Siamese Fighting Fish, as their name suggests, have a reputation for being a little aggressive. Their tendency to battle with other fish have made them desirable for those intrigued in now mostly outlawed fish fights.
Nowadays, enthusiasts admire the fish for their beauty and keep them as an aesthetic pet.
Unfortunately, years of selective breeding for violent traits have created a gorgeous fish, which makes for a complicated addition to an aquatic community.
Is your Betta doomed to a solitary existence?
Can you keep Bettas with other fish?
There are many common misconceptions involving raising Betta fish. Many perceive them as heartless killers, but the reality is much different.
While yes, these fish are aggressive. They are not bloodthirsty killers who will attack everything. In fact, wild Bettas are not even that aggressive.
Originally, the male Betta merely attacked each other to establish dominance. Their fights were short, and once an established winner was decided, they remained rather peaceful amongst each other.
This old behavior was bred out of most individuals you find at the local pet shop.
Bettas now will fight beyond what is necessary to find an alpha. They will keep on nipping at fins, which can end lead to critical damage.
Even modern female Bettas have a bit of an aggressive streak. Although they cannot compare to their male counterparts, they will chase unwanted tank mates under pressure.
This doesn’t mean this is how they treat all of their companions.
Bettas can be housed with other fish. There are many different factors that go into it, which we will delve into later.
Do Betta fish like company?
This brings up the question, does your Betta want friends?
As humans, we like to push our emotions onto creatures and sympathize with the “loneliness” other animals seem to express. This can be said about several animals we welcome into our homes.
Parakeets, guinea pigs, and rabbits all yearn for some companionship. There are even several fish species who thrive better in schools or small groups.
Betta fish are not one of these fish that need to be with others. They are solitary animals.
Will Bettas with tank mates be peaceful?
Just because they don’t need to be with others doesn’t mean they can’t be with others.
For one thing, Bettas don’t always hate the company.
They would much rather have some source of entertainment. Sharing the tank with other fish can provide some enrichment to prevent the Bettas from getting bored.
Bettas are curious. Even if they are not directly interacting with the other members of their community, they do appreciate the stimulation of watching the other fish living in the tank.
When Bettas get along with their tank mates, they can live peaceful lives. They do have some standards that must be met, though.
What qualities do Bettas look for in tank mates?
A Betta will not welcome any fish with open arms. This is due to their competitive nature.
If you have ever left the Betta food bottle close enough to your Betta’s aquarium, you may notice they puff up. They do this to let the illustration know that they are not happy.
Male Bettas do not like to share their space with other male Bettas. They also have a little problem narrowing down what a male Betta is.
Thus, they will attack any fish that resembles a Betta -even if the other fish is peaceful and has no intentions to fight.
The ideal tank mates for your make Betta will be serene, non-aggressive fish that do not resemble the Betta in any way.
It is also important to note that fish within any single tank community should share preferences. For a Betta, this means you should look at tank mates who prefer warmer water and a moderate pH level.
Can a male and female Betta live together?
While a female Betta may seem like an obvious choice in terms of environmental compatibility, male Bettas will bully them.
Of course, they can safely remain together long enough to mate. If you are interested in breeding Bettas, you should familiarize yourself with their mating behavior.
To an untrained eye, the mating dance may come off as a little rough. There is a fine line between a male Betta being nippy and trying to woo a potential partner.
Normally, the courtship process of a Betta consists of both.
They engage in a little touchy behavior before engaging in “dances.” The female will ultimately deposit the eggs, and the male will pick each up one-by-one and bring them towards the bubble nest.
This process normally takes several hours, but can take longer.
At this point, you should take the female away before he starts to get territorial again. She may have even sustained some injuries during the process of courtship.
It will be less noticeable when the pair in your Crowntail Betta tank mates, but you may end up with more apparent damage in the higher-webbed variations such as Half Moon or Delta Bettas.
The male will not miss her. It is his job to watch over the eggs. Although this paternal behavior may seem very endearing, don’t let him trick you.
Like with most fish, when the fish are born, he will try to eat them.
You should carefully remove the male from the tank once you can see the fry, or fish larvae, swimming around.
Just as he will not miss the company of the female, he will not miss the company of his babies either.
Can fry live together?
In the beginning, you don’t need to worry about the fry. You can continue raising them in a larger tank while they grow.
