When it comes to bettas, the male fish tend to get the most attention. Their bright colors and bellicose attitudes make them a favorite choice for novice aquarists. But female betta fish are almost as cute as children, and in many ways easier to care for.
Don’t overlook these fascinating ladies! Did you know that female bettas can be kept in groups and easily kept in a community tank? This female betta fish care guide will cover everything she needs to know to set up the ideal habitat for her pet and keep her healthy and vibrant.
GUIDE TO FEMALE BETTA FISH
Let’s tackle the most important question first. Is taking care of a female betta or a community of women different from keeping a male fish? The answer is a bit complicated because it is both yes and no.
While females have the same habitat and feeding requirements as males, their behavior is markedly different. This affects how she will set up her tank and the types of tankmates she might add to her community. Also, you can choose to get multiple females and start a guild tank!
NATURAL HISTORY OF BETTAS
Bettas (Betta splendens) are a colorful and territorial fish native to Southeast Asia. There are more than 70 species of bettas in the region and most have never been domesticated. In the wild, bettas typically live in shallow paddy fields, streams, and slow-moving rivers, where they feed on insect eggs and small insects in the water.
Wild betta fish lack the vibrant colors of fantasy, although many have interesting scale patterns and brightly colored spots. But most significantly, wild male bettas don’t have long, sleek tails, which would impede their movement.Domesticated female bettas closely resemble their wild ancestors in general appearance.
Betta fish can breathe air
A curious fact about bettas is that they are a type of labyrinth fish and have an organ that allows them to breathe air on the surface of the water. Unlike many community fish, bettas do not require high levels of oxygen in the water. They enjoy hanging out on top of their tank and taking sips of air there.
APPEARANCE OF FEMALE VS MALE BETTAS
How big are female bettas? Male and female fancy bettas generally average about 2.5 inches in body length when fully grown. Where they differ is in their fins. Male fish are known for their elaborate and decorative tail fins that are 1 to 2 inches long.
Unlike male betta fish, there are not many types of female betta fish. You can look for a crow-tailed or double-tailed male, or choose a male based on his color. When purchasing fish, the unique variety of the male will be identified, while the females are often simply listed as «female bettas.»
|betta gender||Appearance||average adult body length||Average full length of an adult|
|Woman||Thin, slender body Color is paler and not as vibrant Ovipositor tube (a white spot) is noticeable at base of ventral fins Baleen is hidden under gill cover and almost invisible.||2.5 inches||3 inches|
|Male||Thicker and heavier body Colors are vivid, deep and vibrant Fancy elongated tail, anal and dorsal fins. Ventral fins may be elongated in some varieties. Noticeable beard peeking out from under gill cover||2.5 inches||3.5 to 5.5 inches|
ARE FEMALE BETTAS AGGRESSIVE?
How else are female bettas different from their larger, more colorful mates? Female Siamese fighting fish are not as aggressive and will not immediately try to get rid of every fish they see. But they don’t like it when others invade their space. They will chase fish away from their territories and do not always play well with others.
However, female bettas are not as territorial as males, so they can share a tank with the proper setup. As long as they are not under stress, females generally get along well in a sorority or community fish tank if they have enough personal space.
female betta fish in your community tank
The key to creating a community tank with a female betta or sorority is:
- Give each lady enough space by allowing at least 5 gallons of capacity per betta, plus any space the other fish in the community require.
- Use plants, rocks, and other decorations to create unique hiding places and territories within your tank.
- Choose peaceful tankmates who prefer to hang out in the lower parts of their tank, so your females can have the upper part to themselves.
- Avoid tankmates with long, flowing fins or species known to be semi-aggressive or agile, such as Tiger Barbs.
- Consider using longer styles of aquariums instead of those that are tall and narrow. Since bettas prefer to hang out on the surface, a long tank should provide enough space at the top for multiple female bettas to have their own territory.
CARING FOR YOUR FEMALE BETTA
Now that you have all the details on female bettas, let’s talk about their requirements and how to set up and maintain your tank.
Caring for a single female betta is really no different than caring for a male fish. They have the same needs in terms of diet, temperature and water circulation. But keeping a group of women in a sorority presents some unique challenges that we’ll cover below.
DIET AND FOOD
Bettas are carnivorous and in the wild feed primarily on live insects and their eggs that float in the water. While you have the option of feeding your betta a commercial diet, many fish greatly prefer fresh live or frozen food to flakes. They will be more likely to eat foods that float rather than those that sink.
It is better to vary the foods you offer your fish rather than limiting yourself to one product. Your female betta will have a more vibrant color and will likely stay healthier if offered a variety of foods and treats. You will also reduce your betta’s stress and potential aggression by feeding it on a regular schedule.
