Female vs Male Betta Fish: Everything You Need to Know!

Betta fish are some of the most beautiful tropical fish found at your local pet store. Their characteristics and physical features are an appealing catch for aquarium keepers, however can differ quite a bit between the male and female fish. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about Female vs Male Betta Fish right here.

Female vs. Male Betta Fish

Knowing the general characteristics of male and female bettas is helpful when deciding which ones would best suit your aquarium. For example, male bettas don’t bond with females. They can be paired for breeding for a limited time.  Whereas female bettas can be kept in community aquariums with other species.

Understanding their differences can also help you tell them apart, along with which gender is more likely to end up with health problems or other issues.

Female vs. Male Betta Fish


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Female Betta Fish

Female bettas tend to be a little smaller with the same dramatic pigmentation pattern as males. They don’t have as vibrant colors or large fins and usually have a more docile nature. Egg spots are on the bottom of the fish, just behind the ventral fins. This visual difference is called sexual dimorphism.

Male Betta Fish

Male bettas are small, hardy, and colorful tropical fish native to Southeast Asia. Their fins are bright and large to attract mates and to show at other males to warn them off. Male betta fish are larger and  than females of the same type. Males will show aggression towards other bettas.

Appearance – Male vs. Female Bettas

Bettas represent a large part of what the ornamental fish trade can offer.

Wild bettas are usually a brown hue with small fins and tails. Captive fish are bred and enhanced for their impressive fins and variety of colors. Enthusiasts have used the basic betta gene of wild fish to create beautiful anomalies, resulting in the current strong sexual dimorphism of captive-bred ornamental lineage betta.

The biggest physical difference is that males will generally have larger fins and more extravagant colors, whilst females tend to fall onto more dull, less vibrant colors. This makes it fairly straightforward to distinguish between the sexes.

Behavior – Male vs. Female Bettas

Male bettas tend to be notoriously intolerant, showing a high degree of aggression towards each other, even their own reflection if it’s visible. It’s common for them to widen their gills and show their fins to portray dominance against other fish.

Female bettas have a more docile and friendly persona, they can be kept in community aquariums with other fish without problems.

When groups of male and female bettas are put together, they usually end up with torn fins and dead fish unless you create a vast space with lots of hiding places and barriers in sight range.

Female vs. Male Betta Fish

Which Betta Gender is Best For You?

Both male and female bettas have their pros and cons, and you can keep one or both of them in your fish room, depending on your aesthetic preferences and purposes. If adding color and personality to your collection is your goal, a betta fish would be the perfect choice.

The best way to decide which fish might be better suited for you, is understanding which types of aquariums can house them.

If you’re wanting a modern setup in a smaller aquarium, the male betta is an excellent choice. You could place it in an aquarium equipped to keep aquatic plants along with your fish, making it comfortable in a similar environment to its natural habitat.

Female bettas are a good choice for community fish tanks, adding color to the aquarium and friendly behaviour towards tank mates.

Keeping Bettas Together

When it’s time to breed your betta and you have to put both genders in the same tank, there’s a few things you can do to prevent the male from killing the female during courtship. Using an aquarium divider is a good first step to accustom the bettas.

If it’s possible for you, keeping three or more females for each male. This helps the females stand more of a chance, rather than just one single female being stalked.

If you intend to breed bettas, you will need to be well set up for spawning and for raising betta fry.

Males take the full responsibility for caring for the eggs and raising fry. They build a bubble nest and place the fertilized eggs into it, taking great care to keep the nest clean, aerating the nest, defending it from other fish and replacing any eggs or fry that break free from the nest.

Health and Care

The main concern for a male betta’s health and well-being is tank layout.

Ideal conditions are a large aquarium with a heating and filtration system, with plenty of greenery to provide shelter and privacy. Plan for an inch of fish per gallon of water and keep in mind that fish need a stable parameter setting that doesn’t fluctuate during the day, so ensure pollutant levels stay low. Dramatic changes increase the risk of illness and stress.

Pet Store Stocking

In our experience, the male betta fish are more commonly available for sale in small pet and fish markets, due to their visually appealing stunning colors and flowing fins.

Female bettas can be sold too, just more difficult to find.

Live betta fish can be purchased online with the fish delivered right to your door.

Female vs. Male Betta Fish For Small Tanks

Male and female Betta fish are excellent choices for tanks ranging from three to 10 gallons. Betta fish contain a labyrinth organ that can help bettas breathe atmospheric air, just like us. These fish are hardy and adaptable, and both make excellent beginner fish.


Female vs. Male Betta Fish

Tail and Fins

There are more than hundreds of betta with long fins, unique behaviour and exuberant colors. Males often have large fins, but in some species have short fins. Females have a slightly narrower body and generally short tails.

Body Size & Shape

The most critical sign of knowing a fish’s gender is its body shape. Male bettas are flatter, thicker, and longer, whereas the females are often short and tight. Males can grow up to 2.5 to 3 inches, and females can only grow 2 inches.

Whenever your betta fish sees a threat, it expands its gill plate outward. This forward expansion to show more colors and its physique is called ‘flaring’. Both female and male fins are more prominent when enlarged.


Female vs. Male Betta Fish

Egg Spot

Only the female bettas have egg spots between the anal and ventral ends of the tail (where eggs are laid).

Male and Female Flaring


Body Stripes

Horizontal stripes enhance the glamor and beauty of female bettas. The lines on their body represent their sexual maturity and demonstrate that they are ready to mate. Of course, these stripes are only seen on females.

Final Comments

Betta fish are a beautiful and interesting addition to your aquarium. However, making sure you have a tank that’s suited to the needs of the Female vs Male Betta Fish is an important aspect to keep them happy and thriving.