beginning, it’s important to choose the right breeds of fish.
Moreover, you have to have separate permanent tanks because once the female had laid the eggs, there are chances of the male attacking the female betta.
Furthermore, even when the babies have hatched and grown enough to start swimming in the tank, the male betta can start attacking them too.
Therefore, the best solution is to shift the male betta to another tank.
Consider Placing a Male Betta Amongst a Group of Female Betta
Another option is to place a single male with a group of female betta fish. Female betta fish are less territorial, and when grouped together in a tank, they form a sorority. You can place a male betta with a female sorority as well.
Again, you first have to ensure that you have a large tank. Especially when you have multiple betta fish, try to get a tank that is long rather than tall.
The extra length allows you to place more plants and decorations, thereby breaking the fish’s line of vision.
When placing a male betta with a female sorority, you should introduce the male betta to the female sorority instead of the other way around.
You can also take out all the fish and rearrange the layout of the tank to eliminate the old territories.
Once you introduce the male betta, there will be some aggression at first, but it will quickly settle down as everyone gets busy finding and establishing their territories.
In such an arrangement, you won’t have to worry about the male betta fighting the female betta fish.
Rather, the bigger problem will be the fighting amongst the female sorority. When the females are grouped initially, there will fight then too to establish the pecking order and select a leader.
However, it will settle down. But then, when you introduce the male betta, the fighting can pick up again.
This is because the male betta will only want to breed with the alpha or leader of the female sorority. Therefore, the females will fight for the position.
In that case, make sure to separate any fish that seem to be in too much danger.
What About Two Male or Two Female Betta?
So, then, what about keeping two males or two females together in a tank? Well, two male betta fish in the same tank is a bad idea. Male bettas are very aggressive, especially towards the other male betta.
Therefore, having another male in their tank will lead them to fight every day till one of them dies.
Even if they don’t die or fight as often, living in the same tank will make the fish very stressed out. This stress is not good for their health and can shorten their lifestyle.
On the other hand, two female bettas could work. While they still fight, they are less aggressive than the male bettas and can accept a female companion.
Make sure to follow the steps mentioned above and stay ready to separate them as soon as the aggression starts rising.
Despite what many people may believe, betta fish aren’t aggressive or territorial with all types of fish.
So, if you think your betta fish is feeling lonely and needs company, you can consider adding other types of fish as well, such as platies, guppies, ember tetras, rasboras, and few others.
Avoid adding any fish that bear a resemblance to betta fish or has brightly colored fins. This can trigger the betta’s territorial instincts.
Besides that, make sure you always have adequate space and plants in your tank and introduce new members carefully.
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