While bettas are usually happy to have a tank to themselves, it’s more fun to build community aquariums. But bettas are not compatible with every species and often fight with other fish. So how do you pick the best betta tank mates for your aquarium?
The trick is to select fish that can coexist peacefully with bettas and to arrange your decor to maximize the success of the community. Should you opt for some tetras or choose a couple of snails instead? Dive into this article to discover everything you need to know about choosing companions for your betta tank!
Top 57 Tank Mates For Bettas
What fish can live with bettas without causing problems? Here’s a list and description of the best species to house with bettas. These are all commonly found, peaceful aquatic species with similar habitat requirements to bettas. I’ll also cover some special situations that call for a more select list of companions below.
Choosing Betta Buddies For Small Tanks
The biggest challenge in deciding on companions for your betta in a tank that’s 10 gallons or less in size is you don’t have a lot of room to work with. It’s best to go with species that either stay near the bottom and hide a lot of time or those that are active at night when your betta is resting.
The biggest risk in adding companions to a small tank is you may overwhelm your filtration system. You’ll have to pay close attention to your water quality and be diligent about your routine maintenance if you want to keep your tank healthy.
Most Popular Betta Fish Companions For 5-gallon Tanks
Since space is at a premium it’s best to stick to small fish or invertebrates that won’t compete with your betta. You’ll likely have room for one or perhaps two companions at most, however. These are the best options for 5-gallon betta tanks:
Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii)
Brightly colored snails with long tendrils that range from ½ to 2-inches in diameter. May be golden/yellow, purple, blue, black, white, or albino colored. They’re mellow and feed on algae and debris in your tank. I recommend only getting a single snail for a small betta tank, since there may not be enough food to support more.Check on Amazon
Nerite Snails (multiple species of Neritina)
These eating machines will do a great job at preventing algae from taking over your tank! They have dramatic striped and patterned shells and grow from ½ to 2-inches in diameter. They often climb out of the water and hang out at the top of your aquarium, so a secure hood or lid is essential. A single snail is ideal for a small betta tank.View on Amazon
Zebra Snail (Neritina natalensis)
This variety of nerite snail has a shell patterned like a zebra. Some varieties also have swirls or other unique markings that really make them stand out in your tank. They are the same size and have the same care requirements as other nerite snails and make good companions for bettas.
Ramshorn Snails (several species in the Planorbidae family)
These snails are often found in aquariums, and whether you think of them as a pest or a companion depends on the situation. They are easily bred and can quickly take over a tank, but they also do well in small set-ups with shrimp or a betta. Their curled shell resembles the horn on a ram, and they come in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides tuberculatus)
One of the most common aquatic snails, the trumpet snail is named for its trumpet-shaped shell. These peaceful community invertebrates do well in tanks of all sizes and may quickly reproduce. Your betta might snack on the smallest snails but the adults are usually too big for them to eat.Check the Price
Cherry Shrimp aka Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)
The most popular freshwater shrimp in the aquarium trade, adult cherry shrimp grow to a maximum size of 1.5-inches. Their bright red color really helps them stand out in your tank and they resemble miniature crayfish. These peaceful algae eaters prefer tanks with a lot of plants and places to hide, but one or two should work in a small betta set-up.
Ghost Shrimp aka Glass Shrimp (multiple Palaemonidae species)
Small ½ to 2-inch long freshwater shrimp with a clear carapace you can see straight through! These scavengers like to hide among the debris on the bottom of your tank. You’d probably want to avoid adding more than 2 or 3 shrimp to a small betta tank. If you get young shrimp that are only ½-inch long your betta could end up eating them.Check on Amazon
Endler’s Guppy aka Endlers Livebearer (Poecilia reticulata/Poecilia wingei)
These small ½ to 1-inch long fish are related to the ancestors of the fancy guppy and directly descended from wild South American stock. They are smaller and lack the elaborate tails of the fancy-types, but the male fish may still be brightly colored and have distinct scale patterns.
Female guppies have shorter tails and longer bodies than the males, and they are bigger and lack the bright coloration. They are usually pale grey or brown in color. You may be able to keep 2 to 3 guppies of either gender in a small tank with a betta. Your betta will eat any offspring a mixed-gender group might produce, though.Check The Price
Popular Buddies For 10-gallon Betta Tanks
While schooling and shoaling fish like tetras can be kept in small 10-gallon set-ups, you won’t have enough room to keep a group of them with your betta. Instead, look for species you can keep solo or in small numbers. Here are some good options for small betta tanks:
Amano Shrimp aka Algae Eating Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)
These small 2-inch freshwater shrimp make a good option for small betta tanks that are densely planted and have lots of hiding places. You’ll constantly see your shrimp cleaning the foliage and substrate in your tank. These are busy fellows. They’ll also come out in force whenever you feed your tank!Available on Petco
Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus genus)
These 2-inch long peaceful invertebrates make a great addition to community tanks and are suitable for betta companions as long as they have plenty of hiding places. They are best added in trios so they don’t compete with each other. They prefer planted tanks but are not terribly picky as long as their water is kept clean.
