Male Betta splendends are equally aggressive toward neighbors and strangers

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Male Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, are known for their ferociousness when defending their territories against male or female conspecific intruders. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this species exhibits the dear enemy phenomenon, where territorial males would be less aggressive toward neighbors with already established territories than toward complete stranger males. In experiment 1, a male Betta was placed in an aquarium. A second male was placed in a glass jar that was fitted in one corner of the aquarium. After 24 h, a cover was placed around the jar, and then removed after 1 h. Alternatively, the jar male was replaced with a different male of a different color while the jar was covered. The frequency and duration of opercular expansion by the aquarium male were recorded. In experiment 2, two male Bettas were placed, each in a half of a large aquarium that was equally divided by a clear, perforated Plexiglas divider. After 24 h, one male (intruder) was transferred into the other male's (resident) half. In another variation of the experiment, the intruder was a stranger male Betta that the resident male had never encountered before. The opercular expansion and duration were scored for the resident male. The results indicated that male Siamese fish reacted similarly to familiar and stranger males. This lack of dear enemy effect in Siamese fish could be due to an inability to discriminate between neighboring males and non-neighboring males. Alternatively, territorial males could be equally aggressive to all intruders because all intruders represent equal danger.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1069
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Ichthyology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Siamese fighting fish
  • conspecific discrimination
  • dear enemy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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