The ever-popular Betta fish continues to be in high demand due to their personality and beautiful finnage and coloring. Although some people might avoid Bettas because of their aggressive behavior, you don’t need to as long as you know how to handle them.
People tend to gravitate towards buying the male Betta rather than the female because of the male’s ornamentalism. However, there are many reasons you should buy a female instead. This guide will cover everything you need to know about buying and taking care of your female Betta fish.
Overview of the Betta
Many people know Betta fish as Siamese Fighting Fish. This moniker came from the male’s aggressive and extremely territorial personality and their tendency to attack and fight other males, even unto death. Because of this, the Siamese people domesticated the Betta for use in fighting contests throughout Thailand.
The female Betta does not have the elegant finnage that the male Betta does, but they do have the vibrant coloring that comes with being a Betta. But because they aren’t as ornamental as the male, they aren’t as popular for hobbyists.
The males’ aggression towards one another has caused many hobbyists to seek out female Bettas. The female Betta is less aggressive and more peaceful than their male counterparts. Because of this, they can get along peacefully with other female Bettas, allowing hobbyists to keep a group, or sorority, of females in the same tank.
The female’s lifespan is the same as the males; they only live for about three years. In their natural habitat, the Betta is vulnerable to predators and other male Bettas. But in captivity, they are more successful and have been bred extensively. Professional breeding has resulted in many different varieties of Bettas, all with distinctive coloring and looks.
The Betta is a member of the Gouramis (Osphronemidae) family and does well with these species as tank mates, as well as Paradisefish.
Typical Behavior of the Female Betta Fish
Bettas are most famous for their aggression, and because of that, they were bred to fight other Bettas, giving them the name Siamese Fighting Fish. However, it is not illegal to fight Bettas.
Although the female is less aggressive than the males are, they are still prone to aggression. They will establish a hierarchy and stake out their own territories. When the females fight each other, they tend to be less violent than their male counterparts, and the likelihood of injury is greatly reduced because of this. The female Betta tends to direct her aggression towards other female Bettas but will get along with other species quite well.
Bettas have a labyrinth organ, which allows them to take oxygen from the air at the tank’s surface. Although they usually occupy the upper and middle levels of the tank, you will see them occasionally go to the surface of the water to breathe air, despite having gills as well. If you see your Betta gulping air at the tank’s surface more than normal, this is a good indicator that the water conditions might be poor.
Telling the male Bettas from the female Bettas is quite easy. For Bettas, the males are slightly larger than the females, growing up to 2½ to 3 inches, while the female only grows to be about 2¼ inches.
When comparing the male and female Bettas, the females have smaller dorsal and anal fins, and their tail fin is thinner than the male Betta’s.
There is a species of Bettas called the Plakat, where both the male and female have short fins, causing the males to resemble the females closely. To determine the sex of a Plakat Betta, you should look for the “egg spot,” which is where the eggs are released through the ovipositor tube and a small hole while mating. If you look at the Betta’s underbelly between the tail and fins, you will find this spot.
Although not as vibrant, you can find females with the same coloring as male Bettas, including Koi, reds, purples, blues, blacks, and whites. This species comes in many different varieties, with the differences being more prevalent in the males than the females because it’s usually the finnage that are different between the species.
There are, however, a few variations where the female’s coloring is just as vibrant as the males. Plus, depending on her mood, the intensity of the female’s coloring can change. For example, during their mating season, her coloring tends to get darker than normal.
In the wild, the females will have their brightest color displays when they are asserting their dominance over another female Betta in order to establish their social hierarchy.
The Female Betta's Habitat
All throughout the wilds of Asia, you can find Betta fish. By looking at their natural habitats, we can recreate it, designing an aquarium that is perfect for your Betta.
Bettas prefer the warm, slow-moving, shallow waters of rice paddies and river basins. Their hardiness, along with the help of their labyrinth organ, gives them the ability to withstand poor water conditions.
Setting Up Your Female Betta Fish's Tank
When setting up your Betta’s tank, start at the bottom of your tank with the substrate. You want a substrate that won’t harm your Betta, such as sand. The fine grains of sand will not scratch your fish if they are eating or digging at the bottom of their tank.
Next, you want to add some plants and vegetation all around the tank in groups. Not only will the plants oxygenate the water, but they will also give your female Bettas enough room for each of them to stake out their own territories. You can also create or buy cave decorations for that purpose, as well.
A hardy plant that is perfect for your Betta’s tank is Hornwort, which can either be planted or floated on the tank’s surface. Remember not to put too many plants in the tank and thereby block the surface of the water. Your Bettas need easy access to the water’s surface to feed, breathe, and even breed.
Bettas are used to calm slow-flowing waters, so air and water pumps aren’t needed to create a current. You will need a filter to keep the water clean, as well as a heater to keep the water temperature in the 75°F to 80°F range. As far as the water conditions go, you will need to make sure the pH levels are between 6 and 8, and the water hardness between 5 and 35 dGH.
What is the Best Size Aquarium?
Do not put your Bettas in anything smaller than a 10-gallon tank. In fact, a 10-gallon tank is the perfect size for just one female Betta. If you plan to keep a sorority or put them in a community tank, you will need a much larger tank
How Many Female Bettas Can be kept per gallon?
Starting with a 10-gallon tank for one female, anytime you add another female, you will need to add another 5 gallons to the tank size. You need to give them enough space to stake their territories and stay out of each other’s way and not fight.