What to feed your female Betta
If you are going to stick with an easy-to-make betta diet, choose a high-quality product that is high in protein and made specifically for betta fish. General purpose fish foods are not suitable for bettas.Betta fish cannot live on plant materials or algae; they must have enough protein in their diet or they will starve.
You can supplement a commercial diet with treats or feed your betta fish fresh, freeze-dried, or frozen foods, such as:
- daphnia eggs
- Mosquito larvae or other insects.
- Tubifex and blood worms
How much and how often to feed?
It’s easy to feed a single betta fish, but it can be more difficult to feed a sorority. I typically feed my fish every other day, as this feast and famine pattern more closely mimics their natural way of eating than daily feeding. Bettas don’t have very large stomachs, so a little food goes a long way.
I would offer a single betta a couple of bites or flakes of commercial food or some rehydrated freeze dried treats. If they gobble it up quickly, I’d offer them some more. Basically my fish get what they can eat in about 1-2 minutes and then the excess food is removed.
Feeding a Brotherhood or Female Betta in a Community Tank
For community setups, I make sure to offer a variety of foods so that each type of fish can choose what they prefer. I’ll use a sinking food and algae discs for my bottom feeders, and then tempt the other fish and bettas with floating or live diets, or rehydrated frozen or freeze-dried treats.
I spread them across the top of the tank, so each betta can feed in peace and doesn’t feel like they need to fight for space. As with a single fish, I usually only feed my community tanks every other day and only as much as they can consume in a couple of minutes.
BETTA TANK REQUIREMENTS
I’m sure you’ve seen those cute little betta bowls for sale in a store or online. As attractive as they are, they are a very bad idea for bettas and completely unsuitable for betta sororities.While a betta fish can survive in a small amount of water for a while, it becomes very stressed in harsh conditions.
While you may be able to keep a single female in a small 1-gallon setup on a short-term basis, this is far less space than is ideal. Keeping a betta fish in a small tank will cause stress and can cause health problems. If you try to pack multiple females into a small tank, they can fight and hurt each other.
I recommend getting at least a 5 gallon tank for a single female betta, and more space is even better. If you want to have other community fish with your female, upgrade to at least a 10-gallon setup.
Betta Sorority Tanks
How big a tank do you need to keep a group of female bettas? Since each female needs some space to establish her territory, I recommend going with a 20 gallon long tank or a 29 gallon tank for 3 to 5 female bettas. She may even have enough room to add some bottom dwelling or schooling community fish if she wishes.
I don’t recommend trying to keep less than 3 females together, as they may separate from each other to fight. While you could technically keep two females alone in a 10 gallon setup, this is likely to be stressful for them. It is better to go with a larger tank and a larger group of females.
|Tank size (style)||Maximum number of female Betta||Space for other species in the community?||Comments|
|5 to 10 gallons (varies)||1||Yes||Best for single bettas of any gender, with room for a tankmate or two|
|15 gallons (high)||1 to 3 (not ideal)||Possibly, if the tank only has one betta||Tall tank is not ideal for multiple female bettas|
|20 gallons (high) 20 gallons (long)||33 to 5||Yes Yes||The longer style can accommodate more females due to the additional space on the surface of the tank.|
|29 gallons||3 to 7||Yes||Idea size for a sorority betta or community betta tank|
OTHER EQUIPMENT FOR YOUR BETTA TANK
Once you’ve chosen your tank, there’s still some equipment you’ll need to keep your betta happy and healthy. You will of course need a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramine and a fishing net to catch your bettas. What else should you look for?
Bettas do not need a high level of oxygen in the water, but they do prefer very clean water. One of the most common reasons for a stressed or sick betta fish is poor water quality.
If you have a single female in a small tank, you may be able to get by without a filter, but you’ll probably need to change the water several times a week to keep your fish healthy.However, bettas do not like a lot of running water. You will want to opt for a low flow filter or adjust it to create a smooth flow in your tank.
For betta sororities and community tanks, I highly recommend getting a good multi-stage filter and regularly changing the water, filter pad, and media to keep the water sparkling clean. With a good filtration system, you may only need to do a water change once or twice a month, depending on the size of your tank.
Bettas are tropical fish and require warm water that is 75 to 86°F in temperature. They do not do well when their tank is outside of this range and they become stressed and ill if their water fluctuates more than a degree or two over 24 hours.. While you can often get by without a filter, you do need a heater for a betta tank.
Low water temperatures can stress your betta fish and lead to health problems. At the same time, you also don’t want your tank to overheat. It’s best to place your betta fish tank out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t get too hot in the summer months.
Bells and Lighting
You will definitely want a tank with a lid or hood. Bettas are puddle jumping champions and can jump several feet out of the water! You don’t want them to jump to their deaths, so keep your tank covered for their safety.Be sure to leave an inch of space at the top of your tank so your females can breathe as well.
