Due to their exotic appearance, the Betta fish are prominently found in fish lovers’ homes, but not many of the aquarists know that all the shining Betta fish are males in the aquarium.

But unlike many other fish types, these species boldly promote the differences between the gender.

It is not just about physical identity. There are significant differences in their behavioral patterns that make them an identifiable choice by aquarists.

Let us discover the unique features of these fish that can tell if your Betta is male or female. This article will also brief you about the attitude each fish carries and how they should be treated while petting them in the home aquarium.

How to Identify Male And Female Betta Fish by Their Looks

If you check out their pictures at random, it wouldn’t be difficult to guess the sexual orientation of the particular Betta.

Quick Check on Appearance:

Feature Male Female
Brightness Shiny skin Lacks luster
Fins Large & flowing Short & stiff
Color patterns Single Jewel shades Vertical bars
Structure Sleek & streamlined Thick & Fatty
Beard on chin Membranous structure Absent
Size Up to 2 inches Up to 3 inches
Pregnancy No sign Eggs appear on the stomach surface
Difference between Male And Female Betta Fish

Here are some of the eye witnessing characteristics defining the looks of these fish, which establishes their gender differences.

  • Brightness: One of the noticeable features of the male Betta fish is the vibrant shine on their scales, whereas the female Betta fish has a dull appearance.
  • Fins: The dorsal, pelvic, and caudal fins (tail) of the male fish are pretty long and of floating style, while in females, these fins are short in size and non-floating. This disparity usually appears in the adult Betta fish.

Plakat Betta can be an exception here, as both males and females have short fins, but other prominent differences do exist.

  • Color Patterns: The females are usually seen with vertical bars all over their bodies and fins, which are absent in the males, and on the contrary, they display single jewel shades.
  • Structure: The male Betta fish is always thinner than the females.
  • Beard on Chin: It is only the male fish that sometimes have a beard-like appearance, which is actually the membranes.
  • Size: The female Betta fish grows slowly and reaches a length of 3 inches, whereas its male counterparts extend a bit to grow up to 2 inches.
  • Pregnancy: It is obvious that the males would not show any signs of pregnancy. While the female Betta fish is pregnant, it collects eggs in the stomach or egg spot, which resembles a bump if observed from the sides.
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Fact: It is incredible to note that species living in the open waters hardly have any difference in appearance. Both the genders of Betta possess dull, similar shades, with medium-length fins & tails. However, male Bettas are comparatively larger.

How to Tell a Male And Female Betta Fish Apart By its Behavior?

Besides how they appear to your eyes to bring out the differences, you must also know how gender identity changes the behavior of Betta fish in the captive or wild environment, and while socializing, or breeding.

Quick Check on Behavior:

Feature Male Female
Anger Level Very high Moderate
Swimming Slow swimmer Fast swimmer
As Parents Takes care of eggs & fry Can attempt to eat eggs and fry
Gills Puffing To threaten the enemy To lead the group

These are the frequent distinguishing factors observed in the two sexes, which often play a vital role in buying them for home aquariums.

  • Anger Levels: Betta fish, in general, have high aggression levels and their males mostly do not tolerate each other around, but in a comparative analysis of the two genders, females are less aggressive.
  • Swimming: Because the males have long fins that hinder their movements, they are slow swimmers compared to the females, who are smaller in size and do not have to carry the extra-large fin’s weight.
  • As Parents: A contradiction is seen in Betta fish when they reproduce their young ones. After the spawning and fertilization process, the male Betta fish takes care of eggs and fry, while also protecting them from the female Bettas who attempt to consume their own babies.
  • Gills Puffing: It is commonly seen in Bettas puffing-out gills to discard the envy. But the two genders use it differently. The males flare it to show off their anger to other males, while females flare it for the sorority to convey leadership. In the process, they attain a bow-down position.

Other Lifestyle Variations Between The Two

The Betta fish possess a general attitude of aggression, which is seen in both genders. Likewise, they require bigger space for living.

There are many more distinct patterns seen in their lifestyles and activities. Some of the observed differences are discussed below.

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What do the Bettas do While Mating?

