A betta fish is one of the most beautiful fish you can own, and a female and male betta in the same tank sounds spectacular. But, can male and female betta fish live together?
Male and female betta fish can live together temporarily, such as during breeding. However, due to the aggressive nature of bettas, a male/female betta pair should not be housed in the same aquarium on a long-term basis. Betta harem tanks can sometimes work, but there are a lot of risks involved.
If you’re planning on introducing your male and female betta for breeding or want to know more about betta harem tanks, our handy guide will aid you through the process to help you make the right choices and keep your fish safe.
Can Male And Female Betta Fish Live Together In The Same Tank?
Yes, it’s possible for male and female betta fish to live together in the same setup, but only on a temporary basis. However, this is a very risky process, so it’s not recommended unless you’re an experienced aquarist and have the means to separate both fish if necessary.
Bettas, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are an aggressive species towards their own kind, especially males. Two male betta fish will almost certainly fight to the death if placed in the same enclosure, and some males will attack females, even during breeding.
Female bettas are usually less territorial than their male counterparts, but they can still be hostile to other bettas. A lot of it comes to the personality of your betta.
The only times your male and female betta should be in the same tank together are for breeding purposes or if you need to clean your other fish’s aquarium.
Betta harem tanks (at least one male living with multiple female bettas) can sometimes work, but this can be tricky unless you know what you’re doing.
This video does a great job explaining how to introduce females and male betta fish:
How Big Should The Tank Be?
If you’re planning on housing a male betta with a female, such as for spawning, your fish tank should be at least 15 gallons in volume.
It’s always best to go larger if you can to help spread out aggression. Smaller tanks can make your betta more likely to attack one another.
Some aquarists have had success with housing a single male betta fish in a betta sorority tank. You’ll need at least a 40-gallon aquarium for this, with each additional fish requiring a minimum of 5 gallons of swimming space.
Another option is to use a tank divider. Ideally, your bettas should have 10 gallons each, so a 20-gallon aquarium split down the middle is the best choice.
Using a tank divider is the safest way for housing betta fish together as they will not be able to touch one another. That being said, both fish will still be able to see each other, which could lead to stress.
Can A Female Betta Kill A Male Betta?
Yes, female bettas can kill males, especially if they are a dominant female. However, this is a rare occurrence as it’s normally the other way around. As a rule, males are considerably more territorial and hostile than females.
Can A Male Betta Kill A Female Betta?
Yes, male bettas can kill female bettas. This is most likely to happen if the male is housed with the female on a long-term basis. Some males can even attack and kill females during mating, which is why you should always keep a close eye on your fish during the breeding process.
Living Together Short Term
Due to the aggressive nature of bettas, males and females should only live together on a short-term basis. Unless you’re breeding your bettas or need to clean your other fish’s tank, it’s best to keep your bettas separated at all times.
Before you add both fish to the same enclosure, make sure it is a minimum of 15 gallons. The aquarium should contain lots of live/silk plants, caves, and rocks to help break line of sight and allow your fish to hide if they feel threatened.
Watch the male and female fish closely after you’ve added them to the tank. If you notice any aggressive behavior or your fish are becoming overly stressed, remove them from the aquarium immediately and place them into their own separate tank.
Living Together Long Term
A male/female pair should not live together permanently as it is far too risky. Even if your two fish appear to get along initially, there is no guarantee that they will remain tolerant of one another.
Keeping female betta fish together is a lot easier as they are typically less aggressive. Males can sometimes be housed successfully in tanks with multiple bettas of the opposite sex (known as a betta haram tank). Two males, however, in the same tank is a recipe for disaster.
If you want to start a betta harem aquarium or add your male fish to an existing female betta sorority tank, make sure the enclosure is at least 40 gallons in volume.
There should be plenty of hiding places like live plants (java moss, najas grass, and java fern are some good options) to block line of view and limit aggression.
If your new betta is distressed or attacking your other fish, move them to a separate tank immediately.
