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Betta Splendens, also well known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are fighters by nature. However, fighting is by far their only feature. Their fighting nature usually only applies to their fellow species, other bettas. To the contradiction of many beliefs, bettas do make a good tank mates with many other species (see our page on Tank-Mates for Bettas) Aggression and fighting does not only apply to male bettas, however, females are also well known for their spunk and sometimes killer instinct. See below about female aggression.
Why Bettas fight...
  Male bettas have a built in instinct to fight other male bettas. Males, by nature, will fight until their opponent is near death or has swam away in defeat. Reasons for this could range from territory to the typical male ego (no offense guys, lol). Mating, I believe, also plays a large role. Just like in many other species the alpha male gets the girl. Whether there is a female around or not, males will always be competing for the Alpha role. This instinct comes in very handy when you have a stubborn male in the spawning tank, sometimes another male in the tank (not loose, of course) will be just the right dose of jealousy to get him going.
   In some rare cases I have heard of two males being kept together, but I would not suggest this. I have had sibling males get along that were raised together and kept together in a large tank, that is the most daring I have been with temping two males.
Why Bettas flare ...
   Flaring, also called displaying or strutting, goes right along with my Alpha male theory, flaring and intimidation precede most fights. The art of flaring will make a betta appear much larger than before, their gills 'flare' out as well as their gill membrane. Their fins will spread to their fullest size and stand erect. Their colors will usually grow more intense and bright as well. The betta pictured would nearly triple in size when he displayed. The art of flaring will intimidate many 'wimpy' bettas into retreating and save the betta from having to even battle at all. If their opponent is also just as intimidating, a battle will soon begin. Females are also known to flare and display, most times at other females (see below about female aggression).
   If you only one one betta (I can't imagine that, lol) then you can get this same result by placing a mirror in front of your betta. He will begin displaying as though he is going to intimidate his reflection away (or maybe he is admiring himself?). This is actually very good for your betta is you have no other bettas for him to interact with. Not only is it fun to watch, it is good exercise for them. I keep all my bettas within view of each other. I occasionally rearrange them for a new view and new neighbors to bully!!

Why is there bubbles . . . 
  
Bubble nests are a VERY normal part of a male bettas life. Yes, females do blow them occasionally as well. I get many, many emails from worried owners wondering why their bettas is blowing all these bubbles even though there is no female around! Well, when a male betta is healthy and happy, like most men, he wants to procreate ;) He feels like making love :) Well, whether or not a female is present doesn't deter those feelings. In the wild, a female doesn't have to be placed with the male, she just happens to swim by. The pet betta doesn't realize that a female isn't going to just swim by, so he gets prepared for her thinking she will come. It does NOT mean you have to go out and buy a female and breed them. I repeat, you do NOT have to breed your male jus because he blows a nest. Be thankful for your male's nest, it means he is happy and healthy. I have had females that blow nest, I don't know what makes them feel as though they need to build one, but some just do. I have even had a female that while spawning, would steal some of her own eggs before the male got them, and swim them all the way across the tank to her OWN nest. She would come back to embrace and do the same thing. Once they were through she began to tend the nest. Strange, but true.

Female aggression . . .
  Females are also known to be nippy. You can keep several females in a community tank together unlike males. Females will develop what is called a pecking order. I have mentioned it to many in emails and figured I had better get it on a page and maybe I wouldn't' have to answer it any more( lol, yeah right!). It is actually better to keep more females together rather than just 2 or 3. With 2 or 3 bettas, they will be getting picked on more often than if there were say 10+. With 10+ bettas, the nipping gets spread out. They will establish a 'pecking order' where betta A will pick on betta B, and betta B will then pick on betta C and betta C will pick on betta D all the way down. They get this order so everyone (except the last little betta) feel as though they are in some sort of control. This spreads the pecking out so that not just one or two bettas is being picked on constantly. This goes hand in hand with the male's Alpha mentality, the Alpha female will rule the tank. This aggression is seen even early on in fry tanks, even before you or me can tell if they are males/females. The alpha game starts from very early on. 
  Females are also known to aggress towards males. In most cases, she is just telling him that he can't bully her around but in some cases, she is just truly vicious. I have had some truly mean females and no matter what I tried I was never able to tame them. 

Personalities . . .
   This is the main reason why so many people fall in love with bettas. They seem to bat their eyes at you, look at you longingly in hope that you will give them that extra little bit of food ... Bettas know how to get your attention and love. My husband was just amazed with my bettas and told me they were more like dogs than fish. I agree, they will beg for food, wag their tails, 'sit pretty' for their food and even jump for it if they want it bad enough. I even had one that had a dog house (see picture)!!!! I have bettas that will show complete enthusiasm at my presence in the room but show no reaction at all for others. I have always been a fish lover, but bettas will always be my favorites. 
   Where most fish just swim aimlessly bettas truly interact. Where most fish couldn't care less about much, bettas are different. It always break my heart when I pull a male out from his fry and he sits and sulks for days. Some of my males could care less, they just want their next woman, but some males don't want a woman neighbor, food or anything for several days. These are usually the best fathers I have.

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Last update:
  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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