Juliana Sullivan class:E USE HARD COPY FOR CHARTS
Problem Statement and Topic
Have you ever bought a beta fish as a kid at a pet store with your parents? Do you remember how they made it a big deal that you couldn’t buy certain genders because they can’t be placed together? I wondered why they say this and if it is true or not. I searched the web and found many interesting facts of fish that didn’t answer my question but after a lot of sources I finally found the answers to most of my questions. tod, A sica was my main source that which i found my information Yet the other questions I had were still un-answered so I took it upon myself to go out and buy 6 fish to experiment on. A source i found that didnt support my question on a lot about fish was nippyfish.com. I went out to buy 2 males, 2 females, and 1 of each gender. These three categories will show how each gender acts, fights and reacts to each gender mix. The real question is how the aggressiveness will react to the genders in beta fish.
literature question and research review
The betas will always react differently to genders just like humans do , but how? The following will suggest sources and questions on the literature followed by the experiment for each. The 3 categories will come in order fom male vs. male, female vs female, than male vs. female.
Literature review and followed by gap in each category
category male vs. male
What does the literature say about male vs. male aggressiveness in betas? Males vs. males are known to be very aggressive and should never be in the same tank. Sometimes not both fish fight rather than be dominant fish attacking. What I’m curious about is how did people know this. The sources I found on the male aggressiveness was small not tested opinions that haven’t necessarily been tested. Going to Petco and buying the fish is the simple part but starting to test my hypothesis: the beta fish males will be stressed but not necessarily fight, was the interesting part.
One aspect I found interesting on aggression, interactions, and preference for males in female Siamese fighting fish that “males establish and defend territories” (Sica A.) An interesting fact is that the male beta fish will protect the offspring which starts in the wild and carries into generation making the male protective. Females seem to find this attractive and men will tend to fight for the females. Once trying to protect the male will show signs of nibbling, chasing, attacking and flaring gills. Also the male doesn’t just get protective over females but also their territories. Betas feel they own where ever they claim as home and won’t let any other men take over.
gap and experiment
I decided to test this experiment by buying 2 male beta fish and keeping them in a tank. But I had to keep multiple things in mind such as the size of the tank. One small tank had no hiding spots and very few places to not confront one another. One big tank had multiple hiding places to choose to confront one another. It’s called flee or fight, you may not notice but even humans use this technique. Such as fighting, you have two options 1) fight 2) run/ give up. The fish when put in a small tank have been taken away the option to run or hide so they either get along, ignore each other, or fight. When put in a big tank they have freedom and have the option to fight or flee as they choose. (The table below shows the results followed by an explanation)
Ignore each other
Ignore each other
Never stopped fighting
Never stopped fighting
As shown in both tables at least one fish shows sign off aggression and frustration. It is obvious however that when locked in a small closed proximity of the small tank both fish will get stressed and attack by flaring fins and signs of nibbling. The fish had the option to get along or ignore one another but because of territorial purposes the fish fought. When put in the big tank there were very few signs of aggression but high signs of stress. Only the first fish placed showed signs of flared gills but surprisingly the second fish didn’t do it back just hid.
One extra experiment I wanted to test was with the small tank because one thing was still unclear to me. I didn’t find how much the fish were actually stressed. A good way to test this is what I call the spoon test: a spoon is placed quickly in between the two males to test if either will react or not at all because of focuses. The results were shocking that neither fish reacted in anyway plus no motion or any actions whatsoever. This showed how angry and focused they were at the other male and nothing else. When alone and separate the males would react to the spoon by backing away from it in fright.
What I found isn’t that males can never be put together but must be under certain rules. For instance, eventually males will ignore each other if with hiding places and room to swim around but eventually will fight if with no hiding places and in closed proximities. A great solution to the question would be: The literature says that males can’t be put together unless with hiding places when stressed. Both my experiment and the internet’s opinion prove this fact.
category female vs. female
What does the literature say about female vs. female aggressiveness? I’ve done a lot of research on female bettas and it is agreed that there is not enough said about if it reasonable to place them in the same tank. All I found was facts on how females behave or even fish facts but what I’m missing is what happens when two are placed in a tank together. My hypothesis is the two fish will fight just as much as the males. This is why I put a small experiment together to test my hypothesis.
