Many fish enthusiasts enjoy keeping Betta fish due to their vibrant colors and unique long-finned appearance.
However, Betta fish are also known to be incredibly territorial and aggressive compared to other pet fish species. This reputation has earned them the title of “fighting fish” in many different countries.
Owners who are interested in keeping these fish will need to house them with the right tank mates.
Many factors are used to determine which fish species can live suitably with Betta fish.
It is believed that Bettas can co-exist with the following fish varieties:
- Neon and Black Neon Tetra
- Harlequin Rasbora
- Glass Catfish
- Bristlenose Catfish
- Endler Livebearer
To get a better understanding of why Bettas have a hard time getting along with other fish, we need to learn about their behavior.
Fishes that Can Live with Betta Fish
Although Betta fish are territorial and are fine living alone, you can have other fish co-exist with a betta in the same fish tank.
These other fish should be calm-natured and should not display territorial or overly aggressive characteristics.
Appearance-wise, these fish should not resemble other Betta fish. This means slow-moving large finned colorful fish are a bad option as tank-mates.
Another guideline to remember is to avoid adding new fish to a tank that houses a sole Betta. It’s generally better to introduce a Betta to a pre-established community of fish.
Here are your best fish options to keep with Betta fish:
Many different types of Tetra fish exist, so it’s difficult to say if all of them get along with Betta fish.
Neon Tetras are generally a popular choice with Betta owners. These fish are fast swimmers and are speedy enough to escape from your Betta if they decide to pursue them.
Your Betta may consider the upper level of the tank to be their territory, so it’s unlikely that they would be disturbed by shoals of Neon Tetra swimming below.
This variety of Tetra survives best in groups of 10 – 12. So you should consider adding this number of Neon Tetras to your tank at one go.
Tetras can live up to five years in captivity and can grow to about four inches.
Their red stripes are also apparent in the dark making them fascinating to watch. A tank that has heavy vegetation will provide them plenty of hiding spaces.
Black Neon Tetra
Black Neon Tetras are similar to the standard Neon Tetra.
However, these fish have a duller darker color than their Neon counterparts. Due to this reason, they are less likely to be mistaken for other Betta fish.
Your Betta may act less aggressively towards Black Neon Tetras compared to ordinary Neon tetras.
These fish usually shoal in groups of 6 – 12, so you should get this number of Black Neon Tetras at a time.
Many species of Tetra make great tank-mates for your Betta, but certain Tetra species should be avoided.
Black Phantom Tetras and Serpae Tetras in particular are known to nip at other fish. This nipping may not pose a threat to your Betta, but it can cause them to get severely stressed.
Rasbora is another shoaling fish variety that gets along with Betta.
These fish are placid and shouldn’t cause any issues with your Betta. These fish have a diet that is very similar to Betta.
Harlequin Rasboras are known for being docile and strong swimmers. In other words, they won’t attack the betta and will be quick to escape if attacked.
Plus, their unique colors don’t agitate betta fish. You can keep them with your fish in the same environment without worry.
That’s because they inhabit the same habitat in the wild as the betta. With proper care Harlequin Rasboras can live up to five to eight years.
If you do get Harlequin Rasbora for your tank, you should get 5 – 6 at a time. This is the ideal number needed for them to form a shoal.
Cory catfish or corydoras are considered to be awesome companions for betas.
They are easy to take care of and can withstand similar water conditions.
The fish remains at the bottom and can live alone or in schools.
Cory catfish can grow to about one or two inches in length and can live for three years tops. They are quite active and can make the tank lively.
Glass catfish are a unique-looking variety of catfish with translucent bodies.
They have the signature catfish “barbels” on their heads which distinguishes them as catfish.
These fish have a peaceful temperament so they’re unlikely to bother your Betta.
These fish should be given a tank with plenty of hiding spots to get away from your Betta if needed. They survive best in schools of 10 – 12.
Bristlenose Plecos are cousins of ordinary Catfish.
