Can I keep female Fighters together?

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A reader asks if she can keep a group of female Fighters together in her tank. Bobs advises...

Q) Please could you tell me whether female Fighters can be kept in groups, unlike the males? Is there a recommended number to keep in a group as with other fish? I've been seeing some lovely females recently, so I'd like to give them a shot. What tank size would you recommend?

KAY JACKSON, VIA EMAIL

A) Bob replies: While males should certainly never be kept together, and males and females only for short periods while breeding, females can be kept in larger groups in what is often referred to as a 'Betta sorority'. Female Betta splendens are attractive fish and selective breeding has left them in a range of bright colours, but generally without the flamboyant finnage of their male counterparts.

They are air breathing fish, so a shallow tank is ideal, with good access to the water surface, and something with a decent 'footprint' and a volume of at least 100 l would be my choice. Depending on the size of your tank, I would recommend keeping somewhere between 5–8 together if space allows. Females are certainly less aggressive than the males; however, they can still be a little feisty so I'd recommend adding all the females in one go, so there are no ‘newcomers’ that might attract aggression from established fish. Add plenty of plants and other décor to block lines of sight and give fish places to hide away should there be any disagreements.

While their shorter finnage means that female Fighters are better swimmers than males, these are fish from still waters, so any filtration should be as gentle as possible.

Tip: Short-finned juvenile male Fighters are occasionally mistakenly sold alongside the females, so keep a close eye out for any especially aggressive 'females' within a group and remove and re-home if necessary.