Bettas are widely known for their aggressive personality. There’s a reason they’re also called the Siamese fighting fish.
Male betta fish are generally more prone to aggression than their female counterparts.
Their territorial nature makes it difficult for them to find tankmates that they won’t end up fighting with or killing each other.
However, it is possible for bettas to live together with the right precautions. Depending on whether you have male or female bettas, the number of them that can live together will vary.
Generally, a male beta needs to live alone if you have a smaller tank (smaller than 20 gallons).
If you have a larger tank, you can try and have one male betta for every 20 gallons.
Female bettas are less likely to fight and are easier to keep in bigger groups of 4-6, provided that you give them ample space to have their own territory.
It is important to note that regardless of the sex of the fish, a crowded tank will lead to fighting in bettas.
If you’re a beginner—it is preferable not to have more than one male betta in a tank.
When in the wild, bettas can avoid their enemies and refrain from breaking into fights. But in your tank, they will likely end up injuring themselves and their opponent.
How Many Female Bettas Can Live Together?
4-5 female bettas can live together in a tank.
This group is referred to as a sorority and they usually do not attack each other or become territorial if you give them plenty of individual space.
Some ways of creating privacy and letting each female betta “own” a part of the tank is by adding ample foliage and plants.
The more hiding places there are for all the fish, the less likely it is for them to stress each other out.
If you have one female betta, you need a 10-gallon tank. For every additional fish, you add to create a sorority, you need 5 more gallons.
Any less and your tank will become crowded as well as polluted—leading to death and illness among your fish.
When introducing more female bettas to the tank, you need to start gradually. Introduce one fish at a time and assess how they respond to the environment.
If they’re not responding positively and show signs of aggression, you should have a backup tank available to relocate the fish.
Most people opt for female bettas if they want multiple bettas in their tank.
They are easier to care for and don’t need divisions in the tank as long as they have enough plant life and foliage to seek privacy and safety.
How Do You Breed Bettas?
When you’re trying to breed your bettas, you can allow one male to enter the sorority for a short interval.
You cannot leave him in the tank, as male and female bettas do not get along for long.
You can’t keep the bettas near the eggs, as they have a tendency to eat them.
If you have both male and female bettas living together, as we will discuss below, you will still have to separate them once the eggs are laid.
The male attacks the female once he sees the eggs because she is a threat to their survival.
Once hatched, the fry looks after themselves and finds their own food. The male fry, once they are older, has to be separated when signs of aggression start showing up.
How Many Male Bettas Can Live Together?
If you’re a beginner, you should not be considering having more than one male betta in a tank, especially if your tank is smaller than 20 gallons.
However, if you’re an avid betta enthusiast and want more than one male in a tank, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
Apart from needing a large tank, you will have to make “condos” for each of the fish.
These aren’t the healthiest forms of keeping fish and can lead to high levels of stress which can, in turn, lead to health issues.
A condo for a betta fish is a kind of container that is placed inside the aquarium and acts as a divider.
This keeps each fish away from any other fish while allowing food and water to enter.
The controversial aspect is the level of stress it induces in the fish, as male bettas have heightened vision and can still see the other bettas nearby.
Not being able to fight and protect their territory because of a division will cause extended levels of stress and shorten the fish’s lifespan.
Because they have a natural instinct to be territorial, it can be difficult to sustain such a setup.
If you do go for condos, you need to have at least 15 inches between each container.
Every condo should have ample foliage for the fish.
In short, it is far easier and safer to keep multiple female bettas in a tank as opposed to males.
Can You Add Male and Female Bettas to the Same Tank?
This is only a task for those who are experts in fishkeeping and have experience in dealing with bettas.
To be on the safe side, you should still have backup tanks to keep your fish in case they do not settle well into the arrangement.
Adding a Male to a Sorority
A male betta can live in a sorority if he is introduced to a sorority that is already familiar with each other.
If all the fish are new to each other, there will be a significant spike in aggression.
Once you have established a sorority of 4-6 fish, remove them from your tank, change up the interior, and then add them all back along with the new male.
Your tank needs to be at least 75 gallons for all your fish to have ample space to mark their territory.
The change in aquascape leaves the fish with the task of finding new territory of their own and reduces the chances of them reacting adversely to the new male betta.
If you notice that your fish appear increasingly stressed and uncomfortable, it might be better to remove the male.
Having One Male and One Female Betta
If you have a tank of at least 40 gallons, you can attempt to keep one male and one female betta together.
You’ll have to ensure that your tank is also long as well as wide because you will need to add a large number of plants and décor to prevent any outbreaks of aggression.
You might also want to invest in a tank divider to keep the two fish at a distance from each other. However, this doesn’t reduce the importance of dense foliage in any way.
The more vegetation there is to prevent the two bettas from seeing each other, the fewer the chances of them having a fight.
If you notice that your fish have become slower, lost their appetite, and are showing signs of illness, it is possible that this arrangement is not working well for them.
In this case, you will need to separate them into two different tanks.
Does Tank Size Matter for Betta Fish?
As mentioned above, yes, tank size can increase the likelihood of your betta fish able to live within the same space.
While some people say that a tank of 20 gallons or more is acceptable to house more than one male, keep in mind that in the wild, one male usually has miles of area to claim as his own and stay away from his opponents.
Having too many bettas in a small space leads to a high level of bio-load.
Because bettas are known to create excessive amounts of waste, too many in a limited space will lead to an extremely polluted tank with high levels of ammonia that could potentially kill the fish.
How Do You Reduce Aggression Among Bettas?
It’s important to note that many bettas that you find at pet shops have been specifically bred to be more aggressive than they naturally are.
Their territorial instincts make it necessary to have plenty of plants in the aquarium so that they can avoid coming into contact with each other.
Tank fixtures such as caves and enclosures can also help your bettas stay away from each other.
You should have thick and high-reaching plants to prevent any bettas from wandering into the other’s personal space. You can also invest in tank dividers.
When a betta is introduced to another, some aggression in the initial period is normal.
If you introduce them gradually, such as through a tank divider at first or by showing them their potential tankmate from inside the plastic bag before dropping it in the tank, they may be less hostile.
However, if the fighting continues to become more aggressive and becomes a risk to the bettas’ wellbeing, you must consider placing them in solitary setups instead.
Opting for other tankmates apart from other bettas can be another alternative.
Bettas are beautiful and somewhat high-maintenance fish.
With careful monitoring of their behavior and health, you can manage to keep them in sororities and condos, or in pairs.
Just remember to keep a backup tank with you in case the arrangement does not work out.
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