Betta Fish or Siamese Fighting Fish are some of the most beautiful fish you could have in your aquarium. They are elegant, colourful, and a great addition to your fish tank. However, while they can make great pets, caution must be exercised before adding them to your aquarium!
Betta Splendens are highly territorial and can show high levels of aggression. Which often result in the death of other fish in your aquarium. Here’s everything you need to know when you adopt one of these beautiful fish! As well as how to reduce the chances of them fighting.
Betta Fish: An Overview
Betta fish are also called Siamese Fighting Fish due to their behaviour and temperament. They belong to the gourami family, and they are particularly common in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. This is because the Betta Fish is native to the Mekong River, which runs through those areas.
Betta Fish are particularly famous for their colours and elegant shape. They have long, fan-shaped fins that are sure to capture the eye of anybody looking at them. You will be able to find Betta Fish in a variety of colours, ranging from blue to red, green, orange, and purple.
Some aquarists also display multi-colour Betta Fish, and there are over 20 combinations of colours and patterns available.
Betta Fish can be kept in smaller fish tanks (5 gallons is the minimum tank size) unlike other fish, but they can be affected by a number of factors such as the water temperature and pH levels.
They prefer a water temperature of 76°F to 80°F, and a neutral pH (7.0) is suggested. While these fish have shown a great capacity for surviving in unkempt aquaria or at different pH levels, it is definitely recommended to keep them within a comfortable and clean environment. This helps lower the chances of diseases.
Betta fish can reach a size of 6.5cm, and their lifespan is between 3 and 5 years. However, if well-maintained, they can reach 7 or 8 years of age.
Do Betta Fish Fight?
As you can guess, Siamese fighting fish are known for their unusually aggressive behaviour. This means they may not be the best fish for a first-time fishkeepers community tank. (But you can still have a lot of success keeping them on their own.
In fact, matching them wisely with other tank mates can be the key to see all your fish surviving.
Betta fish are extremely territorial and likely to fight any other fish they share their tank with. Male Betta fish especially like to attack other fish by biting their fins.
And in cases where they fight each other, the fights can last up to 15 minutes.
However, in the wild, the fight will end when one of the two contestants backs off (usually this happens within a few minutes). Some species are bred specifically for fighting, and these fights can last up to an hour. They only end when one of the fish is dead.
While most Betta Fish will not get anywhere near this point, the fights are cruel. With both fish nipping the scales, fins, tail, and gills of the other fish. The fight itself is not likely to kill a betta, but the stress, possible infection, and trauma can become a killing factor.
While This can seem like a hard behaviour to overcome, it’s not. There are things you can do to maintain the peace in your tank and keep all of your fish well and happy. Let’s have a look at the specifics of the behaviour and how to reduce it.
Why Do Betta Fish Fight?
Betta Fish have been studied for years by scientists and experts, to understand the true causes of their aggressive behaviour. One of the root causes has been identified in the change of lifestyle to which these fish have been subjected through the centuries.
In fact, in the wild, these fights are much less frequent or forceful than the ones we can observe in fish kept in captivity.
One of the main reasons for this is believed to be a lack of space. Usually, in the wild, there is much more space for these fish to swim and to have their own territory, whereas a small tank can be extremely limiting to them.
The river waters and rice paddies they can usually be found have a lower chance of causing Betta fish to fight each other.
In the wild, a Betta Fish territory is only three square feet large. While this might not seem a lot, large bodies of water give every inhabitant their own space. Moreover, in their natural habitat, if another Betta fish enters an already occupied territory, then a fight is nor likely to break out immediately.
Rather, the owner of the territory will puff its gills and expand its fins and tails to scare off the other fighting fish.
However, in captivity, the environment we create for bettas is the main factor that can lead to deadly fights. When you combine the reduced living space created in a small tank with the natural territorial behaviour of a Betta Fish, it is not uncommon to see why they begin to fight.
Do Female Betta Fish Fight?
Female Betta fish are characterised by similar behaviour as their male counterparts, but they are also subjected to other factors. In fact, they are not considered as aggressive as their male counterparts, and they are not as territorial. However, fights can happen even between female Bettas.
If you are looking at keeping more than one female Betta fish in the same tank, this is possible, but it needs to be done properly and be aware of some essential physical and psychological factors. To set up a community tank, you will need:
- An aquarium that can hold at least 15 gallons of water. Giving each member enough space to set up their own territory is essential to the wellbeing and survival of the parts.
