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?
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 sorority of females. 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 (40 Gallons or more). This will help your female stay away from your male if she needs to and reduce the chance of aggression between both fish.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. 75 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.
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.
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.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any more questions then you can leave them in the comments below.
And if you’re interested to know more about tank mates that can live with bettas then you have to check out the Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide. You’ll learn about 68 different tank mates that can live with your betta, as well as fish to avoid. You’ll also learn how to create the perfect environment for mates, how to introduce tank mates and much more! So check it out!
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!