Betta fish have a reputation for being solitary fish. While you can't add a male Betta to another male's tank, there are other types of fish that be great Betta fish tank mates.
Choosing a Tank Mate for a Betta
There are a few general rules to follow when looking at possible buddies for your Betta:
- Tank size is important to the success of the relationship. A good rule of thumb is to allow for at least 5 gallons of water "space" per fish.
- Obviously, this is harder to do in a smaller tank so choose a tank mate that requires less room and stays out of the Betta's way. Bottom-feeding fish, shrimp and snails are good examples.
- If your tank doesn't have places for your Betta to hide and take his regular naps, add some before you add another species. This will make both your Betta and his new friend less stressed.
- Make sure the species you add needs the same type of water pH level and temperature, as well as diet, that your Betta does.
- Avoid any fish that your Betta might see as competition. Colorful fish with flowing fins like a Betta is more likely to cause conflict.
- Any fish larger than a Betta will be unwelcome.
- Avoid any fish known for nibbling on other fish as a Betta will not tolerate that behavior.
- Only add in one new species at a time and allow time for them to adjust before adding others.
- It's advisable to quarantine new fish for a few weeks before adding them to your Betta's tank to ensure they have no diseases or parasites.
Betta Fish Mates for Small Size Tanks
These options would work well for a small tank about 3 gallons in size.
A Marimo ball, or moss ball, is a live ball of algae that can be found in most fish stores that sell Bettas. While it's not a moving creature, a moss ball is a good tank mate option for small tanks. They provide an excellent spot for the fish to relax on and some fish will even interact with the balls by moving them around. The balls also help promote a healthy environment in the tank which is good for your fish. They're also extremely easy to care for.
Cherry Shrimp can work in a small tank because they're quite small. Because they stay on the bottom of the tank, they won't get into conflicts with your Betta. They're also inexpensive unless you find you must keep replenishing your stock. The downside of Cherry Shrimp is, your Betta may be fine with them and one day decide to start hunting them. Or your fish may be fine with the adult shrimp but eat the babies. You can keep up to 10 shrimp in the tank but be aware they multiply fast.
Betta Fish Mates for Medium Size Tanks
Medium tanks available for sale are usually 5 to 15 gallons. There are several options for Betta buddies suitable for medium-size tanks.
Mystery Snails (Tanks of 5 Gallons Plus)
Mystery Snails are low-key and will be ignored by your Betta, and the snail has the added benefit of his protective shell. The Mystery Snail is a good choice because he'll help keep your tank clean by living off algae and debris. They also come in many colors so you can find one that complements your Betta's appearance. They're also cheap to purchase and very easy to care for.
Feeder Guppies (Tanks of 5 Gallons Plus)
A caution about Guppies that you cannot keep "normal" Guppies with Bettas as they will attack them. However, feeder guppies are smaller and not as fancy and therefore Bettas will ignore them. They are easy to find and very inexpensive. However, these are fish that need to be quarantined prior to adding them to your tank. Since they are sold as feeder fish they may not be as healthy as fish sold for long-term keeping.
Tetras (Tanks of 10 Gallons Plus)
There are several Tetras that do well with Bettas. These include the:
- Cardinal Tetra are larger at 2 inches and do best in a 20-gallon tank.
- Ember Tetra is the smallest Tetra at about 3/4 inch long.
- Neon Tetra are about 1-1/2 inches long.
- Rummy Nose Tetra like Cardinal Tetras, these are best suited for 20-gallon tanks.
- Silver Tip Tetra are a little under 1-1/2 inches.
Tetras are a schooling fish which means you should not add just one to a tank with a Betta. At a minimum, you should have at least 6. In a tank of 10 gallons, you can safely add 6 to 8 tetras. Any more will require a larger tank. You should also pick tetras that are adult size as smaller fish may become a tasty snack for your Betta. On the other hand, Tetras can be fin nippers, particularly in smaller groups, so be sure to monitor your fish for this behavior.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanks of 10 Gallons Plus)
Like Tetras, White Cloud Mountain Minnows live in schools so you'll need more than one. They do well with Bettas if you adjust the water temperature to around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The benefit of this species is they are not fin nippers as Tetras can be. However, a drawback is these fish are hard to find in pet stores.
Corydoras (Tanks of 10 Gallons Plus)
Corydoras are a popular fish that are easy to care for. Some more common species found in pets stores that can live with Bettas are:
- Albino Cory adults are about 2-1/2 inches.
- Goldstripe Cory reach up to 3 inches in length.
- Panda Cory are 2 inches at full size.
- Pygmy Cory are about 1-1/3 inches as adults.
Corydoras are a type of catfish and are bottom feeders, so they're unlikely to bother your Betta. They also have the additional benefit of keeping your tank cleaner. Corys are another schooling fish and you should have a minimum of 6 up to 10 in your tank.
Clown Pleco (Tanks of 15 Gallons Plus)
Clown Pecos are an excellent choice as they love to eat algae, which means a cleaner tank for you and your Betta. They are another type of catfish that primarily stays near the bottom area of a tank. Clown Pecos are also easy to find at most pet stores specializing in fish. The one concern is their size as adults can be 4 inches long. One in a 15-gallon tank with a Betta is possible although a 20-gallon tank or larger would be a better option for both fish.
Large Size Tank Betta Fish Mates
Larger size tanks can begin at 20 gallons up to 30. The more space you have for your Betta and his new friends the more likely you'll have a peaceful tank.
Rasboras (Tanks of 20 Gallons Plus)
There are a few types of Rasbora fish that can do well in a Betta tank:
- Galaxy Rasbora AKA Celestial Pearl Danio are slightly under an inch when fully grown.
- Harlequin Rasbora adults are approximately 2 inches.
- Fire Rasbora reach 2 inches in length.
One of the benefits of Harlequin Rasboras is they already live with wild Betta fish. Like other compatible fish, Rasboras live in schools and there should be a minimum of 6 in the tank. Despite being small, they come in a wide range of colors that can complement your own Betta fish. There's also easy to care for and have a reputation for being peaceful fish you will not conflict with your Betta.
Kuhli Loach (Tanks of 20 Gallons Plus)
The Kuhli Loach looks like brightly colored eels that live in schools. Unlike other schooling fish, you can go as low as 3 loaches per tank. Loaches are known to be a generally good choice for Bettas although aggression can happen between them. You should supervise interactions until you feel comfortable that they are compatible tank mates. Keep in mind though that loaches may nip at your Betta fins in the future even if they appear to be peaceful in the beginning.
African Dwarf Frogs (Tanks of 20 Gallons Plus)
African Dwarf Frogs can be an interesting addition to a tank although you should supervise their interactions in the beginning. Fights can occur between your Betta and the frog so feeding them separately is advised. You can do this with a tank that has a divider that can be inserted and removed easily. African Dwarf Frogs can be a fun addition and is certainly different than just other fish in the tank!
Finding Friends for Your Betta
As long as your Betta's tank mates are a compatible species and you have the right tank size setup for peaceful cohabitation, there's no reason your Betta should be alone. Not all Bettas will enjoy company though so make sure your fish's unique personality is suited to companionship.