Do you think Betta are truly solitary fish? - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think Betta are truly solitary fish?


note: Not my Photo, from Flickr with share permissions.

I joined back in 2013 but never made a post. Ahaha, so this will be my first but I want to see what some people's opinion on this matter as its quite divided. I been keeping bettas for close to 10 years and in the last 6 years of me keeping them, I have never kept a betta solitary. It has always been in a planted community tank and I honestly never had a betta so aggressive to the point where it was actually hurting or killing other fish. They adapt very quickly to their communities and find a position on the hierarchy for themselves, usually quite high up, if not the big boss.

Here is my 2 cents on it:
There is just nothing natural about a fish living its entire existence alone to me. Even in the wild, under what circumstances does a betta never encounter other life forms? It also makes no sense for a betta to be continuously aggressive towards fish that pose no threat to it, male bettas fight because by being territorial, they hold better opportunities for mates but there is absolutely no benefit in attacking fish that are just part of its habitat.

In a community setting with other fish, snails, shrimp and what not, I feel like they live far more fulfilling lives. They actually do stuff like forage for food, defend and establish their position in the community, sometimes hunt fish fry if available, fight for food, explore and interact with their tank mates. Betta housed alone I feel like are so under-stimulated, they just sit there and only do anything when their human comes to feed them.

While bettas are definitely territorial fish, I think the aggression trait has been blown out of proportion. Along with puddles, eating bamboo and other myths, I feel like a betta being too aggressive to have tank mates is also a myth. It is definitely true that there are fish just incompatible with bettas and the thai-bred fighters are probably uniquely too aggressive but I feel like in general, bettas are totally great additions to community tanks.

If you do believe bettas should be only ever housed alone, what are some of your reasons? What are some successes and failures you had?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 04:40 PM
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honestly i think a lot of the myth comes from people keeping too small of tanks and shoving bettas in with like... guppies. with smaller tanks, yes bettas should probably be housed alone (im talking like 2.5 gal or smaller), just for the fact that smaller spaces will make them tolerate other living things far less (i've had bettas in smaller tanks kill or starve out ghost shrimp in such tanks, which get ignored in larger tanks by the same betta)

My community tank is doing just fine with a male betta in it, and in the past I've had more issues with the other fish pecking at the /betta/ rather then the other way around.

i think some care should be done when setting up a community tank with a betta but is certainly doable and results in a much more active fish. just have to keep in mind that bettas aren't fast or strong swimmers but will go after things that are too brightly colored or have 'flowy' fins. honestly I try to keep the betta the largest thing in the tank just because they are slow swimmers and won't be able to get away from larger fish as easily. (and having a 4 dollar fish kill a 15+ dollar fish isn't such a great feeling)
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 04:48 PM
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I never thought of them as solitary, but obviously I would never keep 2 males in the same tank. However, I agree with seemsligit, I think tank size can definitely influence behavior. I had a Betta who literally never even flared at other bettas through the divider, he didn't have a care in the world. He was a great community tank fish as well, lived with cories and guppies with no issue (in a 30 gallon). Chippewa couldn't even have ghost shrimp in his tank without killing them. I do think it depends on the fish but I don't think they're truly solitary either.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 04:49 PM
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Living with different species in a community tank does not mean they are not solitary.
Solitary means living without other members of its own species (with the exception of mating/raising young) In the wild you will not find schools of betta like you would tetra.

Can they make good community fish? absolutely
Are they social fish who enjoy company of their own species? nope

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:02 PM
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Trilobite, we're talking about the common myth that is told to many beginners that you can't house a betta with /anything/, not just not with other bettas. which is the main reason why people keep insisting on putting them in such small tanks. why get a big tank for just /one/ small fish?

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:09 PM
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Also consider that the Bettas we usually see in stores are completely bred and "engineered" by humans and won't be found in the wild. Wild type bettas however are found in small groups of a male and a few females if I'm getting it right. I don't have much experience with wild bettas. Betta splendens (our HM, DT, DeT, etc) were bred originally from wild bettas sure but they've since been bred so much further as fighting fish and then for the color and long flashy fins. But they were originally bred to fight (Again if I remember right). Which makes Splendens not a good choice as a betta species only tank. However community tanks should be fine with consideration to species placed with the betta.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemsligit View Post
Trilobite, we're talking about the common myth that is told to many beginners that you can't house a betta with /anything/, not just not with other bettas. which is the main reason why people keep insisting on putting them in such small tanks. why get a big tank for just /one/ small fish?
Ive heard the myth, but saying they are not solitary fish is incorrect. Perhaps instead of asking are whether they are solitary OP should have asked whether they are good community fish. To which I agree that yes, they can be good community fish, as long as the tank members are carefully chosen.

Telling people bettas are not solitary is even worse in my opinion. If people tell others that these fish enjoy living with other bettas all you will end up with is a blood bath and dead fish

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:40 PM
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Some species of betta do seem to more gregarious than others, but I would not put them in the same category as fish that need the companionship of conspecifics to thrive. I think it makes sense to describe bettas as 'solitary' fish, being that it's doubtful that they would deliberately seek out the companionship of other species of fish outside of the unnatural setting that is an aquarium.


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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:40 PM
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I don't think they are anti-social fish, but I don't think they are social fish either. I find them to be more indifferent then anything else. It's more a matter of stimulation to have something else in the tank with them then just being in a tank all by themselves.

I have 2 tanks that hold betta (One 20 gallon community tank and one 5 gallon tank). I switch my boys between the two tanks every month so they get new stimulus from being in different environments. Either of them really pay attention to the other fish in the tank, except when food is involved, but I think the stimulus of having something else in the tank is something they emotionally benefit from. When they are in the 5 gallon they don't move around as much, but do make bubble nest and seems generally happy. When in the 20 they always dart around exploring the tank and keeping a watchful eye on their tankmate's food.

Granted I set my 5 gallon up as more of a relaxation tank with lots of tannins in it and lower flow. My 20 long is heavily planted with a much higher flow.

There is no such thing asRescuing’ a betta or any fish for that matter from any LFS. Be it petsmart, Petco, or exotic and aquatic’s down the street. You are not ‘rescuing’ anything, you are buying a fish. It doesn’t matter if that fish has fin rot and you are saving it from dying a slow death, you are still supporting an industry that thinks it’s okay for these fish to live in small pint size bowls.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Yes yes, I don't mean solitary by being with its own species though I would argue females can somewhat be considered social. I just find it interesting that even on well established aquarium forums the advice continues to be keeping a betta by itself. People are shooed away from the thought of keeping bettas in any setting but keeping the fish lone and isolated. There is this stigma that bettas are vicious and would tear down any other fish when in reality, I would say 99% of bettas are too slow to catch most fish and simply do not have that intense of a aggression. The only strains of Betta with that intensity I would say are the Thai-bred fighters, most Bettas are bred for color nowadays.

I think when people are giving out advice for setups, the standard continues to be 1-5 gallons, 1 betta but I would a argue 10-X gallon community setup. People who get larger tanks are sometimes steered away from Bettas because they are labelled as too aggressive to house with other fish and no one really wants 1 fish in a 10 gallon, that is very unfortunate IMO because Bettas are low waste and can be a very colorful, unique addition to a larger setup.

I think its too bad that Betta fans aren't encouraging others, especially people with bigger, community setups to consider a Betta fish. I, for one, always suggest a Betta when someone with a community setup is looking for a new addition and there is always somebody who goes "omg, it will kill everything in the tank, they can only be a in a tank alone!"

If given the opportunity of a community, say a 10 gallon, do people prefer to house their Bettas alone? For a peace of mind?
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