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Tankmates for Bettas and Betta Fish in a Community Tank

Betta fish can have tankmates and even live in a community tank under certain conditions.
Betta fish can have tankmates and even live in a community tank under certain conditions. | Source

Betta Tank Mates

If you have a single male Betta fish you may be thinking of finding some tankmates to keep him company, or adding him into a community tank environment so he isn't so lonely.

However, you also know that male Betta fish have a fierce reputation for fighting, and you might fear that any other fish he comes across will be in for a bruising.

So, can you keep any tankmates in your Betta's tank? Or, is there any way he can live in a community tank without issues?

The answer to both questions is maybe. This article intends to dispel some of the myths about Betta fish and give you some practical advice about choosing Betta tankmates.

First: Rest assured, your Betta is not lonely. Bettas are not shoaling fish, nor are they puppies or kittens or people. We tend to attach human emotions to animals like fish, but Betta has his own concerns in life, and friendship is not among them.

It's important to realize this from the beginning and not make any decisions based on your personal feelings which your Betta surely does not share.

It is also helpful to learn are much as you can about Betta behavior before considering adding anyone to his tank. Much of your success in keeping Betta with other fish will depend on your Betta's temperament. Some Betta are more aggressive, and some more docile. Always have a backup plan like a bowl or small tank in case trouble starts and you have to get him out of there.

The best reaction you can hope for from your Betta in regard to any other fish or critter is tolerance and indifference. The worst, of course, is aggression. It's far better to have a Betta fish in a single-specimen tank than to have him stressed out all the time in a community tank. You need to judge your Betta's interaction with other fish and determine what is right for him.

As responsible fish keepers we want to provide the best care for our Betta fish that we can. That may possibly mean tankmates for your Betta!

Adding Other Fish to Your Betta's Tank

If you already have a Betta fish and you want to add another fish or two to his tank, the first thing you need think about is tank size. I'm going to give you some advice here that you might not like to hear:

If you currently have your Betta fish in a tank smaller than 10 gallons, please do not add any more fish to his tank.

In a tank smaller than 10 gallons he is much better off alone, even if you have the necessary heat and filtration for tropical fish.

Here's a second piece of advice that will help improve your chance of success. You might not like this one either:

It is far better to add a Betta to an established aquarium than to add other creatures in with him in his environment.

In other words, if you plan to have tankmates for your Betta fish you should establish the tank first, then add your Betta. This reduces the possibility of aggression where your Betta may feel like his territory is invaded by other fish.

If you have your Betta in a small tank or bowl and you want tankmates for him, this is the perfect opportunity to upgrade his living situation by putting together a 10-gallon tank where he is the star. But don't add him in there until the tank is cycled, established and the other animals are in residence.

What Fish Can Live With Betta?

If you're planning a 10-gallon tank you need to be very careful about his tankmates. It's a good idea to consider critters instead of fish, as they are much less likely to provoke aggression in your Betta.

You still need to pay very close attention to your Betta's interaction with these other animals, and if things go bad get him, or them, out of there. For reasons known only to him, your Betta may decide he doesn't like the look of any of the critters listed below and constantly be on the attack. Watch closely, and always have a backup plan!

Some critters to consider:

  • Apple Snails: These guys come with their own armor. Some Betta fish might try to pick on them, but they can retreat into their shells in defense. One of these guys in a 10-gallon with your Betta is fine. Feed it algae wafers.
  • African Dwarf Frogs: They'll float along the top of the water, and like Betta they can get along in a low-flow filtration environment. A couple of them with your Betta makes for an interesting tank. Make sure you have a secure lid on your tank, and watch for Betta picking on them at the surface.
  • Ghost Shrimp: These busy little guys are fun to watch, but be careful Betta doesn't think they are lunch. They're scavengers so they'll help keep the tank tidy, and they don't produce a lot of waste. You can have a little school of five of them with your Betta.

Betta in a Community Tank

Betta fish can live in community tanks, under the right circumstances. In fact, under the best of circumstances your Betta will have far better quality of life in a community tank than he would have in a tank by himself.

Whether or not your Betta can live in a community tank depends on his temperament and tankmates.
Whether or not your Betta can live in a community tank depends on his temperament and tankmates. | Source

Because community tanks are usually larger and healthier, your Betta is generally in a better environment than in a small tank. And, even though there is a widespread misconception that Betta prefer small spaces, he will appreciate the extra swimming room.

There are hazards as well. You might think the danger is to your other fish, and if you turn your back Betta will work them over like Rocky punching his way through a meat locker. That can happen for sure.

However, more often it is the Betta who is in danger. Because of his long, flowing fins he can be picked on and nipped at by other fish, even some who seem otherwise docile.

