A 10 gallon tank sounds pretty big, but once you start to fill it with fish – especially beautiful tropical fish like bettas – you realize just how small and crowded it can be.
Just how many bettas are going to fit in a 10 gallon tank, you wonder?
Well, it’s generally recommended that you keep no more than one betta fish in a tank with a 10 gallon capacity. Though depending on the genders of each fish, it may be possible to keep up to four, though we’d strongly recommend against it.
We dig a little bit more into that below!
How Many Bettas in a 10 Gallon Tank?
There are a whole bunch of things that will influence just how many bettas you can comfortably squeeze into a 10 gallon tank, including (but not limited to):
- The design and surface area of the tank you are working with
- How quickly you are willing (and reliably able) to refresh your tank water
- Whether or not you have 100% male or 100% female populations in that tank space
- Whether or not you have other species of fish in the same water
- How much room your fish have to swim about and how much is taken up with tank hardware, structure, etc.
… And more!
A lot of people are under the impression that bettas really don’t need that much room to thrive.
Most of that has to do with the fact that these fish are often sold in tiny little tupperware with next to no water in them and they are no worse for wear because of it.
Well, while betta fish can survive (and even thrive) in shallow water and have much lower oxygen requirements than a lot of other tropical fish that doesn’t mean that they want to spend their lives in tiny little bowls.
No, these fish actually like to zip around, are pretty energetic and very active, and are going to need plenty of space to stretch themselves (so to speak).
This is why it’s recommended that you add no more than one fish to every two gallons of water (give or take).
How Many Females Can Go in a 10 Gallon Tank?
As a general rule, you will be able to squeeze more female betta fish into a 10 gallon tank then you will be able to squeeze males.
Even female betta fish have been known to get a little bit aggressive, but they are far less aggressive and far less territorial than the males of this species.
If you only have female betta fish zipping around you can maintain a full on “sorority” of betta fish – that’s what it’s called when you have only females in the tank – with 3 to 4 members.
These fish will be able to make full use of the 10 gallon size without crowding each other, without getting into fights, and without feeling like resources (especially precious oxygen) are getting scarce.
How Many Males?
You really shouldn’t keep more than one male betta fish in a 10 gallon tank.
There’s a reason that these fish have been nicknamed the “Siamese fighting fish”. They live up to that nickname when males are crowded in together.
When too many males are in too small of a space, they will fight each other constantly and it will result in serious injury at best, but more likely death.
Can You Mix Male and Female Bettas in a Tank This Size?
A lot of people are under the impression that they can safely mix a male and female betta fish in the same water, but that would be a huge mistake as well.
As soon as mail betta fish feel like they have to compete for a mate (which inevitably happens when there are multiple females or even another male in the water) they are going to be down to battle.
You’ll end up decimating your fish population when you go “coed” which is why it really isn’t recommended.
If you are dead set on mixing a male betta fish with a female betta fish it’s a good idea to go with a single pair. You eliminate the fighting and you eliminate the headache that way.
Is a 10 Gallon Tank Too Large for Bettas?
A 10 gallon tank is certainly not too large for betta fish.
Yes, these fish are inevitably sold in tiny little containers. And yes, plenty of people have kept betta fish in small goldfish bowls, vases, and other almost miniature sized containers that most other tropical fish would have had a really tough time in.
That being said, 10 gallon tanks are never going to be too large for betta fish – especially if you want to keep a couple of them in the same enclosure together. In general, it’s better to give your fish more room than not enough room.
Betta fish lead incredibly active lives and love having plenty of “room to run” when they feel like it.
These fish like to explore, they like to move around, they like to perform, and they like (for the most part) to socialize with other fish in the tank as well.
Combine that with the fact that bettas can sometimes get pretty territorial if they feel crowded and it’s not a bad idea to give these fish just as much freedom and free range as you can manage.
Sure, a 10 gallon tank may be a little bit on the large side of things if you’re only going to drop a single betta in it.
But if you want to keep two or three (up to four, even) betta fish in the same tank, 10 gallon tanks work perfect for this kind of population!