Most people know that putting two male betta fish together will result in a nasty fight. But will the same thing result with two females? Female betta fish tend to be less aggressive and can live together longer as fry than males. Even though they are less aggressive, betta fish were bred for fighting, both males and females.
The answer to the question is yes, but is still more complicated than a firm “yes”. However, the fighting may be very minimal and short lived, but that depends on a variety of factors. In particular, personality, decorations, sorority tanks, divided tanks, and other tank mates are primary factors.
Betta fish each have their own unique personality, which is part of the reason this answer is complicated. What applies to one betta fish does not always apply to another. For example, some male betta fish have a calm demeanor and coexist with any tank mate while some female betta fish will hunt down everything in their sight.
While it is more common for female betta fish to be calmer, it is not always the case. Additionally, some bettas will get along fine with shrimp and snail tank mates but will chase down other fish. Some can get along with dull colored fish but kill brightly colored fish. In fact, some can get along with any and every tank mate!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that each betta has their own personality and personal compatibility chart. This means some female bettas can live together with minimal fights while others will kill. Keep in mind that two bettas, of either or both genders, cannot live together since one will always be more aggressive than the other.
If you plan on keeping female bettas, the minimum to keep together is 5, in order to prevent the least aggressive one from being picked on by the rest. With this number of bettas, the aggression will be spread out amongst all of them.
Decorations are extremely important when keeping multiple bettas together. Even if you have a 100-gallon tank, keeping female bettas together may be impossible. They need places to hide and sight breaks to stop aggressive chases, but without decorations, a bare 100-gallon does not provide enough space for one to escape another.
There are many options when it comes to decorations for a betta tank, with live plants being a popular one. The plants should be tall in order to provide sight breaks between bettas. Good plant choices include Java Ferns, Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, Pennywort, Dwarf Sag, Rotala, Ludwigia, and Anubias. These plants are either tall or bushy and are all very easy to care for.
Caves and tubes are also very useful as they provide areas for bettas to fully escape one another. The betta that is hiding will be able to feel fully secure within the cave. While tall decorations and plants provide sight breaks, the secluded caves and tubes will reduce stress even more.
PVC tubing can work as cheap caves for your bettas. Since PVC is not aesthetically pleasing, gravel or plants can be glued over the top of it. Caves can be as simple as flowerpots with the end sealed and placed half in the substrate horizontally. They can also be vertical with a large hole drilled in the side and the top hole sealed.
In order to seal the holes or glue gravel, rocks, and plants to PVC, there are three main options. Most conventional glues are not aquarium safe. Aquarium silicone is the best option and will last the longest, but super glue and hot glue are also acceptable.
A sorority tank refers to a tank that houses multiple female bettas, at least five, within it. tanks often have other fish within them to act as dither fish, which will be discussed further in the section below.
A sorority tank must be a minimum of 30” long, with the common size being a 20-gallon long tank. The larger the tank is, the more likely it is that the bettas will be able to coexist. A sorority tank is possible without any dither fish, but most sorority tanks have some.
When baby bettas grow, the males and aggressive females are separated to their own containers. The other bettas, mostly females, live together in groups. If you use sister bettas that have always lived together for your sorority, you will have the highest chance of success. This is because the bettas will have had no other tank mates and will be accustomed to one another’s presence.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, these bettas will have already established a hierarchy. Sorority tanks need a minimum of 5-7 bettas in order to establish a lasting hierarchy. There will always be a most aggressive betta, second most aggressive, and so on, and they like to show the others who’s boss. The establishment of a hierarchy, which can take over a week, is where most fights will break out.
The fights will be extremely aggressive and unpleasant to watch and could result in several deaths. Conversely, if you get sister bettas, there will only be a few fights to re-establish a hierarchy, as they only have to fill gaps left by other bettas they were housed with. Their establishment tends to be less bloody and lasts for a shorter period.
A divided tank refers to a tank with a physical barrier in the middle. This is common practice with male bettas in a 10 gallon with one on each side of the divider. In the same way, this is possible with female bettas as well.
The minimum size for a divided tank is 10 gallons in order to provide enough swimming room for each betta. Each side will have around 3-4 gallons of water depending on the amount of decorations and substrate present.
Since these bettas will not be able to reach one another, it is impossible for them to fight. Most dividers have some holes and slits in them to provide water flow. This means the bettas will be aware of one another through hormones in the water. With some dividers, they may also be able to see one another.
If your bettas spend a lot of time flaring at the divider, this needs to be remedied. Otherwise, your betta will be very stressed, which is not good for their health. If they are flaring, it means they can see one another, so placing another layer in front of the divider should resolve this.
Other Tank Mates
As previously discussed, your tank should have a bare minimum of five female betta fish for a sorority tank. However, this does not mean they must be the only fish in your tank. In fact, it is useful to have dither fish in your betta community.
Dither fish can be almost any fish but are often a schooling fish. The purpose of these fish is to either coax shy fish out of hiding or act as targets to draw attention away from another fish. In this case, the dithers would draw aggression from the bettas.
Since the basic betta sorority needs a 30” tank, roughly 20 or 30 gallons (although larger is better) you have a wide variety of options when it comes to tank mates. Since bettas primarily inhabit the upper part of the tank, you still have room for a middle and bottom fish. For the bottom dweller, you could do 8-12 kuhli loaches or 6-8 corydoras catfish.
For the middle dwelling fish, the most popular options are schooling fish. Fish with similar temperature requirements include celestial pearl danios, harlequin rasboras, ember tetras, phoenix rasboras, chili rasboras, and other micro-rasboras. A mystery snail and some ghost shrimp should also do well in these tanks, though the shrimp may become snacks.
The fish listed are peaceful and will not cause harm to your bettas. Consequentially, their calm demeanor may draw some attention from the bettas, which can help a sorority last longer.
When putting female bettas together, they will fight, though if you can do it properly, the fighting will be short lived and you will own a fantastically colorful tank.