If you intend to keep a Betta fish with other fish you need to realize what you are getting yourself, and him, into. There are a few precautions you can take when stocking your tank to keep the dust-ups to a minimum. Here's a quick checklist:

Betta Tankmate Checklist

  1. As when establishing a tank where your Betta is the focal point, in a community tank it's a good idea to add Betta to a tank that's already established in order to cut down on territorial issues.
  2. Make sure there are no fin-nippers in the tank. Barbs and some tetras, even little neons, may find Betta's flowing mane irresistible.
  3. Beware of other semi-aggressive fish. There are a few different reasons a fish may be considered semi-aggressive. Make sure you understand the temperaments of the other fish in the tank before introducing Betta.
  4. Avoid other anabantids. Gourami in particular may invoke a strong reaction in your Betta, and vice versa. Juvenile Spotted Climbing Perch present another potential conflict, not only because they are anabantids, but because they will eventually get big enough to eat your Betta!
  5. Avoid fish that look like him. Fish with long, flowing fins such as Fancy Guppies and Lyre-tail Mollies may be close enough to convince Betta there is another male Betta in the tank.
  6. Aim for a serene tank. Betta fish don't like fast-moving currents or a lot of action. Despite their reputation as the ninjas of the tropical fish world, they really can't move all that fast and any fish zipping around them may be seen as a threat.
  7. Make sure there are lots of hiding spots. Even in a single-specimen tank you should make sure your Betta fish has a hiding spot where he can escape from the world. This is even more important in a community tank.
  8. This should go without saying, but never, ever, put two male Betta fish in the same aquarium together, unless they are separated by a partition.

Can Betta Live With Goldfish?

It may seem like a no-brainer that Betta and Goldfish would make great tankmates. Both are often kept in bowls, after all. But if you take the time to learn more about Goldfish care you’ll see there are some very good reasons that this is a bad idea.

Goldfish are not good tankmates for Betta fish for many reasons.
Goldfish are not good tankmates for Betta fish for many reasons. | Source

For one thing, Goldfish prefer water temperatures slightly cooler than Bettas. This means one fish or the other will be under stress at all times, and that’s not a humane way to go about fish keeping.

Secondly, Goldfish pollute the water very quickly. They require heavy filtration, and the amount of waste they produce would be stressful for Betta.

Goldfish grow much too large for the typical Betta tank. Where a Betta fish will thrive in a 10-gallon tank, all varieties of Goldfish will quickly outgrow such a setup.

There is also the danger of conflict between the two. While Goldfish are generally docile, they are colorful and often have flowing fins, which has the potential to provoke aggression in a male Betta.

For these reasons, it is not advisable to consider Betta and Goldfish as tankmates. Goldfish are best kept with others of their kind, in a habitant assembled specifically for their needs. Just like Betta, Goldfish do not belong in bowls.

Have a Backup Plan!

Ultimately, your success with Betta tankmates will come down to the temperament of your Betta, and that of your other fish. Even if you follow all of the suggestions in this article there is still a possibility your Betta will not get along in a community tank, or tolerate any other fish or critter in his environment.

Never attempt to keep your Betta with other fish without a backup plan in case it doesn't work out. Have a small tank or bowl handy that you can whisk him into should trouble start.

A little flaring at a passing fish now and then isn't a problem, but if he's constantly looking for a fight he needs to come out for his own good.

If you find your Betta fish tucked into a corner it may be because he's getting picked on and can't find any other hiding spot. Note his fin condition and if it looks like he's been harassed, get him out and into a safer environment immediately.

Try to make the switch to a community tank or tankmate situation during a time period where you can monitor the results for a few days. Don't just wish him luck and toss him in. Make sure you keep a close eye on the situation until you know it is okay.

I hope you choose to keep your Betta fish in a safe environment, whether it's a community tank, a 10-gallon with tankmates, or a single-specimen tank.

The Betta Tank Poll

Have you ever kept a Betta fish in a community tank or with other tankmates?

  • Yes! Betta loved it.
  • Yes, and it was a catastrophe!
  • No, and I'm still not sure it's a good idea.
  • I didn't even realize it was a possibility until now!
See results without voting

© 2014 Eric Dockett

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Comments 96 comments

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I do not have fish but this is full of great advice for those who do, especially Betta fish. I thought of a question though, what about small crabs or turtles for tankmates? They usually do not have color and shells to hide in. I voted this up, shared and pinned it.

Kevin


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 2 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for the kind words, Kevin! I wouldn't consider crabs or turtles good tankmates for a Betta fish. Turtles eat fish, so it would only be a matter of time before Betta was lunch. Most crabs available in pet stores require brackish water, in which Betta would perish. They also climb like crazy. I'd keep crabs in a dedicated tank just for them, though I guess some people have success keeping them with fish.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I never knew that turtles ate fish! How about that, you learn something new every day. Thanks for the update Eric.

