Tank Mates for Your BettaAlthough many believe that bettas can only be housed by themselves because they'll "kill" anything alive in the tank, bettas CAN be housed with other fish/invertebrate. In fact, there are quite a few species that can successfully coexist with a betta. The general rule is that a betta can live with anything as long as it's
- Not colorful or resemble a rival betta's colors (guppies)
- Not a fin nipper (Tiger barbs are a big NO)
- The right size for the size of the tank (No common plecos in a 10 gallon tank since they get to 2 feet in length)
- Lives roughly in the same water conditions as a betta (no brackish fish)
An overly aggressive betta should only housed by itself while a shy/ peacful betta can possibly live with guppies or other colorful fish. However, bettas are solitary fish meaning they do best by themselves. That's how they live in the wild. Additionally, adding fish to a betta tank may cause the betta to become aggressive because it thinks that another fish is swimming over his/her territory. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't get your betta a tankmate. As long as your betta doesn't show any signs of distress or become aggressive, everything will be alright. It's up to the owner to decide whether or not to get a tankmate. Now, on to the common tankmates!
Fish listed here are the best possible tankmates you can have with your betta.
African dwarf frogs
African dwarf frogs make excellent betta tankmates. Because frogs look nothing like bettas (obviously), there's little to chance of a fight to occur. The betta will just let the frog do whatever frogs do. Additionally, african dwarf frogs produce little waste meaning that you don't have to worry about nitrates/nitrites/ammonia. The only problem is feeding them. Since they aren't particularly good swimmers, the betta will usually his own food and then proceed with eating the frogs food before the frog notices that food is ready.
Snails make great tankmates with a betta because of its hard shell which protects it from curious bettas maybe even hungry bettas. Apple snails come in a variety of colors and can get up the size of a softball. For this reason, you could need more than a 2.5 gallon tank to house a betta with an apples snail. Another type of snail that fits well with a betta is a nerite snail. These snail only get up to around an inch in length and are excellent scavengers. They are also great algae eaters and have interesting shell patterns. However, all snails are highly sensitive to copper so any medicine containing copper cannot be used in a tank with snails (or any invertebrate for that matter). A better choice would be to have a hospital tank and put the sick betta there to treat and leave the snails in the main tank.
Ghost/Red Cherry shrimp
Not only that, but they are one of the best algae eaters, behind the amano shrimp. If you had a choice between ghost shrimp and red cherry shrimp, definitely choose the red cherry shrimp. However, make sure that there is plenty of cover and that the betta is well fed or else your shrimp may become an expensive appetizer.
Cories (Corydoras Catfish)
In fact some loaches can get as big as 16" (clown loach). However, all types of loaches are peaceful.
I recommend khuli loaches(4"), dwarf loaches(2.5"), hillsteam loaches(3"), and zebra loaches(4").
Otocinclus Catfish, or otos for short, have similar needs as cories but are much more harder to acclimate since mainly because most of them are caught from the wild and have not been bred in an aquarium environment.
This causes them to be sensitive to any change in water conditions. However, once your oto survive the first 1-2 weeks, he'll live for a long time provided that the water remains stable and clean.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows
However, the temperature of the aquarium would need to be in the upper 70's (78F) to accomodate the bettas needs and the white cloud's needs. Additionally, similar to the red cherry shrimp, white clouds are easy to breed and are believed to not eat their young (the betta might though). White clouds are a very good choice for a tankmate and for a beginning aquarist.
Fish listed here are suitable to live with a betta with no problems but should be a second priority to the fish listed above.
Their speed though counters this problem in that they can easily avoid the bettas attack.
Additionally, tetras enjoy being in schools so 5+ in a 10gallon tank is necessary for healthy tetras. Make sure to have plenty of hiding places for any fish to escape to.
Plecos (not common pleco)
This is why the can be housed with bettas. However, because they are sold as feeder fish, many of them will be sick and can transmit whatever disease they have to the betta. As long as you get healthy fish, they should be good tankmates.
One difference between rasboras and tetras is that rasboras are more peaceful than tetras.
However, their colors are less vibrant than those of a neon tetra.
Fish listed have been succesfully kept with bettas but are not recommended
There are certain requirements you must consider before thinking about housing guppies with a betta.
- The betta has to have a peaceful personality
- The guppies cannot resemble a betta (female guppies are a better choice than males)
- You must be prepared for the worst
- The tank must have plenty of hiding places for injured or stressed fish
Again, platies have the same requirements as fancy guppies. However, platies enjoy water conditions with a high pH and high alklinity (hard water). Additionally, platies may become agressive nip the fins of the betta.
Swordtails live in fast moving waters while bettas live in slow moving rice paddies. Additionally, swordtail colors and tails may cause aggression from the betta.
Another bad choice overall for all types of community tanks. Not only do they suck on the sides of fish, but they don't even eat algae.
As they get older, they become more aggressive and seem to enjoy the taste of the slime coat of fish. Without this slime coat, all fish become more suseptible to disease. I do not recommend getting this fish at all.
Unless you're trying to make a female sorority tank (which needs at least 5 females), or having a divided tank, don't even think about trying to house bettas together. There's a reason why they are called siamese fighting fish, they fight with each other. Usually, in the wild where they live in thousands of gallons of water fights are not to the death as many people believe.
In their homeland, whoever wins takes the territory and the loser swims away to live another day. In an aquarium, the loser tries to swim away but the tank too small. The loser is unable to escape and the winner continues the beating until the loser finally dies a painful death. Even a divided tank is dangerous since bettas are super athletic and can jump over a divider that's 1 inch above the surface.
Fish listed here shouldn't even cross your mind, let alone your bettas path.
They enjoy high pH and hard water while bettas enjoy soft water with low pH. Additionally, most cichlids get way too big for tanks under 10 gallons.
Most cichlids need aquariums 20+ gallons and that's when they aren't fully grown.
- Goldfish are coldwater fish (enjoy the low 60's) and bettas are warmwater fish (enjoy the low 80's). That's a 20 degree difference. Try swimming in a heated pool at 80 degrees and then jumping into the ocean that's 60 degrees and you'll see how big a difference that is; quite a shock for both fishes.
- Goldfish are extremely messy so the minimal size tank necessary is 20 gallons for one goldfish. Since the average fishkeeper doesn't follow this rule and keeps their betta and goldfish(es) in a 10 gallon, nitrates go through the roof within a few days.
- Since goldfish are so messy, they require much stronger filtration than a regular fish. With a stronger filtration system, the stronger the current, and the more stressed the betta. A filter that strong would create a current that a betta cannot swim through.
And becuase tiger barbs are so fast, the betta doesn't stand a chance to defend itself. Tiger barbs are basically a bad choice for a peacful community tank. They are better off living with cichlids who can fight back.
Gouramis (all species)
Because they are in the same family, bettas and gourami's are more likely to fight each other. Additionally, both are very aggressive fish, adding to the danger of housing them together