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Home > General > Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together? Vet Reviewed Advice

Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together? Vet Reviewed Advice

male and female betta

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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 no, unless a male and female Betta are conditioned for breeding and are spawning, they shouldn’t be housed together. Male Bettas are instinctively very territorial and will only tolerate females that appear gravid or ready to mate; a sudden introduction of a non-prime female in their aquarium might quickly turn violent. Keep reading while we go over the intricacies of why male and female Bettas are better housed separately than together.divider-fish

Putting a Male and Female Betta Together

male and female betta
Image By: subin pumsom, Shutterstock

Short Term

Male and female Bettas should only be housed together when they are breeding, a process which only takes a few short hours. However, this doesn’t mean a female can just be added to a male’s tank. This often results in unfortunate violence between the two, as males are only keen on females that are intent on breeding and will chase away those that aren’t.

Females and males that are to be bred need to be conditioned with a high protein, nutritious diet while kept in separate, covered aquariums with a partially covered divider that allows each fish to see the other (and also avoid being seen).

Over the course of a few weeks, their compatibility for mating can be assessed. Females responsive to a male’s presence will slowly turn gravid (plump, full of eggs) and males keen on the female’s presence will begin constructing elaborate bubble nests. The conditioning process can take up to 4 weeks, after which an introduction can be attempted. Nonetheless, this process is still considered risky, and breeding Bettas is best left to breeders.

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.

betta fish in aquarium
Image By: Kosit Pajuthai, Shutterstock

Can Female Bettas Live Together?

Though male Bettas are best housed alone, female Bettas can live together in groups of 5 or more. In such a setup, the females establish a hierarchy among themselves and can coexist in an aquarium that is large enough to house them while offering each individual a safe spot. Bettas prefer shallow, low current aquariums with plenty of plant cover.

Can Male Bettas Live With Other Fish?

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

Though Bettas tend to fight against their conspecifics, some individuals can be housed in peaceful community tanks that comprise of other friendly fish. However, the key for success with such setups is ensuring the other fish don’t pose a threat to the Betta.

Bettas are bred for their unique fins and colors. However, when it comes to a possible confrontation with other fish, they are slow swimmers that aren’t able to outswim a potential threat and don’t like currents. Their long flowing fins also make them an easy target for a fish that intends on biting them.

In community setups, Bettas do best when kept with very peaceful fish with similar temperature and water requirements. Examples of such fish include a peaceful school of Otocinclus, Harlequin Rasboras, or Corydoras. Do not house Bettas with other surface dwellers such as Gouramis, as they may fight for the same aquarium space. It is best to consult with an aquatic/exotic vet or a fish expert before deciding on a community setup that involves a Betta.

Final Thoughts

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 Cardinal 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.

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Featured Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

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