They are a peaceful fish variety that prefers to dwell at the bottom of tanks and feed on algae.
These fish do not have a flashy appearance, so they aren’t going to trigger your Betta’s aggression.
However, these fish can grow to be 3 – 5 inches in size, so you may need a tank that is at least 25 gallons in size.
Dwarf crayfish stand out because of their unique look. Plus, no two are alike when it comes to personality.
The best reason why they make great tank mates for betta fish? They are bottom dwellers.
In other words, this crayfish will rarely come into contact with the aggressive betta. The fish prefers to remain at the top of the tank after all.
Keep in mind that dwarf crayfish are invertebrates.
So never add copper-based medication in the tank. It will kill them.
At most, these crayfish grow to about two inches top. It can live for three years.
Endler Livebearers resemble Guppies, but they have a less flashy appearance.
These fish are less likely to set your Betta’s aggression off compared to Guppies due to this reason.
However, the species breeds fast. So if you want to make a community tank, this is the fish for you. The population can get out of control though.
On the other hand, your betta can keep numbers down by eating some of the fry. The fish can live for two to three years. It can grow up to one inch in length or slightly more.
Endlers also enjoy swimming around and hiding in plants underwater, so your tank should feature a fair amount of vegetation.
Feeder guppies have muted coloring compared to their vibrantly colored counterparts, fancy guppies.
This makes them perfect as tank mates for betta fish. The guppies are tiny and won’t go after your fish as it swims.
In fact, this tank mate is usually bred as food for other fish. Plus, they can survive in a range of tank conditions.
In other words, you won’t have to worry about them much.
White Cloud Minnow
The White Cloud Minnow is a peaceful and easy-to-care-for fish.
Like feeder guppies, it won’t bother your betta fish. So, it won’t be seen as a threat.
This minnow enjoys a similar diet and water pH as betas. However, they are used to colder temperatures. Just keep your tank at 75F to keep both species happy
Clown Plecos are the dwarf species of the Common Pleco. The latter can grow up to two feet in length.
However, the Clown variety only grows to about four inches in length.
Caring for the tiny fish is easy and it can live up to ten years in captivity.
It also likes to explore and has a tough skin that betta fish cannot damage.
African Dwarf Frog
African dwarf frogs have peaceful personalities and are easy to take care of. The species is quite active and likes to explore.
It comes to the surface to get air and shed their skin every two weeks.
Don’t worry, they eat the skin later so you won’t have to worry about cleanup.
The frog can live up to five years and can grow about two inches in length.
Ghost shrimp are inexpensive options you can use as a test.
If your fish turns on them, you can leave them in the tank as food.
It sounds cruel, but you are just contributing to the circle of life. The shrimp are almost transparent which can also clean up algae in your tank.
If it works out, both will have a long and healthy life together. The shrimp can grow up to two inches in length and can live for a year.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails
This common aquarium snail makes a great companion for betta fish.
This tank mate is quite docile and will not aggravate your fish. However, keep an eye on them if you introduce multiple snails.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails can overrun a tank if they are left to breed uncontrolled.
At most, the snail can grow up to one inch in size. It can also live up to a year.
Why Is It So Difficult to Keep Bettas With Other Fish?
Betta fish are a territorial and aggressive species that are usually kept in isolation.
Owners with small tanks should avoid giving their Bettas tank-mates as they may feel their territory is being violated.
While many owners keep Betta fish in isolation due to their aggressive nature, this often leads to their fish getting bored or depressed over time.
These fish do need some form of stimulation, so you should consider getting them the right tank-mates.
Your Betta may be able to get along with other fish if they have enough space to share in a large tank.
However, owners will need to follow some guidelines to reduce the likelihood of these fighting-fish living up to their name.
How Many Tank Mates Can Bettas Have?
Your Betta should be housed alone or with multiple tank-mates from the aforementioned list of fish.
