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Bullying or Breeding Behavior

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Video of behavior in question:

We were finally able to upgrade to a 55 gallon tank and get solitary Leo (Male Oranda) a friend, Darla ( Unsexed Oranda). At first, it looked like a match made in heaven. Leo seemed so happy to have a fish companion and Darla seemed at the very least to be accepting of his affection - they schooled, and cuddled and he hardly left her side.

However, A few weeks in to this made for TV romance things started to turn nasty - Darla went from docile and coy to aggressive and rude - Chasing Leo around the tank and nipping his fins. Leo seemed frightened and depressed - hiding much of the time at the bottom of the tank with his fins ripped and his dorsal fin down.

We seperated them with a tank seperator and Leo perked up and was again swimming happily for a few days.

Then Darla found her way around the tank divider. She is less consistantly agressive, but as the video shows she can be pretty ruthless and Leo seems quite overwhelmed by it.

Darla is currently in time out in our 20 gallon QT tank.

Leo is for sure a male (he has the mating tubricles on his pectoral fins)
Darla does not show any male characteristics, but as you know, those don't always show.
They are both Orandas.
Leo is the bigger of the two about 4 inches head to tail, but Darla has been growing rapidly and is quickly catching up to him.
They live in a 55 gallon tank so theoretically they should feel like they have enough room.

QUESTION: So what is this behavior?
Do females ever chase males?
Is Darla a male trying to dominate Leo for territory incase a female should join them?
Is Darla bullying for alpha status?
Is this a fight over food and we should be feeding them more? (They get 10 Hikari Oranda pellets 2-3X/day each)
is Darla finally showing her true colors as a consumate bully?

Any help on what this behavior is and how to stop it would be much appreciated.


Sandra, Jesse, Leo and Darla

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It looks like breeding behavior to me but if you're positive Leo is a male then I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I never see my females chase my male. I'm curious to see what the conclusion to this is though

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Are you sure Leo is a confirmed male? Females in rare cases can also have tubercles.

Darla may be the male here. That looks like breeding behavior to me.

In case things get too rough, please have some sort of colander or QT tank ready to isolate Leo for some rest.

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Thank you Katearei and ChelseaM for your helpful responses.

I am open to any possibilities including the option that Leo is not a boy. Leo could be a cute girl name too.

We based our belief that Leo was a boy on a picture I posted on this forum over a year ago that members agreed were mating tubricles. (see below)

Leo also has thicker pecotoral fins, which I understand is a sign of maleness, but beyond that we have not evidence that Leo is actually male.

Do you think Leo is a girl? and Darla is a boy?


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Are you able to hold each fish and take some pics of their vents?

I agree with Chelsea. I'd have either a colander or QT available to put Darla in if the chasing gets to be too much for Leo. It made me tired just watching. :teehee

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