Can Betta Fish Live With Dwarf Puffer Fish? (Solved!)

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If there is one fish that has hit the market by storm in recent years it is the Dwarf Puffer (also known as the Pea Puffer or Indian Puffer).

These tiny little fish are now available at just about every local fish store and big box store, and they are often sold as a ‘community’ safe fish.  As such you may be wondering can a Betta live with a Dwarf Pufferfish?

Betta fish must NEVER be kept in the same aquarium as Dwarf Pufferfish. Dwarf Puffers are very aggressive and will certainly nip at the fins of the Betta.  The Dwarf Puffers will cause extensive damage to the Bettas fins and will no doubt eventually kill the Betta.

Can Betta Fish Live With Dwarf Puffer Fish?​

The quick answer to this question is no, Betta fish can not live with Dwarf Pufferfish. Dwarf Pufferfish are far too aggressive and will almost certainly nip at the Bettas fins.

I have been keeping Dwarf Puffers for a number of years, and I don’t think I have ever kept one that was placid enough to live in the same tank as a Betta?

Dwarf Pufferfish are aggressive, territorial and will try to dominate almost any other fish in their aquarium.

Whilst Betta fish are sometimes considered to be an aggressive species of fish, they are often bullied surprisingly easily.  A bullied Betta will quickly suffer from stress which can lead to Ich (more on Bettas with Ich in this article). Stressed Betta fish often suffer from white stringy poop (I have an article on Bettas with white stringy poop here).  An early indicator they are stressed.

What Other Fish Can Live With Dwarf Puffers?​

In my experience of keeping Dwarf Puffers, I would highly recommend they are kept either as a single specimen in a 5-gallon (19 liters) aquarium, or a group of 5 or 6 in a 20 gallon (75 liters) aquarium.

Dwarf Puffers are full of character, but they really don’t play well with others.

If you are determined to keep tank mates with your Dwarf Puffer, you could try one or two of the following, but have a backup plan in case the Dwarf Pufferfish attack their tank mates.

You could try keeping any of these with Dwarf Puffers;

  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Corydoras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Amano Shrimps

Bristlenose Pleco

These undemanding algae eaters spend the majority of their time stuck to either the aquarium glass, rocks, or some other item of decoration.

Bristlenose Plecos are one of the most placid fish we can keep in our aquariums and they will actively avoid the more boisterous Dwarf Puffers.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras are available in a wide range of sizes and colors, so finding one to match your taste shouldn’t be too hard.  The smaller the tank, the smaller the species of Corydoras you should probably go for.

I have found Panda Corydoras to be easy to care for, undemanding when it comes to food, and easy to breed, even in a community setup.

I have also had good luck keeping the Peppered Corydoras.

Whichever species of Corydoras you decide to keep, make sure you keep them in a group of 6 or more.  Corydoras catfish are schooling fish that appreciate living in a group.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are fast and hardy.  They will easily be able to get away from the Dwarf Puffers if the puffers are aggressive towards them.

In a 20 gallon (76 liters) tank you could try keeping 10 or so Neon Tetras with 5 Dwarf Puffers

Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli Loaches work well in almost any setup due to their nocturnal habits.  Kuhli Loaches spend the majority of their days hidden under decorations and in dense plants, only emerging after dark.

Whilst you won’t get to spend much time enjoying your Kuhli Loaches swimming around the tank, they are invaluable for clearing up uneaten food from the Dwarf Puffers.

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp are pretty much bulletproof, making them a likely survivor in a tank with Dwarf Puffers.

I have kept Amano Shrimp for many years, and they have survived even in a bucket of plant trimmings that sat unheated in my garage for over a month!

If you try keeping Amano Shrimp with Dwarf Puffers, just make sure the Amano Shrimp are large enough not to be seen as a potential prey item.

With everything above said, I would reiterate at this point, I would definitely advise against keeping other fish with Dwarf Puffers, and I certainly would not keep a Betta fish with Dwarf Puffers.

If you are looking for potential tank mates for your Betta fish, watch the video below from Aquarium Co-op.  It has some good suggestions.

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