Can you put two betta fish together? (Betta Tankmate Guide)

Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 6, 2024
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Betta fish are celebrated for their vibrant colors, captivating behaviors, delicate fins, and overall grace, making them one of the easiest and most cherished tropical fish species to care for. Often, people ask, “Can you keep two betta fish in the same environment?”

While the short answer to this is yes, there are many factors to consider when seeing if bettas can live together in the same space. If you’ve asked yourself this question, read on for more important betta information!

Article Summary

  • Betta fish, also known as Japanese Fighting Fish, are generally territorial and aggressive, especially the male Siamese Fighting Fish.
  • Keeping two male betta fish in the same tank can lead to fights and even death, so it is not recommended.
  • Male and female bettas can be kept together in the same tank, but it requires a larger tank (at least 30 gallons) and careful consideration due to potential aggression and breeding.

Is It Possible To Keep Bettas Together?

Blue and Orange Betta
Blue and Orange Betta

Betta fish are commonly known as Japanese Fighting Fish and bear the scientific name of betta splendens as a nod to their splendid variety of colors.

While this name makes it sound like the art of betta fish keeping has evolved around getting these fish to fight, it’s important to note that this is typically a provoked reaction for a crowd.

Betta Temperament

The male Siamese Fighting Fish is indeed quite territorial and will often fight off other fish to prove who is the dominant fish.

An aggressive fish by nature, the need for this behavior developed in the small rice paddies and bodies of water where they originated. One betta fish would need to fight off other bettas and make extremely territorial displays in order to keep their small patch.

An unfortunate reality to consider for the male betta is that two betta fish in the same tank will likely lead to a fight to the death to assert dominance. If you really need to keep two male bettas, consider a separate tank.

Two Male Bettas

Considering that these are not naturally a schooling fish, this aggression should come as no surprise.

We do not recommend having two males bettas in the same tank, although a male and a female betta can live together, as well as a group of all female betta fish.

One betta fish can be enough of a challenge on its own! Be sure that you’re well-versed in the proper care, and maintenance before looking to get more of these long finned fish in one place.

Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?

Betta Near Aquarium Wall
Betta Near Aquarium Wall

Betta fish living in the wild will each stake out their own territory, and as such are used to being solitary creatures.

While they can indeed tolerate a few tank mates in their aquarium, it’s important to determine what the behaviors of potential tank mates will be before putting them in your betta tank. Having aggressive neighbors can cause them stress or unrest.

Considering that they are not social creatures, keeping a single male or one female betta fish in their own tank is not a bad idea, provided that they have enough space to swim in and betta fish toys or decorations to use as hiding places.


Any fish that has a habit of biting or nibbling is a bad choice, as this will likely lead to fighting.

Larger fish are likely to intimidate both male and female betta fish into hiding or potentially feeling the need to fight off a predator and caution should be taken.

When introducing a new fish, watch the behavior of everyone and create spaces for your frightened fish to hide.

Adding in aquarium plants and decorative features can be a beautiful way to create safe spaces in the fish tank for your betta fish to hide and feel secure.

Suitable Tankmates

When looking at new fish as a tank mate for your new betta fish, there are a variety of other species that would make better neighbors than another betta. Getting them the proper tankmates will provide them with a better quality of life.

While we won’t list all the fish that would work here, some great examples include bottom feeder such as cory catfish, plecos, and corydoras will stay out of the way of your betta in the tank and make for comfy roomies.

Other good options include invertebrates such as snails, which will never bother them.

What Happens If You Put 2 Betta Fish Together?

If the two betta fish are males, they will likely fight, potentially to the death. The two male fish will be unable to see the other as anything besides a threat, and if not removed from the same tank they will fight.

You might wake up one day to find that one of them is not moving or staying still at the bottom of the fish tank which is never a good sign.

Male and Female Betta

Males betta don’t typically see females as a threat to their territory and as such these betta fish live together easier.

Male and female betta fish have the added potential to breed which should be taken into account, as this can lead to more baby betta fish than you intended!


It’s important to know what the gender of your fish is before purchasing. As such it’s a good idea to purchase from a reputable source, preferably one that you can refer to as new questions arise over the course of your betta’s life.


Remember that betta fish live for up to 5 years in some cases, and are not considered a beginner fish!

Can You Put Two Betta Fish Together

Betta Fish Side by Side
Betta Fish Side by Side

In some instances, yes. If you have a single male betta and a female betta this can work just fine. Additionally, two females or more in the tank can work just fine, as they typically do not show the same aggressive behavior as their male counterparts.