Alternatively, you can use sturdy tank dividers so your bettas can live together without being able to interact physically.
How To Introduce Male And Female Betta Fish To Each Other
Introducing male and female bettas to each other takes a little bit of planning – you can’t just throw them into the same tank and expect them to get along! Patience is key and will help the meet-and-greet go as smoothly as possible.
Step 1: Let Your Bettas See Each Other Without Touching
First, place your new betta in a clear bag or breeder box and float it in your main tank (a tank divider will also work). The pair will be able to see one another without the risk of physical contact.
You should repeat this process for an hour or so over the course of a few days to get your fish used to one another. The two betta fish may act aggressively initially, but they should eventually calm down if they are a good match.
Step 2: Release Your Betta Fish Into The Tank
After a few days, release your Siamese fighting fish into the tank with the existing betta so they can meet each other properly. The male will likely take an interest in your female, if he hasn’t done so already.
He may flare at her, expand his fins, and chase her around the tank to show his willingness to mate.
Step 3: Watch Both Bettas Closely
Once your two bettas are swimming freely in the same tank, monitor their behavior. As mentioned above, a little chasing and flaring here and there is normal.
If your male is interested in breeding, his color will become much more vivid and he will show off his beautiful flowing fins. Males will also build bubble nests when they are ready to mate, so if you notice this behavior, it’s a good sign.
Similarly, if the female betta is receptive to mating, she will become brighter in color and display dark vertical stripes on her body. If the stripes are horizontal, that means she isn’t ready to breed.
If the male and female start fighting or either fish are overly stressed, separate them straight away.
Ways To Help Male And Female Bettas Get Along
Alongside a slow introduction, there are a couple of other things you can do to help your male and female betta get along. This includes using a large fish tank and plenty of live plants/decorations.
The best way to reduce aggression between a male and female betta fish is to simply use a big aquarium – the largest you can afford. A spacious tank will provide each fish with their own personal space and allow them to set up their own territories.
Adding a mixture of live or silk plants and hiding spaces (rocks, caves, artificial decorations, etc) will break line of sight and make your fish feel more comfortable when sharing the same tank. The less dominant fish will be able to escape and retreat to safety if they are being harassed.
Can A Male Betta Live With A Sorority?
Yes, a male betta fish can live in a female betta sorority tank, but it depends on your bettas’ personalities and temperaments. Betta harem tanks involve at least one male and multiple female bettas.
Some aquarists have had luck housing two males (or more) in the same aquarium as several female bettas, but it’s generally not advised to mix males even if you’re an experienced fishkeeper.
Similar to betta sorority tanks, betta harem tanks can sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. A lot of it boils down to the personality of each fish. All bettas have an aggressive and territorial nature, but some are more docile in temperament.
Know Your Bettas’ Temperaments
If your male betta is relatively peaceful and mellow, then he may be a good fit for betta harems. Before you set up a betta haram aquarium, you should remove all the females from the tank and rearrange the décor to reset their territories.
Despite being found in shallow bodies of water like rice paddies in the wild, the tank should be at least 40 gallons and contain at least 4 females – each fish needs a minimum of 5 gallons of space.
Make sure the tank offers ample hiding places and live/silk plants to minimize aggression and line of view. Ideally, the aquarium should not contain other species of fish, only bettas.
If you need to add tank mates to the aquarium, select small and peaceful species without long fins or vivid colors. Some good tank mates include cory catfish, bristlenose plecos, black neon tetras, and harlequin rasboras.
Add The Male Betta To The Tank Last
It’s always best to add the male betta last rather than first so he doesn’t have a chance to establish a territory. The bettas may be hostile towards one another initially, but if everything goes according to plan, this should diminish once the fish have settled in.
The main issue with betta harem tanks is aggression between females. Male bettas only mate with the dominant fish in a female sorority. This can lead to fighting, which may result in one female severely injuring or even killing the other betta fish in the tank.
In sorority tanks without a male betta, it’s normal for females to bicker until a pecking order is established. However, when a male is added to the aquarium, this aggression tends to continue.