The male Bettas cannot withstand their brothers in its close vicinity, especially during mating. It becomes a prestige issue for them to hold their rights over the females, and thus, they will indulge in furious fights. Females, on the other hand, can share the breeding space and partner with companions.

Do Males Take Care of the Spawned Eggs?

The females pretend to leave the eggs in the open waters to hatch or get life on their own. But the male Betta Fish creates substantial bubble nests before mating, taking care of the nests or protecting them from predators. If the eggs somehow fall down, they catch them in their mouths to put them back in the nest.

Can Female Betta Fish lay Eggs Without Males?

Sometimes the breeders use a technique of arousing mating hormones in the Betta fish with virtual impaction.

When the breeders analyze that a particular specimen of male Betta is resistant to any fish and can harm them, then in such cases, they put both the genders with a glass wall dividing the tank.

Finding the opposite gender in the tank through the glass, gets hormonally charged. The male Bettas build bubble nests while the females lay eggs to further complete the reproductive cycle.

Do Both the Bettas Have Similar Tank Mates for Community Tank?

It is pretty apparent that these species cannot live comfortably with most of the other aquatic species due to the fact that they easily get aroused to demonstrate their anger and territorial nature.

The female Bettas are less aggressive and thus can settle down with many other fish, while the male Bettas do not care to compromise their living space and adjust or accept very few fish.

Types of fish that can stay with female Betta fish

  • Tetras fish (all kinds)
  • Rasbora (Rainbow, Harlequin)
  • Loaches (Yoyo, Kuhli)
  • Corydoras
  • Panda
  • Pygmy Cories
  • Clown Pleco

Types of fish that can stay with male Betta fish

  • Tetras (Only Neon and Ember)
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Clown Pleco
  • Corydoras
  • Kuhli Loaches

What are the Health Issues Faced by These Betta Fish?

Apart from the casual health and injury issues that are common in Bettas, one major problem faced by males is torn fins during fish fights.

The nature of their fins is vulnerable because they are long and float, making them an easy target for competitors. This particular problem is not faced by females because they possess short fins.

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Will a Male Betta Kill a Female Betta if Kept Together?

The male Betta fish have an uncontrolled, intrusive temperament and do not leave a chance to convey their kingship over others.

It is due to their chronic behavior that they force themselves over the female Betta fish while mating, and quite often hurt them.

The behavior is species and specimen specific, which also depends on their maturity levels. Some male Betta fish can kill the females by injuring them badly.

In another case, while protecting the unhatched eggs or fry in the bubble nest, the male Bettas push away the females. They are sometimes too hyper to actually execute the females.

Can 2 Female Betta Fish Live Together

Female Bettas possess moderate aggression towards other fish and generally behave socially well in a community tank. They do not get too hot-tempered to kill each other.

Two or more of them easily adjust to life in Betta Sorority or “female only” tanks, and can thrive for a long time without any trouble due to fights.

Can 2 Male Betta Fish Live Together??

In the place of their origin, Thailand, the Bettas are made to attend competitive fight matches that are arranged between two male fish.

They became popular because of their combative and non-tolerant behavior towards each other, and are locally termed as Siamese fighting fish.

Hence, while in the same tank they will fight to kill or injure each other and, therefore, should only be made to stay together if there is plenty of space.

Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together

It is usually not advisable to put them together. However, keeping 4 – 5 female Bettas with one male can be a fair deal.

This will divert their attention from any particular female, thus protecting them from potential harm.

Male Vs. Female Fish on Sale

The male Betta fish are in high demand in the commercial market for multiple reasons, like their decorative appearance, which catches attention in aquariums. They also appear in fighting matches and earn high betting amounts. Thus, they are priced high on sale, with an average rate of $35.

Female Bettas usually bag low sales because of their less attractive appearance. Still, few aquarists are interested in these fish because they are compatible with a more significant number of tank mates. Their average selling price is around $20.


The choice of whether to buy a male or female Betta fish is up to the fish keeper. Some need them for artificial breeding, or other commercial purposes, while in other cases, these species find their new home in display aquariums.

Both genders have a distinct value that accounts for many distinguishing features that not only contrast their appearance but remarkably affect their temperament.

It is imperative to know the details of a particular fish before getting them, since a wrong decision can severely affect the scenario for which it is bought.

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About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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