According to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by American Pet Products Manufacturer’s Association, the most popular pet is the freshwater fish. They are almost twice as many fishes (142 million) as dogs (74.2 million) in the American household. Betta and Guppy are popular freshwater aquarium fishes that can be seen in many aquariums. In the battle between Betta vs Guppy, do they fight each other? Or can they live together in peace and harmony? Let’s find out.
The Betta (Betta splendens)is also known as Labyrinth fish, or Siamese fighting fish is a native of southeast Asia. It is the famous fish of the treacherous aquarium trade. They are forced to stay in small bowls, teacups, and even in flower vases. Poor Betta suffers a lot in this game.
They occur naturally in marshes, lakes, and paddy fields of Thailand. It is classified as vulnerable by the International Union Conversation of Nature (IUCN), and it is endemic species to Thailand.
One of the striking features of this fish is its unique and bright colors. The standard colors seen in Betta are:
- The super colors (red, blue, black, yellow, and white)
Some rare colors are:
- Super orange
In the natural habitat, males show aggressive colors when provoked. These bright colors are made permanent by careful pure breeding techniques. Due to these breeding procedures, breeders were able to produce color patterns (solid, bi-color, Cambodian, etc.) and finnage variations (veil tail, crown tail, etc.).
Male Betta fishes are larger than females exhibit brighter colors. They grow up to a length of 7 cm (2.8 inches). Females have dull colors, but they become darker and vibrant during the mating season. Males are a bit aggressive than females. The aggressive characteristics are amplified in domestic Bettas due to preferred breeding techniques.
The maximum lifespan of the betta fish is four years.
Aggression is a common trait seen in Betta fishes. In the wild, they fight for fewer minutes until the loser backs off, whereas it may be prolonged in the domestic (aquarium) fishes.
The Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is a South American native found in freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, small streams, pools, and even in brackish water. Like the Betta, the Guppy has vibrant colors, which makes it one of the popular pets. They are called rainbow fish because of its vivid color.
In the wild, the Guppies are sexually dimorphic with females in grey color and male in bright stripes, spots, and splashes. The color variation in Guppies is due to selective breeding techniques. Similar to humans, the guppies have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The color variations of male guppies are present in the Y chromosome of the chromosome and can be inherited.
Guppies can grow up to three inches long, and unlike Bettas, female Guppies are larger than males. The prominent physical feature of the Guppy is its tail, which is in flag, lace, lyre, or veil shaped. In the wild, the guppies can live about 1 – 3 years, whereas they can live as long as five years in captivity.
During the mating season, the male Bettas will try to appear larger than they are by spreading their fins. If the females are interested, they deepen their colors; a sign of agreement.
The male will curl itself to the female’s body in a 10 – 40-degree angle. This phenomenon is known as ‘nuptial embrace,’ a characteristic feature of animals with external fertilization. In this position, the female will release its eggs until exhausted, and the male releases its milt. After fertilization, there is a high tendency that the female will devour the eggs. It is because of this reason; the male will chase the female away after mating.
Male Betta will protect the eggs by forming a bubble nest. They have dedicated fathers in protecting their offspring. Sometimes females can help in building this nest but is a rare phenomenon. The eggs will become larvae within 24 – 36 hours, and they stay in the bubble nest for 2 – 3 days. After three days, they leave the nest and will swim freely. The newly born Bettas will grow and reach sexual maturity within four to five months.
The Guppies are known for their high breeding capabilities. They are known as ‘million fish’ because they can reproduce throughout the year. Male Guppies attract females with bright colors, but the female guppies will mate with many males (polyandry). After successful mating, females store the sperm in their reproductive organs (ovaries and gonoducts). Unlike the Bettas, the fertilization in Guppies is internal.
After the females are inseminated, they use the stored sperm for fertilization for six to eight months. The gestation period in Guppies is 25 – 30 days, but it may vary.
The Guppy fry (baby guppies) have fully developed organs, and they can fend on their own immediately. The fry reaches sexual maturity within three to four months. Their unique reproduction abilities made guppies successful aquatic animals.
Ideal Aquarium Conditions
Before we resume our battle of Betta vs Guppy, the first thing we should know that whether we can house these fishes together or not. Can these two fishes survive in the same aquarium?
Betta and Guppy come from different ecosystems. Even though they are freshwater fishes, Guppies are more resilient and can withstand temperature or pH fluctuations. It doesn’t mean that you need to treat them harshly.
Since both the fishes are from different environments, it is thought they don’t survive in similar water conditions. On the contrary, they can survive. We can keep both fishes in the same aquarium. Make sure that the aquarium is not less than 10 gallons.
Do They Fight Each Other?
The characteristic feature of Bettas is their aggression. But a significant misconception is that they fight every fish, which is false. The aggressive behavior of Bettas is seen in males and towards other males. It is due to their territorial nature.
Sometimes you can see a male betta attacking its image in the aquarium. This aggression can be seen with other male fishes of similar size like Guppies.
Housing a male Betta with a male Guppy is the worst combination. Since the male Guppies have bright colors on their tails, it will trigger aggression in male Bettas.
A territorial battle will occur between male Betta and male Guppy and may result in the death of your Guppy. Female Guppies can do well with male Bettas because they have dull colors. But if a female has a bit brighter color, it might still trigger aggression in Bettas.
Combining a female Betta with a male Guppy can be subjective. During the mating season, the male Guppy will try to copulate with female Betta. It will result in Betta attacking the male Guppy. You can try this combo, but still, you must be very careful.
The best combination is the females of both species. A female Betta and female Guppy will do best because there is no aggression or territorial behavior. But female Bettas can be a bit aggressive towards the female Guppy because they consider them their sister from another mother.
If you are determined to house both fishes together, the best thing to combine the females. In a 10-gallon tank, you can accommodate one Betta and three guppies. Since Bettas have a territorial nature, it takes time to establish their space in the aquarium. Once it is done, the Guppies will not intervene.
In combined care of Betta and Guppy, the significant challenge is feeding them. Guppies are omnivorous; they can eat meat as well as plant food. But you should include meat in Betta’s diet.
It is highly likely that the Guppies will eat the food that you intend to feed the Betta. In such cases, you can lure Betta to one side because Bettas can recognize their guardians. They will swim towards you in excitement. You can take this to their advantage and feed Bettas in one corner and Guppies in another.
Another method is you can mechanically separate them with a net partition while feeding.
Now that you know the best combination and food requirements, few precautions will ensure the survival of both the species.
Add a good number of decorative items such as hiding houses, stone caves, mosses, live plants, rocks, seashells, and any suitable hiding spot. It will help the subordinate Guppy to get a hiding spot if attacked.
Have a spare tank to separate the fishes in worst-case scenarios
Add other species of fish which are not aggressive to both fishes. By this method, you will inhibit the territorial nature of Bettas.
Add Betta fish at the end (after adding the Guppies) to the tank. It is another method to suppress the territorial behavior of Bettas.
Can They Live Together?
A proper combination of these two species will give the best results. As stated earlier, a female Betta and female Guppy is the best combination you can have. But it is possible to house different sexes of both species if all conditions are met.
The Betta vs Guppy battle is a colorful one. And these colors are the trigger factors for aggression, especially in Bettas. Have you made your choice to house Betta and Guppy together? If yes, share your experience. We would like to hear your story.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.