The betta fish has long been notice as a fighting fish that is continuously bred for its territorial aggression. Although in captivity, this territorial aggression has never gone, and thus becomes one common reason why the fish are unable to cohabitate with other tank mates. Despite this, each betta fish has their own characteristics and temperament. Hence, you might find that some bettas might be in constant stress and aggression when given tank mates, while some others might look lonely without ones.
Adding additional fish into a betta tank might not be recommended. Yet, if you still consider doing it, there are some things you need to put in mind to make things work.
- Putting two male bettas in the same tank is a poor decision, since male bettas are exceptionally aggressive when coming into territories. In the wild, a male betta that loses the fight will retreat and accept defeat. However, in captivity they will not be able to retreat and hence, the fight will continue until one of those bettas eventually dies.
- Keeping two female bettas in one aquarium is possible, especially if you have an aquarium that is large enough for them to move around, thrive, and hide when needed. If you are keeping a couple of female bettas together, remember that every inch of fish requires at least one gallon of water.
- If you are owning a community tank, you will require an adequate tank filter, since these community fish increase the amount of produced waste. Fish waste eventually breaks down into contaminant, such as ammonia which can increase the water pH. Significantly increased pH can potentially cause make your fish sick and thus, a filter is required to manage the waste and keep the whole ecosystem healthy.
- In the wild, female bettas avoid males, except during mating season. In captivity, males might potentially injure or kill the females, so that putting them together in one tank is highly not recommended.
Can you put your betta together with other species?
While keeping two bettas together in one tank can be risky, putting the fish together with other fish or species fortunately may work well. Bettas are able to coexist with some species if you choose these mates carefully.
When you decide to keep your betta together with other fish or species, it is important to first have an exile tank in order to move one of these cohabitants. You also need to closely monitor the introduction for at least 72 hours to assess compatibility.
17 safe betta fish tank mates
Each recommended betta companion should require similar pH level with the fish as well as tropical temperature to ensure compatibility. Listed below are some tank mates that will safely cohabitate with betta fish along with some of their necessary information.
1. Mystery Snails
Mystery snails have a Latin name of Pomacea bridgesii and is included to the family of mollusk. Different from nerite snails, mystery snails do not reproduce asexually. Hence, this snail family can be a suitable addition to your fish tank along with the bettas. Even if you are keeping some real live plants in the tank, these mystery snails will not be harmful, due to their docile nature.
Bettas are known to be very territorial and extremely aggressive and may sometimes get curious or nip at a mystery snail. Yet, since the snails have a hard shell that they can retreat into whenever required, this should not be a big concern. Adult mystery snails can grow up to 2 inches in size, with approximately one-year lifespan.
Another great thing about having a mystery snail in your tank is that they are feeding on unnecessary food and help clean algae, which is essential for every aquarium. Hence, they do not only become a great company for a lonely betta, but also a helpful natural filter for your tank, as well.
2. Ghost Shrimps
Ghost shrimps or scientifically coined as Thalassinidea can be observed from their see-through appearance. The species is classified as an invertebrate and can be virtually invisible in the tank without any close inspection. Due to its transparency, ghost shrimps can be a great addition to your tank and adds its beauty. A ghost shrimp can grow up to 1.5 inches in length with 1 to 1.5 year of lifespan with proper care.
In addition to be a great thriving companion for the fish, ghost shrimps are easy to care, inexpensive, and make a natural tank cleaner that preserve your tank water quality. They are also really fun to watch and more fortunately love moss balls—which are also a great tank decoration, yet are plant-safe.
3. Feeder Guppies
If you own a quite large tank that measures 8 gallons or more, the Poecilia Reticulata, which is also known as feeder guppies can be a great selection for your betta companion. This guppy species does not belong to schooling fish family, so that keeping them is quite easy for beginner aquarists. Female feeder guppies are grey, while males have spots and brighter hues of color. Either sex will be perfect for your betta companion, as their behavior is relatively docile.
The feeder guppies enjoy similar pH and temperature range with your betta fish, making them a suitable swimming and thriving cohabitation. However, since they are docile, the possibility of having them nipping at your betta is minimal.
