Last update: November 2, 2022

Reasons Why Betta Fish Fight & How to Stop Them

Despite their beauty, Betta fish tend to fight, and these conflicts can be pretty unpleasant for pet fish and their owner alike. Let’s just say there’s a reason why they’re called Siamese Fighting Fish.

Betta fish are sold in pet shops, and when they fight, they can cause death or significant injury to one or both the fish. If you want to know why they fight and how to prevent it, go through the following paragraphs.

What happens if two betta fish get into a fight?

Betta fishes in two separated aquariums

If all Betta fish are anything like the ones we’ve seen, it’s safe to say they’re not friendly. Male Bettas and female Bettas engage in various aggressive behaviors, including fighting with one other and even with other Bettas of the same gender. 

It’s a standard practice among pet fish breeders and traders to separate the males from the females in an aquarium. Because Betta fish fights can be brutal, we strongly recommend following that standard practice and keeping two Betta males apart. 

When a Betta fish prepares for an attack, it will flare its gills to come forward to appear larger to the enemy, much like any other animal does when it wants to boost its power. Many land species, including pufferfish, employ the same protection technique. The kingdom Animalia fight manual lists scaring their opponent as its number one method.

Nipping, in which competitors circle and nip at the fins of one another, is the next step. As a result of these maneuvers, one or both fish may be harmed, deciding the fight’s outcome. For the most part, the duration of these confrontations is just a few seconds. However, it’s best to avoid them as much as possible. 

It has now been established that Bettas fight frequently, and we better understand how they do it. What’s more, do we know why?

Why do Betta fish engage in fighting with one another?

Many factors can lead to a fight between two Betta fish in your aquarium. Territories, food, and female fish are some. Let’s go through them.

Bettas have a strong territorial instinct

Bettas have a strong territorial instinct

We’ve all heard stories of wild creatures, such as tigers and lions, being passionately territorial. It might seem a little out of place for fish to elicit these feelings, but Betta fish are notoriously possessive of their habitats and may attack a male who enters their domain.

Domestication of these Siamese fishes is rare. They can bring their wild traits home and claim the aquarium as their own. Bettas can live in a variety of aquariums and water environments. They are, however, easily frightened.

In Thailand, for instance, Betta fish are raised in solitary captivity to participate in boxing contests. Individually-raised Bettas are known to battle harder and longer than those bred in groups, and they are more profitable for their keepers. Isolation is terrible and will only lead to aggression and deathly fights. 

Bettas frequently engage in food fights

Bettas hunt for food in their natural environments because it’s a rare resource. As a result, many captivity-bred Betta fish exhibit negative attitudes toward the food they eat and become extremely vigilant in protecting their food supply.

As they get older, Bettas develop a solid attachment to the stuff they’re eating. As soon as a male Betta fish senses danger, it’s ready to fight back. Because of their problems in their native habitats, their aggressiveness is not surprising to anyone.

Bettas are pretty good at spotting danger. They won’t waste time and energy battling other fish that aren’t bothering them. They will, however, respond to another Betta male’s presence or other similar-looking species. Keeping male Bettas in different aquariums is the most typical solution to this problem.

Betta males are very possessive about females

Betta males are very possessive about females

As a whole, betta fish are considered to be aggressive. They engage in sexually-motivated behaviors to attract female members of their species. Female Bettas are distinct from their male counterparts because they have a different sex life cycle. They are docile and can live together in a ‘harem’ in a single tank. 

On the other hand, males are known to construct elaborate bubble nests for the eggs laid by their significant females. They’ve even been known to use the nests they’ve built to lure females. They are fiercely protective of their eggs and nests, and other males may even challenge them to reduce their chances of a successful breeding season.

Betta males can exhibit signs of stress

The behavior of a Beta fish can be significantly influenced by the water conditions. Changing their environment in any way can cause Bettas to feel anxious and unsure of their surroundings, leading to stress and, consequently, aggressive behavior.

Bettas do not take kindly to being intimidated

Betta males stand off

Betta males, as previously stated, may become alarmed if they notice an increase in the number of other Betta males in their immediate surroundings. Siamese have a natural ability to be quickly recognized because of their vibrant colors and tints. Betta males might become frightened and even fight when exposed to brightly colored objects. Bigger fins or longer tails may also make them feel the same way. 

How can I prevent Betta fish from fighting?

Bringing up a Siamese Fighting fish is not a task for the faint of heart. Since these fish are so valuable, losing them isn’t ideal, especially if they’ve been pets. The good news is that keeping your fish tank peaceful isn’t as difficult as it seems. 

  • The first step is to limit the amount of intimidation the male Betta fish face by only allowing one in each tank at a time. When a barrier separates two male fish tanks, there is less chance of one fish reacting to another male in the neighboring tank.
  • Avoid mirrors and other shiny objects in the tank. Items like these in a tank can make it look more attractive to humans, but they can also cause stress in fish. Bettas can injure themselves if they attack the ornaments, toys, and other items around the tank.

Researchers gave betta males marijuana and Prozac to curb their hostility. While the fish reacted well to both drugs, they developed a tolerance for marijuana.

We’ll have a better notion of what else we can do to calm the Siamese Fighting fish if we conduct more thorough research. Before administering any medication to your fishy companions via microdosing, it is recommended that you speak with your veterinarian.

Closing Thoughts

How to prevent Betta fish from fighting

We talked about Betta fish being territorial and possessive of their food supply. The fish also have difficulty adapting fast in the presence of environmental stressors like changes in water quality and alterations in tank design. 

Are you still considering getting Bettas as pets or adding another Betta to your tank? Then we recommend consulting with a professional first. The presence of another male in the tank might also make males feel threatened. As a result, avoiding such situations is the wisest course of action.

Lastly, remember to familiarize yourself with the species, their wants, needs, and personalities before deciding. 

Let us know if these pointers helped you. And don’t forget to look around the rest of the site! If you enjoyed reading this, explore the rest of the site! Let us know in the comments if you have any further queries!

Ian Sterling

I've been keeping fish for over 30 years and currently have 4 different aquariums – it's an addiction. I'm here to teach you everything there is to know about fishkeeping.

I also use this site as an excuse to spend lots of money on testing and reviewing different aquarium products! You can find my reviews here.

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