Male & Female Betta Fish Together? 5 Rules To Avoid Disaster

Betta fish look really pretty in the aquarium. But there are some ground rules you need to follow because they can cause trouble if you’re not careful.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to mix betta fish in the tank.

Let’s start with one of the most common questions:

Can Male And Female Betta Fish live Together?

Let’s start off by considering all the possible combinations of betta fish in your tank:

  • Males + Females
  • Male + Male
  • Female + Female

Can Males & Females Live Together?

Betta fish in aquarium

Sometimes it’s great to start out with one male and one female fish. By doing so you should not see any fighting going on.

Other times that to fish will start fighting each other from the very start. They might also first wait until they breed and then start fighting each other. So you just never know with betta fish. They are an aggressive species and the trick is to introduce new fish slowly and always keep an eye on what’s going on.

It’s normally advised not to mix males and females for longer periods of time.

So if you want to breed the fish you should do so for a short time and then move them apart again afterward.

But you should have some experience with fish breeding before you do this. This is because betta fish are a special breed and they do require more attention than other breeds.

They will probably start to breathe after a while and you should know how to take good care of them in the process and also when the offspring arrives.

Can A Female Betta Kill A Male?

The betta female will typically not kill the male. They will normally go peacefully together but they are an aggressive species and the male might also surprise you by attacking the female.

The best way here is to introduce a fish with an adjacent tank. This is a separate tank inside or outside the aquarium where they can see each other but they cannot touch each other.

This way you can watch how they behave together and they can get a little time to learn how to get along. If things go well you can take the new fish out of the separate tank and introduce it to the rest of the fish in the aquarium.

They are not your average type of the aquarium fish and if you are just starting out you should go with an easier breed. Here are some of the easiest fish to start with:

  • Guppies
  • Neon Tetra
  • Mollies
  • Zebra Danios
  • Goldfish
  • Swordtails
  • Killifish
  • Rainbowfish
  • Oscar
  • Angelfish

You will probably have a lot more fun if you start out with one of these species because they are easier and more friendly to each other. But you should always check with your pet store before you combine different species in your tank.

Can Two Males Live Together?

You shouldn’t put two male betta fish together in the same aquarium. They can become very aggressive and they will typically start to fight each other until only one of them survives.

So you need to be very careful here and know exactly what you’re dealing with. You might not notice it at first but after a little while they will start fighting each other and it’s not pretty. So this is the first rule we need to remember:

“Never place to male betta fish (alone) together in the same tank”.

If you want to have two males in the same tank you should do so together with a few females. That will sometimes even the odds and keep the males from hunting and killing each other.

We have seen several examples where is this has worked just fine.

Another good tip is to have bettas with different colors in order for them to go better together. As you might know, you can get betta fish in a wide variety of colors.

The reason why they tend to be more friendly to other bettas when they have other colors is unknown. It is probably because they do not see each other as a direct competitor if they don’t look the same. But who knows, they are a very special type of fish and if it wasn’t for the beautiful fins and colors they would probably not be popular as aquarium fish.

Can Two Females Live Together?

So how about the females, are they more friendly and able to live together in peace? Yes, females are better at going together in the tank. But you also need to be careful here because you might also cause trouble if you are not careful.

The rule you need to remember here is that you shouldn’t introduce one extra female betta fish to an already established group.

If you want to add more betta fish to your fish tank you should do so in groups of at least two (or more).

This is because the females that are already in the aquarium can become very territorial and they will want to protect their domain. So by introducing several new fish at the same time, you will stir up the group dynamics that are established and they will go together much more friendly.

3 tips to increase the odds of success…

As we will cover below, you need a lot of water in order to keep betta fish. That’s the first thing you need to remember in order to give yourself the best chances of success.

You also need to create a lot of hiding places with plants and other items inside the aquarium.

Bettas prefer to be able to hide once in a while. Sometimes they just need some personal space and time away from the other fish in the tank.

They should be able to hide from each other and not have direct “eye contact” the whole time.

The last tip we will look at here it is to introduce new fish during nighttime. The trick is to do it while the place is dark because the other fish will be more focused on the surroundings then the new kid in town. When the room is dark the fish will look more at the things outside the aquarium instead of focusing on each other.

This gives the new fish a better opportunity to start blending in with the flock.

How Many Betta Fish Can Live Together?

As long as you introduce the new fish to the existing flock in pairs you can have a lot of betta fish in the same tank. It’s probably easiest to go for females because they can learn to live together.

But you should be aware that you will need a lot more water in your aquarium for betta fish than other species.

Otherwise, you will stress them out and they will start fighting each other.

Here are some general rules to follow when it comes to how much water you need in your fish tank with betta fish:

  • 1 betta fish: 10 gallons
  • 2 betta fish: 15 gallons
  • 3 betta fish: 20 gallons
  • 4 betta fish: 25 gallons
  • 5 betta fish: 30 gallons
  • etc.

By following this rule you should be able to establish a peaceful atmosphere for your betta.

And remember to always use the adjacent tank when introducing new fish. By doing so you will be able to watch how they behave in the flock when you introduce the new fish.

As we mentioned above, it’s a good thing to add a lot of flowers and other things in the aquarium. This enables the bettas to hide from each other which is very important in order for them to get along.

You might also experience with the temperature of the water. Sometimes they will behave better if you increase the temperature a little bit.

You can start out with 88°F (31 degrees Celsius) or even go a little higher than that. That’s around 3° hotter then we will normally advise for an aquarium. For some reason, the bettas prefer warmer water than many other breeds. They are also an exotic species that normally live in very warm waters.

Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish?

It is possible to have betta fish together with other aquarium fish. The best way to do it is to introduce a betta fish as the last species. You should make sure not to have any slow long-tailed fish because the Bettas will attack them and bite them.

You need to have another fish tank in place in order to be able to remove the bettas if they are not behaving well. There’s always a chance that they would start fighting the other fish or each other.

You can never be 100% percent sure with the Bettas. Even if you follow all the right guidelines they might suddenly start attacking each other because something is stressing them out or because they feel like doing so.

Just as I mentioned before, the betta fish breed is not an easy fish to start out with. You should definitely start out with an easier breed in order to learn how to run the aquarium.

When you get more experience you can introduce the bettas but not until you have a good and friendly environment with a good cycle going.

And remember that these fish need a LOT of water. If you have designed your aquarium for another fish breed you might not even have enough space to introduce the bettas.

Morten Storgaard

I love pets and I've had several pets including hamsters, reptiles, birds, and fish. I have written extensively about pets and educational content about wild animals.

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