- You will need to have at least 3 to 5 female fighting fish to maintain the balance in the aquarium. In fact, by keeping only a pair of fighting fish, the dominant or stronger fish will most likely bully the other one.
- Include enough space for your fish to hide. Adding rocks and plants can be a great solution for your fish giving them a place to retreat to. Living or silk plants are an optimal solution, and you can also include caves and pieces of driftwood. This will give each fish an area of the tank that they can claim as their territory.
- Take into consideration that the initial adaptation period is essential. When introducing multiple females in a tank, it is not uncommon for them to be nipping each other’s scales. This behaviour should fade away with a few days when they get used to each other and understand which territory belongs to who.
Aside from these technical factors, you should also be taking into consideration the personality of each of your fish. While female Betta fish are generally easier to care for and are less aggressive, you should be open to the chance that one specific fish might have an aggressive or more territorial personality than average.
Find out more about keeping your own betta sorority.
Will A Male And Female Fight Each Other?
Male Betta fish are extremely aggressive, and this behaviour can also be reflected in their relationship with female Betta fish. If put in a restricted space, male Bettas may attack any other Betta fish entering their territory, including females.
However, if they’re looking for a mate, this behaviour can momentarily stop, and you will notice male Betta fish welcoming females in their territory.
However, in rare cases, it is possible to keep both male and female Betta fish by making sure that the female has enough places to hide within the tank. (Find out more here.)
In this case, It is incredibly important to be aware of your fish’s mating season. In fact, when the male is ready, he will create a nest of bubbles at the surface of your tank. This is where the female will lay her eggs. While during this period, the male will allow the female to get closer, once the eggs are laid, he will chase her off to stop her eating the eggs.
After this phase, you should give the female enough space to hide or, preferably, move her to another tank.
The male is in charge of looking after the eggs until hatching, and he will be particularly aggressive during this period. If the female is left in the tank unprotected, there is a high chance that the male will kill her.
Will A Betta Fight Other Fish?
While keeping into consideration the aggressive nature of Siamese fighting fish, it is not wise to assume that they will fight any fish in your tank. Fights with other fish are more common if they are small colourful fish or they have long flowing tails, which can be seen as a threat.
However, if you introduce plain-coloured fish to your tank and they have enough places to hide, it is unlikely that a fight will happen.
When proper precautions are taken, a Betta fish can be kept in a diverse aquarium. If you are looking at creating a tank with a number of different fish, here is what you should be aware of:
- Try to pick a betta fish that is already in a tank with other fish, this way you know he’s already used to living with others.
- You will need a tank that can hold at least 10 gallons of water. It is essential for each fish to have enough space to thrive.
- Don’t introduce an excessive number of fish in the same tank. This can lead to territorial fights and gives each fish less hiding places.
- Add enough plants and rocks to create hiding places for each of your fish.
What Fish Make Good Tank Mates?
As seen above, small, plain-coloured, and docile fish are the best match for your fighting fish. In fact, this will prevent them from seeing their co-habitants as a threat. Here are some examples of fish that can be introduced fairly safely into your tank:
Neon Tetras: Neon tetras are fast swimmers that can easily get away from bettas. As well as this, they rarely occupy the same space as your betta.
Bristlenose Plecos: Bristlenose plecos are extremely shy fish that will avoid confrontation as best they can. You will need a large tank with plenty of hiding spaces if you want to keep plecos though.
(Find out more about plecos.)
Glass Catfish: Glass Catfish are see-through fish that are not seen as a threat due to their colour and behaviour.
(Find out more about glass catfish)
If you want to know the best tank mates that can live with your betta as well as how to make it work then check out the Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide! (Otherwise here’s a list of common tank mates for your betta.)
How To Reduce The Chance Of Fighting
Here are some tips for maintaining the peace in your aquarium:
- Your Betta won’t get lonely living in their own tank, so don’t feel like you have to keep them with other fish. (Find out more about whether bettas get lonely.)
- Take the time to learn about the different species of fish that can live with Bettas.
- Find out the personality, temparament and aggression levels of your Betta before buying them.
- If you are looking at creating a community tank, use a large enough tank (10 to 20 gallons at least)
- Introduce enough plants and rocks to make sure that each fish has a place to hide.
Betta Fish are among the most interesting and aesthetically appealing species of fish you can add to your aquarium. They bring life to a tank and have amazing personalities.
However, it is incredibly important to be aware of the species’ characteristics and the personality of each fish.
Let us know if you find these tips helpful while setting up your community tank! And make sure to check out the rest of the website!