Bettas are one of the most popular fish in the hobby today. Their bright colors and flowing fins mean they make a great addition to any fish collection. One of the most often asked questions is, “can a betta live with other fish?”.
Yes, betta fish can be kept with other fish, providing you choose their tank mates wisely. Bettas can be territorial, so if you are going to keep them with other fish, keep them in a tank that is at least 5 gallons, and ideally bigger!
Which Fish Can Live With My Betta?
There are lots of great candidates for betta tank mates. Below we have listed some of our favorites. We like to choose a schooling fish or fish that will keep themselves to themselves or maybe occupy a different part of the tank than the betta.
Kuhli Loach’ make great tank mates for bettas. Kuhli loaches are nocturnal. When your betta is sleeping, the Kuhli loach will come out. They will spend most of their day in a cave or amongst plants and roots, waiting for the lights to go out. When they do come out, they root around the bottom of the tank looking for uneaten food.
If you feed your betta frozen bloodworms, any uneaten worms that make it to the bottom and get left by your Betta will be relished by your Kuhli Loach.
Kuhli loach’ like to be kept in groups rather than singly. Keep 4 or more together and you’ll be rewarded with companions for your betta that also work hard to keep your tank free of uneaten food and debris.
Corydoras catfish make a great addition to any aquarium, and the betta tank is no exception. There are countless varieties of corydoras and there will usually be a wide selection in any half-decent aquatic store.
I have had great success with bronze corydoras (Corydoras aeneus), pygmy corydoras (corydoras pygmaeus), and peppered corydoras (corydoras paleatus).
Corydoras spend most of their day at the bottom of the tank rummaging through the substrate looking for food. Your betta will spend most of its day in the mid to top area of the tank. As with Khuli loach, Corydoras like to be kept in groups, so think about adding 4 or more to your tank in one go.
A group of neon tetras will really enhance your betta tank. The red color on the neons will look amazing against a red betta, the blue color will pop against a blue betta. They make a truly striking match.
Neons are fast enough to keep away from your betta, not so fast that they eat all the food before your betta has a chance to get some. A 10 gallon with 1 betta, 10 neons, and a few plants is a tank you’ll enjoy looking at every day.
Neon tetras and one of the most peaceful fish you could hope to keep and they will happily eat the same foods you feed your betta.
Bristlenose Plecostomus will be more than happy living alongside your betta. Your betta will swim mid-water and towards the surface whilst your Bristlenose will be almost permanently stuck to the glass or rocks or crawling along the substrate looking for food.
Bristlenose will also hoover us those uneaten bloodworms your betta either misses or is too full to finish. We keep Bristlenose in almost every tank we have and the betta tank is no exception.
Betta tankmates don’t have to be restricted to fish. Snails, shrimp, and frogs can also make for a successful tank.
Ramshorn Snails And Malaysian Trumpet Snails
We know a lot of people find the thought of snails in their tanks as simply unacceptable, but they really are the unsung heroes of a well-balanced aquarium system. Snails spend their time breaking down all the waste in our aquariums meaning it can either be removed by the filters or through water changes.
Snails consume uneaten fish food, dead and dying plants or leaves, and even fish poop.
Both Ramshorn snails and Malaysian Trumpet Snails will only multiply by the amount of food available. If you have 200 of them in your tank, it is because you have enough waste to support 200 snails.
We would advise steering away from larger snails like Mystery Snails, although they look amazing in a betta tank, your betta may think their long antennae are worms and peck at them. The stress of being continually picked at will eventually lead to the death of the Mystery Snail.
Ghost shrimp can live happily with your betta, providing you bear two things in mind. Ghost shrimp are also known as feeder shrimp for a reason, fish find them very tasty. Only put full-grown shrimp in with your betta.
Juvenile shrimp will be seen as a cheeky snack and quickly eaten. Secondly, provide the shrimp plenty of cover in the shape of plants, rocks, or caves. If you put a betta and a ghost shrimp in a bare-bottomed bowl, the betta will spend all day chasing the shrimp round and round until it dies of exhaustion.
African Dwarf Frogs
African Dwarf Frogs are a species of frogs that spend their entire lives underwater. They need to get to the surface to breathe, but other than that, spend their whole time in the water. African Dwarf Frogs are peaceful and pretty much keep themselves to themselves (although they will eat fish fry if they get a chance).
African Dwarf Frogs are toothless and clawless and won’t bother your betta at all. They use their webbed front feet to shovel food into their mouths. Like your betta, African Dwarf Frogs will love frozen or live bloodworms.
Can My Male Betta Live With A Female Betta?
Clearly, in nature, male and female betta live together, and if you wish to breed them in captivity you’ll need one of each too. However, keeping a pair of bettas together in a tank will more often than not lead to the death of one or both fish.
The male may either chase the female constantly and eventually hound her to death, or they will successfully bread, which is an incredibly rough affair, and may result in the death of the female.
You should not keep a pair of betta permanently together in a tank. If you wish to breed your bettas, they should only be introduced together for breeding, and even then they should spend as little time in the same tank as possible.
How Many Fish Can I Keep With My Betta?
How many will very much depend on tank size? We wouldn’t keep a single betta in anything smaller than a 5 gallon, and a 10 gallon is much better. If you’re looking at neons, a group of 5 or 6 with your betta would work well. 4 or 5 Pygmy corydoras and a betta also work in a 10 gallon.
You could easily keep 6 or 7 Kuhli loach with your betta. Upgrade to a 20 gallon and you can get a really mixed community tank going.
Bettas are stunning fish and make a really colorful addition to your aquarium. Choose their tank mates carefully and you’ll have a display you get to enjoy for many years. Despite their reputation, bettas aren’t just out to kill every other fish.
However, like with dogs, cats, or even people, you will occasionally come across a betta that is hell-bent on taking on the world and fighting everything else in its tank. If you have a betta like that, keep them in a planted 10 gallon on their own and you won’t be disappointed with your aquarium!