Can Two Female Betta Fish Live Together?
It is widely known that male betta fish do not get along. They will fight and become extremely territorial with other males. Fortunately, there is an exception, and female bettas can be kept together. Keeping female bettas together is called a sorority and can consist of two to five female betta fish from the same parent or of similar age. There are many considerations to handle before keeping a group of female bettas together. Although aquarists have kept female bettas together, it is important to understand that the sorority may not work, and immediate separation is necessary.
This article will inform you of everything you need to know when it comes to housing two female betta fish together.
Gender Identification (Fins, Color, Size & Behavior)
New betta owners may have trouble distinguishing between a male and a female betta. Identifying their gender is essential as you do not want to accidentally put two males together, or even a male and female. Young bettas which are commonly sold at the betta store are difficult to identify by gender. They are still small and undeveloped which can distort their sexually mature features that are a tell-tale way of identifying bettas gender successfully. At two or three months it is easier to identify a bettas gender.
Male bettas have spectacular finnage that fans out and compromises of many colors. It is not unusual for a male bettas tail fin to grow double the size of the actual body. The ventral and dorsal fins are long as well and are typically pointed at the ends. There is an exception to this, the plakat betta. They have short and stocky bodies with short finnage as they were bred to be good fighters. In contrast, the female betta displays short fins that make them better swimmers than their male counterparts.
Male bettas have a wider range of vibrant colors than female bettas do. Females will usually display a pattern and solid colors are rare. Koi plakat betta females are a popular coloration and stand out nicely against a planted tank. It is common for female bettas to become more colorful when they are stressed or spawning.
Size and Body
Female bettas have a short and thicker body than males which have a thinner and more sleek body. Female betta fish are typically larger than males.
Female bettas are less aggressive than males, but both genders flare (the plates near the head extend when the betta is feeling defensive). A good way to determine if your betta flares are by placing a mirror in front of them. Females will flare for a few seconds but leave the mirror when they get bored. Males will flare up, and continue to flare until you remove the mirror from their view. Male bettas are also the only betta that can build a bubble nest that looks like small foamy bubbles at the surface of the tank. If your betta is creating bubble nests, it is a male.
The Ovipositor and Betta Beard
All betta fish have what is known as a betta ‘beard’ which is typically black or brown. This membrane sits below the gills and is easily seen on male bettas. Males have a longer and more noticeable beard than females and it is constantly visible. Whereas female bettas beards are only seen when their gills are shut.
All female bettas have a tiny white dot next to their ventral fin near the head called an ovipositor. The ovipositor is used to deposit eggs when spawning and males lack this. Males may have a fake egg spot, but it will disappear as they mature.
Keeping Female Bettas Together
Successfully keeping female bettas together is not easy and is better suited for experts in the aquarium hobby. A lot of thought and experience goes into creating the perfect sorority tank and structure is important in case something goes wrong. A pair of females have a higher success rate than a large group, this is considering that one is not aggressive towards the other female. Larger groups are likely to fight and become aggressive due to issues with tank space.
Tank size is a major factor when it comes to the success or failure of a pair or sorority. These are general guidelines when stocking your betta fish tank:
- 1 female: 5 to 10 gallons
- Pair: 10 to 15 gallons
- 3 to 5 sorority: 20 gallons
- 6 to 10 sorority: 25 to 40 gallons
Determining If Female Bettas Fight
If you plan to keep more than two bettas together, you will most likely experience a few minor fights and disagreements between the two. Although female bettas are not as territorial or aggressive as males, they are more aggressive than many types of tropical fish regardless of their small size and colorful nature in comparison. Bettas have a distinctive personality that varies from fish to fish. Which can make it hard to determine how aggressive or peaceful your female betta fish will be after you purchase them. Most female betta fights are caused by the personality of the fish which is why it is important to have a separation method ready to avoid any serious injuries.
Tank Conditions for a Successful Pair of Female Bettas
- The size of the tank is what will determine how happy your pair of female bettas will be. The larger the tank, the better and happier the bettas will feel. Space can trigger unwanted aggression and fighting, so always choose the largest tank possible.
- Filtration is essential to ensure the water stays clean and free of debris. Monitoring the parameters will ensure you know the best time to do a water change. The ammonia and nitrite should be 0ppm (parts per million) and the nitrate should be below 30ppm. If the readings are anything more, a water renewal is required. A strong filter to match the number of gallons in the tank is important but ensure that the current is not too strong.
- Live planted tanks are more likely to keep a pair of betta fish happy. Live plants provide a natural shelter from tank mates and can act as a visual barrier if one of the bettas decides to act up.
- Feed both fish in different sections of the tank to avoid causing the bettas to have a squabble during feeding time.
- Have an extra 10-gallon tank with a filter and heater ready in case you need to separate the two. Always keep old filter media place into the emergency tanks filter so that your bullied female betta does not have to sit through a rough cycling period.
- A heater is important to avoid fluctuations in temperature and to avoid it dropping too low. Bettas are tropical fish and are not tolerant of cold water.
A pair of female bettas if done right can work out excellently! As long as you provide them with the essential requirements for a pair of bettas and keep them in a large tank with the right equipment and plants, you will be able to successfully raise and keep a pair of female bettas with minimal issues.
Featured Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock