Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
It can be confusing when you see two of the same animals fighting, especially when they fight to the death. This can be very true of those who decide to keep Betta Fish. Why is it that they have the nickname “fighter fish” and why is it that they will always fight to the death? Also, if they always fight to the death, how do they reproduce? There has to be a way for you to introduce a male and female betta fish to each other without them fighting right?
Bettas Don’t Actually Always Fight to the Death!
You may actually be shocked to hear that Bettas don’t always fight to the death. To be honest, most betta fights don’t end in death, however, they can get pretty heated, especially if they are bred to fight. Betta Splendens are actually one of the most aggressive types of Betta fish, and these are actually the most commonly purchased type of Betta fish.
How Do Bettas Fight and How Long Do Fights Last?
Bettas will commonly thrash at each other hoping to damage each other’s scales, tails or gills. Bettas are also known to nip at each other trying to cause each other injuries that will get infected due to stress. It’s usually the infections that kill the betta fish and not the actual fight.
Male bettas will initiate a fight by fanning out their fins and flaring (or puffing out) their gills making themselves look larger. Similar to other territorial animals, this is done to scare off or intimidate their opponents. They will only choose to attack or nip at each other if the opponent does not retreat or continues to threaten the initiator.
Dependant on how aggressive the bettas are fights will last a few minutes if they escalate. However, most commonly betta fights end immediately (and should end immediately).
Male Bettas Are Always More Aggressive
I want to crack a joke about how male bettas should actually be called Alphas, but that’s too corny, even for this blog! The truth is, male bettas are much more territorial than female bettas. This is true, even in the wild, the only difference is when the male bettas are in the wild there is much more room for the less aggressive betta to swim away or hide. Sometimes bettas will even have enough time to swim away before a fight even takes place.
So where does this aggression come from? Well, while bettas are in the wild they aren’t offered an unlimited supply of food. Bettas will protect the area they call home to make sure that they always have a supply of food. If another male betta is present in their home, he may steal food from another betta. Unlike other animals, bettas don’t think with a pack mentality and are just doing their best to survive.
Male bettas may also become aggressive to protect their empty bubble nests or eggs. Female bettas commonly abandon their eggs after they have been laid.
Is there a way to avoid fighting between Bettas?
Absolutely. You want to make sure that your tank is filled with loads of hiding spots and make sure that your tank is the appropriate size to house multiple bettas. For more information, you can check out my article about how to house male and female bettas together.
Can you ever house two male bettas together?
The only time it’s appropriate to house two male bettas together is when you have a proper partition that separates them. Make sure that the partition isn’t see through and that they cannot easily see each other.
Do Female Bettas Fight Each Other
Although less aggressive, female bettas can still be fairly territorial and will fight one another if given the opportunity. However, this isn’t always true and female bettas are often sold in sororities. Females will still be aggressive in sororities until a “natural pecking order” has been established. One female will always establish herself as the alpha while the others become the “betta” ;). Commonly these fish will live in harmony until another fish is added.
Sororities tend to have a group of 4 to 5 fish, although some fish may still act aggressively in sororities and may need to be removed.
Is there any reason why male and female betta fish fight?
It’s hard to imagine any logical reason why male and female betta fish would fight, especially if they are supposed to mate, however it makes sense since female bettas will commonly eat her eggs before they hatch. Male bettas are the protectors of the little spawnlings and will chase the female far from the nest making sure that they have a high chance of survival. It’s actually the male bettas who place eggs inside of the nest and will wait until all of them hatch (or don’t hatch.)
Otherwise, male and female bettas will simply fight because they are protecting their territory.
Do bettas fight all fish?
Bettas do fight other fish if they do not have enough space, if their fins are long or brightly coloured, if the other fish is aggressive or if there are not enough spaces to hide. Only experienced fish owners should attempt hosting community tanks with betta fish.