Kevin


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I'm not sure I'll ever get a Betta either in its own tank or add one to my existing tank, but I love how you mentioned adding it to a tank that's already established to try to prevent him from defending a territory he's established. I've heard something similar about other types of fish. In large tanks, some fish will establish a territory and attack anything getting too close. I've been told changing the location of some of the plants and decorations will generally stop that behavior because it then becomes all new territory. I don't know if that's true or not so I'm just sharing what I heard.


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 2 years ago from USA Author

Sheila: Some fish, like gourami and African cichlids, will march off their territory and chase away any fish that comes into it. Betta aren't really territorial like that. It's more like they get ornery when they spot a fish or critter they aren't accustomed to seeing in their space. If they are introduced into a tank where there are already fish and critters they are more likely to accept them as part of the scenery from the beginning.

Truly territorial fish can be temporarily duped by the method of rearranging decorations, but things get back to normal soon enough.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Eric: I usually take the easy way out and buy fish that are listed as "community" fish and "beginner" level for ease of care.


chris 21 months ago

I actually bought a betta to put in a spare 20 gallon tank. i added baby mollies from my 60 gal tank to avoid over crowding (2 angelfish are in there to prevent that now). the betta would snap at them, much like a dog, when they got in his space, but now they feed together and sometimes even interact). I have a water lily, anubias plant, a log ornament, a spongebob pine apple, and a castle in the tank for hiding spots)


Fancy 19 months ago

I didn't know that apple snails could bond with bettas, WOW!!!!!!!!


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 19 months ago from USA Author

"Bond" probably isn't the right word, Fancy. Betta will often tolerate them, or at least realize there is nothing they can do to harm them. I don't know that a Betta bonds with anything!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 19 months ago

Eric,

I have followers on Pinterest who pin the Betta all of the time. Nearly every day.

Kevin


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 19 months ago from USA Author

Thanks Kevin! I don't know a lot about Pinterest, but I appreciate it!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 19 months ago

You are welcome Eric. I wish they were following mine like that. They pin the photos but they do not comment on the Hubs.

Kevin


Judy 18 months ago

Do Half moon Betta have to breath from the air at top pf the tank


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 18 months ago from USA Author

Hi Judy. Betta are anabantids, which means they are able to take gulps of air from the surface and survive in low-oxygen conditions in the wild. So, yes, your halfmoon can do that if need be. In the home aquarium he should always have clean, well-oxygenated water, but make sure the surface is clear anyway in case he needs a quick gulp of air. No plants or enclosed containers. :-)


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 18 months ago

Eric, I pin various types (black, white, multi, etc.) of Betta fish which I see from Pinterest main page to my boards, and many people like and pin them to their own plus they are still doing it with yours!

Kevin


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 18 months ago from USA Author

That's cool. Thanks Kevin!


Ashley 17 months ago

Yesterday I bought a beautiful male betta, I put him in my established tank of fish. I watch for two hours, everything is fine. I go to bed, wake up the next morning and my fish just about destroyed my betta! Hi longs flowy fins torn clean off! He now has been moved to a tiny recovery tank. He has no fins and floats at the top stressed out. I doubt he will even live to see his fins grow back. and don't think I'm exaggerating in how badly hurt he was, he doesn't even have threads. All I can see is the remains of his tail bones and a very full stressed fish, almost lifeless. I feel awful. I got rid of all those fish, for obvious reasons. I know it's more my fault but they too were in the wrong. My 10 gallon tank is empty and saddening. I feel awful. My poor betta. Wish me luck nursing the poor guy back to health!


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 17 months ago from USA Author

That's awful Ashley. Sorry to hear it. I'm wondering what kind of fish you had in there with him. I don't know that getting rid of them was the right answer, but what's done is done. I hope Betta recovers.


Shelby 17 months ago

I have a quick question! I have had a betta tank for about four years now. My first betta made it three years before he passed (he came from petco) and last summer i bought a really pretty metallic blue green betta from a breeder online (BOY can i tell a difference between breeder and petco!) And put him in my 10 gal. Tank with my otto cat that had been there for two years. My otto cat died this past winter ( not from aggression) and my betta is fine by himself, but his tank looked so empty and boring. I have white sand on the botton with 10+ live plants that have been growing for a while and i have a piece of mopani wood that should show up in the mail anytime now, and yesterday i added 10 ghost shrimp with no problems from my betta or the shrimp. My question is, can i also add a dwarf frog or two? I dont want to overstock my tank and my betta is not aggressive at all. When i hold a mirror up to his tank, he only flares once (if at all) and then just casually floats away. He also has only flared once at my shrimp and he likes to stalk them. He did the same thing with the catfish. He likes to wrap himself around the nearest object and just stare at them like they cant see him! I know bettas dont "bond" with other fish, but it gives h some stimulation (and something to stalk).

Thank you!