First before I tested my theory I looked online and found a written piece by Adem Short. Who wrote a page on beta behavior. He argued that “females are not very antagonistic and will do well when placed together”.What threw me off is he also stated that “over a period of time a female will establish herself as dominant and with over a period of time pecking might occur”. Because I used his writing piece for females I was missing what I needed. Getting two answers that both said the opposite left me empty handed and questionable.
Gap and experiment
The next step was to finally start my own experiment that would tell whether two fish can get along or fight such as the males. I used a similar experiment on the females yet a small difference because of mixing dominants with non-dominant females. Not using the flee and flight method as much was purposefully done for the females because they were questionable if they would even fight in the small tanks and not as relevant as the males. The experiment was started off with two females in a small tank with no hiding places and it was noticeable that they were going to take a while because so far there were no movements. The one fish that was the most active by swimming goes up to the quiet one but the quiet one flees. After a good full 10 minutes the active (dominant) fish attacks quickly on the not active (non-dominant) fish. She did this by flaring her gills such as a male but there results weren’t deadly nor injury worthy just extremely stressful on both fish. Over all their movements were very slow and almost not notable.
The second part to my experiment was to test if the females was just on personality. The dominant was removed and replaced with a new female to test this. Right away I shockingly noticed that the two fish would swim extremely close and be stressed out. The new fish seems to quickly cause problems by flaring her gills while the old one tries her best to avoid. Both these show that overall there will always be one female who claims her self dominant but some dominant cases are more extreme than others.
The experiment wasn’t finished just then because I had to use the spoon test to test their focus. Not surprisingly both females reacted by swimming away in fright. This shows that just as being alone they aren’t focused on another fish rather than on alert still for there other surroundings. Not like the males, the females did not fight or get as angry rather than as relaxed as they were. Over all they were suitable to be held in the same tank with such little but weary aggression.
What did the overall literature, facts, and experiment say about female vs. female aggressiveness? With the facts I found with my source I couldn’t find much on the overall question but when I put it to the test all the questions came clear. Female vs. female can be paired in the same tank as long as you are prepared for stress. My hypothesis was mostly correct from the two females will fight just not as much as males but the difference is that there was little to no fighting.
Male vs. female
What does the literature say about both a male and a female paired in the same tank together? Surprisingly there wasn't much information or experiments that thought to test male and female aggressiveness. The only information that was given was that you can only put the two fish together if they are being bred. With that in mind my hypothesis was they wouldn't get along because what would happen if they weren't breeding because that is hard to control. I would be surprised if the two fish got along considering how the males are known to be so aggressive and possibly even to the females.
In my section for males vs males i found how males establish and defend territories while also being protective over females and try to impress them with fighting. With this all i wonder is if u take a female and place it in a males habitat how the male will react. In a strong paper I found written by Sica A, Todd she used “ more aggressive males bite twice as often as their less aggressive opponent. While more aggressive females flared gills twice as often as their lesser aggressive opponent.” This means that you put two lesser aggressive male and female there shouldn't be as much stress or even actions of violence. While if you combine more aggressive male and female bettas there can be more aggression and stress.
Gap and experiment
A huge gap I found with this information was that there was no actual answers rather than guesses based on little and meaningless facts. To test this gap I combined a female with one less aggressive male and then switched him out with a more aggressive male. I found that not surprisingly the more aggressive male showed signs of violence toward the defenceless female.
In the graph the stars represent what each fish showed a sign of with the actions on the left and the gender above it ended up showing the major difference in the fish mixtures. I came to a conclusion that it really doesn't matter if your breeding because if the male itself is aggressive it will attack and possibly kill the female. If the male happens to be not aggressive and the female is also not aggressive then it is possible for the twofish to live in peace.
