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Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together?

male and female betta

Betta fish are extremely attractive and easy to raise, but they can also be aggressive toward other fish, so many people wonder if a male and a female can live together. The short answer is yes—but only on a very short-term basis. Male and female bettas can live together, but there are considerations you will need to think about before you put them in the same tank and walk away. Keep reading while we go over the preparations you need to carry out to ensure that these two fish can live together harmoniously and possibly even breed.divider-fish

Putting a Male and Female Betta Together

male and female betta
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Short Term

If you have multiple tanks in your home, and one has male betta fish and the other has a female, you should be able to put them together for a few hours while you clean the other tank. You will need to observe the fish closely and look for signs of aggressive behavior. If you are inexperienced with putting aggressive fish together, this two-tank system can help you learn the behavior of your fish, which will be critical if you intend to breed them. We recommend keeping the betta fish in separate tanks until you can easily recognize when one fish is becoming aggressive.

Long Term

Unfortunately, it will not be easy to get male and female bettas to cohabitate long term.  The male sees the female as a threat unless it’s mating season and will likely become aggressive. Even during the mating ritual, one of the fish can become aggressive toward the other, so you will need to split them up if it happens.

Preparing the Betta for Breeding

You will need a third tank for breeding because the male will become aggressive toward the female after she lays her eggs, as she could eat the eggs, so it’s best to put her back in her tank. Once the eggs hatch and begin to swim, the male might eat them, so it’s best to remove him after they hatch.

How Do I Breed My Betta?

betta fish in aquarium
Image credit: Kosit Pajuthai, Shutterstock

The mating season usually runs from spring to early summer, so you will introduce the male and female during this time. Your fish will need to be active, energetic, and between 4 and 11 months old for maximum fertility. The tank will need to be free of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, so test the water frequently. The water will need to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5. Many experts recommend an Indian Almond Leaf to help soften the water and lower pH.

The male may begin to blow bubbles in the water to protect the eggs, and his color will darken. Put the fish together and observe them. A plastic divider within the tank can help get them get acquainted with the presence of the other, helping you gauge how they react to each other. The male will likely begin to puff and flap his fins to get the female’s attention. The female’s color will also darken, and her vertical stripes will show. You might also see the egg spot behind her ventral fins. If they begin to fight, it should not be too aggressive and will likely end after a few minutes. When they are ready to mate, the fish will be very close to each other and the male will fold over her while she pushes out the eggs and he fertilizes them. Once finished, the male will chase the female and stay to protect the eggs until they hatch.

Which Fish Should I Choose for Mating?

Half Moon Betta Fish
Image Credit: at.rma, Shutterstock

Since your betta fish are unlikely to spawn after the first year, the ones you select for breeding are extremely important. Pick the most active fish in the tank and choose the brightest male for the best chance of success. The female should be just slightly smaller than the male, and the fins should be smooth without jagged edges or injuries.divider-fish


Unfortunately, your male and female betta can only live together for a short time during mating season, and even then, you will need to watch them closely. We recommend avoiding it unless you are breeding and choosing one of the many breeds that can live with bettas, like Neon Tetras. These other fish can provide you with peace of mind and a wide range of colors. If you are breeding, you’ll need to camp outside the aquarium while the fish are together, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and have learned something new. If we helped you understand your fish a little better, please share this discussion about if male and female betta fish can live together on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

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