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Can Betta Fish Live with Other Fish? (+ 8 Ideal Tank Mates)

Due to their aggressive nature, it’s commonly believed that betta fish can’t be kept in a community tank. Betta fish are very territorial—this behavior has become more so through captive breeding, where they are bred for aggressiveness.

Despite this, it’s possible to keep betta fish with certain kinds of fish, shrimp, and snails. If you want to keep your betta in a community tank, it is important to consider tank size, water quality, and your betta’s tank mates. This article will explain how you can increase your chances of success.

Factors Affecting Compatibility

Four factors can affect the compatibility of a betta with other fish:

  • Tank size
  • Temperament and behavior
  • Water parameters
  • Plant coverage

Tank Size

Betta fish are native to Southeast Asia and live in canals and rice paddies. In such large areas, each male betta can have its own space. All of this changes if you keep a betta in a small tank. Limited space leads to increased conflict.

If you plan to keep a betta by itself, I recommend a five-gallon aquarium. If you plan to keep it with other fish, remember the general rule of one gallon per inch for adult-size fish when selecting an aquarium.

Another reason for a larger tank is water quality. The more inhabitants you have in your tank, the more waste they will produce. When waste breaks down, it produces ammonia, which is toxic. The bigger the tank, the more time it will take for ammonia to build up.  Also, territorial conflict will be reduced.

I love this Tetra Complete 10-gallon aquarium with LED lighting. It’s big enough for a betta fish and another tank mate.

04/24/2024 11:57 am GMT

Temperament and Behavior

Because of their territorial nature, I strongly discourage you from keeping two male bettas together. Females, on the other hand, can be kept together if you have a large enough tank.

Avoid putting brightly colored fish with your betta.  Bright colors may trigger an aggressive response. Also, avoid fish species that inhabit the same level of the water column as your betta. Bettas spend most of their time in the middle or top of the tank. Try to select species that inhabit the lower levels of the tank, such as corydoras catfish, so both species interact as little as possible.

Lastly, try to introduce bettas to a community tank while they are still young. Young bettas are less aggressive than adults and may become accustomed to other species as they age.

Water parameters

When keeping a community tank, you must choose species with temperatures and pH requirements similar to bettas. Bettas should be kept at around 78 degrees Fahrenheit and have a pH of around 7.0. In the next section, we will discuss species that meet these criteria.

Plant Coverage

The tank must have plenty of plants and other decorations to serve as hiding places. Fish will be able to seek refuge when they are feeling stressed by other fish. Besides providing hiding places, plants, and decorations will also break the line of sight, which can also reduce aggression.

🐠Read the full, ultimate betta fish care guide.

 8 Ideal Tank Mates for Bettas

The species described here were chosen because they are inexpensive, easily cared for, and have the same water parameters as bettas.

Mystery Snails 

Mystery snails are one of the most common aquatic snails in the pet trade. Growing up to 2.5 inches, they can live up to two years. Mystery snails will help keep your aquarium clean by eating algae and dead plant matter. They do best at a temperature between 68-82 Fahrenheit and a pH between 7.0-8.0.

Ghost Shrimp

If this is your first time introducing bettas to tank mates, the ghost shrimp is your best choice. The reason for this is that these shrimps are very inexpensive. and they will feed on algae without disturbing your betta. They prefer a pH between 7.0-8.0 and a temperature between 65-80 Fahrenheit.

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin rasboras are good tank mates for bettas because they are peaceful fish and are fast swimmers. Because of this, they can elude the slower swimming betta. Though they have coloring, it’s not bright enough to trigger your betta. They like a temperature between 72-81 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 6.0-7.5.

Neon Tetras 

Neon tetras make good tank mates for bettas, one of the most popular aquarium fish, due to their peaceful nature. Neon tetras grow to a length of 1.5 inches. They require a temperature between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 4.0-7.5. It’s important to keep them in schools as they have been known to nip at the fins of other fish when not kept in groups. This means you’ll need at least a 20-gallon tank if you choose to keep bettas and neon tetras together.

My top pick is the Tetra 20-gallon tank with LED lighting and decor.

