Male Vs Female Betta Fish: The Ultimate Tug Of War

Betta Fish (Betta splendens) has become one of the most popular species among aquarists. They are the perfect options for freshwater aquariums irrespective of their gender. 

Male Bettas are the long and fancy-finned ones that you might have come across. On the contrary, female Bettas are the small-bodied, short-finned ones. 

You might have seen male Bettas displayed in small cups (it is wrong to keep them like that). In some pet stores, they keep female Bettas also.

One inevitable question that pops in your mind at this very moment is whether you should buy a male Betta or a female Betta. 

Well, both of them can be a beautiful addition to your fish tank. But there are quite a few points of comparison (like color, size, behavior) between the male and female Betta.

Are you at your wit’s end? Don’t worry, we are here to solve the puzzle for you.  

Jump into the article below to get the answer to your question.

Overview of Betta fish:

The Betta fish (Betta splendens), also known as the Siamese fighting fish, are natives of Southeast Asia, particularly of the  Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins in Thailand (formerly called Siam).  They generally roam around the shallow and stagnant water bodies of rice paddy, marshes, and floodplains. They feed on mosquito larvae, small insects, and other aquatic arthropods in the wild.

Betta Fish Jumping

These semi-aggressive fish from the Osphronemidae family grow 2.4 to 3.1 inches (6 to 8 centimeters) in length. The wild bettas never come with the fancy long fins that are the results of selective breeding.  

Bettas do well in aquariums. They prefer a pH between 6.8 and 7.5 and a slightly warm temperature between 76 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Differences between male and female Betta:

You may quickly determine whether you have a boy Betta or a girl Betta by some specific characteristics. However, you should note that young Bettas look similar irrespective of their gender, making the decision a challenging one.


Female Betta

In most cases, the male Bettas are attractively colored. Female Bettas, too, have beautiful colors. But males are more vivid and appear to be brighter than their female counterparts. 

Vertical stripes:

The female Betta fish show vertical stripes on their body when they are ready to mate. On the other hand, male Betta does not do that.

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The picture of Betta fish that you’ve already constructed in your mind is of the fancy long-tailed male Bettas. They can have two or three times longer fins than the female Bettas, although the longer fins are the results of selective breeding. 

The male Bettas do have broader and longer ventral fins than the female bettas. Usually,  the females have shorter caudal fins. Although in some cases, you might find male Betta fish to have a short caudal fin.

Betta Fins

Egg spot:

The female Betta usually has an egg spot which is a white spot between the ventral and anal fins. Actually, it is an organ named the ovipositor used to lay eggs. The male Betta fish usually do not show the egg spot. But in some cases, they may develop one if overfed.


Both the male and female Betta fish have opercular membranes under their gills. The membrane of the male Betta is much bigger than the female Betta. Hence, the membrane pushes through gills and becomes visible even when they are not flaring. This opercular membrane creates the impression of a ‘beard’ in male Betta.

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Flaring is in the natural behavior of both male and female Betta. However, the purposes are strikingly different, yet similar. It becomes easy to identify the gender of your precious pet when they flare.

As you have read earlier, the male Betta has a giant beard, while the female displays a much smaller opercular membrane. Also, the female Betta holds an upside-down posture while flaring.

The male betta flares typically in other males’ presence or if they are threatened, whereas the female flares at other females to bully.

Body structure:

The female Betta is a shorter and wider-bodied species. The male Betta usually has a more elongated body that is uniform. 

Bubble Nest:

The male Betta creates a bubble nest by using their saliva. The bubble nest looks like thousands of tiny bubbles attached. When it is time to breed, the male fish creates this bubble nest and waits for the female fish to come under that for mating.

Even the male Betta fish places the laid eggs in the bubbles that provide a moist and oxygen-rich environment for the baby Betta fish.

Generally, females do not create this bubble nest. Although, in some cases, you might see them making bubbles.

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Which one to pick? Two competitors that are head-to-head

We have said earlier that both male and female Betta can be the stars of the aquarium. 

But there are a few aspects that you might look into before buying your Betta fish.  


The female Betta fish wins the race when considering speed. The male Betta fish have longer fins and tails, which eventually slow down their pace. However, the plakat type male Betta fish swim faster than the fancy ones.

Betta Fish Speed

The female Betta fish are short and don’t have much longer fins. Therefore, they swim way faster than the males. 

If you want to have a feisty and speedy Betta in your aquarium, your choice should be the female Betta. 

Beauty and color:

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is applicable while choosing your fish. 

The male Bettas are fancy fish, likely to have beautiful and more extended fins. They may appear in red, blue, yellow, black, white, and many more shades. With their perfectly elongated body and fascinating fins, they might be the icing on the cake, undoubtedly.

We have another competitor, namely the female Betta. They are short and feisty. They might not have fancy tails or long fins, but the wide range of their attractive colors may steal your heart.

Behavioral traits:

Betta are a semi-aggressive freshwater species. Both male and female Betta fish are feisty and aggressive. They are often observed to indulge themselves in a fight. In Thailand, some people used to bait over the Betta fight. 

The male Betta fish are more aggressive than females. They are easily tempted and often engaged in a fight with other males or even with females. The fighting and aggression can kill one of your precious pets. Do not make two male Bettas share the same tank unless you want to witness a third World War!

Betta in Aquarium

The female Bettas are also aggressive in a sorority but not as much as the males. They usually express their fury over other females. However, you may find some females who can nip and kill the males in a moment!

If you want to showcase your Betta fish in a planted tank and prefer long and fancy tails, you should choose a male Betta. 

And if you like quick and feisty movement with a dignified personality, you should opt for the female Betta.

Final verdict:

Male or female, both the Bettas have achieved worldwide popularity among aqua hobbyists. We have stated earlier that beauty is an abstract idea lying in the beholder’s eyes and heart. The notion of elegance and grace is all about your own perspective. You may have a male or a female Betta fish for your fish tank without following the conventional ideas. Whatever you choose, remember that your pets are just like your family members. Your ultimate goal should be to give them the comfort of their natural habitat. Treat them with care and compassion. 

Your love and care can ensure your pets’ good health, making them more attractive irrespective of their gender.

What are you waiting for? Start determining your preferences and bring home your precious betta fish today.

Good luck!

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