The rule is simple. You should have a gallon of water for every inch of fish in the tank. So a fish that grows to two inches will need two gallons of water.
More space is always better. Too many fish may compromise water quality too fast.
A single betta can thrive in a 10-gallon tank. The space can accommodate your betta and five inches of other species.
In other words, you can add three to five smaller fish to the tank. More than that, your betta fish will stress out and may attack them.
Keeping only one other fish in the same tank with your Betta is a bad idea as they may get bullied.
To combat this problem, owners should get fish that participate in shoaling.
Shoaling fish such as Tetra will cluster and swim together in a group whenever they feel threatened.
Your Betta is less likely to attack these fish when they are backed up by their shoal mates.
Also read: Can Betta Fish Live With Shrimp?
Can you Keep Multiple Betta Fish Together?
You can also consider keeping multiple Betta fishes in the same aquarium, but you need to take care of the following:
Keeping ale Bettas together
Male Betta fish should NEVER be kept together as they will behave aggressively towards one another.
You can’t keep an eye on your fish at all times, so they will end up harming each other at some point.
Keeping female Bettas together
If you’re desperate to get multiple Betta fish, you should opt to get female ones. Female Bettas are believed to be less aggressive than their male counterparts.
Many owners have had success with keeping 4-6 female Bettas together in a large tank.
However, these tanks do need to feature vegetation and decorations that serve as hiding or retreating spots for these fish.
If you’re lucky, these fish will form a “sorority” and co-exist peacefully with one another.
Keeping a male and a female Betta together
Keeping a male and a female Betta together is a more complicated matter.
Experts advise against keeping Bettas of the opposite sex together. If you must keep both in the same tank, they should be separated with a tank divider.
If you are an experienced fish owner, you may be able to keep both fish in the same tank provided that it has a capacity of over 40 gallons.
As mentioned earlier, this tank should also feature plenty of vegetation and decorations that can be used to hide from the other Betta.
Adding a Male Betta to a Female Betta Sorority
Some owners prefer to keep a female Betta sorority along with a single male Betta fish.
This can be done if your tank is long and wide rather than tall. It’s better to add the male Betta to the tank only after the female sorority has been established.
Before adding your male Betta to the tank, you should allow them to see the females from a safe setting first.
This can be achieved with the help of a tank divider. You can remove this divider and allow the male Betta to interact with the females after a few days.
Male bettas typically mate with the dominant female in a sorority. In some cases, this can lead to the female Bettas being aggressive towards the male.
If you witness excessive bullying occurring, you should remove your male Betta and keep them separately.
Top Rules For Adding Community Fish To Betta Tanks
Don’t just plop the aforementioned tank mates in with your betta fish. There are rules you should follow:
- Act fast if you betta attacks or is attacked once you place your fish in. Have a quarantine tank on hand. You can remove injured, scared or aggressive fish into it. This can also happen if the tank is too small.
- Add the fish into the betta tank in odd numbered groups. This will accomplish two things. It will reduce chances of your fish from turning on each other. Plus, the tank will beautify in front of your eyes. So add three to five small fish into the tank rather than two at a time.
Betta fish are a territorial species that rarely get along with other fish.
These fish can’t be housed with other male Bettas, but they can share a tank with a group of female Bettas under the right supervision.
Bettas generally don’t get along with other species that resemble Bettas. This means fish with colorful large fins should be avoided.
Your Betta should be able to tolerate the presence of fish such as Neon Tetras, Black Neon Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Glass Catfish, Bristlenose Catfish, and Endler Livebearers.
If you intend to keep other fish alongside your Betta, you will need a large tank that features plenty of vegetation and decorations.
These will serve as hiding spots for your Betta and other fish if they want to escape.
It’s easier to add a Betta to a pre-established fish community rather than add fish to a tank with an existing Betta.
Before allowing Bettas to interact with other fish, you should keep them separated using a tank divider for a few days.
This will make them more comfortable with having other fish around.
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