Ember Tetras

Though these fish are brightly colored, they are fast swimmers, so they can easily outswim your betta, should a fish war erupt. Similarly to neon tetras, ember tetras should be kept in groups, so you’ll need at least a 20-gallon tank. They can attain a length of 0.8 inches.  They prefer a temperature between 73-84 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 6-7.

Bronze Corydoras

The bronze corydora is a small catfish that makes a great tank mate for bettas. They’re bottom dwellers and don’t have any of the features that can trigger bettas. I recommend that you keep corydoras in small groups of three or more. Reaching a size of 2.5 inches, these fish do best at a temperature between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 6.0-8.0.

Endlers Livebearers

The Endler’s livebearer closely resembles a guppy. They differ from guppies in that they lack the bright colors or the flowing fins of guppies, making them less likely to trigger an aggressive response from your betta. fish attains a length of 1.8 inches. They like a temperature between 68-82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 6.5- 8.5.

Zebra Danios

One of the hardiest aquarium fish, zebra danios can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, so they are the perfect beginner’s fish. They prefer a temperature between 65-78 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 6.5-7.5. They do well with bettas, provided your aquarium is densely planted and has space to swim freely.

🐠Here are 5 more best and worst betta fish tank mates

Reference Chart for Ideal Betta Tank Mates 
SpeciesTemperature Requirements (℉)pH RequirementsGeneral Comments
Mystery Snails 68-827.0-8.0.It will help keep your aquarium clean.
Ghost Shrimp 65-807.0-8.0Inexpensive and easy to care for.
Harlequin Rasboras 72-816.0-7.5Peaceful but fast swimmers.
Neon Tetras72-784.0-7.5Keep them in groups.
Ember Tetras73-846.0-7.0Keep them in groups.
Bronze Corydoras 68-826.0-8.0Will help keep your tank clean.
Endler’s Livebearers 68-826.5- 8.5Breed easily
Zebra Danios65-786.5-7.5.Tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

Setting Up a Community Tank

The following are suggestions for setting up a community tank for your betta. Following these suggestions will increase your chances of success in maintaining a harmonious tank:

Territorial Rights

Always add bettas to a community tank rather than adding fish to a betta tank. The reason for this is simple: your betta considers its tank as its territory. Any fish that are added after it will be considered intruders.

If you add a betta to an established community tank, it will not have a territory, making it less likely to behave aggressively.

 Start with Invertebrates

Start your community tank by adding invertebrates, such as snails or shrimp. When you add your betta, you can observe how it reacts to them.  If your betta acts aggressively, it will likely behave the same way toward fish. 

Closely Monitor the Tank

For the first three days, it’s important that you closely monitor the tank to ensure that there are no compatibility issues. Behaviors to look out for are nonstop chasing, nipping at fins, lack of appetite, and constantly hiding from view.

Have an Exile Tank

Keep an exile tank—a separate tank—ready at all times. If you notice any compatibility issues, remove the affected fish and place it in this tank.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pairing Bettas with Other Fish

Those new to fishkeeping are bound to make mistakes when keeping an aquarium. Adding a betta fish to a community tank will only further increase the chances of mistakes being made. The following are common mistakes made in this area:

Your Betta is Not Lonely

If your only motive for keeping your betta in a community tank is to keep it from becoming lonely, you may be causing more problems than it’s worth. Bettas are not social fish, except during mating time. They are territorial because they don’t want to share their space!

Avoid Energetic Fish

Keeping high-energy fish with your betta will more likely trigger an aggressive response from your betta, causing stress for your betta. Try to choose slower-moving fish that can accelerate if they need to defend themselves.

FAQs

What Fish Can I Put With a Betta?

Avoid aggressive fish that have long-flowing fins and are brightly colored. Also, avoid highly energetic fish.  All of these can trigger an aggressive response from your betta.

Can You Mix Betta Fish With Other Fish?

It depends on several factors, such as your betta’s temperament, chosen tank mates, the water parameters, and how the tank is set up.

Can Betta Fish Be In the Same Tank as Each Other?

Males cannot be kept together. However, females do well together, as do males and females.

Can Betta Fish Have Companions?

Bettas tend to be solitary, so they do not need a companion. If you want a companion for your betta, choose fish or invertebrate, as mentioned in this article.

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