Shelby


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 17 months ago from USA Author

Hi Shelby. You can try adding a couple of African Dwarf Frogs, but be sure to have a backup plan in case it doesn't work out. ADFs like to float at the water surface, making them easy targets for curious (or aggressive) Betta. You also want to watch out for your ADFs eating your ghost shrimp.

I don't think your tank would be overstocked with a Betta, a pair of ADFs and some ghost shrimp, especially with live plants, but I would keep a close eye on the interactions.

Good luck!


Shelby 17 months ago

Okay thanks! Its been a week with my ghost shrimp and they actually eat my betta food and my betta sits and watches them! So i dont think i have to worry about my betta being aggressive! Haha my shrimp love my tank and my live plants have completely flourished with them in there and i think in a few weeks i might try adding a pair of ADFs. Thanks!


Vickie 15 months ago

I have a Betta in my 20 gallon tank with my 5 Black Skirted Tetra, and they are doing wonderful. He is usually swimming around the outer edges of the tank, and the Tetras tend to cluster in the center. At feeding time, the Tetras seem to be fine with sharing the food, as does the Betta. I can spend hours watching them, they are so calming. :)


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 15 months ago from USA Author

Sounds great Vickie! Glad it is going well.


mariekbloch profile image

mariekbloch 14 months ago

Very good hub.


Jeff 9 months ago

I have a Beta in a community in a 54 gallon live planted tank. He swims all over the place. Has 10 tetras, and 15 or so Platys. Beta isn't even interested in their off Spring.. I feed them all frozen blood worms and brine shrimp.


Kimberly 8 months ago

This is a great article. I'm currently transitioning from working in an office to working from home. My beautiful Betta will be relocating as well. I've been wondering if he'd do okay in my established tank of mollies plus a few other community fish that school (not guppies or any of the fish listed in your article) plus a female bristle nose. I think I'll give him the opportunity to check it out. At least I'll have his current tank available if it doesn't.


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 8 months ago from USA Author

Hi Kimberly! If the tank is big enough he may do fine, but you never know. I'd be slightly worried about the mollies. I've had mollies that were docile and others that were rambunctious terrors. You are smart to have his old tank ready as a backup in case of emergency. Just keep an eye on things. Good luck!


Lindsay 8 months ago

Hi, I've had numerous bettas in my community tank. So far I've found that tetras, Mickey's, bottom feeders, and ghost shrimp do very well with bettas! I've also have guppies with no problems but I've heard they can be hit or miss. Beware of Molly's! Those guys dominate the tank! Good luck to anyone trying out a betta in a community. I've had great luck but always have a back up 5gallon take just in case!


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 8 months ago from USA Author

Great advice, Lindsay! (And I agree about mollies.)


Kelli 6 months ago

I recently upgraded my male bettas tank. I added a Cory catfish and he attacked him. I'm wondering if that is just him being a jerk, or the territory thing. Do you think I can take him out of the tank for a while and put the Cories in first and then put him back in? Or is the tank already his because he's been in it?


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 6 months ago from USA Author

Hi Kelli. I think I answered your question on another page, but I'll address it here too. In my opinion, a tank as small as your described is not big enough for a Betta to share with other fish. Also, cories should be kept in schools. I would not jostle your Betta around hoping to get him to forget he was in the tank and accept the presence of the cory. Instead, let him have the 5-gallon to himself and if you want more fish start a 10-gallon community tank with a small school of 4-5 cories and a few other fish.

That's my opinion. Good luck whatever you decide!


Jeff022784 6 months ago

Just set up a new 10 gallon community Betta tank. Week already passed and no fin nipping is happening and no aggressive behavior from the Betta. His mates are 4 MM Platy and planning to add couple of cory cats... hope the set up works :)


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 6 months ago from USA Author

I hope it works out too, Jeff. Sounds like it will get a little tight with the cories. Good luck and be sure to keep an eye on things.


Betta newbie 6 months ago

I got a halfmoon betta from petco and tried to put it in my 20 gal. community tank. The tank has three neons,three baby platies,one adult platy,one pleco,three tadpoles And nine live plants. He started flaring as soon as I put him in. I was wondering if he just wasn't compatible with the other fish? Or I was thinking if a halfmoon is more aggressive than let's say a butterfly betta? Do you know if one species of betta is less aggressive than A Halfmoon. Since the halfmoon did not work I put a veiltail red female. I really want to put the male in evan if it means taking the female out - Betta newbie


Eryk 6 months ago

I had a Betta along with some corys (which died a few months ago but the betta is still okay) and I was wondering if I could add some otocinclus catfish. But my question is, would be okay to add them after so long. PS, this article was very helpful!


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 6 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: Any Betta of any type you put into your community tank may be aggressive or docile. They are all the same species, but simply bred to exhibit different traits. You never know until you try an individual fish, and always have a backup plan.

