October 29

The Reasons, Myths & Reality Why do Betta Fish Fight Each Other


Why Do Betta Fish Fight Each Other?

Are you in the same boat as we were a few months ago, wondering why do betta fish fight so much? It certainly limits your options for the pets you can keep in an aquarium. And not just that, your choices of buying an aquarium also become extremely restricted.

Betta Fish Fight

In this article, we are going to cover why do betta fish fight. And how you, as a keeper and can train your betta fish efficiently. So, without wasting any time, let’s get into it. 

Introduction to Betta Fish

Betta fish are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. They are named this way because this sort of fish possesses male-against-male aggression in their nature. You could say that individual behavior varies from one fish to another but on the whole, they do have a certain beef with one another, which will make it difficult for you to keep them together in one aquarium.

Male and female betta fish

In fact, some collectors even suggest that betta fish shouldn’t even be able to see one another even from afar. Betta fish fighting has the potential to become very lethal, so it’s the owner that needs to make some very effective steps to ensure the safety of not just betta fish but the other fish in the aquarium as well, if there are any.

What do we mean by “fighting in betta fish”?

There are different fighting behaviors in any fish you ever going to come across. The most common fighting behavior in betta fish is flaring. In this show of power, you will see a male betta fish push both his grill covers forward to pose a larger body size. This is the same kind of behavior that pufferfish show when they want to expand their spines due to being under duress.

red and white betta fish

There are some other fighting behaviors as well with physical interactions. Now, this may include one fish swimming or ramming into the other. Or, they can nip or bite on the fins of each other to show aggression.

Sometimes, two male betta fish may also lock their lips together and fight.

Why do betta fish fight?

The main reason behind this fight club is to establish their own territory. Betta fish may fight for shelter, resources and to get access to female fish. These are some of the main reasons for aggression in many fish.

We would like to shed some light on several myths around betta fish flaring before getting to the actual point. Keep reading,

Fighting myth

Some people suggest that betta fish fight to the death, but that’s not really true. They won’t always fight to their absolute death. In fact, things never even go that far under most circumstances unless the betta fish are trained to combat under very aggressive scenarios. Or they are trapped in a small tank with no place to hide for the lesser dominant fish betta. This is common among the bettas sold as pets or splendens.

Most often, bettas will damage the tails, gills, and fins of their opponents. But, the injured bettas can later pass away due to severe stress and the injuries they sustained during the fight. However, deliberately making bettas fight against one another is very cruel.

Why are male bettas so aggressive?

As mentioned earlier, the reason why male bettas are so aggressive and fight each other is that they know how to mark their territories. When they live in the wild, bettas have miles of rivers all to themselves. Even if they do enter another’s territory, the chance of a fight breaking out is quite less because there is plenty of room for the bettas to retreat. They may show aggression, but that will be the end of it.

When the fight does break out, both bettas will expand their wings to pose twice their size than they really are. Bettas pose to be bigger than the other to scare the opponent off. If the opponent doesn’t retreat, the fight will break out in which they both will bite and nip each other until one of them stops fighting back and leaves.

    But when you put them in a tank with no plants to hide behind, first of all, it will be very cruel to put them together in one aquarium, but if you do it anyway, they both will fight to the death. In our experience, we would recommend never putting two male bettas together without a partition. And when you do separate them, make sure they can’t see one another, or they’ll remain under stress.

    blue and white betta fish

    We also saw male bettas fighting for food. When you keep them in captivity, they will eat as much as you give them. But when they’re on their own, they either have to hunt for food or fight for it. They aren’t under captivity; that kind of changes the mindset. The need to survive makes them less aggressive, and since bettas have an option to retreat, the fights never cross the lethal stage.

    Male bettas also fight to protect their nests and eggs. When they are ready to mate, they will blow bubbles on top of the water to create a bubbles nest. Once the nest has been created, he will wait for a female betta to get the sign. If there is even the slightest chance that his reproduction could be under threat, he will fight back.

    Do female bettas have the same aggressive instincts as male bettas?

    Not really. Female bettas are aggressive, but they aren’t as territorial as male bettas. They are known for cohabitating well under female betta groups known as sororities. Female bettas do fight each other in the beginning. Still, once the natural pecking order has taken place, they eventually settle down.

    For instance, if there are 9 female bettas in a 20-gallon tank, one of them will establish herself as the alpha while the others will submit to her. Some female bettas will even form smaller packs but under the supremacy of the same alpha.

    Red, orange and black betta fish

    If you don’t add any new fish to the tank, all the fish will live peacefully as long as you don’t disturb their ecosystem.

    Keep in mind that whenever someone wants to create a female sorority of bettas, it’s wise to add several fish together but give them enough space. Some bettas will still be aggressive in the tank and may take some time to develop the cohabitation.

    Do male and female betta fish fight?

    Yes, they do. Male and female betta fish cannot be kept in the same tank unless they have to mate. And as soon as they do, you must separate them immediately. It is very common for female fish to eat their eggs when spawning. Given how protective males are of these eggs, they will chase the female fish off, which could result in a lethal fight.

    an orange betta fish

    Among bettas, males are responsible for placing the eggs and protecting them until they are hatched. They will do whatever it takes to protect their offspring, even if it means fighting their own mates.

    Male bettas fight against female bettas for the same reasons they show aggression against male bettas. These fish are extremely territorial. They aren’t known for cohabitating with each other and should be kept separately.

    Do bettas fight other fish?

    You will find bettas in pet stores kept under separate containers. They are always isolated because of the kind of aggression and are always content living on their own.

    Bettas will fight against other fish under the following circumstances,

    • Not enough spaces to hide
    • The tank is too small for an eco-system to exist
    • Other fish look like betta fish
    • They have vibrant colors
    • The fish comes with long fins
    • If they are aggressive as well

    We also suggest that if you don’t have any prior experience in dealing with bettas, you should keep them in separate tanks because if put together, you may not be able to handle the aggression that comes with it.

    How can you reduce the chance of bettas fighting against one another?

    The one way you reduce the chance of a fight breaking out is by keeping these fish in partitioned tanks. And if possible, keep them in small isolated tanks instead of choosing bigger aquariums. This is the only way.

    siamese fighting fish

    When in captivity, any pet has the potential to become aggressive. Bettas are fish with aggression in their nature, so not much can be done for their training. The only possible solution is to keep them away from each other.

    Final Thoughts

    So, hopefully, we were able to address all your concerns regarding betta fish. These are very aggressive pets that cannot be kept together in a single aquarium, especially the male bettas. You need to separate the males from each other.

    Therefore, You must be very careful if you do plan on buying them. Just make sure you keep them separated at all times, and there won’t be any issue that may raise any alarm. That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!


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