betta and neon tetra
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5 Best (And Worst) Betta Fish Tank Mates

Are you a betta fish owner looking to expand your aquarium community? As you may already know, betta fish have fierce personalities, which means you need to carefully select their tank mates to make sure all fish coexist happily together. If you choose the wrong tank mates, you could end up with aggressive fish fights and stressed-out pets, which can ultimately lead to sickness and decreased lifespans.

I’ll explore the different types of fish that can live peacefully with bettas and include all the info you need to create a thriving community in your tank. I’ll also offer tips for setting up your tank and maintaining a healthy environment for your betta and its tank mates.

What Are the Best Betta Fish Tank Mates?

Because betta fish are known for their unique and territorial personalities, it’s easy to assume that leaving them alone in their tanks is safer because of their territorial nature but this isn’t true! Some aquatic species match perfectly with these fighting fish, making them ideal betta fish tank mates.

Choosing the right tank mates is crucial to maintaining a healthy and peaceful environment in your aquarium. Since bettas are naturally territorial, they become aggressive toward their tank mates when they feel threatened or uncomfortable, which can lead to injury or even death for all fish involved. Incompatible tank mates can also cause stress to your betta, leading to weakened immune systems and susceptibility to diseases.

To choose the best betta fish tank mates, consider size, temperament, and compatibility factors. Avoid aggressive fish species and those with similar coloring to your betta, as this triggers territorial behavior. Instead, opt for peaceful fish species that prefer different areas of the tank and have different swimming patterns from your betta to avoid tank conflicts. Most importantly, ensure the tank is at least 10 gallons to accommodate all your aquatic friends.

🐠 Do you have multiple bettas and want to know if they can live together? Learn if male and female bettas can live together in the same tank.

Top 5 Best Betta Fish Tank Mates

To help you choose the best companions for your betta, we’ve rounded up the top five best betta fish tank mates. These include;

Neon Tetra

neon tetra

Neon Tetras are a popular and stunning freshwater fish that make excellent Betta fish tank mates. These small freshwater fish are known for their attractive neon-blue stripe that runs along their side and adds color to any aquarium. Since they like heavily planted tanks with hiding spaces like betta and are also peaceful and easy-going, they make perfect companions for betta fish.

Despite the general advice to avoid bright-colored tank mates, neon tetras can coexist with betta fish because, with their speedy swimming abilities, they’re less likely to draw attention from betta fish, which reduces the chances of any territorial disputes. Neon tetras enjoy swimming in schools, however, so you’ll want to keep at least six of them together in your tank.

Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish

A cory catfish is an excellent option if you’re looking for a bottom-dwelling companion for your betta fish. These peaceful and non-aggressive fish make them a great addition to any community tank. They make excellent tank mates for bettas specifically because they prefer swimming at the bottom of the tank, while your betta is more likely to stay in the tank’s middle or top areas.

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasbora

Native to Southeast Asia, the harlequin rasbora is a small, peaceful freshwater fish known for its striking, metallic silver body with orange and black markings on its tail and fins. They’re non-aggressive, tend to avoid conflict, and are unlikely to compete for food and other resources. That makes them great additions to your betta tank as long as it’s a 10-gallon tank or more since they prefer to live in groups of five or six.

Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy corydoras, also known as pygmy catfish, are the definition of small fish—seeing that they grow to only one inch in length. They’re bottom dwellers and love to scavenge for food, which means they’ll serve as a cleanup crew for your bettas. To keep them happy, I recommend keeping at least six pygmy corydoras together in a tank, as these fish are peaceful and won’t bother other tank mates.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

If you’re looking for an algae eater to help keep your betta fish tank clean, the otocinclus catfish is a great option. These small catfish only grow to about 2 inches in length and are peaceful tank mates for betta fish. They prefer to live in groups, so I recommend keeping at least three of them together in a tank.

