Betta vis (Betta shines) have become one of the most popular aquarium fish in the world.
And for good reason.
Betta fish are colorful, easy to keep and have character.
Betta fish can be found in small cups or jars at almost any pet store (not ideal for their health, and something we as fish farmers need to work on to change this through education and awareness).
Malebetta fish are typically what you see when you get close to the plastic cup to get a better look at the fish.
If the pet store also sells female betta fish, you may be wondering if you should get a female instead of a male betta fish.
That is the question we are going to answer in this article.
Female and male betta fish are similar in many ways, but some factors can make one fish more desirable than the other for keeping.
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Female Betta vs. Male Betta Fish Head to Head
This comparison of male and female betta fish is based on my experience, but keep in mind that each fish is unique.
The female betta wins this category hands down.
Male betta fish simply have too much fin drag that slows them down.
Although male Plakat-type betta fish can swim faster, I'm still going to give the overall speed award to the female betta fish.
This one was almost a tie, but the male betta fish wins by a slim margin.
The main reason is that female betta fish can actually be kept in "sorority" tanks with other female betta fish.
A group of 4-5 is not uncommon.
But the tank generally needs to be well planted and observed otherwise 1 or 2 of the females may be bullied, even to death.
This category is absolutely subjective.
Both male and female betta fish come in a wide variety of colors.
If long fins enhance beauty in your eyes, then male betta fish will win this category, but if short, torpedo-like bodies are more attractive to you, then female betta fish will probably win the beauty category.
This one goes down as a draw.
How to tell if a Betta is male or female
The difference betweenadultmale andadultfemale betta fish will mainly have fin length.
Male betta fish, especially those with longer flukes -- veiltails, crowntails, halfmoons and rosetails -- are easy to distinguish from female betta fish because females have much shorter fins.
But there is an exception:plakat betta fish.
"Plakat" generally refers to betta fish with shorter fins.
Plakat betta fish are believed to be most closely related to the wild typeBetta shines, but that is becoming less and less certain as the breeding ofplakat bettas becomes commercialized.
Plakats are actually extremely popular betta fish and many of the most notable koi and galaxy betta fish areplakats.
Since Plakat betta males have short fins, it becomes more difficult to distinguish them from females.
Telling the difference between male and female youngplakats is especially difficult because both have short fins and torpedo-like bodies.
But two factors in particular can help you figure out whether you have a male or female betta fish:
1) a betta's beard; And
2) the egg spot of a female betta fish.
The Betta Beard
Both male and female betta fish have a flap of skin under their gill covers called the opcular membrane.
In female betta fish, this membrane is not visible unless she spreads her gills.
In male betta fish, the opercular membrane can be seen pushing past the gill cover, but it is much easier to see when a male betta fish spreads its gills.
The large opercular membrane on a male betta fish adds size to his flared gills and extends below his chin, giving it the appearance of a "beard."
Males usually extend their gills in the presence of another male betta, when displaying themselves to a female, or when they feel threatened.
The female Betta egg spot
Another factor that can help you tell the difference between a female and male betta fish is the presence of an egg spot on the female.
The egg spot appears as a small white/cream colored dot under the female betta, between her short pelvic fins and her longer anal fin (the largest fin before the tail).
The egg spot on a female betta is actually an "ovipositor," which releases her eggs during spawning.
Male vs. Female Betta Fish for Small Tanks
Both male and female betta fish are excellent choices for 3-gallon to 10-gallon tanks.
Large or standing tanks should generally be avoided for betta fish, as bettas prefer quick access to the surface of the water to swallow air.
Betta fish actually have something called alabyrint orgel, which allows bettas to breathe atmospheric air (as we do), which helps them survive in low-oxygen environments such as small pools, rice patties, and small home aquariums.
Because of how strong and flexible male and female betta fish are, both make excellent aquarium fish for beginners or those just getting back into the aquarium hobby.
If you are interested in setting up your own planted betta aquarium, check out mystep-by-step guide to designing a planted betta fishbowl.
Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together?
The aggression of a male betta towards other male betta fish is well known.
In fact, betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish because male betta fish were actually bred to fight other bettas for sport in Thailand.
But are male betta fish just as aggressive towards female betta fish?
The answer is yes, usually.
Keeping a male and female betta fish together usually results in the death of one of the fish.
While the male betta fish is typically the aggressor, some of the spicier females will kill a male given the chance.
The exception to keeping male and female bettas together is during breeding.
But introducing betta fish to each other for breeding purposes must be done carefully.
Lowering the female betta fish in the male's tank into a breeding tank or similar container allows both fish to see each other and prevents the fish from attacking each other.
This also allows you to observe if the fish seem interested in mating with each other.
If the fish seem interested in breeding, you can release the female betta and the brand will chase and show her off.
If all goes well, they begin a fascinating mating process in which the male betta envelops the female, who appears to go into a trance and then drops her eggs.
The male betta then collects the eggs and places them in his bubble nest.
At this point, the male may again become aggressive towards the female betta and drive her away from his bubble nest.
It is recommended that you remove the female betta fish at this point, as the male will continue to chase her out of his nest.
How to Choose Between a Male and Female Betta Fish
The virtues of both female and male betta fish are many, and your choice to keep one or both in your fish room should depend on your aesthetic preferences and goals.
If you want to experience how betta fish reproduce and the unique behaviors that both males and females exhibit during the breeding process, your choice is simple, buy a pair or even a few pairs.
But if your goal is to have a fish on display, perhaps in a planted tank, a male betta with smooth fins is your best bet.
