Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, are among the most popular freshwater fish kept as pets. Male bettas are prized for their long, flowing fins and brilliant colors. However, bettas are known for being aggressive and territorial, especially towards members of their species. This raises an important question for aquarium hobbyists – what fish can live with bettas peacefully?
While male bettas will fight with other male bettas, they can generally coexist with certain other fish. With proper tank size, hiding spots, and compatible tank mates, bettas can live happily in a community aquarium.
This guide will explore ideal betta companions in detail, providing a betta fish compatibility chart and answering common questions like:
- Can betta fish live with other fish in the same tank?
- What kind of fish can live with bettas?
- Are molly fish compatible with bettas?
- Can you keep guppies with bettas?
Follow the tips below to create a thriving betta community tank.
General Guidelines for Selecting Betta Tank Mates
When choosing potential tank mates for bettas, there are some general guidelines to follow:
- Tank Size – A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended for a betta community tank. In smaller spaces, bettas may become territorial.
- Avoid Fin Nippers – Bettas have large, flowing fins that can easily be damaged. Avoid fish like tiger barbs that are prone to nipping.
- Select Peaceful Fish – Shy, peaceful fish that don’t compete for territory or food make the best tank mates.
- Consider Bottom Dwellers – Bottom feeders like cory catfish can coexist with bettas, occupying different tank areas.
- Add Hiding Spots – Aquarium caves, plants, and décor provide places for fish to retreat if needed.
- Introduce Tank Mates First – Set up the tank with other fish before adding the betta to reduce territorial behavior.
With the proper setup and compatible fish species, bettas can live happily in a community tank. Read on for details on the best tank mates.
Top 5 Best Fish for Betta Tanks
Research from leading aquarium resources like Aquarium Co-Op reveals the following fish tend to do best with bettas:
1. Kuhli Loaches
- Nocturnal bottom dwellers, resting during the day when bettas are most active
- Help clean up debris and food scraps from the tank substrate
- Entertaining to watch as they slither through tank décor
- Grow to around 3-5 inches in size
- Feeding: Require meaty sinking foods like shrimp pellets or frozen bloodworms
2. Ember Tetras
- A schooling fish that should be kept in groups of 5-6 or more
- Their bright red-orange color creates a bold contrast against bettas
- Peaceful fish that mostly keep to themselves and won’t harass bettas
- Grow to about 1-1.5 inches in length
- Feeding: Omnivores that will accept flake foods, live/frozen brine shrimp
3. Pygmy Corydoras
- Bottom dwelling catfish with armored plates and whisker-like barbels
- Help keep tank bottom clean by scavenging for food scraps
- Grow to under 1 inch in size, safe tank mates for betta fish
- Do best in small schools of 6 or more pygmy cories
- Feeding: Sinking foods like shrimp pellets, bloodworms, blanched vegetables
4. African Dwarf Frogs
- Peaceful aquatic frogs that spend most of their time near the tank bottom
- Should be kept in pairs or small groups for social interaction
- Help clean up uneaten betta food from the substrate
- Grow to around 2 inches in length
- Feeding: Carnivores that eat bloodworms, brine shrimp, small fish pellets
5. Nerite Snails
- Excellent algae eaters, helping keep tank walls scrubbed clean
- Peaceful invertebrates with limited mobility compared to fish
- Their hard shells protect against potential betta aggression
- Grow to about 1 inch in diameter
- Feeding: Consume naturally growing algae in the tank
Algae Eating Fish for Betta Tanks
In addition to the fish listed above, some other excellent algae eaters are suitable for life with bettas. These fish help control nuisance algae growth while posing little threat to bettas:
- Otocinclus Catfish – Also called “otos”, these suckermouth catfish grow to just 2 inches. They tirelessly graze on algae. Groups of 3-5 otos work well for algae control.
- Amano Shrimp – Peaceful shrimp reaching 2 inches long that voraciously consume many types of algae. Their transparent bodies and constant motion make them low-threat tank mates.
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails – These small conical shells hide in the substrate daily, coming out at night to consume algae. Their self-limiting population stays small.
- Siamese Algae Eaters – While growing larger at 5-6 inches, these fish eat hair algae other species don’t touch. Limit to 1 per betta tank.
Molly Fish with Bettas
Mollies and bettas can potentially live together, but there are some caveats. Mollies come in several varieties like sailfin and dalmatian that grow 3-6 inches long. The main considerations are:
- Mollies prefer slightly brackish water while bettas thrive in freshwater. Keep parameters appropriate for bettas if housing together.
- Mollies are active and may stress shyer betta fish, especially in smaller tanks.
- Fin nipping can sometimes be an issue, especially with long-finned male bettas.
- Introduce mollies first and bettas last to decrease territorial disputes.
- Provide many plants and decorations to break up line of sight and create barriers.
With the right tank setup, mollies and bettas can coexist peacefully. But be prepared to separate them if the betta seems overly stressed.