Once they begin to mature, though, the males need to be separated into their own tanks. Signs of fighting can begin anywhere between 5 and 8 weeks.
Even males who were raised together from birth will injure each other. Separating them is for the safety of them as well as the other tank mates.
You do not need to worry that your Betta is missing their siblings. They enjoy their alone time
Does the size of the tank impact species compatibility with a Betta?
Tank size has a massive impact on how comfortable your Bettas will be in their new homes.
Even though Bettas are often advertised as being able to thrive in minuscule tanks, they prefer some extra space -especially when they have to share.
If the tank is overcrowded, they may get stressed out.
This can cause them to lash out at other fish, or even take a toll on their personal health. This can cause them to get sick, or even lose their coloration.
You also need to keep in mind that the tank must be big enough to house their roommates as well.
More: Best Tank For Betta Fish
Small Tanks (3-5 gallons)
It is recommended that Bettas should be housed in at least 2.5 gallons.
For the sake of keeping water quality easily manageable (and offer some space for Betta enrichment), many owners aim for at least 5 gallons.
That being said, the best Betta mates in 3-gallon tanks are a nice plant or ornament. When the tank is this small, tank mates are not ideal.
There is more space for Betta tank mates in 5-gallon tanks, but space is still pretty tight.
You could always try with a small shrimp or snail, but 5 gallons could prove too crowded for the Betta to accept any tank mates.
Large Tanks (+10 Gallons)
Any tanks 10 gallons or more will have many more options. This is the size of an ideal community tank.
Again, you are looking for serene tank mates who prefer moderate pH levels and warmer water.
You may be surprised to see which fish are compatible with Bettas.
1. Kuhli Loaches
These loaches are super friendly, relatively easy to keep. This bottom feeder likes to hide and stay out of trouble (so be sure to provide some hiding spots for them).
This, unfortunately, means you won’t get to see them too much as they will spend most of their time hiding.
They like living in groups of their own kind, so it’s a good idea to keep them in groups no smaller than 5.
This little fish stays pretty small and needs about 20 gallons of space to stay happy and healthy. Overall, they are hardy and a good option for beginners.
2. Cory Catfish
These benthic fish are adorable and active members of any tank community.
These peaceful pets come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.
If you have a bigger tank, you may be interested in the bronze, panda, or julii Cory catfish.
If your tank is smaller, pigmy Cory catfish make ideal betta tank mates in a 10-gallon set-up.
It’s important to note that these fish also feel safest in numbers. You should never have less than six at a time.
3. Otocinclus Catfish
These fish are another bottom feeder that can make an excellent addition to the tank.
They do not require that you house them with other members of their family, but do thrive best in tanks that are at least 20 gallons.
These fish are not exactly hardy, though. They require a lot of algae for their diet and often starve without hobbyists even realizing they need more food.
This fish is best reserved for more established aquariums or more experienced hobbyists.
Plecos are another bottom feeder that is relatively easy to keep and friendly, but they require a huge tank.
Although you will see many people housing them in smaller aquariums, it’s recommended that you put these fish into tanks that are at least 75 gallons.
Although these fish can reach over a foot, they are very shy and prefer to spend their time hiding and avoiding other tank mates.
Generally, people looking to create a Betta community tank are not looking to go that big.
5. Neon Tetras
Taking a break from bottom feeders, these fish can add a little color and activity to the middle of your tank.
Tetras are generally something you need to be careful with, but neon tetras specifically are normally beautiful to add.
These tiny, schooling fish are fast-moving and peaceful. This means they tend to leave your Betta alone while simultaneously being able to dodge an unfriendly Betta.
These fish are easy to keep in smaller tanks, but be aware that they need to be kept in larger groups.
Although it’s advised to keep these fish in groups no smaller than 6, it’s a better idea to set your minimum at 10 when they’re living with Bettas.
6. Harlequin Rasboras
These are another addition that stays towards the middle of the tank.
They can also live comfortably in a ten-gallon tank, but they do prefer to live in shoals, meaning you need to have at least 8 in the tank.
They are a great way to add color without irritating the Betta so much. They are also generally quick enough to evade a nippy Betta.
Sorority Tank Mates
Sorority tanks refer to aquariums in which several female Bettas are intended to live together. Generally, this is where the tank is a large community of female Bettas in a small tank.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this practice.