4. Cory Catfish
Bronzed-colored Corydoras is another betta fish tank mate that go along with your fish safely. Know better as the cory catfish, this fish family is easy to care and enjoy similar pH and water temperature with your bettas. Their sizes range from 1.0-2.5 inches in length and can live alone or in schools. Should you choose schooling cory catfish to accompany your betta, it is essential to put them in an at least 10 gallon-sized tank. This will provide them an adequate space to swim and thrive comfortably.
Most cory catfish live on the bottom of the tank and can be very active and therefore, can liven up the tank. However, they commonly are not aggressive and can be a great companion to most fish, including the bettas. Similar to any other betta fish cohabitation, the cory catfish also have a great role in keeping the aquarium clean.
5. Ember Tetras
The ember tetras have a dull color and thus, can liven up your tank when placed with contrasting, vibrant-colored bettas. This fish is commonly living in schools and submissive. They will not likely to nip at your bettas, which becomes an additional advantage. The ember tetras are also a perfect tank mate for bettas considering their similar requirement on water pH and temperature, as well as living environment.
Since bettas’ aggression has been its common nature, it is possible for the fish to be aggressive to the ember tetras by trying to catch the schools. You don’t have to worry as this can be very difficult, considering the tetras’ tiny size.
6. Harlequin Rasboras
Scientifically known as Trigonostigma heteromorpha, the Harlequin Raboras live side by side with violent bettas in the wild. Yet, there are no contradictive aggression among the two, which makes this fish a great companion for bettas under captivity. Similar to the tetras, these rasboras are dull-colored and thus, provide colorful contrasting colors with your bettas.
Adult rasboras can grow up to 1.5 inches in size and live on average 5 years. They are peaceful and are living in a school of 5 or 6. Hence, aquariums that are 10 gallons or more are recommended for keeping bettas and these rasboras together. Bettas and rasboras can be mutual cohabitants because they share similar diets and additionally, the rasboras are known to never nip at the aggressive bettas.
7. African Dwarf Frogs
If you prefer other species other than fish to accompany your betta in tank, the African Dwarf Frog is a consideration. This spotted grey or brown frog is great for beginner aquarists and lives well along with your betta in 10-gallon or more tanks. Although might grow larger than your betta, the frogs are peaceful and relatively easy to care for. They may grow up to 2.5 inches in length and live on average 5 years. Although they are able to live alone, a set of two frogs per aquarium is advised.
Keeping the African dwarf frogs will liven up your entire tank, since the frogs are active and like to explore their surroundings. Although they are able to live underwater, the frogs are going to come to the water surface to get some oxygen. This is because frogs are equipped with lungs, instead of gills. Enjoying the view of the frogs come to the water surface will also be really fun. The African dwarf frogs also shed their skin every one or two weeks, which can be another great underwater show. They share similar foods with bettas, so that keeping them together will never be a hassle.
8. Neon Tetras
Adding some bright-colored fish to your betta tank can be a great idea. Although bright-colored fish are mostly not suitable to add as betta companions, bright-colored neon tetras is quite different. They do have bright, vibrant colors that bettas might assume attractive and thus, can be nipped at, the neon tetras swim very fast, making it very difficult for the bettas to catch. Hence, it is considered safe to put the two together in one aquarium.
Since the neon tetras enjoy living in a school, it is essential to keep them in larger tanks measuring 10 gallons or more with a long narrow shape. This gives the fish an adequate space to swim fast horizontally. They live for a quite long time, approximately 5 to 6 years, and can grow up to 4 centimeters in length.
Adding these fish will consequently add enjoyment to your aquarium, since it is fun to watch they swim together and navigate around for fish or safety. Similar to bettas, these tetras also enjoy underwater plants that give them a space to explore or hide.
9. Ember tetras
The ember tetras are another species of tetras, which are dominantly orange-red colored. They have similar characteristics and habits with the neon tetras, except for the smaller size. The ember grows up to less than 1 inch and require groups of 4 to 6 tetras to form adequate schooling. They feed on similar diet to bettas and prefer heavily planted tanks. The ember can be a suitable companion for betta fish, since they prefer the middle of a tank, while the bettas enjoy the top-half. This will prevent territorial issues that may lead to aggression.
