Are male bettas happier living alone?
that's what I call a question "short and to the point"
First off let me clarify an important point here: Male bettas ALWAYS live alone in the sense that you can NEVER put any other betta (male OR female) with them. This regardless of how large your tank is. The aggressive behavior of the betta (which earned it the name of " Betta Splendens" or "Beautiful Warrior") makes it impossible to keep two males together, or a male and female together. Experiments have been conducted (as I mentioned in my ANIMAL PLANET interview) where two males were taken and released in the middle of a lake. Neither all this space, nor the trauma caused by this sudden change in life style distracted our two friends from their betta duties:
They proceeded to attack each other instantaneously.
Well, now that this has been drilled into your little heads (I hope), let us proceed with the question.
Although males are condemn to solitary confinement, there are usually three options when it comes to housing a male betta:
alone in a tank or jar but near another betta: This is a healthier solution, where the male cannot hurt any other fish but still enjoys some social interactivity. Two males side by side in large bowls or small tanks is the best way to go for those of you who only want one betta (in this case, get him a play friend and get 2 bettas). I find that this is the best set-up as it offers both peace of mind (no possibility of one fish getting sick and infecting the other one, since they do not share common water) and happiness for the betta.
inside a community tank but in a display: This is a bit more risky because the betta shares same water as the rest and if you have a bacterial outbreak, there goes your male as well. However, on a pure happiness point of view, it has been my observation that bettas kept that way looked happiest. They are more lively, flare more, interact constantly with other fish, males and females. The girls usually like swimming up to the display and visiting, sometimes barring up and teasing the poor little guy (hehehehehehe). Everyone seems to have a blast.
For me, I ALWAYS offer neighbors to my bettas. Not one betta is isolated in my fishroom. My most priced bettas have their own 2 gal eclipse tanks with filters, but can see each other as I have 8 tanks per shelf. My jarred bettas have 5 neighbors each, although primarily can see and flare at 3 each. My young males are in large floating betta bungalow, holding 9 to 25 males each, which I custom build myself, and have plexy glass dividers so they can see each other CRISPY CLEAR. They flare all day. Then I have my 240 cubicles tank (photos coming soon) in which each betta has 3 neighbors and there as well the bettas seem happiest.
In short, bettas, despite of their fierce attitude, ARE SOCIAL, very social in deed and will be happiest when provided with a social circle to interact with. So go ahead, throw your betta a party, he will love you for it ;).