Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Fish is a wonderful addition to one’s aquarium. These fishes are colorful, elegant, and beautiful enough to draw attention from everyone. So, naturally, they have been the favorite pet item over the years.

While you may want to keep the betta fish with other species, it evokes concern since betta fish is infamous for its fighting spirit and aggressiveness. This brings us to the all-important question on why do betta fish fight?

Several reasons such as territorial disputes or establishing dominance lead a betta fish to fight to his male counterparts and sometimes even females and other species as well. For the health of your betta fish in the aquarium or fish tank, you need to minimize the reasons.

So, we will discuss the reasons for betta fish fighting and show the way to resolve the fights.

The Myth About Betta Fish Fighting

Many people and even some betta fish owners think that these fishes always fight with each other by nature. Some also catch victims to death. Sadly, or fortunately, this is far from the truth.

In most cases, betta fish won’t even show any aggressiveness, let along getting involved in a fight. However, when these fishes are engaged in a battle, it can bring forth some serious consequences. In the aquarium, betta fish fight may last up to 15 minutes. In the wilderness, it continues until one opponent backs off.

Betta fish fights will cause damage to the tails, scales, and gills as both fish will nip and thrash each other severely. These injuries and the frustration of losing the fight will often lead to the death of the defeated fish. So, the betta fish fight is cruel.

However, knowing the fighting reasons for these fish can help you resolve the issue.

Why Do Betta Fish Fight?

Scientists and biologists worldwide have studied betta fish aka, Siamese fish, to find out the valid reason for their frequent engagement in the fights. The cause behind their aggressiveness in the fish tank brought some shocking news.


Scientists suggested that in the wilderness, betta fish aren’t such aggressive as in the aquarium. This aggressiveness came in them over the last century since people started domesticating them in the fish tanks.

One of the major reasons, as biologists identify, of betta fish engaged in fighting in the fish tanks is the lack of proper spacing. While in the wilderness, they can roam around freely in their territory, the same can’t be said for fish tanks or aquariums.

In both places, the fish is heavily limited to a small space. And we know betta fish are incredibly territorial and so, they often start fighting each other to dominate their territory.

In rivers and lakes or even in large ponds, a betta fish has around three sq. Ft of territory for him. While you might not consider it a significant number, the reality tells us something different. In a tank, nearly 2-5 betta fish will live in the same three square feet area.

So, they are frightened of losing their territory.

And the result?

Each fish nips the tails and gills of other to scare it off from his territory. Consequently, these fishes get engaged in brutal fights more often or not in the tanks’ limited space.

So, here’s the pick

  • A betta fish fights against his male counterparts to establish his dominance.
  • Betta fish fights are not so frequent in the wilderness as in the fish tanks.
  • The congested space in the tank makes Bettas frightened and problems for territorial battles.

How Betta Fish Fight Happens

Before starting a fight, both Bettas will flare their fins and gills. It is a visible sign of their intimidation. In the wilderness, this intimidation is enough to showcase the power and usually ends the deadly battle with the retreat of the weaker ones.

However, in the small space of tanks, the fin flaring will lead to a serious battle that commonly starts with the tail nipping. The two male bettas will aggressively circle each other and engaged in tail and fin nipping until one fish accepts its defeat and retreats.

The whole fight may last for a few moments to minutes only.

Why Do Betta Fish Fight

Will Female Betta Fish Engaged in A Fight?

Likewise, the male bettas, their female counterparts, are also quite aggressive. However, apart from territorial dominance, female bettas are often engaged in the fight for some different reasons.

While the exact reasons for female betta fish fight are unknown, you can avoid the fighting consequence (not the battle itself) by adopting some technical adjustments. These adjustments are:

  1. You need to give each betta fish sufficient territory to make them homely. Try to go for an aquarium or fish tank that can accommodate at least 15-20 gallons of water.
  2. You need to balance the number of fighting fish in the tank. The ideal fighting fish number in an aquarium is three to five (for female only). On the contrary, if you put only two together, the stronger will attack and bully the weaker.
  3. You should create a hiding place for the fish. For this, you may add some leafy plants or rocks and pebbles in the tank. This will act as an ideal retreating place for the fishes to avoid fights.
  4. When you introduce multiple female bettas, be cautious. They will most likely nip one another tails during the initial introductory parts. However, it soon will disappear once the females start knowing each other.

Also, carefully observe the behaviors of the female bettas. It will help you eliminate the chances of brutal fights quickly.

Will A Female and Male Betta Fish Fight?

Male bettas are highly aggressive. And their aggressiveness is the same for the female counterparts too. Whenever the males find insecure about its territorial dominance, it won’t think twice to attack the nearest female also.

