I have quite a number of Betta burdigala juveniles growing out in a tank alongside the original pair. Most of these are identifiably male, with several at nearly full size. Because they are siblings, I rarely see any fighting. There may be the odd torn fin, but most bouts rely heavily on display rather than physical violence.
The other day however, I did notice a very unusual behaviour among three sub-adult males.
It looked like two of them were trying to embrace, with the third following the pair and occasionally flaring and circling one or the other male.
There was no nest, and no eggs were produced from what was essentially a spawning embrace even though I witnessed them stunning each other a couple of times.
One other difference I also noted, was that the males involved barred up horizontally in what is commonly referred to as 'stress striping'. This makes me think this was perhaps some kind of bizarre dominance display rather than a confused attempt at spawning.
They did this for several hours, and the same three males were the only ones involved. I did get asked by a forum member if I had perhaps misidentified a female as male, but due to the colouration, ventral shape and fin size I am fairly confident all three fish are indeed male.
I have never seen this kind of behaviour before, and I haven't seen them doing it today. Just goes to show that even after a couple years of owning these fish, they can still surprise me!
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.