Can A Male & Female Betta Fish Live Together? 2023 Updated

Last Updated on 2023-09-28

When you’ve had your betta for some time, you may be thinking about adding other fish with him. Eventually, you’ll begin to notice how beautiful female betta fish are. And when this happens you’ll ask yourself the question “Can a male and female betta fish live together?”

If you’re curious to see if it’s possible, and the best ways to make it work then keep on reading!

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Can A Male And Female Betta Fish Live Together?

It’s not recommended to keep a male and female betta together, as the most likely scenario is that they’ll end up acting aggressively. However, if you still plan on doing it, ensure that the tank is big enough (over 100 gallons) and there are plenty of hiding places.

If you plan on keeping male and female bettas together the two most common ways are by keeping 1 male and 1 female. Or by keeping 1 male in a betta sorority. It should be noted that in both cases, this should not be attempted by a beginner, but rather by an experienced fish keeper.

As well as being experienced, you also need to make sure you have a backup tank ready in case it doesn’t work. And of course, remember, that while it is possible to keep male and female bettas together, in most cases, they will be happier in separate tanks. If you plan on doing it anyway, here’s what you should know.

Keeping A Single Male And Female Betta Fish Together

If you plan on keeping a single male and female betta fish together then you need to make sure that the tank is not only big, but also has a lot of length (75 Gallons or more). This will help your female stay away from your male if she needs to, and reduce the chance of betta fish fighting each other.

As well as keeping them in a large tank you should also add LOTS of plants and hiding places. Your tank should be thick with vegetation that will constantly break your bettas line of sight. As well as plant life, add lots of caves, driftwood and, decorations where your bettas can create their own territory.

Doing this will help recreate the habitat you’d expect to find bettas in, increasing the chances they’ll stay passive.

And remember, while 30% of the decorations in your tank can be caves, driftwood and man-made decorations, the other 70% should be plant life to make the pair feel more comfortable. Anubias, betta bulbs, java fern, and amazon sword are great mid to high length plants to use.

Use A Tank Divider

If you have a tank that’s big enough (minimum 15 gallons) then you can always use a tank divider to keep a male and female betta together. This can be beneficial as they’ll never be able to directly interact with each other, but you’ll still be able to view each of them in your tank.

Just remember female bettas like swimming space more than males, you should try to divide your tank so your female has 10 gallons and your male has 5.

Breeding

If you keep a male and female betta fish together then, of course, there’s always going to be the possibility of them breeding, whether you want them too or not. Without picking the right breeding pair, breeding can often be dangerous for bettas as through any of the stages, they may end up damaging or killing one another.

Problems With Keeping Two Sexes Together

As well as the risk of pregnancy, there are also other problems that can occur when the two sexes are kept together. For example, both of them can become stressed and lethargic. The stress of trying to breed can often cause weakness that results in lethargy as well as illness.

On top of this, the female can also become egg bound, which is uncomfortable. In some scenarios, she may also become the dominant fish in the tank and begin acting aggressively towards your betta.

Your male also risks becoming a lot more aggressive to the female, and this can happen even in a male that used to be peaceful.

(Find out everything you could possibly want to know about female betta fish!)

Bubble Nests & Fry

If your betta does lay eggs, then the female will need to be removed from the tank regardless of how they’ve got along before. The male will see the female as a threat to the eggs and begin relentlessly attacking her.

Also, you’ll need to remember that if the two bettas do end up producing fry, then some of them are likely to become males. While this isn’t a problem at first, as they get older fighting will start to occur.

Knowing the different behavior, tank requirements and diets of multiple fish is a difficult task to accomplish. In fact, there are fish that can live with your betta you haven’t even thought of yet! If you want to know about every fish that can live with your betta then click here.

betta care facebook group

Betta Harems (Female Sorority + Male Betta)

As well as keeping one male and one female together some people opt to keep a male betta in with a sorority of females. Once again, while this can be done, it’s strongly not recommended for beginners and you should ensure you have a backup plan ready if it doesn’t work.

If you want to keep a female sorority and male betta (or betta harem) then here’s everything you need to know.

Make Sure The Tank Is Big Enough

First of all, if you plan on creating a betta harem then you’re going to need a good sized tank. 100 gallons is a good start, however, it’s the minimum size that you should choose. As well as this, try to pick a tank that has been built for length rather than height.

