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.