Detailed Betta Fish Compatibility Chart
This chart provides a more extensive look at potential betta tank mates, their temperament, size, and other key factors:
|Fish Species||Temperament||Adult Size||Notes|
|Ember Tetra||Peaceful||1-1.5 inches||Schooling fish, keep 6+ together|
|Neon Tetra||Peaceful||1-1.5 inches||Sensitive to water conditions|
|Harlequin Rasbora||Peaceful||1.5-2 inches||Colorful, schooling fish|
|Corydoras Catfish||Peaceful||2-3 inches||Tank bottom dwellers, keep 3+ together|
|Kuhli Loach||Semi-aggressive||3-5 inches||Nocturnal, need hiding places|
|Platies||Peaceful||2-3 inches||Can fin nip, better in larger tanks|
|Swordtails||Peaceful||3-6 inches||Fins resemble betta tails, may incite aggression|
|Plecostomus||Peaceful||4-6 inches||Need driftwood, supplement diet with algae wafers|
|Guppies||Peaceful||1-2 inches||Males may resemble bettas, fin nippers|
|Mollies||Semi-aggressive||3-6 inches||Prefer brackish water, may fin nip|
|Glass Catfish||Timid||3-4 inches||Need schools of 6+, sensitive to water conditions|
|Zebra Danios||Active||2-3 inches||Need larger tank with schools of 6+, may stress bettas|
|Cherry Shrimp||Peaceful||1 inch||Bright red color contrasts bettas, may get eaten|
|Nerite Snails||Peaceful||1 inch||Excellent algae eaters, thrive in hard water|
|Ghost Shrimp||Peaceful||1 inch||Nearly transparent, good scavengers|
|Mystery Snails||Peaceful||2 inches||Fun to watch, can uproot plants|
|African Dwarf Frogs||Peaceful||2 inches||Poor eyesight, may accidentally nip bettas|
|Siamese Algae Eater||Peaceful||4-6 inches||Aggressive if in groups, limit to 1 per tank|
The Importance of Tank Size for Compatibility
Tank size plays a critical role in building a thriving betta community aquarium. As a general rule:
- 5 gallon tanks – Best suited for a single betta plus a few small tank mates like snails or shrimp. Avoid most fish in this size tank.
- 10 gallon tanks – This allows for a wider variety of potential companions like small tetra species and cory catfish. Aim for 6-8 small fish plus the betta.
- 15-20 gallon tanks – Open options for larger schooling fish like harlequin rasboras. Can also add bottom feeders like loaches.
- 29+ gallon tanks – Consider larger fish like danios, swordtails, or gouramis. More hideouts are needed for fish to establish territories.
The extra swimming space in bigger tanks reduces aggression and territorial disputes. Water conditions also tend to be more stable in larger volumes. For bettas, prioritize quality over quantity with tank mates. A few compatible fish are better than many incompatible ones.
Best Bottom Feeders for Betta Tanks
Bottom dwelling fish help clean up uneaten food that settles on the tank substrate. They also add visual interest with their unique swimming behavior. Some top options include:
- Corydoras Catfish – Armored bottom feeders perfect for betta tanks. Pygmy cory species stay under 2 inches. Keep in schools.
- Kuhli Loaches – Eel-like bottom fish that hide during the day. Mix of sand and pebbles suits them.
- Bristlenose Plecos – Peaceful suckermouth catfish that eat algae. Need driftwood. Maximum size 4-5 inches.
- Otocinclus – Tiny 1-2 inch catfish that eat large amounts of algae daily. Groups of 3-5 recommended.
- Snails – Scavengers like nerite, mystery and trumpet snails clean up debris and consume algae and Aufwuchs.
Carefully match bottom feeders to tank size and betta temperament. For example, a 10 gallon tank could house pygmy cories, a nerite snail, and a betta happily. Larger plecos would need a bigger tank.
Unusual and Unique Betta Tank Mates
For aquarists looking to spice up a betta tank with something out of the ordinary, consider these uncommon companions:
- African Dwarf Frogs – These small aquatic frogs reach just 2 inches in length. They are peaceful and slow moving, but may accidentally nip bettas.
- Vampire Shrimp – Large filter feeding shrimp that come out at night. Their spooky appearance and red eyes are sure conversation starters.
- Bamboo Shrimp – Also filter feeders that catch microorganisms from the current using their fans. Reach over 4 inches long.
- Marimo Moss Balls – An attractive foreground plant, a unique living algae ball. It slowly rolls around the tank.
- Zebra Nerite Snails – Striking black and yellow striped pattern sets these algae eating snails apart. Completely peaceful.
Take time acclimating any uncommon tank mate to ensure compatibility with the betta. Always have a backup plan in case the pairing does not work out.
Frequently Asked Questions About Betta Tank Mates
Can you keep guppies with bettas?
Male guppies and bettas share similar colorful fins and flowing tails. This can sometimes incite aggression in the betta. Guppies also prefer harder, more alkaline water than bettas. They are likely to nip at elongated betta fins. Try to avoid mixing guppies and bettas.
What fish go best with betta fish?
Small, peaceful schooling fish like ember tetras, harlequin rasboras, and pygmy corydoras make the best tank mates for bettas. Shrimp and snails are also excellent choices. Avoid fin nippers like tiger barbs or flowerhorn cichlids.
What fish can live with female bettas?
Female bettas are often somewhat less aggressive than males. However, they will still be territorial towards brightly colored fish and other bettas. Good tank mates for female bettas include small tetras, danios, platies, cory cats, and invertebrates like snails.
How many fish can live with a betta?
A 10 gallon heated and filtered tank could hold a betta plus 5-6 other small fish like ember tetras or harlequin rasboras. Research each fish’s adult size, temperament, and schooling needs before adding them to a betta tank.
Do betta fish eat shrimp or snails?
Bettas can attack and consume smaller shrimp and snails, although most will not bother larger specimens. Introducing tank mates before the betta can help curb aggression. Providing plenty of plant cover gives invertebrates places to hide.
With some planning and research into fish species, betta fish can thrive in peaceful community aquariums. Focus on selecting small, calm tank mates that occupy different areas of the tank. Proper conditions and hiding places will also promote compatibility between species. A community betta tank allows aquarists to appreciate these beautiful fish while enjoying diverse tank mates.