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While there is plenty of information available about keeping males, there seems to be less discussion about female betta fish. Are there differences between female and male Betta fish? Do you need to care for them differently?
Here we will get into everything you need to know and the important misconceptions of the female of this fun species.
Siamese Fighting Fish, also known as the Betta fish, are a territorial species of the Gourami family that are native to the Mekong basin located in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. As of 2011, this fish has been listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Fortunately, almost all female Betta fish (and their male counterparts) are tank raised and not captured in the wild where their population is decreasing.
This population reduction in the wild is due to a loss of habitat as well as water pollution and not from over-collecting or fishing pressure.
Appearance Of Female Betta Fish
The larger adult male Siamese Fighting Fish can grow up to 2.6 inches in length, but the female will max out a bit shorter than this, 2.25 inches is quite normal. Betta fish females can live up to three years, a life expectancy similar to the males.
In most cases, the female bettas have shorter anal fins than male representatives. Their tails are usually thinner and have less taper due to the smaller size. There is a variation of betta fish called Plakat which can sometimes be confused with females.
And a final appearance difference is that females are often more dull in color than their male counterparts are. There are some species that display excellent colors in both female and male fish but in general, the males are the fanciest.
It is interesting that the vibrant color displays that are associated with pet Betta fish are only seen in the wild when the fish is agitated. Female fish can alter their color to darker hues during mating (see below).
Female Betta fish have an “egg spot” located along the bottom of her body, between her fins and tail. It appears as a tiny grain of salt, or sand, protruding from the female fish’s profile.
This is the ovipositor tube that excretes the eggs from inside of the female Betta fish and can be used to distinguish between female and male specimens.
Female Betta Fish Diet
In their natural habitat female Bettas eat a diet that is rich in crustaceans, mosquito larvae, and zooplankton.
This means they should be fed a carnivorous diet at home. Domesticated, a female will eat similar foods that male Siamese Fighting Fish eat. You should look out for is betta fish specific pellets with a high protein count, over 40%. We have a list of the best betta fish food choices here.
Although they are insectivores, female Betta fish will most probably also nibble on and eat the foods offered to any tank mates (including vegetable matter), which is something to keep in mind.
Are Female Betta Fish Aggressive?
It is a fish fact that all betta fish are territorial and will display aggressive behavior – hence why we call the Siamese fighting fish. With that being said, female specimens are far more peaceful than males are.
Females can peacefully coexist with other female Betta fish once the social order is established within the community tank. This choice of betta fish tanks is called sorority tanks.
Do Female Betta Fish Fight?
Yes, they do.
It should be noted that aggression between female fish while establishing a hierarchy is rarely as violent as battles between male bettas, but we do recommend keeping an eye on any betta community tank that you set up until this process is complete.
Are female betta fish aggressive towards other fish? Females are more tolerant of other species of fish, but can act aggressively if they feel threatened or their natural instincts are triggered by other tank mates. It should be noted though that this aggression usually manifests as chasing other fish or displays rather than nipping at fins.
Can Male and Female Bettas Be In The Same Tank?
It is possible to keep female and male fish in the same aquarium if it is large enough to provide plenty of space and hiding places. However male specimens are far more aggressive, so you really should only consider keeping them with a betta fish female when you are breeding them.
Once a female has laid her eggs, most owners will remove her to another tank so that the male can tend to the bubble nest and eggs on his own.
Female Betta Fish Breeding Characteristics
During courtship, a male Betta will flare itself in a display to impress the female. If the female is attracted by this display she will darken in color to indicate her status as ready to mate.
Unlike many species of tropical fish that lay eggs, the male is the one who builds a nest (made from bubbles) while the female has nothing further to do with her offspring after depositing eggs into the water. Fry and juvenile betta fish are not taken care of by either parent and will be able to forage on their own.
Female Betta Tank Mates
Many hobbyists enjoy keeping female Betta fish in small groups. These groupings are referred to as sororities.
If you want to keep female bettas together, consider housing four to six female fish in a tank of at least twenty gallons. That helps to distribute potential aggressive behavior among the female fish. Larger aquariums will offer enough room for the fish to hide if needed while still allowing you to watch social interactions between the female community.
It is worth noting that some species of Siamese Fighting Fish make for better female tank mates than others.
Female Betta tank mates can come from a variety of tropical fish that enjoy similar water conditions. We would suggest that potential female Betta tank mates should not resemble male Siamese Fighting Fish. Avoiding species with bright colors and long fins will keep stress levels among your female Bettas low.
Female Betta tank mates that have peaceful dispositions are better suited for community aquariums. Highly aggressive tropical fish species will generate more aggressive behaviors in the female Betta fish, which could cause fights between Bettas that cause injury or death.
Smaller species of Rosy barbs or bottom feeders, such as Corydoras, are potential species worth considering. All tank mates have the potential to fight, so you will want to keep an eye out on your community aquarium as it is being established.
If you discover tank mates that are not compatible it would be best to separate these fish from your female Bettas. This will prevent the tank mates from being picked on by the female Betta fish or prevent the female fish from being attacked by the problem tank mates.
Popular Types Of Female Betta Fish
Female Crowntail Bettas
This species is popular for their crowntail caudal fins as well as for their colors. Named due to the webbing of the tail creating a really cool spiked crownlike appearance.
Female Veiltail Bettas
This variety of female Betta fish will usually top out at 1.5 to 2 inches in length when they are fully grown. They might be the most commonly sold Betta fish sub-species due to their intense colorization, especially true of the Royal Blue and Turquoise Veiltail.
They tend to have a stronger constitution than some varieties of Bettas, as intense breeding practices are required to produce their vibrant color variations (with the exception of the Steel Veiltail, which has a similar fortitude found in other Bettas).
Female Koi Bettas
The Koi Betta get their name from their color and patterns that resemble those found in Koi fish. Marbled patterns break up colors such as golds, yellows, and whites. Larger adults can reach up to 3 inches in length.
They tend to be one of the easier Betta species to take care of. This species is also known to be one of the more peaceful varieties of Bettas on the market along with the Imbellis species. That may be an important feature if you are looking to build a female Betta community tank.
Female Halfmoon Bettas
This variety of Siamese Fighting Fish is named after the shape of their tails when flared. Fully extended, Halfmoon Betta tails reach 180 degrees (the shape of a half moon in the sky). That feature tends to be popular with many fish keepers as well as with those that breed them.
If you are considering a Betta Fish as a pet, you should ask yourself if this species is right for you. While there are no extreme water conditions that you need to maintain, they will have a more limited diet than other tropical fish species. The major consideration, however, revolves around their behavior.
All Betta fish, including females, tend to be highly territorial and have been purposely bred for centuries to fight. That may cause issues in a community tank. Female and male fish are best left separated unless you plan to breed them, and female community tanks should include at least four fish in a 20-gallon tank.
It is very possible to keep the female bettas with other tropical fish if some care is exercised when selecting potential tank mates. Female Siamese Fighting Fish can be great fun, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and colors.
Do you have experiences you would like to share? Or perhaps other comments or questions? Feel free to share them with us.