However, if you like colorful fish but prefer a sleek look with a strong personality, a female betta is one of the best aquarium fish to keep.
Betta fish vs goldfish
If you're hesitating between a betta fish and a goldfish, you're probably wondering which fish is easier to keep.
Both fish are relatively easy to keep, but betta fish and goldfish require very different conditions to thrive.
The first thing to know is that you shouldn't trust everything you see or hear in a major pet store.
These large retailers typically keep betta fish in small cups and goldfish in small tanks.
This is to save the shop floor and shelf space for other products and animals.
But if betta fish or goldfish are kept in these small tanks and cups for too long, they become much more susceptible to disease and often die before purchase.
So the differences between goldfish and betta fish care that I describe below pertain to keeping both of these beautiful fish in good conditions.
1. Water temperature
Goldfish thrive in temperatures between 68-75 Fahrenheit (20-23.89 Celsius).
In the aquarium hobby, temperatures below 74 Fahrenheit are often considered "cold" water fish, and goldfish definitely fall into the cold water fish category.
While goldfish can live in temperatures above or below this range, they will be much less active or stressed.
Betta fish generally require higher temperatures than goldfish.
An ideal temperature range for a betta fish is 76-80 Fahrenheit (24-26.67 Celsius).
Betta fish can tolerate temperatures lower than 76 Fahrenheit but may develop digestive problems and become lethargic.
2. Fish size and tank size
Goldfish grow to a much larger maximum size than betta fish.
Pet stores usually sell young goldfish, which often appear to be the same size or slightly smaller than an adult betta fish.
But that goldfish from the pet store can reach 10 inches in length if given a properly sized tank or pond.
In medium-sized aquariums, goldfish rarely reach more than 3-4 inches, but they are still much larger than betta fish, which only grow to about 2.25 inches in length.
So, unless you have the space for a large tank (like a 40 gallon one), a betta fish will be a much more reasonable choice to keep.
3. Nutrition and Temperament
Good food for goldfish includes a diet of high quality flakes and live foods, such as tubifex worms and daphnia.
Goldfish metabolize food quickly and have a reputation for being "messy" fish that require large water changes to avoid disease and ammonia buildup.
Betta fish, being smaller than goldfish, produce less waste and typically require fewer water changes.
But if a betta fish is kept in a tank smaller than 3 gallons (which is not recommended), the water may need to be changed more frequently than for a goldfish to ensure that the water quality remains safe for the betta.
Betta fish, like goldfish, appreciate a varied diet of betta pellets, frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, and live foods such as tubifex worms.
When it comes to temperament, especially towards other fish, betta fish are best kept alone, but they will tolerate certain community fish as tank mates.
As for goldfish, they are peaceful fish, but are generally poor tank mates for other tropical fish due to temperature and tank size.
But fish, such as zebra danios and even platies, can be kept with goldfish because of their ability to thrive in colder temperatures.
The choice between a goldfish and a betta fish probably comes down to how big of a tank you want to keep.
Another thing to note is that goldfish love to eat plants, so if you're planning on building a planted tank or aquascape, you might want to go with a betta fish.
Betta vs Guppy
Guppies and betta fish are both wonderfully colorful fish.
Male guppies and male bettas are generally more colorful than their female counterparts, but female guppies and bettas are full of personality and great fun to keep in an aquarium.
Let's take a look at some of the similarities and differences between these two vibrant aquarium fish.
Guppy fish are best kept at 76-80 Fahrenheit (24-26.67 degrees Celsius) and betta fish also thrive in that temperature range, with 78 Fahrenheit (25.5 degrees Celsius) being ideal.
So when it comes to heat, both fish are tropical and need heating.
2. Fish size and tank size
Male guppies, reaching a maximum of about 4.5 cm, are smaller than male bettas, which can reach 2.25 cm in length.
But female guppies usually range from 1.2 inches to 2.4 inches in length, making them about the same size as female betta fish.
In terms of tank size, both guppies and betta fish can be kept in relatively small tanks.
A pair of guppies can easily be kept in a 5-gallon aquarium, which is also an excellent size for a single betta fish.
If you plan on breeding guppies, you may want to start with a larger tank, such as a 20 gallon, otherwise your tank will quickly become overrun with guppy babies.
3. Nutrition and Temperament
Both bettas and guppies are very nice fish that will swim up to you excitedly when they think it's feeding time.
Guppies will thrive on flake food in addition to freeze-dried and live foods such as daphnia and black worms.
Betta fish enjoy the same live food, but they usually dislike flake food and require a quality pellet food.
Guppies are extremely peaceful fish and can be kept with a wide variety of community fish.
Their peaceful nature also means you can keep several male guppies together (which cannot be said for male betta fish) without violence.
In general, you're faced with a tough decision when it comes to choosing between guppies and bettas, as both are great to keep.
The decision will probably come down to whether you're excited to keep a peaceful fish or a spicy one.
Whether you decide to keep male betta fish, female betta fish, goldfish or guppies, or all of them, there really isn't a bad choice if you do your research and plan the right setup.
Personally, I find betta fish to be one of the easiest and most fun aquarium fish to keep, especially in a well planted tank.
If you want to learn more about easy to keep aquarium fish, check out my article on12 of the easiest fish to keep.
And if you want to know more about algae-eating fish you can keep with a betta fish, read my article atthe best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums.
If you already have a betta fish and want to create a planted aquarium, check out my article onthe best betta fish plants.
Finally, if you want to learn more about caring for a betta fish, read my article onkeeping a betta properly.
As always stay zen aquarists.