Tank Mates for your Female Betta
Choosing the right tank mates is the key to having a peaceful community with female Bettas. A great option to consider for a tank mate is a group of smallish shoaling fish. Because they stay in a group, it’s unlikely that one will be singled out and picked on. They are also fast swimmers and can quickly escape by darting away. Some more good options include:
- White Cloud Mountain Minnows
- Rosy Barbs
- Neon Tetras
- Zebra Danios
Fish that prefer the lower region of the tank are a great option, as well. These include:
- Yoyo Loaches
- Zebra Loaches
- Kuhli Loaches
- Corydoras Catfish
Oscars should be avoided because they are territorial and will fight over space with your Betta. In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid any other territorial fish. You also want to avoid any fish that even vaguely resembles a male Betta because they might stress out your female Betta.
Keeping Female Betta Fish Together
Unlike male Bettas, you can successfully keep females Bettas together. Most female Bettas tend to be more peaceful, although occasionally you will run across an overly aggressive female Betta. However, the fights aren’t usually as dangerous or frequent as they are with the males.
A sorority is a group of 4 to 6 female Bettas. In order to keep a sorority, you will need a bigger tank, at least 30 gallons. You should also create different territories using plants and decorations for each of the members of the sorority.
The Best Diet for Your Female Betta
Bettas require a carnivorous diet full of protein in order for them to stay healthy and strong. In their natural habitat, both male and female Bettas dine on a variety of plankton, small crustaceans, and insect larvae.
At home, the best way to replicate their carnivorous diet is by feeding them frozen and live foods. Some of the most popular options include bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. The nutritional value of these foods is higher than other options.
The problem with dried food is that it loses most of its nutrients during the manufacturing process. Pellet and flake foods may be more convenient in the long run, but you still want to supplement with live and frozen foods several times a week. You can’t solely rely on pellet and flake foods.
However, there are dried foods made for Bettas, specifically, which contain a higher level of protein. You will still need to supplement with live and frozen foods to ensure your Bettas have a well-balanced diet with the nutrients they need.
Feed your female Betta twice a day. When feeding your Betta, you only want to give it a small amount that can be eaten within two minutes. Remove any food that is left after two minutes. Otherwise, your females will continue eating until they’ve eaten everything, potentially overeating. By giving them a small amount to eat twice a day, their digestive system won’t need to work as hard.
Caring for your Female Betta Fish
Because the water conditions in their natural habitat tend to be poor, Bettas have evolved into a hardy fish species. Despite their hardiness, you still need to keep the tank clean, maintaining the water quality with the help of a filter and regular water changes. Tanks that are not kept clean can cause a variety of health problems for your Betta, including diseases.
Your females can also pick up diseases from injuries inflicted during a fight with other Bettas. Although fighting is less common among females than males, it does still happen occasionally.
If you see symptoms of an illness of any kind, you will want to remove that fish immediately and put it in a quarantine tank so that the illness or the disease does not spread to the remaining fish.
Unclean water conditions can lead to fin rot, which is a bacterial infection. It can also be introduced into the tank by adding a new fish or using second-hand equipment in the tank. Inflammation and irritation are the main symptoms of fin rot. As soon as you notice these symptoms, you should begin treating it with medications that you can buy from the pet stores.
Bloating is another issue you see a lot of with Bettas. It causes the abdomen to swell up and can cause secondary issues such as loss of appetite and breathing difficulties.
The most common cause of bloating tends to be overfeeding. Try rationing your female Betta’s diet until the bloating goes down. If that doesn’t work, the bloating could be caused by a bacterium, a virus, or a parasite, all of which can be treated with medications.
Breeding Your Female Bettas
When breeding your female Bettas, you will need to choose a male Betta to introduce into the breeding tank. The only time you should put a male Betta and a female Betta together is when you are attempting to breed them.
When it comes to mating, Bettas are very picky and will not mate unless conditions are perfect in their environment. They should have clean water that is around 80°F. Their diet should consist of high-quality foods, and they should eat frequently, about two to four times each day.
When the male and female become interested in mating with each other, the male will begin building up a bubble nest at the surface of the water consisting of saliva covered sticky bubbles, while the female’s coloring will darken significantly.
If the female approves of the nest, the pair will begin courting. The courting ritual involves biting and chasing each other. However, if they begin to get too aggressive towards each other, you will need to separate them.
During courting, the female will flip over to where she is upside down, and the male will cover her by wrapping himself around her as he fertilizes her eggs while she releases them. The male will then move the eggs to the bubble nest.
Immediately remove the female from the tank afterward because she might eat her eggs. Within two to three days, the fry will hatch, and you can begin feeding them infusoria and other tiny foods.
Are Female Betta Fish for You?
Compared to their male counterparts, the female Betta is much easier to care for, making them the perfect choice for beginner aquarists that are trying to avoid aggressive fish.
One drawback to buying a female Betta rather than a male is you don’t get the same amount of ornamentalism that the males possess. Some aquarists are willing to put up with the male’s aggression in order to have the vibrant coloring and elaborate finnage of the male.
Don’t discount the female’s beauty, though. She may not be as fancy as the male, but she is still beautiful. Plus, you can keep a sorority rather than just one Betta, as you would be forced to do with a male, making them an enjoyable alternative to the male Betta.