Aggression in male Betta fish

Aggression in male Betta fish

Betta fish are known for their colorful displays and aggression towards other members of their species. This is especially true for men. These fish zealously defend their territory and nests. Therefore, males must be separated from each other at all times. Even seeing other males through glass can stress the fish and cause it to injure itself on the tank wall.

Females can be successfully kept in social groups, however, provided the fish have enough room to move around in the aquarium. One fish usually establishes itself as the leader of the social group and dominates the others, but females usually do not fight with each other.

The aggressive behavior of the Betta fish is what has led them to be traditionally used in sport, somewhat like cockfighting. Therefore, they are also called Siamese fighting fish. In some Asian countries, these fish are bred specifically for rabies. Fish used for fighting usually have short fins, unlike the decorative specimens we are used to seeing.

Male Betta flare up with their brightly colored fins and gill covers when they sense their territory is threatened. As they mature, the aggression of these fish usually increases rather than decreases. They will attack other male Bettas as well as fingers and other objects they mistake for them. The length and weight of their extravagant fins and tails will also increase with age.

When males meet each other, they will first display themselves to appear as large as possible. If this attempt to fool the intruder does not work, the fish will swim side by side, head to tail, and hit currents of water against each other. Sometimes they will slap and hit each other with their tails and sides. These actions usually do not cause injury. This behavior can escalate further, with the fish biting their tails and clenching their mouths shut.

They can pause the fight to surface for air, then return to the fight. A betta that has surrendered the fight will tuck its fins very close to its body and assume a head-up position. This submissive posture shows the other man that he has surrendered. Males and females sometimes also fight if the male is placed with the female before she is ready to spawn.

Male bettas often build elaborate bubble nests. This is because they care for the young produced by the females. However, they will produce bubble nests even when there are no female fish or fry. The sight of another Betta or changes in water temperature can often stimulate this behavior. Bubbling nests are located on top of the water, often under a canopy. The male carries the eggs to the nest carefully in his mouth and cares for the young as they grow.

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