Are Betta Fish Aggressive or Peaceful?

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Yes, male betta fish are very aggressive and territorial not only with other betta fish, but also with other fish species, so I recommend keeping male bettas alone. Females on the other hand are more docile and can live with other peaceful tank mates.

The temperament of an individual betta fish can vary, though. Betta fish are very individualistic when it comes to their temperaments. Some of them will be shyer, while others will be active explorers which do not stand other tank mates well.

However, these creatures are not called Siamese fighting fish for no reason. They can be quite territorial and make spectacular sparing fighters sometimes.

Betta Fish Aggressive Behavior

Betta fish are extremely territorial creatures. That means they will defend their territory by attacking any opponents who cross their path. However, to understand a bit better why these fish are so confrontational, let us go through some history first.

Betta fish are descendants from Thailand areas, especially those rich in marshes and rice paddies. During the 1800s, children used to collect these fish and place them into a single rice paddy, to watch them fight.

This became popular very soon among adults as well, who literally started organizing various sparing fights, betting on the winner for money. Soon enough, the King imposed a tax on such fights and they shortly became even more popular and widely spread.

Breeders started creating new types by selectively breeding the most aggressive fish to create some even more aggressive. Therefore, such temperament is today still widely spread among most betta splendens types.

Betta fish will show hostile behavior whenever their territory is perceived as threatened, especially during mating season. Additionally, they can often attack other fish whilst trying to protect their food.

Those species which are mouthbrooders usually tend to be slightly more peaceful.

Calm Down Aggressive Bettas

If you are a proud owner of a somehow antagonistic betta fish, there is sadly no way to make your pet become more peaceful. It is simply part of its natural temperament and there is no magical meditation practice that can change that.

The simplest yet most effective way of calming your betta fish is by separating it from other fish. You can use a simple tank divider or provide an extra smaller aquarium for your isolated fish. Betta fish function very well alone, and they will not fall into depression.

If you are persistent in keeping all of your fish into a single tank and refuse to use dividers, you can perhaps ensure there is plenty of space and plants for your fish.

Some (preferably exceptionally large) heavily planted tanks function well for multiple betta fish. However, there is no guarantee this will work, so please always carefully monitor your fish, and have a back-up plan ready.

Are Bettas Aggressive Towards Other Fish?

Bettas can be aggressive towards other fish, and they usually do not make the best choice for community tanks. If there is not enough place for a betta male to have its own territorial area, or even not enough plants to act as hiding spots, it is almost certain they will act combatively.

Whenever you want to place betta fish inside community tanks, try with females rather than male specimens. Make sure there is enough living space for all of your fish to co-exist without bothering each other and provide them with enough hiding places.

Avoid bright-colored tank mates, especially those which are territorial. A good choice for betta roommates can be fish which are extremely small and agile, so they can hide more successfully. Oppositely, larger fish that feed at the bottom of the tank can be an acceptable solution as well.

There is never a guarantee that your fish pets will get along together peacefully, so it is vitally important to observe their behavior and separate them if needed.

Do Male and Female Bettas Fight?

Yes, male bettas can often fight their female companions for territorial reasons. Additionally, when a male places eggs across the bubble nests, it will do anything to protect its spawns, including attacking its mother.

Therefore, female and male betta fish should never be housed together but rather in separate tanks. You can place them into a single tank for breeding purposes, but they have to be separated immediately after that. They do not co-exist well together.

Do Female Bettas Fight Each Other?

Female bettas do fight each other, but in a completely different way from males. Indeed, female specimens are also territorial and can be aggressive, but they function well in sororities of multiple female fish.

Therefore, if they are fighting, this is mostly because they still have not established the hierarchy order among their sorority. Once they choose their alpha female, they tend to live together in harmony.

In general, female betta fish seem to be less aggressive when compared to their male companions, although they still do protect their territory.

They are not the ones which take care of their spawns, so this is often the reason for them accepting other fish better.

Can Bettas Live with Other Fish?

In theory, bettas can live with other fish. However, the golden rule when forming a community tank is to avoid placing male betta specimens inside it. They function best when kept alone.

Females, on the other hand, can work pretty well with other fish species. They will mostly accept well smaller fish that can escape their attacks but also larger fish species that are extremely peaceful and are bottom feeders.

Once again, there is no assurance of a peaceful temperament among any betta fish, so always be sure to have a back-up tank.

Wrapping Up

Betta fish are temperamental, intelligent little pets, and all of their owners should have an understanding of that. They are territorial and really tend to defend their space from all kinds of intruders, including other betta fish.

Males are quite the macho types and are happiest when housed alone. Females, on the other side, function well in sororities once they choose their alpha.

Please protect your betta pets by constantly observing their behavior and by intervening if there are regular signs of aggression.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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