@Eryk: Otos tend to disappear into the background and are unlikely to provoke aggression, but I can't say with 100% certainly that Betta won't target them. You can try them, but have a backup plan. :-)


jeff022784 6 months ago

two weeks and the fish seems to be living with each other peacefully. I never saw my betta flared any of the platys i have... :)


J Flemming 5 months ago

I have a Betta living with 3 zebra danios GLOFISH and 2 snails! Most peaceful aquarium ever and as happy as they can be!


Betta newbie 5 months ago

I will soon update my 20 gal. Tank to 55 gallon tank will that help the betta be more kind to the other fish ? Another question when I set up the new tank should I put the betta in for a couple of days before I put in the other fish or should I put In the platies neons etc. before the betta. P.s. I will not be getting the bigger tank for like five or six months because I need to save money :) -Betta newbie


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

Hi Betta newbie. It's impossible to say whether a larger tank would reduce aggression. My feeling is if your Betta is aggressive toward other fish now he'll probably continue that behavior in a new tank. I suggest focusing on moving Betta into a 5-10 gallon tank just for him rather than making such a huge move and hoping it works out. If your Betta is currently attacking and harassing other fish he can't stay in the community setup. This would also be a lot cheaper than buying a 55g.

Adding the other fish first may help, but it's impossible to say until you try it. Like I said in this article, you must have a backup plan. Some Bettas just don't play well with others. Good luck!


Painted platy 5 months ago

I have a 20 gallon tank with 4 glofish, 2 black mollies, 1 swordtail, 2 Cory catfish, 7 platies and one snail. Would golden white clouds be compatible? Would they be ok with a temperature of 78? Also I have a blue and purple betta ( he is pretty old) and he has had a big bump on its side for years that keeps growing now it is coming off but I would like to know what it is?


Betta newbie 5 months ago

Can you over plant with live plants?


Beta newbie 5 months ago

And are LEDs good for plants ?


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

@Painted platy: I think you're done. I wouldn't add more fish to that tank. Also, white clouds require cooler water temps. I think 78 is a bit high for them.

When you say bump on side I'm thinking about dropsy, but it would be very unlikely to have that condition for years. I'm at a loss there.

@Betta newbie: You can certainly over-plant, but as long as your fish have ample room for swimming you're probably fine.


Painted platy 5 months ago

I now have 2 golden white clouds in a 5 gallon could I put anymore white clouds in there?


Betta newbie 5 months ago

well I have 14 live plants in the 20 gal. And I'm thinking of getting two more. but the middle is really open -Betta newbie


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

@ Painted Platy: I wouldn't. In fact, I wouldn't even have those white clouds in a 5 gallon. I wouldn't have them in anything smaller than 10 gallon. Preferably a school of 6-10 in a 30 gal or bigger. Schooling fish need to be in groups, and that means a bigger tank.

@Betta newbie: LEDs are typically not the best choice for growing live plants, but you may have some luck. Most fish keepers use bulbs made especially to give off the light spectrum required by plants.


Painted platy 5 months ago

I had 1 betta fish who lived for 5 years and I now have 2 that are getting old.

I was wondering how long bettas normally live for? And some people say bettas need a heater and some say they don't do you think they need one?

And how many live plants sould I put in a 20 gallon tank?


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

Hi again Painted Platy. 5 years is pretty good for a Betta. I think if they are cared for properly that's a good life expectancy. Maybe even a little longer. Unfortunately, most die much sooner.

Betta are tropical fish, so yes they need a heater if your room temperature is not consistently 75 degrees. That means if it gets cold at night where you live you need to consider a heater.

How many plants depends on the type. Plants like Amazon Swords grow very large, so I'd probably only have 2 in a 20-gallon, and you'll still have to trim them back. For smaller plants you can have more. Just like a fish, you need to anticipate what a plant will look like when fully grown and makes sure you leave enough space for your fish.


Betta newbie 5 months ago

Eric do you have any 55 gal. Suggestions that are not to expensive? And would it be good the get a 10 gallon tank and split it between the two bettas. I have a theme. But I don't know the best way to split the tank in half.and should I get a filter? I know I shouldn't get a heater because I like to keep my thermostat between 76 and 77. The 55 should be a good plant growing tank. Because the 20 gal. Tank I have now I have a plant light and my java fern loves it. It's had four babies so far it's growing one more and it's babies are growing babies - Betta newbie


Betta newbie 5 months ago

Right now I have 3 mollies, 3 neons, 2 cori cats, 1 platy, and 1 huge pleco (I'm giving him away soon and getting a smaller one) how may more fish can I put in my tank?


Painted platy 5 months ago

I think my black Molly has ick I moved her to a different tank and put some aquarium salt in with her what else can I do?

Painted platy


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

@ Betta newbie: Here's an article on choosing fish for a 55

https://pethelpful.com/fish-aquariums/Best-Fish-fo...

In addition to the advice in that article, if you move from a 20 to a 55 you might first consider exanding on your schools of neons and cories. Both fish could benefit from larger schools. You might also get a couple more platies.

