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Keeping Female Bettas Together, A Photo Essay

Keeping Female Bettas Together, A Photo Essay

Now, once in a while, we get a question where someone doubts their fish's gender (or sexual preference) because what they think is a female appears to be flaring at the other girls, or the boy you mean to be her mate. Or maybe she built a bubblenest.
Or maybe they're curious about the fact that female bettas can live together. Does that mean they can pick two, or three, or more, and toss them into a tank together, like a group of tetras, or something? No it does not.
Why? Because the girls can be just as territorial as the boys. The girls flare. Sometimes they bite. Sometimes they kill.
What is the point of this thread, you might be asking yorself (or me)?
Because I want people to know. And I want to show them. And you ;).

Females flare, too:


I do not recommend keeping 2 females together. Some people can, and have done this.
This does not mean that it's going to work out for everyone, or even most people. It probably won't, because Bettas have a natural drive to be dominant with their own kind.
Groups of females will form a pecking order to diffuse the aggressions. Two fish cannot have a pecking order.



When introducing females, it is best to introduce them in neutral territory.
If you have one female who has been in the tank for some time, then she will view it as her territory, and any newcomer will be trespassing.
This will likely not be taken lightly.
If you do want to introduce another female into a tank with another one, it may help to remove the first one, and even to rearrange the plants and decorations so that she doesn't realize it's her territory.
Both females will then be on new ground, and neither will have more of a right to it than the other. No defensiveness.


Horizontal lines running down the sides of a betta mean that it is experiencing stress. Stress can be caused by any number of reasons, including water quality and fear. If one female is constantly showing horizontal stripes, this may be an indication that the other female/s is/are picking on her.
Vertical stripes, also known as bars, can be a sign of readiness to breed or one of aggression/dominance. Females can be aggressive with males as well as females, and it is natural for a female to flare at a male.
She may even bar up out of aggression, which is why vertical bars are only one of several signs of readiness to breed with a male. If your female becomes barred when facing another female, it does not mean that she wants to breed with that female.
It is a sign to "stay away."



Sometimes, a fight may not break out, at least not at first. The females may "pose" for one another as an indication of how "tough" they are. One may attempt to make the other back down.
If one fish is willing to let the other be dominant, fighting may be avoided. Even if one doesn't fight, the dominant betta may assert her dominance over the other from time to time to test her.



Yes, female bettas can blow bubblenests, and some do.
There are a number of reasons why this may happen, and some of them are probably unknown to us.
Just as we cannot pin-point an exact reason why a lone male in a bowl will blow a bubblenest (healthy? happy? bored?), one cannot be sure why a female will blow a bubblenest.
But a bubblenest does not mean that your female is a male, nor does it mean that your female is gay.


I hope no one minded my little photo essay there. I got a little too involved snapping pictures this afternoon, and I wanted to put them to good use.

My favorite shot of the night

It's still too early to tell if Lola and Layla will be able to live together in peace and harmony. Lola insists upon her dominance, and Layla is not attempting to unseat her (yet). But Layla, while she will not actually flare her gills up, will "pose" when Lola does, and she does hold her ground. So only time will tell.
Also, if anyone would like to see pictures of my female tank (these two gals belong to my mother), they have their own webpage here: Splenden Sorority
Added By: Theadeaus
I am not to amazed that the females can get along. I once had two males get along in one tank. My only guess as to why was the fact that they had been next to each other for a while (judging by the dust under the cups) in the store and simply got used to each other. I noticed they did not flare at each other or mostly anyone else either so I bought them since they looked forlorn and they coexisted in the same tank (a huge jar) for years. I wish I could have taken pictures of them but this was a LONG time ago.

Name: Kaila
Comments: I recently bought two female bettas... I see that you stated above that the females can be territorial like the males... I put them together and they went after each other. So I took the one female out and put her in water that had meds, because the other one bit some of her tail off. Now they are happily in differnt tanks.

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Comment : We kept three female bettas along with a female guppy and a male/female pair of platys. It worked out really well for about 7 months, and then we lost them all to a power outage/snow storm combination. The platys especially seemed to be active and into things enough that they sort of disrupted any aggressive behavior from the bettas, without getting tangled in it themselves.
Posted by romy on 2009-05-04
Comment : I have had four bettas living together in the same 12-gallon tank and experienced no problems. Whenever a new betta is introduced, however, the others, usually the most aggresive, will flare or attack. I do tend to notice that if you keep the new fish in a bag for a while inside the tank, it is usually easier on the fish because the others grew accustomed to the new fish in their environment. But those were some great tips. I love female bettas because they are so cute! Mine lived a long time too. :] They can live for two or more years, and I have had one live for 3!
Posted by Angela on 2008-11-14
Comment : The petshop had a tank full of beautiful female Bettas (hindsight clue - one dead and another dying, tho' no sign of disease). I bought three to put into a 7 gallon tank and noticed them flaring at each other. After a few days, one looked stressed so I removed her to another tank. Now the dominant female is picking on the second one and I will need to remove her also. So, two females don't work, and three didn't seem to work either. I think it's trial and error with any number of them and being prepared to separate them if necessary.
Posted by Lynne on 2008-06-18
Comment : I personally do not agree with keeping female Betta together. Every person I know who had tried has had it end in death for most of the females, most times after several months of seeming to get along. I tried it and had to separate them after 5 days due to severe fighting. This was in a heavily planted large tank! Even if you manage to keep them from killing each other the females live in a constant state of stress. They are always having to "look out" for the more dominant fish and keep out of their way. They are never really able to just relax and enjoy themselves. IMO this is very cruel and constant stress WILL shorten their lifespans and make them more prone to disease too. Everytime you remove a fish due to death or sickness they need to re-establish the pecking order and this causes yet more stress. Often the smallest change can make the whole delicate balance fall apart completely and you will have fish killing each other. I find nothing enjoyable about watching a tank full of fish living in fear of one another. In the wild female Bettas DO NOT live together in groups or schools so why force them to go against their nature? I know it seems wonderful to have a tank full of colorful female Bettas but you must think of the fish's needs first. I keep my females in separate tanks or with dividers. Each has 5 gallons of space and all are very happy being alone. One of mine is now 3.5 years old and still going strong! She would never have lived this long in a sorority tank.
Posted by Bettamom on 2008-04-13
Comment : My daughter has had a betta for a while that we were told was a male, but has a round back fin, although bright blue. She wanted a female, clearly labeled as such, at the petstore, so I got the fish. When together in a bowl the first fish flares (has made bubblenests, by the way) at the new fish and seems to try to keep her at the bottom. The new fish is submissive and won't try to get food. Do I have to keep them separate or will they work it out, and what is your best guess as to the gender of the first fish. I can send photos if you'd like. Thanks for any advice you can offer!
Posted by Amanda Wilson on 2007-01-29

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