Two male betta fish should not live together. You may be able to make it work short term under specific conditions, but it won’t work long term.
Many first-time aquarists mistakenly believe that betta fish are great for first-timers and easy to care for, but this is not true. Betta fish are not the most social tropical fish for an aquarium. This species has a well-earned reputation for fighting to the death to secure its territory.
Betta fish require someone experienced in freshwater aquariums to ensure proper care for this unique fish breed. These are not “starter” fish and need a skilled hand to keep them alive and thriving long-term.
Can Two Betta Fish Live Together?
No, not long-term in a small tank and only short-term if some conditions apply. Betta fish are territorial, and placing two males together in the same tank leads to a deathmatch. While this behavior may appear extreme among tropical fish, it is common in many fish species in the wild.
Betta fish are native to Southeastern parts of Asia, and many are raised as competitive fighting fish in this part of the world. Studies show that when these fish are bred in groups, the aggression level is not nearly as high as when an individual fish is raised alone. Most male betta fish are too aggressive to live around other bettas.
This fact doesn’t mean that male betta fish cannot live around other nonaggressive species in an aquarium, but this can depend on the personality of the betta fish. Not all tropical fish are compatible with living with betta fish. Keeping two males in the same aquarium without a partition is not advised.
Can a Male and a Female Betta Fish Live Together?
Male and female betta fish should not live together in the same tank long-term due to territorial behavior. Male bettas enjoy their solitude and will only tolerate limited amounts of interaction with other betta fish. Under certain conditions, a female betta fish will enjoy a relatively peaceful coexistence with other females but not with a male.
Keeping a male and female in the same tank should only be attempted with a larger tank, at least 15 to 20 gallons while providing places for each betta to enjoy the alone time they will crave.
Tank dividers are another option for two or more bettas living together in the same tank. The dividers allow the fish to see each other without the threat of bodily harm, possibly allowing mating to go smoother when the time comes for that process.
The male signals that he is ready to breed by creating a bubble nest at the aquarium’s water line. You may also notice his color darkening to attract the attention of a female. After courtship and spawning, the female should be removed as soon as she has recovered as she will eat the eggs.
The following day the eggs should begin to hatch, and the male will provide their initial care. Within three to four days, all the betta fry will be swimming independently and no longer require the male’s care. Removing him from the fry at this time will help ensure their survival.
What Happens When Two Female Betta Fish Live Together?
Female betta fish do not tend to be as territorial as males and can live in hierarchical groups, with one female establishing herself as the dominant female. This arrangement is sometimes called a betta sorority and commonly includes four to six females. Larger groups can work as well, in which case, the females separate themselves into several subgroups.
While female bettas can live alongside other tropical fish, they like their space. And if female bettas are kept in a sorority setup or as part of a community tank, provide plenty of space and plant material to escape to when they need alone time.
Keeping multiple female betta sororities in a tank will require space to avoid the fish becoming stressed and sick. Seeing betta fish on display in small jars inside a pet store or retail location can give an impression of how much space these fish need to remain healthy and thriving. Bettas will need a minimum of five gallons of space per fish to be at their best.
Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?
Betta fish enjoy their solitude and do just fine living alone. While each fish will have a unique personality, some bettas appear content with isolation and thrive in this environment. Living alone does not make betta fish lonely, but they can become bored if the environment does not provide enrichment or mental stimulation.
In their natural environment in the wild, betta fish live a life of adventure, hunting for food, defending their territory, and adapting to ever changing weather conditions. No matter how well-intentioned, life inside an aquarium cannot mimic this existence. Eating the same provided food each day in the same environment takes a toll on their mental health.
A bored betta fish will quickly become depressed, making them vulnerable to illness. The best way to tell if a betta fish is bored is to become familiar with its personality and everyday behavior. When they begin acting differently, this is the first indication that something is wrong in the tank.
Some bettas will stop eating due to boredom, which can be very troubling to witness. It can also be an opportunity to begin diversifying their diet. But any food left in the tank after ten minutes should be removed to avoid toxin build-up in the water.
A well-appointed aquarium complete with a filter for water oxygenation, along with some live aquarium plants, rocks, and aquarium toys, will help to brighten your bettas day and provide some beneficial mental enrichment.
Many aquarium enthusiasts use “mirroring” with their betta fish to help combat boredom. The technique involves introducing a floating mirror into the betta’s tank a few times a day for ten to 15 minutes. When the betta sees their reflection, their natural territorial instincts will kick in, and the fish will exercise its fins by making them appear more prominent to intimidate the “intruder” in the mirror.