Betta Fish Tank Mates to Avoid

Some species may stress out the betta or even become aggressive towards it. So, when selecting tank mates for your betta, knowing the type of fish to avoid is crucial. Here are a few types of aquatic life that are generally not recommended as betta tank mates:

Goldfish

Goldfish

Goldfish are one of the most well-known fish species in the world and have been kept as aquatic pets for centuries. However, bettas and goldfish just don’t mix. Goldfish are notorious for being messy eaters and producing a lot of waste, which can quickly pollute the tank and harm your betta.

They also have very different water temperature requirements, with goldfish thriving in cooler water temperatures, vs. betta fish requiring warm water to mimic their natural habitat. Also, goldfish can grow to be much larger than bettas and may bully your betta. Therefore, it’s safer overall to keep them apart.

Guppies

Guppies

Guppies are a peaceful and active species that are easy to care for, making them ideal for beginner fishkeepers. In addition, they’re relatively small, usually growing up to 2 inches long with a high tolerance for a range in water conditions.

However, while guppies may seem like a good fit for a betta fish tank, they aren’t always the best choice. Male guppies, in particular, have long and colorful fins that may be mistaken for another male betta, leading to aggression and potential harm to both species. Additionally, guppies are known to breed quickly, leading to tank overcrowding and poor water quality.

Angelfish

Angelfish

Angelfish are a popular freshwater fish that can grow up to six inches long and have a distinctive triangular shape. Angelfish are known for their graceful movements and unique personalities, making them a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts.

While angelfish are typically peaceful and can coexist well with other fish, their size and territorial nature make them potentially dangerous tankmates for bettas. Keeping angelfish with bettas can result in fin nipping or even death for the betta, so it’s best to avoid pairing these two species in the same tank.

Setting up a Betta Fish Community Tank

Setting up a betta fish community tank can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires careful consideration and planning. Here are some guidelines to help you create a healthy and harmonious community tank for your betta fish.

Tank Size and Shape

The ideal tank size and shape for betta fish depend on the number of fish and tank mates you plan to keep. A minimum tank size of 5 gallons is recommended for a single betta, while a community tank requires a larger tank to accommodate other fish (15-30 gallons or more).

When choosing a tank shape, consider the swimming habits of the betta and tank mates. – A long, narrow tank provides more horizontal swimming space. In contrast, a tall, column-shaped tank may not be suitable as it limits the surface area for oxygen exchange.

This Fluval Flex Aquarium Kit is 15 gallons, which is large enough to house 4-6 betta.

Filtration and Aeration

A hang-on-back (HOB) filter is an excellent option for filtration as it provides both mechanical and biological filtration. Choosing a filter with a flow rate of 4-5 times the tank volume per hour is recommended.

As for aeration, an air stone powered by a small air pump can provide additional oxygen to the tank. This is particularly important if the tank is heavily planted or stocked with other fish that require high oxygen levels.

One product that combines both filtration and aeration is the AquaClear Power Filter.

06/20/2024 05:18 pm GMT

🐠 Check out our comprehensive guide to fish tank filters to find the best one for your fish tank.

Temperature and Lighting

The ideal temperature range for a betta fish community tank is 76-82°F (24.4-27.8°C), which is also suitable for most common tankmates. For lighting, I recommended providing a regular day-night cycle of 8-12 hours of light per day. The tank should also have shaded areas where the fish can retreat.

An excellent product for maintaining the ideal temperature range is the Aqueon Pro Adjustable Heater. It has an adjustable temperature range and automatic shut-off to prevent overheating.

For lighting, the NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light is a great option. It has a timer function and adjustable brightness settings to simulate the natural day-night cycle.

Plants and Environment

Adding live plants to a betta fish community tank is not only aesthetically pleasing but also beneficial for the health of the fish. Plants provide natural hiding spaces and oxygenation to create a more natural environment for the fish to thrive in. 

Some popular plant options for betta fish tanks include java fern, anubias, pearl weed, and moss balls.

