Keeping Bettas with Other Fish

Bowie checking out an algae wafer with the Cory
Bowie checking out an algae wafer with the Cory

Many people wonder whether you can successfully keep Bettas with other fish in your aquarium. In short, yes you can! However, there are a few precautions you'll need to take first. Bettas by nature are very territorial. They generally won't back down from a fight, and can be pugnacious. They also have very long, flashy fins which are fairly fragile. They are a tropical fish, and thus require their aquarium to be heated. I've also noticed that Bettas thoroughly enjoy decorations and hiding spots in their aquariums. With all of that being said, you'll need to keep this things in mind when choosing tank mates.

The Aquarium

In my own opinion, it is cruel to keep a Betta in anything less than a 5 gallon tank. Just because an animal can survive in cramp conditions doesn't mean you should subject them to that. I feel that a 10 gallon tank is a great size for a Betta that has tank mates, and the absolute minimum.

Using a 10 gallon aquarium ensures that the other fish can get away from the Betta in case there is a chase or bullying. A 10 gallon also makes cleaning and keeping your tank at the correct temperature much easier. I very much recommend to have decorations, plants (fake or live), and areas in which to hide in your tank. This is another way to keep your Betta happy, and the other fish able to get away from the Betta.

The Tank Mates

This is obviously the most important part of keeping your Betta with other fish. I don't recommend keeping fish that are prone to fin nipping (ie, barbs), have long, flashy fins themselves (ie, angelfish), or are aggressive themselves. The ideal tank mate for a Betta is a drab, peaceful fish that is quick enough to get out of the way. Of all of the Betta fish I've kept with other species, I've never had a problem with bullying or having a fish suffer from it. Make sure you do plenty of research on the fish you're interested in. And, after bringing your fish home, make sure you quarantine everyone before putting them together.

My tank for now
My tank for now

My Tank

Currently I have a 10 gallon tank (lights, heater & filter) that has a male betta, 1 female guppy (the other I bought mysteriously died), and 2 cory cats. Everyone gets along perfectly fine. The little guppy Nessie will go up right next to the Betta Bowie during feeding time. As you can see in the picture above, Bowie will take a nibble from the algae wafers with the Cory cats as well. Occasionally Bowie will chase after Nessie. She easily darts out of the way and they go back to whatever they were doing before. She hasn't suffered at all from being housed with a the "big, bad Betta". I'm planning to move a few more guppies in with Nessie to keep her company. Also, to clarify about guppies. I would be extremely cautious about keeping a Betta with male fancy guppies since he may see them as other Bettas. Nessie is a "feeder" guppy and quite drab. Male feeder guppies, I think, are quite cute and much prettier than fancy guppies, and can be kept with Bettas successfully.

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Comments 5 comments

Jared Zane Kessie profile image

Jared Zane Kessie 5 years ago from Richland, Washington

Interesting! I had been misinformed that betta fish are solitary fish due to an instinct to fight. I can see that this is a misnomer as illustrated by Bowie and Nessie. Learned something new today through your hub, thanks!


misspeachesx profile image

misspeachesx 5 years ago from Northeast, Washington Author

Thank you! Each Betta has their own personality, and some males may never be able to live with other fish without causing them to become stressed. That is why close observation is needed for the first few days. Usually with patience, and the correct set up, you should be able to house them together just fine. So far I haven't had a Betta that couldn't be housed with other fish.


Shannon 4 years ago

Many of my bettas have always been housed with other fish... guppies are a great choice, but I've also has my betta with white cloud minnows and platies, and I even had one in a big 35 gallon community tank. They are not solitary fish, I think they actually enjoy company!


Caitlin 22 months ago

How do you know when to separate your betta from the others? My betta Elvis is big (5inches) and old (3 years). He's in a 25L tank with 2 tiger loaches and 2 guppies. He likes to chase them but generally chills out in his corners. Today I found one of my guppies on the floor... He was alive and doing fine now. I'm unsure if the jumping is due to the water beaning too high or Elvis terrorising them when it's dark. I should mention that I have lost a tiger loach a few weeks ago due to jumping. I have a lid that covers the middle of the tank but there a gaps on either side. I'm currently placing a scarf over the front gap. My water quality is good.


misspeachesx profile image

misspeachesx 20 months ago from Northeast, Washington Author

Caitlin,

Sorry for the late reply. I would invest in a decent full hood for your aquarium. You may want to add extra decorations to your tank so your guppies can easily take cover from Elvis is you believe he is bullying them. If he becomes relentless in chasing them or the guppies seem stressed you may want to move Elvis into his own tank.

Good luck!

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