Not only will this make all fish feel more comfortable, but it will also help you to add lots more decorations that can help break lines of sight.

Add Your Betta To A Sorority

You should always add a male betta to a sorority, instead of introducing all the fish at the same time. If you add all the fish at the same time the chances of aggression are going to skyrocket, and you’re more likely to add an overly aggressive betta without realizing.

As well as this, the bioload itself will be too much for the bacteria in your tank to deal with. There will be a huge ammonia spike which could result in one or more of your fish succumbing to ammonia poisoning.

Once you have a sorority, remove all the females from the tank, rearrange it and then add them all in with your newly acquired male. While there may be some signs of aggression at first, they aren’t going to be nearly as bad. Once they’re added back into the tank there won’t be any set territories, and they’ll be too focused finding new ones, rather than fighting amongst themselves.

Add Lots Of Hiding Places/Territories

One of the keys to making this work well is adding lots of hiding places and territories for your fish. You’ll need an abundance of plants to help break lines of sight in your tank as well as giving fish plenty of places to hide.

On top of plants, caves are a great choice, they will give your bettas somewhere to retreat too without fear of what’s happening behind them.

Lastly, driftwood and other decorations can all be used to give your tank more life, as well as creating safe spots for all your fish.

Beware Of Aggression Between The Females

One of the biggest problems that can occur in betta harems is aggression amongst females. In the wild, the male betta is only going to breed with the dominant female. In sororities, a pecking order is normally established, but without the introduction of a male, aggression generally stops.

However, once you add a male into the sorority, a lot of the time, the females will continue fighting amongst themselves. This could create bullying and harassment between the fish as well as injury and death.

Obviously, the most common sign of aggression is flaring, which can often be an indicator that your bettas are going to fight.

Keep The Water Quality High

If there’s one thing that’s going to cause this to fail it’s stress in the tank, and one of the best ways to prevent this is by keeping the water quality in the tank high. Make sure you’re using a heater and filter, as well as checking the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank.

You should also be performing water changes and gravelling the vacuum every 1-2 weeks (depending on the parameters) to keep them high quality.

Always Keep An Eye On Them

Just because keeping males and females has worked previously for you, doesn’t mean it’s going to work forever. At any point one of the bettas may change their mind and begin acting extremely aggressive to everyone else in the tank!

How To Introduce Females And Males Together

Whether you’re going to add a male to a harem, or with one female, you have to be careful about how you introduce them. If you just drop them in the tank they may begin attacking each other to establish dominance.

So before just dropping them in you should keep them separate, but allow them to see each other. This is normally best done by keeping your new betta in the bag for a while before letting them out.

However, ideally, they should be able to see each other without getting too each other for a couple of days. The best way this can happen is by using a tank divider or breeding box for a couple of days.

Flaring is normal, however, if they act aggressively constantly it’s not a good sign. Once they’ve seen each other for a couple of days, add them to the same environment and watch them. Once again, flaring and chasing is normal for a small amount of time, but if it continues you’ll have to remove the male from the tank.

(Find out everything you need to know about betta fish fighting.)

Can A Male And Female Betta Live Together

Why Is Your Male Betta Attacking Your Female?

If your male is attacking your female, it could be because he’s trying to court her or because he’s acting territorial. Remember, betta’s don’t live together in the wild, so aggression occurring is just their natural behavior.

How To Get Males And Females To Breed

If you plan on adding your male and female bettas to the tank for breeding purposes, then here’s what to do:

  1. Slightly war the tank to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate the temperature they’re used to when breeding.
  2. Begin adding live food to the tank for them to eat to condition them to breed as well.
  3. Once they’ve been conditioned, they should both begin to want to breed. During this stage you’ll notice your betta making a bubble nest
  4. Now you just have to wait for them to swim into each other. When they notice each other you’ll notice your male betta will begin to darken, shortly after the female will too.)
  5. Your female will then inspect the nest in your tank to see if it’s good enough for her. If it is good enough, they will begin a mating dance in which they will chase each other for a couple of hours. (It’s important during this time to make sure you’ve added plenty of places for your female to hide).
  6. When they’re ready, the male and female will swim side by side, before the male wraps himself around her while she lays her eggs.

Now all you need to do is wait. It’s best to breed your bettas in a completely separate breeding tank so you can keep a close eye on them. I’d also recommend moving the female into a new tank after breeding, as your male will become aggressive and protective over the eggs.