Although you are indeed able to house a few female Bettas together peacefully, many people with these female Betta tanks experience a lot of problems.
Many people keep these tanks smaller than they should be. A 10-gallon tank is not a lot of room for several female Bettas to have their own space.
Female Betta fish are much less aggressive than their male counterparts, but they are relatively aggressive and territorial.
Many female Betta community tanks are plagued with injury and disease. Some experts denounce the practice of keeping such a setup.
If you have a large enough tank and keep only two or three female Bettas, this can function as a comfortable environment for them.
Even females may prefer if their companions are other species. It may seem strange, but the best tank mates for Bettas are not Bettas.
Invertebrate Tank Mates
Invertebrates are often the best organisms to consider in a Betta community tank.
Often overlooked because they aren’t your traditional pets, many non-fish species can make an excellent community member.
Ecologically speaking, snails are a very important animal. They help clean up the environments they living in and are a peaceful creature.
The only thing you need to be careful of is that your Bettas don’t harass them.
Although they have a hard exterior, their antennae are delicate and may prove appetizing for a hungry Betta.
Although snails are hardy and survive most tanks, it’s a good note to keep them at least 15 gallons.
Great species to consider are Nerites, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, and Assassin snails.
They may sound exotic, but you can find them at your local pet shop.
These little crustaceans can go either way, so try not to invest too much into them upfront.
Shrimp is super low-maintenance creatures that require little to no space and upkeep. They are also a delicacy to many fish.
Sometimes you can manage to let these animals join the community -other times, your Betta may make a snack out of them.
Which fish should you avoid keeping with a Betta?
After examining this list of fish that can live with Bettas, it is now time you explore the opposite. These fish are complicated for two main reasons.
The first is that they are aggressive themselves and like their space. The second is they need to be protected.
Betta fish are not these overpowering apex predators that you don’t need to worry about. Bettas are also delicate fish that are easily hurt.
When determining what fish can live with Betta fish, you need to consider both their potential victims and which fish are capable of hurting them.
These colorful fish are a popular choice among hobbyists for their appearance and nature. This easily bred fish is also strikingly similar to the Betta.
Their large fins, colorful scales, and overall anatomical shape instigate male Bettas looking to fight.
Even if the guppies are actively avoiding them, many Bettas will charge right after them.
Although females may attack them, they are less likely to be triggered.
This one is a bit of a shame because angelfish are gorgeous.
Just as the Bettas are a beautiful, aggressive fish, angelfish are not exactly angels themselves.
They will chase and nip at the Betta fish’s tail. This can cause damage and infection.
3. Redtail Sharks
Redtail sharks are another popular freshwater fish, which are serial nippers.
These fish generally won’t attract the attention of a Betta, but they need to be monitored in most communities for their aggressive behavior.
Bettas are actually in the gourami family. That being said, they are also a nippy and territorial fish.
Bettas tend not to get along with their larger cousins.
How do you introduce Bettas to a tank community?
Adding Bettas into a community tank should be a gradual process. You don’t want to accidentally give them a dose of culture shock.
Before adding any fish to your community tank, they should be quarantined for a short time.
This is easier with a Betta that can live in a tiny tank (for other fish, you may want to invest in a special quarantine tank while you’re building your community).
This quarantine period ensures that the Betta you add to your community is not secretly sick and infects everyone else.
When this is done, dim the lights of your aquarium and prepare for the introduction.
Put your Betta into a plastic bag full of water. Slowly set the bag into the tank water and gently move the bag around.
This will change the temperature of the water in the bag gradually to the temperature of the tank.
After about 15 minutes, cut the bag open and allow for tank water to slowly seep into the bag. Allow your Betta to swim out.
Monitor them directly for at least a half-hour. If everything is fine, you should be safe, leaving them for a bit and keeping a close eye on them for the next few days.
If they seem to get along with the tank and aren’t the target or source of bullying, you have successfully incorporated your Betta into the community.
If not, you need to separate your Betta immediately and consider what can be changed to make this a more welcoming environment for them.
This could be getting a bigger tank, adding additional ornaments for hiding, or even changing the occupants.
Betta fish are a popular fish for a reason. These beautiful organisms can add a little extra color and pizazz to any community.
These aggressive fish have a reputation for being a little feisty. Although they are a bit temperamental, there are a number of species that they can welcome as tank mates.
Do you have any experience with Bettas in a community tank? Share your stories below!