There are dividers available for partitioning a tank for two Betta. You ought to be able to find one at a local pet store or online.

@ Painted platy. You've taken the best course of action. You might also consider slightly raising the water temp to about 85/86 degrees and performing more frequent but small water changes until it clears up.

Good luck!


Arielle 5 months ago

We just upgraded our male Betta to a five gallon tank with a filter. I bought two neon tetras (I wanted to buy six because they are meant to be in a school but the store only had two) I figured no big deal- I'd buy more later. Wrong! We came home from dinner out and the two tetras were dead and my Betta had bite marks all over. The tank is for my 3 year old daughter and we had our first fish funeral. Any suggestions on how to get my Betta recovered from the bites? This morning he seemed like his old self. Now- I really want a tank mate. Should I try a pleco (bottom feeder) or snail? I really like the idea of a fish that cleans the tank. What about a snail? I feel bad keeping the Betta alone which is why I wanted another fish/snail for him. Do you think he wants to be alone? Or should I try the pleco or snail? Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!


EricDockett profile image

EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

Hi Arielle: Sorry for the calamity.I know it is never a good feeling when fish in your care die.

I do not advise having other fish in a tank with a Betta. For tankmates I'd think 10 gallons or bigger, and even then, as said in this article, your options are limited. But you don't have to feel bad about your Betta being alone. Male Betta are fine as solitary fish in single-specimen tanks. In fact, in many cases they are better off that way.

Important: There is no pleco that is appropriate for a 5-gallon tank. Most species grow very large, even too large for a 55-gallon tank. Please don't put a pleco in there with him!

As for recovery, fresh and clean water is always the best remedy. Small water changes, but try not to stress him out. If he appears to develop an infection you can dose his tank with aquarium salt for a week or so. Otherwise, make sure his water is clean and clear and he ought to bounce back.

My advice is to leave Betta alone in his 5-gallon kingdom. If you want other fish you can start a 10-gallon community tank. Once it is established you can try Betta in there, but have a backup plan and get him out if things go wrong.

Good luck!


Betta newbie 5 months ago

HELP! emergency! one of my neon's have ick , popeye , and a dot on his nose. Eric I have now put him in his own little tank with aquarium salt. What else can i do to save this little neon - Betta newbie HELP!


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EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: You've done what you can with the neon, but it sounds like it might be a good idea to treat the whole tank.


Betta newbie 5 months ago

I only have 8 fish right now saving up for 55 gallon tank. Any not very pricey tank suggestions?


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EricDockett 5 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: 55-gallons is a are common, popular size. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a whole kit for a great price online or somewhere like PetSmart. You'll get the hood, lights, filter, etc. Pretty much everything except decorations and gravel. Then you can upgrade as you see fit. But be aware that you'll also need to invest in a dedicated stand for a tank like that, one that's built to hold all that weight.


Painted platy 4 months ago

I have 1 Pleco in my 20 gallon tank how big can he get before I need to give him away?

And do plecos need anything to eat besides algae? I sometimes give him a algae wafer but do I need to give him that?

Painted platy


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

@Painted Platy: The sooner the better. I would think by the time he gets around 6" certainly. You should feed him algae wafers daily. He can't rely on the algae in the tank for all of his nutrition. Plecos will also rasp on driftwood, and its important to have some in the tank. But, more importantly, re-home him, because he's not appropriate for a 20g tank. :-)


Rick W 4 months ago

I added a zebra nerite snail and a golden inca snail to my bettas tank. The golden in a snail was super active the first couple days but now seems to guarded and his antennae seem like they are being nipped at. Will my Betta tire of this and eventually leave him alone?


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

Hi Rick. It's hard to say if your Betta will stop picking on the snails, but I wouldn't count on it. If the snail continues to be harassed and stressed you may have to separate them.


Betta newbie 4 months ago

Do you have any suggestions on when to get the tank? Like around Christmas or thanksgiving for sales. My friend says to get a kit and is there any kits you recommend. And also the boy Mollie I have in my tank when he flouts in one place his tail end seems to flout up. Have any idea what it is or how I can cure it?


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: It's not a bad idea to get a kit. There might be sales around the holidays or other times of year. Petsmart has Top Fin branded tanks that I always thought were pretty decent for beginners.

If your molly is floating tail-up it sounds like swim bladder issues. This is caused by poor water quality and a resulting infection. Makes sure your water is clean, you are staying on top of water changes and not overfeeding. As for the infected fish, you may separate him in a hospital tank if possible and see if he recovers.


Betta newbie 4 months ago

is this something that can be fixed with aquarium salt or just an over time thing?


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: The salt might help. It will take time and a little luck. I hope he comes around.