You don’t need to have a light setup for your tank unless you plan on growing live plants. However, most community and sorority betta tanks benefit from a lamp.
If plants are a priority, I would invest in a high quality lighting setup to maximize their growth potential.
Plants, Decorations and Substrate
Bettas get bored if they live in an empty tank with no plants or decorations to play with. You should add live or plastic plants, rocks, sticks, and other decorations to your tank to give your fish places to hide and explore. This is especially important in community tanks and betta sororities.
Bettas are not picky about their substrate, so feel free to choose the product you prefer. However, I would recommend choosing a plant-specific substrate if live plants are a priority in your tank. The plants grow better when planted in tanks with gravel or special substrates like Flourite than in sandy bottom settings.
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY BETTA BROTHERHOOD
How do you keep your female or sorority fish healthy? Since bettas are sensitive to water quality, keeping your tank clean and your filtration system in good working order will go a long way toward the health of your community. Avoid stressing your fish and they should thrive in your tank!
How to maintain good water quality
The main way to maintain good water quality for your guild is to do regular water changes. This is the single most important thing you can do to keep your female betta looking her best!Poor water quality and cold water temperatures are the leading cause of stress and illness in betta fish.
Your choice of equipment and configuration can also make it easier to maintain your water quality. A multi-stage filter will help remove physical debris and toxins. The good aquarium bacteria that live in your substrate can break down and detox ammonia and nitrites before they can harm your fish.
How often do you need to change the water in your aquarium?It depends on the size of your tank, your setup, and how many fish you have in the community.
- For small tanks under 10 gallons without a filter, you’ll need to change 10% to 50% of the water at least once a week, and probably two to three times a week for smaller aquariums.
- For small tanks with a filter, you will need to change between 10% and 30% of the water once a week to twice a month.
- For larger tanks with a filter, you will often only need to change 10% to 30% of the water once or twice a month.
How to Recognize Stress in Your Female Fish
A stressed betta fish is likely to get sick if the problem is not quickly identified and fixed. While poor water quality is the main reason for stress in a betta fish, there are other things that can also make your fish unhappy.
Things that can stress your female betta include:
- Dirty water, or water that is too cold or hot or that fluctuates a lot in temperature
- Overcrowded tank or too many other female bettas in the tank
- There are no hiding places or things to play with inside the tank.
- There is no room at the top of the tank to breathe.
- Too much water flow in the tank
- Erratic feeding schedule or significant fasting period (several days)
When your female betta is under stress:
- Its color may be paler than normal.
- They may stop eating or have a decreased appetite.
- They may peck at their own fins and tail or rub their scales on your aquarium decor, causing injury.
- They can choose other female bettas or fish from the community.
Common Health Problems in Female Bettas
Female bettas are usually healthier than colored males. That’s because those elaborate fins predispose males to many health problems, including fin and tail rot and swim bladder disorders. With their shorter fins, female bettas rarely suffer from the same problems.
Female and sorority-bred bettas are more likely to pick up a parasite or disease from the other fish in the community. As long as you maintain her tank and do routine water changes, your female is unlikely to develop fin and tail rot. It’s a good idea to have a hospital tank on hand in case you need to quarantine a sick fish.
|Symptom||Likely problem(s)||Possible diagnosis||Generally treatable?||Common in female Bettas?|
|Cotton-like patches or spots on the fins or body||Stress, tankmate infection, poor water quality||Columnaris, I / Ick||Yes||Yes|
|Bulging eyes||Tuberculosis or disease related to poor water quality.||Popeye||Yes||Nope|
|Swollen body and scales; the swelling makes the fish look like a pineapple||Infection by fungi, viruses or bacteria.||Dropsy||Yes||Nope|
|Colored rusty spots or spots on body or fins; fish can rub against aquarium decorations||Water temperatures outside the ideal range, poor quality water and stress||velvet disease||Yes||Yes|
|The fish floats on its side and cannot dive or swim normally||Genetic predisposition, overeating leading to obesity, infections||swim bladder disorder||Yes, but prevention is better than treatment and some fish never recover||Nope|
|Lump or bump that grows rapidly in size||Depends on diagnosis||abscess or tumor||Tumors can be fatal and there is no treatment for cancer in fish||Nope|
|Fins with black or red edges or irregular fins with holes; fins melting or receding into body; open sores on the body||The water temperature is too low, the water in the tank is dirty or of poor quality||Fin and tail rot||Very treatable in the early stages, but can be fatal once it has spread to the body.||Nope|
BREEDING YOUR FEMALE BETTA
In order to breed your female fish, you will need to set up some additional aquariums. You will need a breeding tank for your male fish to build his bubble nest and at least one other tank to raise his young. You will need to use a soft sponge filter in your fry and fry tanks to prevent injury to the babies, and a heater and lid to keep them safe.