If you want to start a betta fish haram tank, you should always make sure you have other home aquariums set up so you can separate your fish if they start fighting or things get out of hand.
How Do Male And Female Betta Fish Breed?
Breeding betta fish is a very interesting and graceful process. The male will build a bubble nest to try and attract a mate, at which point he will engage in a mating ritual that involves flaring his gills and stretching out his fins.
Step 1: Prepare The Fish For Breeding
Before breeding bettas, feed the pair high-protein foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia to help them prepare for breeding.
You should then set up a separate tank for spawning that is at least 10 gallons in volume. Add plenty of hiding places – live plants, driftwood, and Indian almond leaves are great options. The latter has a number of benefits and can help trigger spawning.
Make sure the breeding tank has a water temperature of around 80°F, a water hardness of between 4 to 8 dGH, and pH of 6.5.
Step 2: Introduce The Bettas
Using a clear breeder box, open-top vase, bag, or tank divider, allow the two bettas to meet each other without touching. Let the male swim around the tank and view the female through the container.
He will become more vividly colored and try to grab her attention by flaring and showing off his fins. Hopefully, if things go right, he will proceed to build a bubble nest.
If the female betta is pregnant (i.e. full of eggs) and interested in mating, she will deepen in color, exhibit a “barring” pattern (this looks like vertical stripes on her body), and flare back at the male. Her ovipositor will also become much more visible.
It can take between 12 to 24 hours for males to build a nest, but it’s important not to let the pair have physical contact until the nest is complete.
Leave both fish separated overnight and then introduce them properly after the nest has been made.
Step 3: Leave The Male And Female Betta Fish Together
After the nest has been created, release the female into the tank and leave the male and female betta fish together. She will inspect the nest. If she is uninterested, she will either swim away or destroy the nest. You should remove both betta fish if this occurs and try again in a few days.
However, if she is ready to mate, she will stay close to the nest and be receptive to the male’s advances. During mating, the pair will nudge and twirl around each other before locking into a tender embrace. The male rotates the other fish over and wraps around her, which causes her to lay eggs.
The father then sprays sperm onto the eggs and gently picks them up in his mouth to place them into the bubble nest. It usually takes a few embraces until the mother begins laying eggs, and the entire courtship can take between 2 to 6 hours.
Step 4: Remove The Female
Once the mother has deposited all her eggs, you should remove her from the tank as the father will become protective and territorial. The father can be left in the breeding tank for a few days as he will retrieve any eggs that drop from the bubble nest and put them back.
He may also rebuild the bubble nest or eat unfertilized eggs.
After the eggs have hatched and the fry are swimming around the tank, you can remove the father. Feed the fry small but frequent meals (around 5 per day) of nematodes, baby brine shrimp, or infusoria.
It will be at least 3 weeks until the fry are big enough to eat the same food as your adult bettas.
How Many Eggs Do Betta Fish Lay?
A betta can lay anywhere from 30 to 500 eggs during the mating season. However, most bettas lay between 40 to 50 eggs at a time. Betta fish eggs are small (around 1mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and pearly white in color.
How Long Does It Take For Betta Fish Eggs To Hatch?
It typically takes around 3 days for betta eggs to hatch after fertilization. The father betta will guard the bubble nest and eggs as they hatch.
While keeping male bettas with females is possible, it isn’t advised unless you’re breeding them or planning on setting up a betta haram aquarium.
Even the latter can be risky, so you should always make sure you have separate tanks set up to move your fish into if things take a turn for the worse. A slow introduction, ample hiding spaces, and a large tank is key for increasing the chance of a successful betta haram tank.
We hope this guide helped you understand how to introduce male and female bettas properly, as well as the risks of doing so.
- Similarities & Differences Between Betta Males And Females
- How To Have A Successful Betta Sorority Tank
- Can Two Betta Fish Live In The Same Aquarium?
- Bubble Nesting Bettas – All You Need To Know