What is the difference between male and female betta fish?

There are many differences when it comes to the gender of Bettas in terms of size, color, length of fins, body shape and egg spots. You can easily learn how to determine the sex of a Betta fish by observing the things mentioned. Now, let’s see what is the difference between male and female betta fish.

How are male and female Bettas different?

Bettas differ in many things:


In terms of colors, male Bettas are known for their magnificent, long fins of intensive colors while females have short muted color, rounded fins. Females are usually born white and they change color through life. Until it reaches sexual maturity, during the first six to eight months her color will deepen gradually. Female colors shine brightest when a female enjoys surroundings. If a female is injured or something is wrong with water chemistry such as pH or temperature a female will go pale. 

Vertical Stripes

Only female Bettas have vertical stripes. Males never do. These stripes are breeding stripes that show up when your Betta reaches maturity and is ready to mate. They run vertically on both sides of her body as bands- light colored usually five to six. A male Betta doesn’t have to be around for a female to present stripes. It just happens by itself. There is another kind of stripes that can show up and they are stress stripes. You need to know the difference between these two. Stress stripes are a result of sudden changes and living conditions of your Betta. If a temperature changes suddenly or the pH of the water goes way up or down or if there is some other stress, your Betta will react. You have to reveal stress cause eliminate it and stress stripes will disappear. 

Body Shape

difference between male and female betta fish

When it comes to body shape and size females and males also differ. Males are a bit bigger than females. Female bodies are a bit wider and oval than male Bettas bodies. Male Bettas have longer anal fins and their pelvic fins are broader. Male Bettas have a beard while females don`t. 

Fins and tail length 

Fins and tail length also differ when it comes to the sex of a Betta. Males have longer fins and thicker bodies. With their long tails, anal and dorsal fin males look much longer and larger than females. Males’ fins and tails are not only longer but of more intensive vibrant color than males. 

Egg Spot 

Egg Spot is a sure way to distinguish a female from a male Betta. Male Bettas don’t have egg sports. Female Bettas form a white spot between the ventral and anal fin. This spot is used for laying eggs and it is called- the ovipositor. In some cases, this spot is so tiny that it can’t be easily seen. 


The difference in the appearance between sexes becomes more apparent when they flare. Males have a large beard while female beard is much smaller and less pronounced. If a Betta is in a fighting mode it will extend its beard as an act of dominance.


Bettas flare, both males and females. Flaring is an act when they puff up their gill flaps making them look much bigger. There are several reasons why Bettas flare. They could be defending territory since they are extremely territorial. It could be a sign of flirting if a male and female are together in the tank, and especially if a male has built a bubble nest. They can also flare as a sign of stress or simply just they want to scratch. You have to remember that flaring in most cases is an aggressive response but there are other cases that cause flaring. It is something that doesn’t happen frequently and is not connected to normal behavior if it is constant. 

Bubble nests

betta fish making bubble nest

Both sexes have a labyrinth that allows them to make bubble nests but females almost never do that alone. They do occasionally assist males but never do it on their own. Bubble nests are a good sign that your fish is good and happy and prepared for the breeding process. Males guard their nests and wait until a female releases eggs. Then males have the task to catch the eggs in the mouth and place them in the bubble nest. Eggs are placed in bubble nests for security reasons and that is to keep them surrounded by air rich in oxygen and to keep them moist. 

Is it better to get a male or female Betta fish?

Both choices are excellent but some people prefer to have only one. If you want to have a Betta just for display with magnificent fins, intensive colors in a fully planted tank then a male Betta is a better choice. If you want a colorful fish with a look that is streamlined but strong personality then a female Betta is your choice.  On the other hand, if you want to see and understand the mating breeding process and see the unique behavior of both sexes, the best choice is to get a pair.

Final Thoughts

To sum up there are many things that can help you tell if your Betta is a male or female. Keeping these in mind you won`t have much trouble determining what is the difference between male and female betta fish. They differ in size, color, fins, tails, beard, body shape, stripes, bubble nests, ovipositor and personality.  If you use a combination of these differences you will determine the sex of your Betta in no time.

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