Once your male fish has acclimated to the breeding tank and is busy building the nest, you can add the female to the tank. They will swim for a few hours until the female is ready to lay her eggs. Once she’s done, you’ll need to return her to her original tank so the male doesn’t attack her.
|Common name (species)||Female Betta, Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens)|
|Source||Southeast Asia; mainly in Thailand and Cambodia|
|Diet||Carnivore Prefers live foods such as brine shrimp, but will eat frozen and flake foods.|
|level of care||easy to intermediate|
|Exercise||soft and curious|
|tank level||All, but prefers Top and Middle|
|Minimum tank size||Single woman for every 5 gallons (20 gallons for a sorority of 3 to 5)|
|Temperature range||Tropical 75-86°F|
|Hardness of water||KH 0-25|
|pH range||6.0 to 8.0|
|Filtration / Flow Rate||Prefers well-filtered water with a low flow rate|
|Breeding||Egg layer; The females do not care for the eggs or the offspring.|
|Tank Mate Compatibility||Females may be kept in a group (called a sorority) and with other fish in the community. Avoid housing semi-aggressive or pungent species or fish with long fins.|
|Is it ok for planted tanks?||Yes, great for planted tanks|
SETTING UP A TANK FOR YOUR BETTA BROTHERHOOD
If you are interested in keeping female bettas together, you will need to set up a sorority tank. While single male fish make a dramatic impression in a small tank, females really stand out as a group in a larger tank. They may not be as bright as the boys, but the colors of female betta fish are no less beautiful in a community setting.
BROTHERHOOD TANK PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS
One option is to get an aquarium kit, which should include your tank and some of the basic equipment you’ll need to set up your guild. This saves you the hassle of having to buy everything individually.
The aqueon 29 gallon tank with LED light is a good option, but you will still need to purchase a filter, heater, substrate, and decorations for your tank. If you want a setup that includes just about everything, this 20 Gallon GloFish Tank with LED Light is very pretty and colorful. But since it is a tall tank, it is not ideal for more than 3 female bettas.
To set up your own tank for a community of female bettas with 3-5 fish, you will need to purchase:
- 20 to 29 gallon capacity aquarium: aqueon 20 gallon long glass aquarium
- Aquarium Hood & Lighting Fixture: Fluorescent Light & Aquarium Hood Perfect
- Multi-Stage Filtration System: Marineland Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Filter
- Aquarium Heater: Marine Submersible Aquarium Heater
- Aquarium Thermometer: Zacro Digital LCD Aquarium Thermometer
- Substrate for the bottom of the tank: CaribSea Planted Aquarium Substrate
- Plants and Decorations: Zoo Med Floating Betta Log, CousDUoBe Floating Leaf
- Betta Food and Treats: Tetra BettaMin Pellets, Tetra Freeze Dried Bloodworms, Fluval Bug Bites for Bettas
- Water Conditioner: Seachem Prime Fresh and Salt Water Conditioner
- Fishing net: 4 inch penn plax fishing net
Compatible tankmates for betta sororities include: the Yoyo Loach, the Blackline rasbora, and the Glowlight Tetra, among many options. The best option for you will depend on the size of your tank and the number of bettas in your brotherhood.
SETTING UP YOUR SORORITY BETTA: STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Setting up an aquarium for your pretty female betta fish is not difficult !
- First, unwrap or unpack your gear and remove any stickers, then rinse everything in a sink and towel dry.
- Next, place your aquarium in its permanent location, near a power outlet, but away from windows and any direct light. If you are using an under gravel filter, set it up first. Rinse your substrate and place it at the bottom of your tank.
- Fill your tank with water and add your filter, heater, thermometer, and whatever decorations or plants you’ve chosen. Turn on your heater and set the temperature, and allow your filter to run. Cover the tank with the hood/lights and let everything sit for 24 hours.
- The next day, if the water is cloudy, change the water. You can do whatever it takes to clean the water. Check the temperature of your aquarium before changing the water and adjust the heater if necessary. Once the water is clear, add the proper amount of water conditioner. Now you can buy your fish!
- Add a few fish at a time, gradually bringing your tank to capacity over the period of a month. You would add some bottom dwellers or territorial community fish first, and then add your female bettas after they have established themselves. You can top off your tank with some tetras, rasboras, or school minnows.
Setting up a sorority tank is not difficult and caring for female betta fish is easy compared to the quirky boy bettas. I hope this guide to female bettas and sororities has given you some great advice and tips for your tank. I’d love to hear about your guild tank in the comments, or join us on social media!
The key to a healthy sisterhood aquarium is to maintain really good water quality and give each female enough room for her personal territory. If you want a vibrant community tank, go for a 29-gallon setup with three to five female bettas and a variety of compatible tankmates to complete the picture.