Over all with the male fish mixed with the female it does matter on the fish and the surrounding. If in a big environment the female may hide if needed and the two will learn to get along. Yet if you plan to keep the two in a small closed proximity with no hiding places then there may be stress with a strong male. Even know the Sica A, Todd suggested not to test unless spawning can be changed if under certain rules.
What does the literature say about betta aggressiveness with genders?:
Male vs Male
Female vs Female
Male vs Female
Nibbling, chasing and flaring gills.
Avoiding each other, rare but noticeable flaring of gills by dominant.
Flaring of gills, nibbling and casing yet by the female no violence.
All in all conclusion
Males should not be placed together or injuries will always occur.
Females will learn to make peace with each other.
Male and females can be placed together under certain rules.
Extras to keep in mind
Non-dominant tried to avoid dominant.
With hiding places the girls will become less stressed.
With hiding places and room to swim the two genders can get along.
The literature review had interesting sources on the aggression of genders in beta fish but as the experiment I had to keep the question constant. Because instead on relying on others to find the answers I had to take it upon myself to create an experimental design. Throughout my research there was only one strong piece on aggression with this question but only answers a small part of my research. The paper studied the female vs. female aggression rather than mixed gender or even male vs. male. One paper isnt enough to answer all the questions on the mixtures of genders in betta fish. This paper was written by Sica A. Todd as she wrote a 14 page paper on males in female betta fish but her article focused on how the actual female gender reacted. The question that needed to be looked for was how each gender would react with the same or even a different gender which she did not come close to answering. There were however small articles on the other mixtures but only with a possible answer rather than a definitely positive one. Such as Adem Short’s article on male vs. female behavior. He only answered that the fish can only be placed together if spawning not in general. For male vs. male nippyfish.com only answered that the male gender is very territorial but they didnt explain well enough or even test this theory. To answer all these gaps within the sources I put together a question that would constructed an experiment where testing the aggression of the bettas was answered with the fish themselves. Taking the fish and placing them together in a small tank would answer the question to observe the stress and action of the fish. The results were answered above.
Quantitative is how I approached my essay to support both my experimental and literature questions. In one of my sources written by Adem Short titled betta behavior supported both genders but mostly female so it was a great strong suit for that side of the argument which used qualitative methods. The only other source i really used for female genders was betta fish world written by an unknown source I took quotes and data from this website because they wrote about 2 female fish in a same tank. I used that same method to test my experiment in order to prove my research was logically correct. Male side of the argument was supported by nippy fish.net written by an unknown source that mentioned female ganders but in all focused on males which was perfect. Todd sica was a greatly mentioned source throughout my findings because she argued and described both genders.
- buy 6 fish (2 for each mixture)
- get same size tank (small) get one tank with hiding places (big)
- separate the genders tho mixed and same gender
- take notes on the behaviors noticed to compare to literature
- start in small then move to large tank to compare tanks which the literature did NOT make specific
- the population being tested is different than most questions and isn't approached by questions rather than actions.
You may wonder why does it even matters if the genders are mixed and why it relevant. If a child is getting their first fish and wants to get more than one you'll need to know what genders are okay to handle or what tank so the fish don't get hurt or even die. All the information basically is for your own benefit for the future when you buy a beta because lets be honest, everyone has owned one at some point in their life. In the future maybe people can focus on other fish because an interesting fact found in nippyfish.net was that betas will often confuse bright colored fish for betas. In the future maybe people may focus on goldfish or others to test their behaviors.
nippyfish.net.Tankmates for betas.N.P.:nippyfish.net,2014.N.Pag.Web 19 Nov.2014. nippyfish.net
BettafishWorld.Keeping Two Female Betta Fish Together. N.P.:INTERNET ENTHUSIAST,2009. N. Pag. Web.20 Nov.bettafishworld.blogspot
Short,Adem.Betta Behavior-Male and Female Betta Fish. N.P.:n.p.,2013.N.Pag.Web. 19 Nov.2014bettafishcenter.com
Todd, Sica A, and R Trahey. Aggression, Interactions, and Preference for males in female fish(betta splendens). NY.:manhattanville, 2008. 1-14. Web. 17 Nov.2014.Todd Sica