Can Betta Fish Live With Cherry Barbs? (Finally Answered!)

Over the last 20 years, I have kept Bettas with just about every species of ‘community’ fish available.  Some combinations were more successful than others.  

Betta fish and Cherry Barbs were definitely one of the most successful pairings.

Betta fish and Cherry Barbs can live together in the same aquarium providing the tank offers sufficient space. A minimum of 20 gallons (76 liters) would be required to accommodate Betta fish snd Cherry Barbs in the same tank.

Will Cherry Barbs Nip A Bettas Fins?​

So often, every member of the Barb family is tarred with the same brush as Tiger Barbs.  Tiger Barbs, which I genuinely believe get an unfair wrap, are known to be fin nippers, but that doesn’t mean every other Barb has the same attitude issues.

Cherry Barbs are far more chilled than some of the other Barbs. 

I have kept Cherry Barbs for well over a decade, and I have never witnessed them nipping any fishes fins. 

I have kept them with Bettas, Guppies, and even Fantail Goldfish without any issues at all.

One caveat is that their tank needs to be large enough, and set up correctly.

Will A Betta Chase Cherry Barbs?​

In my experience of keeping a Betta with Cherry Barbs (in fact I kept 2 different Bettas with my Cherry Barbs on two separate occasions), the Betta took no real interest in the Cherry Barbs.  

Cherry Barbs are often too fast for a long-fin Betta, although a shortfin Betta like a Plakat may be quicker.

Much will of course depend on how aggressive your particular Betta is.  Some Bettas are just mean and should be kept alone.  



What Size Aquarium For Betta With Cherry Barbs?​

I would strongly recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons (78 liters) if you are thinking of keeping Cherry Barbs with a Betta.  

Cherry Barbs are a schooling fish and really want to be kept in a group of 6 or more.  Cherry Barbs are also active swimmers, so the more space you can give them the happier, and therefore more colorful, they will be. 

How Should a Betta and Cherry Barb Tank Be Set Up?​

Whilst Bettas are relatively unfussy about how their aquarium is set up, Cherry Barbs really do appreciate a planted tank.  

Not only will the Cherry Barbs colors really pop against the green background of a well-planted tank, but they will also feel safer and therefore more relaxed in a planted tank, meaning their colors are brighter too.

When I set up a 20 gallon for a Betta and a school of 10 Cherry Barbs, I started with a fine gravel substrate and added some aquarium-safe wood and a couple of rocks.  I planted half a dozen live plants and added some floating plants too, to give both the Betta and the Cherry Barbs a feeling of security.  

The tank looked natural and the fish seemed to settle in really quickly.

Water Parameters for a Betta and Cherry Barb Tank​

Bettas and Cherry Barbs essentially want the same water parameters.  Both would like their water as follows;

  • Temperature: 75°F – 80°F (24°C – 26°C)
  • pH: 6.5 – 8.0
  • Hardness: 5-20 dH

Both species of fish can go slightly either way on the parameters above, and both can tolerate colder water for short periods, but their long-term health can suffer if they are kept in water that is too cold for too long.

How To Filter a Betta and Cherry Barb Aquarium?​

Bettas really don’t like high flow in their aquariums, so when deciding how to filter a tank that houses both a Betta and Cherry Barbs, you should choose a filter with low flow.  

I have used both sponge filters and hang-on-back filters in my Betta aquariums, and both worked well. 

I used this Fluval hang-on-back filter which worked really well for me (more about the Fluval hang-on-back filter can be found in this article on the FishKeepingAnswers.com website) 

What to Feed a Betta and Cherry Barb Tank?​

Betta fish and Cherry Barbs are both omnivores, meaning they want to eat food that is based around both meat and vegetable matter.  

A diet made up of pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods will work for both the Betta and the Cherry Barbs.

I have had good success feeding my Bettas and Cherry Barbs Bug Bites, which is made by Fluval and Vibra Bites which is from Hikari (both of which are really reasonable on Amazon – see current prices). Both foods are made with good quality ingredients and make up an important part of a varied diet.

A Betta fish ideal wants to feed on the surface, or certainly in the upper-mid water, whereas Cherry Barbs prefer to eat just in the mid-water, taking their food as it falls through the water column.

Whatever food you feed, it should ideally be a type of food that sinks slowly so both species of fish have a chance to eat it.

I have also had great success feeding my Betta and Cherry Barbs frozen or live bloodworms.  Bloodworms make an excellent addition to both fish’s diets, bringing in lots of protein.

There are many other types of live or frozen foods that will benefit both a Betta and Cherry Barbs.  These include daphnia, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp. I try to feed my Betta fish as many different types of live or frozen foods as I can.



What Other Fish Can Live With Bettas and Cherry Barbs?​

If you are setting up an aquarium for a Betta and Cherry Barbs, you may be wondering what other fish can live with them.  

Bottom Dwellers

Neither a Betta nor Cherry Barbs are very keen on eating off the substrate, so pairing them with bottom dwellers means less food will go uneaten.  

I have found small cory catfish like either Pandan Corydoras or Pygmy Corydoras work well as does a small pleco like a Bristlenose Plecostamus. 

Kuhli Loach will also fit well into a Betta/Cherry Barb set up, although they are nocturnal, so you will see them less during the day.

Mid-Water Fish

Providing your tank is large enough, tank mates that prefer to swim in the mid-water can include small tetras like Neon Tetras or Ember Tetras as well as Harlequin Rasboras.  All of these species want to be kept in groups of 6 or more, so in a smaller tank take care not to overcrowd the aquarium too much.

Top Dwellers

Unless your tank is large, 55 gallons (200 liters) or larger, I would avoid adding another top dwelling species as this is the preferred domain of the Betta.

In larger tanks, the Hatchet Fish will work well as a top dweller with Bettas.



My Final Thoughts on Keeping Bettas with Cherry Barbs​

In my experience, Bettas and Cherry Barbs is a combination that works well, providing the aquarium is set up correctly. 

As a minimum, providing them with a 20 gallon (78 liters) aquarium which is aquascaped with rocks, wood, and live plants will work well for both species.  


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor

Article Sources

wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_barb

wikipedia.org/wiki/Siamese_fighting_fish

seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-splendens/

seriouslyfish.com/species/puntius-titteya/

aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/top-dwelling-fish