Betta newbie 4 months ago

I thought that he was better. His back end was not floating. But the second I tried to put him in the community tank he must have freaked out or something because he acted dead like he was not moving or breathing or making his frount fins move. Eric I really need help with this one - Betta newbie


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: You can only keep doing what you've been doing. This is a disease that doesn't always resolve itself. It sounds like he is a in weakened state and because very stressed when you placed him back in the old tank.


Christina 4 months ago

Hey, I was wondering if I could put some sort of small bottom feeder with my betta in a 1-2 gallon tank? My betta is not agressive at its reflection and ive only seen him flare like 2 times since I got him (3 weeks ago) Or if there is any fish that my betta would allow in its tank. I might end up getting a new tank for him so I can add friendly fish to keep him entertained while im in school. If there is anything I can put in a 1-5 gallon tank for him, please let me know


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EricDockett 4 months ago from USA Author

Hi Christina! In my opinion you should not house a Betta with tankmates in any tank under 10 gallons. So, no, I would not add any fish to his tank. In fact, 1-2 gallons is small even for one Betta. Please consider moving him up to a tank at least 5 gallons. Good luck!


Painted platy 4 months ago

I have a 20 gal. Tank with 4 glofish, 3 platys, 2 Cory cats and a Pleco

All my fish were doing good but about a week ago some platies and mollies started dieing I don't know why they are dieing do you have any ideas of why they are dieing?

Thanks painted platy


Lynn 4 months ago

We had a betta that lived 3 years, sadly died when he jumped out of his contained while I changed his water. Our second betta I foolishly listened to the person at the pet store and had done no research of my own. I bought 2 goldfish, 1 betta, dumped them both into my 3 gallon tank and the next tank found that one was missing and the next was missing almost all of his fins. I've been contemplating a betta to go in our 30 gal. but I don't think I'll go that route.

Very informative, thank you!


Betta newbie 4 months ago

If I have nine fish in my tank how many more fish can I put in. And what fish would be compatible with a female betta two mollies three neons two coris and one platy. - Betta newbie


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EricDockett 3 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: Without knowing the size of your tank I can't advise you on stocking. I can tell you, if you are able to add more fish, you might first think of increasing the size of your neon and cory schools to six or more each and getting a couple more platies. But only do this if your tank is large enough to safely accommodate them - I'd think about 20-30 gal.

@Lynn: I'm glad you are putting some thought into it before getting another Betta. You could always keep a Betta alone in a 10-gallon tank and use the 30 gallon as a community tank.

@Painted platy: Are you using a freshwater test kit to measure your water parameters? That might give you some ideas on what is going wrong.


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Tattoo Dave 3 months ago from Mattoon Il. USA

I have a 20 gallon tank 24.1 inches long 12.5 inches wide and 19 inches tall. I have 6 tetra glofish and was wanting to put my female veitail betta in with them but unsure if it's a good idea. I've read yes and no and would like some more advise and thank you for any help.


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EricDockett 3 months ago from USA Author

@Tattoo Dave. I see no reason you can't give it a try. Just have a backup plan in case things don't go well. Good luck!


Jocie 3 months ago

Hi Eric,

I have had my betta fish for about a month now and he is in one of those tiny little tanks that I thought they had to be kept in. After doing some research I see that although they can live in there it probably isnt the BEST for him and I of course want the best. I have a ten gallon tank that I used to keep goldfish in. I see that he will be perfectly happy on his own, but I was wondering if ten gallons would be too big for just him on his own? (I will probably throw in a bottom feeder or two just for sanitary reasons) Thanks!


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EricDockett 3 months ago from USA Author

Hi Jocie. You're making a smart decision, and the 10-gallon definitely will not be too large for him. Just make sure you have a backup plan if you choose to add tank mates, in case he doesn't get a long with them. If you're thinking of cories or otos or something similar you should be okay, but you never know. Bottom feeders can only do so much to keep the tank clean, so don't worry so much about "sanitary reasons". It's up to you to keep the tank clean. :-)

Good luck!


Betta Newbie 2 months ago

My Questions Today Are About Fish Disease's My 20gal. Fresh Water Aquarium Has Been Infected With Ick Popeye And Fin Clamp For A Couple Of Months Now. And I Don't Know How To Treat It Or Cure It Its Like Its Unstoppable (The Finclamp Thing Has Been Going On For Longer Than A Month) I Don't Want Any More Of My Fish To Die Atleast Three Have Died. I Had To Kill One Of My Tetras (Because It Was So Bad) And Another Question One Of My Neon Tetras Had Like A Bump On His Nose. It Was Not Ick It Was The Color Of His Skin (Or What Ever Fish Have) If You could Tell Me What That Is It Would Be Helpful -Betta Newbie


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EricDockett 2 months ago from USA Author

@Betta newbie: You can treat with aquarium salt, but it sounds like you have a long road ahead and you may lose more fish. Some fish get sick and never recover. Whatever you do I would not add any more fish to the tank until things clear up. Concentrate on a clean tank and healthy water parameters. There is a reason everybody got sick. Find out what it was and correct the situation, dose the tank with aquarium salt for about a week and hope for the best.


