Game theory models of sperm competition predict that within species, males should increase their sperm expenditure when they have one competitor, but decrease expenditure with increasing numbers of competitors. So far, there have been few tests or support for this prediction. Here, we show that males of a freshwater fish, the European bitterling, Rhodeus sericeus, do indeed adjust their ejaculation rate to the number of male competitors by first increasing and then decreasing their ejaculation rates as the number of competitors increases. However, this occurred only under restricted conditions. Specifically, the prediction was upheld as long as no female had deposited eggs in the live mussels that are used as spawning sites. After one or more females had spawned, males did not decrease their ejaculation rates with the number of competitors, but instead they became more aggressive. This indicates that decreased ejaculation rate and increased aggression are alternative responses to increased risk of sperm competition.