Can You Put Two Male Betta Fish Together

Two males in the same tank will try to fight it out, no matter what, especially in a small tank. If you are serious about wanting to proceed with a male and a male in the same tank at the same time, you’ll need to consider a fairly big tank.

Tank Size

Regarding betta tank sizes, an individual male betta will require a 5 gallon tank to itself, so for two you’re looking at at least 10 gallons, plus plenty of objects and hiding places to claim as territory.

Even with this much space, it’s very likely that two betta fish in one tank will come into contact and inevitably fight.


If trying to keep two male bettas at one time, it is often a good idea to simply look at separate tanks.

This lowers the stress on both fish as well as the aquarist as they no longer have to monitor their fish for aggression.

Tank Divider

The use of a tank divider is another option, specifically an opaque one that prevents the two betta fish from seeing one another and attempting to fight.

Betta fish have been known to seriously injure themselves against so much as a reflection of a betta on the surface of the tank, so be very careful positioning a divider.

Here’s a helpful video on how to make your own tank dividers

DIY Tank Divider

Can You Put Two Female Betta Fish Together

Two female bettas can work just fine. In fact, having multiple female betta together in the same tank is not much of an issue either, as they form what is typically referred to as a female sorority and band together.

At a maximum in an only female tank we recommend 4-6 female bettas in the tank at one time, as beyond this they can start to feel crowded.

Signs of Distress

Important signs of distress to look for in your female bettas include stress bands along the side of the fish, irregular behaviors such as lethargy and swimming toward the surface, and aggression.

All of these are important signals that something is not right, and steps should be taken to care for the individual fish, such as putting them in their own separate betta tank. If you think that your betta is getting stressed out, it’s worth also checking the water parameters in your aquarium as it might be contributing to the problem.


We also recommend careful selection of your bettas, as female betta fish live best in groups where they feel equal. Looking at female bettas with a similar age, size, and temperament can go a long way to ensuring a happy sorority in the long run.

Do Female Betta Fish Fight?

While female bettas are indeed much less aggressive than male betta fish, they have still been bred for hundreds of years along the same lines of aggressiveness.

As such, a female betta still has that same tendency to fight as a male, albeit much less so. Two female bettas will likely not become aggressive, provided there is enough space and food to go around.


Female betta fish live in relative harmony with one another as long as they seem equal. If one is particularly larger or more aggressive, she will become the dominant female and may begin to bully the other fish for space.

This is a dangerous place to be for other females, and you may want to consider separating the more-aggressive betta into their own tank or using a tank divider to provide some boundaries.

Do Female Bettas Kill Male Bettas?

While it is possible, a female will not typically kill a male betta. Females are much less aggressive than males and even after eggs are laid, the male will more often pursue the female in their defense than vice versa.

That being said, if there is a particularly dominant female who feels threatened by a smaller male, she may kill him in defense.

Can You Put Male and Female Betta Fish Together

Pair Of Bettas
Pair Of Bettas

Yes, males and females can live in one tank at the same time, however this comes with it’s own challenges.

While male and female betta fish live together without too many problems in the wild, in the smaller spaces of our home aquariums problems can arise.

Ideal Tank Size

We recommend a minimum of a 30 gallon tank for a male and female betta, with lots of betta fish plants and decorations to break the line of sight between the two. This is important because the female betta will need space to de-stress and escape the aggression of the male.

A higher water temperature than the normal comfort range of 75-80 degrees can spark a mating period for your fish, so keep a close eye on the conditions in your tank if not looking to breed.


If the two fish wind up breeding, things can become even more complicated. During the steps of breeding betta fish, they can become aggressive and harm one another, either the male or female.

The female has an egg spot (actually the ovipositor tube) which is the typical visual reference for sexing the species, from which she’ll lay her eggs in bubble nests on the surface. The male will fertilize the eggs, after which point he may become increasingly aggressive and perceive the female as a potential threat.


Eventually some of the new fish hatching from these eggs will inevitably be male, leading to more problems with the existing father as he begins to fight his own offspring.

He will likely leave female bettas alone until they are large enough to breed with or compete with, but will try to kill male bettas in the tank.


Throughout today’s article, we’ve looked at the question of “Can you put two betta fish together?”

The answer is that while male and female bettas can live together, more than one male in the same tank will likely lead to a deadly fight between the two.

Groups of all females can also work, but it should be noted that acts of aggression and dominance are not uncommon.

Feel Free To Share!

As always we hope that this piece has answered all of your betta fish questions and that you’ve found something useful and insightful to take with you.

Feel free to share this information with other fish fanatics in your life, and don’t forget to check out my other articles.

We wish you the best of luck on your aquarium adventures!

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