How to Introduce Betta Fish Tank Mates

Introducing tank mates to a betta fish aquarium requires careful planning and patience. Betta fish can be territorial, so introducing new fish without proper acclimation can lead to aggression and stress. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition for the betta fish and its new tank mates. Here are two ways you can implement this:

Quarantine

Quarantining new fish before introducing them to your betta aquarium is crucial for the health of your existing fish. Even healthy-looking fish can carry diseases or parasites that can infect your current fish and disrupt your tank’s perfect balance. To quarantine new fish, you’ll need a separate tank or container—preferably one that hasn’t been used before. Follow these steps to quarantine your new fish properly:

  1. Set up a separate tank with filtration and heating. Make sure the tank has the same water parameters as your main tank.
  2. Introduce the new fish into the quarantine tank, and observe its behavior for any signs of illness or distress.
  3. Monitor the water parameters in the quarantine tank, including ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels, pH, and temperature. Ensure they’re within acceptable ranges for the type of fish you have.
  4. Treat the new fish for any diseases or parasites that you suspect it may have, following the instructions on the medication carefully. It’s best to consult a veterinarian or aquatic specialist to ensure you are using the correct medicine.
  5. Keep the new fish in quarantine for at least 2-4 weeks to ensure it’s healthy and disease-free. During this time, monitor its behavior and appetite closely. After this time period has passed and you’re satisfied that the new fish is in top shape, you can introduce it to your main tank.

Acclimation

Because sudden changes in water conditions can cause stress, shock, and even death in fish, acclimation ensures a smooth transition for the new fish into your main tank. Here’s a step-by-step guide to acclimating new fish:

  1. Place a plastic bag containing the new fish into the aquarium for about 15 minutes. This allows the water inside the bag to adjust gradually to the temperature of the aquarium water.
  2. After 15 minutes, open the bag and add small amounts of aquarium water every 5-10 minutes until the bag is about three-quarters full.
  3. Use a water test kit to check the water’s pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels in the bag. If the levels significantly differ from the aquarium’s water conditions, repeat step two until the water in the bag is closer to the aquarium’s conditions.
  4. Once the water in the bag has been acclimated, use a net to transfer the fish from the bag into the aquarium gently. It recommended acclimating new fish for at least 30 minutes, but it may take longer depending on the difference in water conditions.
  5. Observe the new fish closely for the next few hours to ensure they adapt well to their new environment.

How To Resolve Conflicts 

Conflicts between fish in a community betta tank are not uncommon. Here are some recommendations on how to resolve them:

  1. Separate the fish: If you notice one fish being bullied or stressed, it’s best to separate them from the others. You can use a temporary tank or a fish net to remove them until the situation calms down.
  2. Rearrange the tank: Sometimes, conflicts can arise due to territorial issues. To resolve this, you can rearrange the tank’s decor and hiding places to make each fish feel like it has its own space.
  3. Add more hiding places: Adding more plants or decor to the tank can create more hiding places for the fish, reducing the chance of aggression.
  4. Observe the behavior: Monitor the fish’s behavior and interactions. If a particular fish is continuously causing trouble, consider removing them from the tank permanently.

Remember, monitoring your fish’s behavior regularly is essential, especially after introducing new fish to the tank.

Expand Your Betta Tank the Right Way

Adding tank mates to your betta fish aquarium can be a rewarding experience, but it’s critical to choose the right ones and introduce them properly. We hope this guide has been informative and helpful in creating a thriving community tank for your betta fish. If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment and share it with other fish enthusiasts!

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2 Comments

  1. Sharon Robinson says:

    I have a tall 5 gallon tank with one Betta and two small snails. I have trouble with cloudy water. I treat it for cloudy water and change the charcoal filter and within two or three days it is cloudy again. All water parameters are where they should be.

    1. Hi Sharon! Have you had an overfeeding issue recently? Food particles can decompose and cloud your water over time. Hope this helps!

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