How Quick Do Betta Eggs Hatch?

After mating, your betta’s eggs should hatch after about 3 days. If they haven’t hatched during this time, then they may not have been inseminated.

Can Male Betta Fish Coexist?

It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to keep male betta fish together in a tank, as the moment they see each other they’ll become aggressive. If you did want to try and make it work you’d need a huge aquarium (300 gallons +) which was heavily planted.

Hopefully this would be enough to keep them away from each other, but again, there would be no guarantee.

Can A Male Betta Fish Kill A Female Betta Fish?

A male betta fish could easily kill a female if he wanted too. They would just constantly nip at them and wear them down. Eventually your females immune system would become compromised and she’d end up passing away.

Will Your Betta Get Along With Other Fish?

Whether your betta will get along with other fish or not always depends on their temperament. However, with that being said, it is possible and some great tank mates include cory catfish, plecos, tetras and rasboras.

What Can Male Betta Fish Live With?

Some of the best choices of tank mate for your male betta include:

(Check out this list of 31 tank mates for your betta.)

What Can Female Betta Fish Live With?

Some great tank mate choices for your female betta include:

  • Trumpet Snails
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Neon Tetras
  • Corydoras

(Check out some of the best tank mates for female bettas.)

Can You Put Two Betta Fish In A 5 Gallon Tank?

Never put two bettas in a 5 gallon tank whether they’re male or female. This is simply not big enough for them, and aggression would occur in no time. The minimum should be 10 gallons for 3 females.

So, Is It Possible To Keep Male And Female Bettas Together?

While you can keep male and females together, the chances of it working successfully are slim. The only time this should be attempted is by experienced fish keepers, who know what they’re doing. If you want to keep male and female bettas in the same tank, then it would be a lot easier to use a tank divider.

If you do want to keep them together (which isn’t recommended) here are the most important things to remember.

When Keeping A Male And Female Together:

  • Keep them in a tank that is 40 gallons or bigger.
  • Make sure the tank is full of hiding places and heavily planted. 70% of your decorations should be plant life. This will give the pair plenty of hiding places from each other.
  • It’s better to use a tank divider if you want to keep a male and female together. And if possible, give your female a little bit more space.
  • The chances of them breeding are obviously increased. If they do breed, your male will see your female as a threat and if she can’t get away, he’ll begin attacking her.
  • Keeping the two together can also result in increased stress, clamped fins, lethargy and aggression.

When Keeping A Betta Harem Remember:

  • Your tank will need to be at least 75 gallons, however, bigger is better. And when choosing a tank you should have a tank that is long not high.
  • You should add a male to a sorority. Avoid adding females after a male as the chances of aggression is increased, as well as the risk of a dangerous bioload increase.
  • Once again, add lots of hiding places. Your tank should be densely planted again with 70% of your decorations being plants.
  • Keep an eye on your females, the male will only breed with the dominant female. This means there’ll be an increase in bullying and aggression.
  • When you introduce the male, make sure you let them see each other, but keep them separate. This will give you a good idea of how they’re going to react as well as letting them get used to each other.

Other Common Tank Mate Choices

Unfortunately, while it’s not the best idea to keep males and female bettas together, luckily there are plenty of other fish that you can keep with bettas!

Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide
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1 thought on “Can A Male & Female Betta Fish Live Together? 2023 Updated”

  1. A male and a female betta are just fine in a 10 gallon or larger. I’ve done this so many times.

    Get the tank established.

    Put a mesh divider down the middle.

    Get your fish. I usually “rescue” my bettas from Wal Mart. Put one on each side.

    They will meet at the divider and the male will flare at her and she will run away. And then she will stay a little longer. And a little longer… By the third day he’s blatantly flirting with her and she is just reveling in it, and by the fourth he’s no longer flaring but they just hang out together.

    On day five or so pull the divider. And the same thing ALWAYS happens. He goes over and explores “her” side of the tank and she tags along. And then they just stick together like an old married couple. Give them a school of neons to lord over and it’s a pretty tank and everyone gets along just fine. But if he blows a nest you know to separate them again, permanently. And if they do breed you can keep a pretty nice school of bettas in a large tank, as brood-mates raised together generally will not fight.

    The sad part is after they’ve been together for a couple of years and the female dies first In that case the male loses all interest in life and dies a week later. But if the male dies first, the female seems to do all right by herself.

    Reply

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