13 Safe and Compatible Betta Fish Tank Mates

Updated on November 8, 2019
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13 Safe and Compatible Betta Fish Tank Mates
13 Safe and Compatible Betta Fish Tank Mates

The Siamese fighting fish, or betta, is a beautiful, solitary creature that gets quite nippy with other fish. Male bettas especially are very territorial and aggressive, which is why you'll find them isolated in tiny plastic containers when you purchase them at the pet store.

Betta Fish Need Space

You MUST get at least a 10-gallon tank if you're planning on getting other fish. Betta fish need ample space or they'll end up fighting and killing every living creature that gets in their way.

Tip: If you're a beginner, consider adding critters instead of other fish.

13 Best Tank Mates for Betta Fish

  1. Zebra Snails
  2. Marimo Moss Balls
  3. Feeder Guppies
  4. Cory Catfish
  5. Kuhli (Coolie) Loach
  6. Neon Tetras
  7. Bristlenose Plecos
  8. Harlequin Rasboras
  9. Ember Tetras
  10. Clown Plecos
  11. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  12. Ghost Shrimp
  13. African Dwarf Frogs (With Caution and Careful Observation)

1. Zebra Snails

Care level: Easy

Size: Up to 1 inch

Lifespan: 1-2 years

Zebra snails belong to the nerite snail family, which contains over 200 species. They eat algae and would benefit the community tank by reducing algae growth. They're perfect for betta because they aren't very active and will keep to themselves.

2. Marimo Moss Balls

Care level: Easy

Size: 1-2 inches

Lifespan: They can live for years in the right conditions

These balls originated in Japan, and contrary to popular belief are actually made of algae, not moss. While they aren't sentient, they do look very interesting and make great decorative pieces. They're very popular in betta tanks because they provide entertainment for the betta who love hide in them.

3. Feeder Guppies

Care level: Easy

Size: .6 to 2.5 inches

Lifespan: Up to 2 years

Guppies are schooling fish, so I recommend getting at least a group of three. Unlike normal guppies, feeder guppies are less colorful, so they won't attract betta. They are active fish but are peaceful and won't instigate anything with other fish. They do breed like crazy though, so I suggest getting them all in the same sex unless you want more guppies.

4. Cory Catfish

Care level: Easy

Size: 1 to 2.5 inches

Lifespan: Up to 5 years

There are many types of Cory Catfish, but no matter the type, they are all peaceful bottom dwellers who scavenge for food. They are extremely easy to care for and are hardy, so they make great fish for beginners. Because they are a schooling fish, I recommend getting three or more.

5. Kuhli (Coolie) Loach

Care level: Intermediate

Size: 4 in.

Lifespan: 10 years

Native to Southeast Asia, these eel-like fish have tiny fins and are fast swimmers, but they enjoy spending most of their time dwelling at the bottom of the tank, often hidden behind rocks or plants because they tend to be shy. They are happiest when they live in a school of at least three or more of their kind, otherwise, they'll hide away from other fish.

6. Neon Tetras

Care level: Easy

Size: 1.5 in.

Lifespan: 5-8 years

If you're willing to get at least a 20-gallon tank, then these colorful schooling fish are a fun bunch to own. Neon tetras belong to the Characidae family, and although they are colorful, they don't have flashy fins or tails so they won't intimidate the betta. Be ready to get at least six of them, but the recommended number is 12. These peaceful fish are easy to care for and tend to hang around the middle of the tank.

7. Bristlenose Plecos

Care level: Easy

Size: 3-5 inches

Lifespan: 5 or more years

Also known as the Bristlenose Catfish, this hardy fish is great for beginners because they are hardy and easy to care for. You'll often find them stuck to the side of the tank where they attach their mouths and vacuum up algae that has collected on the glass. For this reason, they make great cleaners.

8. Harlequin Rasboras

Care level: Easy

Size: 1.5 inches

Lifespan: 6-8 years

These tiny swimmers should be kept in schools of eight to ten. Besides being vibrant and active, they are also very calm and will not bother other fish in the tank. Because they can eat just about anything and are rarely susceptible to diseases, they make great fish for beginner hobbyists.

9. Ember Tetras

Care level: Easy

Size: up to 1 inch but usually smaller

Lifespan: 1-2 years

These fast and active swimmers enjoy moving around a tank with lush vegetation and are happiest when kept in schools of five or more. Although there is a chance the betta will try to catch these fish, ember tetras are far too fast for the slow-moving betta. I would recommend at least a 20-gallon tank to give the two species plenty of space and to allow the tetras to hide and swim away if the betta takes pursuit.

10. Clown Plecos

Care level: Medium

Size: 3-4 inches

Lifespan: 10-15 years

The Clown Plecos is a type of catfish that dwells at the bottom of the tank in search of leftovers to eat. You might also notice them attaching their mouths to the side of the tank to suck up algae. They are slow-moving, unobtrusive, unattractive, and tend to keep to themselves, so they make great tank mates for betta fish.

11. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Care level: Easy

Size: 1.5 inches

Lifespan: 3-5 years

These easy-going fish originated in Southeast Asia and live best in schools of six or more and will hide and lose their color if kept alone. They are non-aggressive and make great tank mates for any community of aquatics.

12. Ghost Shrimp

Care level: Easy

Size: 1.5 inches

Lifespan: 1 year

Ghost Shrimp are aptly named for their clear color, which helps them blend into the water and appear invisible. They are peaceful and are wonderful scavengers, so they'll clean up algae really well. Because they are nearly undetectable, they won't catch the betta fish's attention.

13. African Dwarf Frogs (With Caution and Careful Observation)

Care level: Intermediate

Size: 3 inches

Lifespan: 10-15 years

I have not had any experience with keeping African Dwarf Frogs and bettas together, but they have appeared on other lists of betta tank mates, so I thought I'd add them here to make a clarification/warning. Some people have reported being able to keep these two species together, but the fact is, African Dwarf Frogs are pretty aggressive, and so are betta fish.

If you are willing to experiment, you must supervise them during the first few hours and throughout the first few days. And be prepared to have a backup tank to separate them if they end up quarreling.

Betta Fish FAQs

Do They Get Lonely?

No. They prefer living alone; however, this doesn't mean they don't require space and entertainment or stimulation of some sort. If you decide to keep a betta, make sure to house it in a one- to two-gallon tank with lots of vegetation and decorative rocks for entertainment. If you want to give it friends, you must get at least a 10-gallon tank to avoid stressing it out.

Can Pairs of Betta Live Together?

While pairs of male bettas cannot be kept together, two female bettas can cohabitate (although I still don't recommend this). I have had success once with a pair of female bettas, but there have been two other times when they ended up trying to kill each other.

I do not recommend keeping a male and female together. The male will dominate the female and end up severely injuring her.

Can They Live With Other Fish?

Yes. Any betta fish, male or female, can live peacefully with non-aggressive fish that aren't colorful or look like them. Although there is never any guarantee that any two types of fish will get along with each other, the following is a comprehensive list of aquatics that are compatible with betta fish and recommended for a betta community tank.

Fish Not to Keep With Bettas

  • Two betta fish (especially two males): Two females can get along, but I would still not recommend it.
  • Goldfish: Goldfish require cooler water temperatures, and they pollute the water at a higher rate than bettas do. These two are simply not compatible for living in the same tank.
  • Gouramis: These swimmers are closely related to betta, so they'll definitely end up fighting.
  • Barbs: They like to nip at other fish's fins, and if they end up nipping the betta, the betta will turn on them.
  • Some types of tetras: Some tetras like to nip tails, so be careful. Ask an expert before you decide to keep tetras and betta together.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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