Shaun 2 months ago

Can I have as many female betas in a 40 gallon about 5 betas


Shaun 2 months ago

This website helps so much


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EricDockett 2 months ago from USA Author

Hi Shaun: You should be okay but watch for signs of conflict. Female betta can sometimes be aggressive too. And thanks for the kind words.


Kaitlyn 2 months ago

I have kept a betta for almost two years in my 40 gal community tank no problems! However, petco recently had a 5 for $5 sale on black skirt tetras and so i got a school of them believing they were nice docile fish. Huge mistake. They grabbed hold of his beautiful tail and ripped it to shreds almost immediately :( Now he is in a little cup waiting for my ten gal to get established for him. I was happy to learn that the little African frogs will make good tank mates for him! thanks for all the information!


Heaven 2 months ago

Hey Eric helpful very helpful but what if I did not want to have a tank and I bought a ten gallon bin like for organization but I bought a filter and heater would that work? And if I did buy a bin can you recommend some standing filters?


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EricDockett 2 months ago from USA Author

Hi Heaven: It might work, but it doesn't seem very practical to me. How would you see your fish? Also, you'd have to make sure the plastic the bin is made from is safe for fish. I have no idea on that, but I do know that I never like to use things in fish tanks that aren't designed to go in fish tanks. You could perhaps use an under-gravel filter and power heads, though I personally wouldn't.

Good luck with your experiment and let me know how it goes!


kelly 8 weeks ago

i have a 20 gallon tank with 1 baby platy and a baby swordtail 1 swordtail (adult) 2 cory catfish

4 glofish 8 fish total how many guppies could I put in my tank?

also do you know how to cure clamped fin?


Cynthia 7 weeks ago

Hi Eric, we got our first fish a week ago, a betta and that small "My Fun Fish Tank" - after doing research from great sites like this I see that it is WAY too small for anything to really thrive, we have a 10-gallon tank on it's way (be here in a couple of days). I would like to have some tank mates for the betta and was thinking of a snail and an african dwarf frog, but my concern is mostly around feeding (hoping everyone will get along but prepared to move the frog to the small tank as an immediate back up plan, if necessary). My question for you: what do you recommend for feeding so that the frog and betta will be happy with food options? OR should I look into other fish to be tank mates so they can all eat the same type of food? (If so, what type of fish and how many would be best for a 10-gallon tank with a betta). Thank you so much!


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EricDockett 7 weeks ago from USA Author

@Kelly:I think you can safely add small school of 6 guppies to your 20g tank.

@Cynthia: Great job liberating your Betta from a tiny tank! The frog and Betta should both be fine with regular fish food. You can add a few sinking pellets and algae wafers if you are worried about the frogs and snail getting enough. I would not add more fish to a 10-gallon tank with a Betta, but these critters might do fine. Just keep an eye out for trouble.


Cynthia 7 weeks ago

Just wanted to say thank you so much for your time and assistance! :)


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EricDockett 7 weeks ago from USA Author

You're welcome, Cynthia. Good luck with your tank!


kayley 6 weeks ago

hi,

i currently have 2 female bettas in a 20gallon heavily planets community tank with mollies, corydoras and 3 guppies. So far the girls have completely ignored each other. i didn't hear about the rule that there must be 4 in a tank together and i'm not sure if my tank's bioload can take too many more fish. My question is, is that rule only apply when the girls are in a tank with just other bettas.


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EricDockett 6 weeks ago from USA Author

Hi Kayley: The problem with two female Betta is that one may harass the other to the point of illness or death. When there are four or more a pecking order is established and one fish doesn't get the brunt of the aggression.

These are family-related issues so to speak, and the other fish would have no part in it, though they could be on the receiving end of an overly aggressive female Betta's wrath.

The other fish may add some variables that reduce territorial and aggressive behavior but I wouldn't bank on it. Keep an eye out for one Betta picking on the other and you'll have to make a decision from there: Either move them out into a sorority tank, or try adding more females to your present tank. Good luck, I hope they stay peaceful!


Jack 6 days ago

You make some very good points here! I've been debating on getting a snail to help with algae for my 10 gallon which already houses a male betta. I'm more concerned about the safety of my plants than how my betta will react when/if I decide to add the snail. Then again, my betta is rather big and has never dealt with another animal living in his space before so I'm still pretty hesitant. Also, I never though about African dwarf frogs being good tankmates for bettas. I found that quite interesting.


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EricDockett 6 days ago from USA Author

Thanks Jack! Personally, I would keep a betta alone too. African Dwarf Frogs are cool, but come with their own set of hassles.

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    Eric Dockett (EricDockett)294 Followers
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    Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.



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