However, the males will welcome the females wholeheartedly only during the mating season. So, you must know detail about the betta fish mating season. During that time, you can remain calm and not worry about a betta male attacking the female.

However, as soon as the mating is over, inspect your tank. Ensure that there’s sufficient hiding place for the females.

Also, you should know that the hatchlings and rearing of betta fish offspring are the responsibility of the male.

So, they will consider the presence of females close to their eggs a sign of danger and attack it immediately. Thus, the fight can kill her.

Does Betta Fish Fight Other Species?

Given the aggressiveness of betta or Siamese fighting fish, you need not to be an expert to say that these fishes will most likely fight with other species too. They will often grapple with the other smaller species to establish their dominance over whatever territory they have in the small tank.

Betta fish often consider long-tailed and colorful small fish as a threat. So, they will try to scare them off by nipping their tails that will frequently lead to a brutal fight and death of either species. Additionally, the conflict will be less likely to happen if the fishes in the tank are dull colored. Also, if there’s sufficient space for each type of fish to thrive and hide, the fighting won’t happen.

However, you can house a beta fish with diversified fish species in the same aquarium with some precautions. These we will discuss in the later half of the write-up.

What Are the Good Betta Fish Companion?

As you already know, betta fish are the fighters of the fish family. They will need a slight cause and start fighting. However, nature has profoundly balanced their aggressiveness with the calmness of some fish species.

These calm and non-fighting fish species are safe to rear up in the same aquarium with betta fish. The most common betta fish companions are-

Bristlenose Plecos: This fish is famous for its extensive shyness. They try their level best to avoid all sorts of confrontation. However, these are bit large species and need considerable space in the tanks.

Nerite Snails: Snail is an excellent choice to house with Bettas. Specially, when the tank is small. It breeds slowly and lives on algae that keep the tank clean. Besides, it’s a peaceful.

Feeder Guppies: This is another peace-loving and small fish that reside well with a betta in a normal environment. The fish isn’t a nip attacker either. So, your betta will remain safe and healthy.

Neon Tetra: Neon Tetras are small species and speedy swimmers. So, they can quickly flee away from your betta. Additionally, betta and Neon don’t share the same territory.

Glass Catfish: A glass catfish is a see-through fish. Due to their small size and dull color, bettas don’t consider them a threat and avoids fighting.

All these three fish species will be good tank mates for bettas. However, there are tons of other alternatives too.

Different Ways to Reduce the Betta Fish Fighting Chance

After much research and observation, we have piled up the following tips for you to reduce betta fish fighting chances.

  1. You may rear the betta fish all on its own. It won’t ardently feel lonely. So, don’t feel guilty if you are parenting the bettas alone. In fact this is the best and most recommended option.
  2. Slowly learn about your fish behavior and also identify the fish species that will be a good tank mate for bettas.
  3. You may invest some time to observe the aggression and personality of the betta you intend to buy. It will help you learn its preference and likeness for a fight and adjust your plans accordingly.
  4. A community tank should be around at least 15-25 gallons of water so that every fish can thrive.
  5. Arrange sufficient hiding space for the fishes. You may use rocks, pebbles, and plants.

Check our details guide on selecting your betta fish tank for a single betta.

How to Make Betta Fish Fight

Now that we know why betta fights each other, sometimes the owner may need to arrange the fight club competition to help the fish practice it’s instinct. In the aquarium or fish tank, you can control the betta fish fight with some easy but exciting tips.

Keepers may arrange a transparent divider between the two male Bettas to bring the fighting instinct out. Sometimes you can even use a mirror to misguide the betta to consider his reflection as his opponent.

This reflection will provoke the fish to bring out his fighting spirit and practice some. Thankfully, betta fish is known for its intelligence, and you can thus train it for the fight.

Grab fish foods in your fingers and lure the betta into taking it from you, a brilliant way to prepare them for the fights.

The Bottom Line

When you think about your aquarium, betta fish is the first fish that pops up to your mind. It is beautiful, colorful, and exciting, which makes our aquarium lively and lovely.

Unfortunately, the same fish species is always on its toes (tails) to fight off its counterparts like Wrestle Mania. So, you must first understand why do betta fish fight and then with patience, reduce the likeliness of the battle happening.

And it’s a matter of happiness, with a few minor adjustments you can quickly stop the betta’s death due to fights if not the match at least. We hope this article comes beneficial for you to know the reason for the aggressiveness of betta fish. We also hope that you get a clear idea about how to treat these fighting yet elegant fish in your aquarium.


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