10. Clown Plecos
Clown plecos fish that are commonly light brown with orange stripes in color are commonly used by either beginner or advanced aquarist to accompany their betta fish. This algae eater is compatible with bettas since they are not aggressive and have tough skin in the event a betta fish does get curious and nip at these clown plecos.
If you prefer plecos fish to accompany your betta in tank, it is important not to mistakenly choose the common plecos, as they can grow up to two feet long. Clown plecos are great since they also have a long lifespan that reaches 10 years.
11. Kuhli Loach
To add unique view and atmosphere to your betta aquarium, a kuhli loach can be a great betta cohabitant. This long-shaped fish has pink to yellow body with exotic dark stripes, which looks astonishingly beautiful under your aquarium’s LED system. The kuhli loach feeds on brine shrimp and hence, shares similar diet with the bettas. This is a cool fish that will not compete with your bettas due to their docile, peaceful personality.
The kuhli loaches are long, eel-like shaped, and love to disappear into tiny crevices, so that aquariums with holed rocks on the bottom will be perfect. Although the kuhli loach may not grow as big as those other loaches such as clown loach that grows over a foot, this exotic long fish does require a large tank that measures over 20 gallons to comfortably thrive, hide, explore, and swim.
12. Bristlenose Plecos
Bristlenose plecos make great betta fish tank mates. Similar to most other fish on the list, this fish family is easy to care and require very low maintenance. As the clown plecos are, these bristlenose ones are also armored with extremely tough plates, so that even if your bettas mess with them, these companion fish will not easily get hurt.
Keeping bristlenose plecos is not only essential to provide company to your betta, but also to help keeping the aquarium clean. These plecos feed on algae and uneaten food, maintaining your tank’s cleanliness. Adult bristlenose plecos grow up to 6 inches and thus, require a tank with 10-gallon size or more.
13. White cloud mountain minnows
This fish is quite hard to find, yet if you are able to find them, they are highly recommended for your betta companion. These fish are peaceful and extremely hardy, and are able to thrive even in temperature as low at 45°F. The minnows commonly live in schools of 5 to 6 and are not recommended to be kept out of these schools, as that way, they tend to be nervous and nip at other fish.
The white minnows are easy to care and do not require much maintenance. They also feed on similar food with bettas. Betta flakes, therefore, are enough for those white minnows.
14. Zebra Snails
If you are looking for something that is quite different to be kept with your betta fish, Zebra Snails can be the perfect one. Their shell is attractively colored and thus, will be an additional enjoyment to your aquarium. These stripe-patterned snails are attractive to watch while moving around the aquarium walls.
Other snails might reproduce very fast and might overrun the aquarium, while these zebra snails do not crazily reproduce and keep the tank ecosystem in right balance. The zebra snails feed mostly on algae and uneaten food, which keeps the tank clean. This is another reason in addition to the beautiful appearance of the snails that make many aquarists love to keep them in the tanks.
15. Apple Snails
Similar to both zebra and mystery snails, apple snails make a great companion for bettas due to their hard shell that protect them even from hungry or aggressive bettas. Apple snails come in variety of colors and can grow to up to a size of a softball. Hence, you will require a minimum 2.5-gallon tank to keep the snails and your betta together.
Snails are also a great algae and flakes eater, so that they are great to keep the tank clean. However, tanks with copper are not recommended for snails, since they are very sensitive to copper and can easily be harmed by this contaminant.
16. Otocinclus Catfish
Quite different from cory catfish, these otocinclus catfish are caught from the wild and have not been bred in the aquarium environment. As a result, these fish are sensitive to any changes in the water conditions. However, these fish make a great companion for betta fish and if you manage to get them survive the first 1 or 2 weeks, they will live for a long time, as long as the water remains stable and clean.
17. Marimo Moss Ball
Marimo moss ball is a very unique companion for your betta. This is a live plant that absorb ammonia wasted by the betta to change it into oxygen. The moss ball is definitely easy to maintain, indestructible, and therefore great for beginner aquarists. In addition, betta fish also love to thrive around or hide behind a marimo moss ball, making it another great tank mate for betta fish.