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Can Two Male Betta Fish Live Together? Our Vet Explains

Dr. Luqman Javed, DVM (Vet)

By Dr. Luqman Javed, DVM (Vet)

betta fish

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Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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Since male Bettas are generally more ornate and visually beautiful, aquarium owners naturally want to keep males together in the same tank. But can two male Betta fish live together?

Males should never be kept in the same tank because they will quickly become aggressive and fight—sometimes to the death—earning them the common nickname “Siamese fighting fish.” Let’s take a deeper look at possible betta fish combinations.

Betta Fish Basics

Betta fish are native to Asia and inhabit stagnant bodies of water (usually in rice paddies) where they feed on insects. They have become adapted to the region; they are labyrinth fish, which means they have the ability to breathe oxygen from the air (via their labyrinth organ) when they are in warm, stagnant bodies of water that hold little oxygen. This is what makes Betta fish comparatively easy to care for in captivity, leading them to be frequently seen living alone in tropical aquaria.

Image Credit: Magdalena Teterdynko, Shutterstock

 

Can Male & Female Bettas Live Together?

Male and female Bettas should not be housed together on a long term basis. Males are instinctively territorial and will only allow a female near their territory and their bubble nest to breed. Once the female lays her eggs, she often swims away or is chased away by the male.

The only time male and female Bettas should cohabit is for a few hours when they spawn.

male and female plakat betta fish
Image Credit: N.R.A. Seno Aji, Shutterstock

Can Two Female Bettas Live Together?

Female bettas can be kept together, provided that they are in an appropriately sized aquarium and in a sorority, which is a group of female bettas. A sorority should ideally consist of five or more female betta fish of similar age and size, introduced into the tank at the same time.

To be successful at housing female bettas together, you’ll need a large, well-planted aquarium with plenty of space and hiding spots. The tank should be big enough to comfortably hold at least five females, though sororities can be established with only three females. More females are better, though, provided that the aquarium can accommodate their bioload and individual needs.

Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

The reason it isn’t advisable to put just two female Bettas together is that one will usually dominate the other, and no meaningful hierarchy can be established. The result will likely be a single betta that “rules the roost” (usually she will occupy a higher level) and another that is either below her or is bullied into hiding and therefore is constantly stressed. Multiple females help diffuse this tension and make the hierarchy more “natural.”

In certain rare circumstances, two females can be housed together in very large aquariums, but this is not a common occurrence when it comes to making a sorority. This task is also best left to professionals.

Can Two Male Bettas Live Together?

No, you should never put two male Betta fish inside the same tank as they are instinctively territorial and will almost always fight with each other until one emerges victorious. This can sometimes lead to the unfortunate demise of the other male, however, injuries inflicted during the scuffle can be detrimental to the victor as well.

Can Bettas Live With Other Fish Species?

In general, Bettas can live peacefully with many other fish species, although they should be fish with similar needs when it comes to their water requirements. A good practice is to add Bettas into an already established tank rather than the other way around, so they are the new kids on the block and will be less likely to fight.

The other fish that you choose as tank mates for your Betta should also not be too brightly colored or have long, flowing fins, as males will view these fish as threats and may attack them. For example, Bettas should not be housed with fancy guppies.

Image Credit: Andrej Jakubik, Shutterstock

Conclusion

As beautiful as two male Bettas would look in a tank together, they should never be housed in the same tank. It is also not advisable to house a male with a female on a long term basis. Suitable tank mates for Bettas include other peaceful tropical fish that usually inhabit different areas of the aquarium.’


Featured Image Credit: Mr.Soonthorn Thonglor, Shutterstock

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