Cory Catfish aka Cory Cats (multiple Corydoras species)
These peaceful and entertaining scavengers thrive in small tanks as they search the substrate for food. Depending on the species you choose, they may range from 1 to 3.5-inches in length when fully grown. Popular varieties include the Pygmy, Panda, and Albino Cory. It’s best to only keep a single cory species in a 10-gallon set-up.
Pygmy Cory Cat (Corydoras pygmaeus)
These small corys grow up to an inch in length and have black stripes running the length of their bodies. They are rather shy and prefer to hide around the plants and debris in the bottom of your tank. They occasionally take in air on the surface of your tank, but that’s usually a sign of poor water quality. You may be able to keep up to three pygmy corys in a small betta set-up.
Otocinclus Catfish aka Otos (Otocinclus vestitus)
Otos are small schooling catfish that grow to a maximum of 4-inches long but are usually smaller. These fellows will feast on the algae in your tank and on your plants. They prefer very clean water and tanks with lots of plants and hiding places. While they tend to be shy, they are social among themselves and are best kept in groups of three. A group of otos are a good company for a betta in a small tank but may need a bigger set-up after a few years.
Harlequin Rasbora aka Red Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
Metallic bronze-colored fish with black markings that grow to a maximum length of 2-inches. They enjoy shoaling together and are particularly dramatic in large groups. You probably don’t want to add more than 3 harlequins to a 10-gallon with a betta, though. They look especially striking against a planted backdrop.Learn More
Clown Plecostomus (Panaqolus maccus)
A dwarf species that’s 3.5-inch long with dramatic and colorful markings. They enjoy snacking on the driftwood and algae in your tank and will likely eat anything your betta misses. Although you’ll have to supplement their diet with spirulina or other veggie-based fish foods, you should only keep a single pleco in a small tank.
Kuhli Loach (Pangoi kuhlii)
Also known as the Coolie, Cinnamon or Leopard Loach, these 3 to 5-inch long fish are usually active at night and hide during the daylight hours. They are shy scavengers who like to hide in crevasses and under rocks. I recommend no more than a single loach for a small betta tank.GET ONE HERE
Female Fancy Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
Larger than the closely-related Endler variety, female fancy guppies grow to about 2-inches in length. Unlike the males with their flashy tails, female fancies are usually compatible with bettas because they lack the colorful long tail. As long as they have some plants to hide in, you can keep up to 3 female fancy guppies in a small tank with your betta.Check The Price
Platy Fish (various Xiphophorus species)
Closely related to Mollies and Swordtails, platys are a peaceful livebearing fish that come in a wide range of colors and scale patterns. They are typically around 3-inches in length when fully grown and may be red, orange, black, blue, brown or green in color. Unlike swordtails, male platys do not have long, pointed tails and are usually compatible with bettas.
Molly Fish (multiple Poecilia species)
Mollies are actually multiple species of closely-related livebearing fish native to streams in South America. They come in a wide variety of colors and scale patterns. These easy-going fish are a great option for novice fish keepers and usually make good companions for bettas if you choose short-finned varieties. They grow to a maximum of 3-inches but some varieties are smaller. I’d recommend no more than 3 mollies for a small betta tank.
African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochirus curtipes)
If you want something unique for your betta tank, check out these miniature frogs! They are completely aquatic and grow to a maximum length of 2.5 inches. African dwarf frogs were the reason I started my very first aquarium, and they are so much fun to observe.
They usually hide under rocks during the day and float at the top of your tank at night. You’re probably safekeeping up to 3 frogs alongside your betta fish in a small set-up. They will take advantage of any of the crevices in your decor, often to funny effect.Learn More
Male Betta Tank Mates And Tips For Bigger Aquariums
As you know, they’re called Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason! Male bettas do not like to play nicely with others, and this can be a problem when you’re setting up a larger community tank. While both genders are territorial, male betta fish will really defend their space vigorously.
Rules of thumb to follow when searching for companions for your male betta:
- Avoid fish that are red or have prominent red markings when picking companions for your male. They may view these fish as rivals and attack them.
- Avoid fish that swim slowly or have long fins, such as angelfish.
- Choose fish that hang out in the bottom parts of your tank, or create areas in a larger tank (20 gallons and up) that your betta won’t like and will naturally avoid.
- Species that wouldn’t work well with males in a smaller set-up often do fine in bigger tanks over 20-gallons if there are enough of them.
Bottom Dwelling Companions For 20-gallon Tanks And Up
Fish that scavenge on the bottom of your tank or hang out on the sides are usually good options as companions for a male betta. Some of these species are more active at night too, so your betta won’t be bothered by their activity.
Zebra Loach aka Candy Stripe Loach (Botia straita)
These small 4-inch long bottom-dwelling scavengers have beautifully stripped bodies that blend in with your decorations and substrate. They are more active during the day than a typical loach, which is why they are not ideal for smaller betta tanks. If you keep a group of 3 to 5 with your male betta he won’t be able to easily pick on one loach. They also need plenty of hiding places in your tank.
Albino Cory Cat (Corydoras aeneus)
These delicate corys require a smooth, sandy or fine gravel substrate to avoid injuring their whiskers. They prefer densely planted tanks where they can hide from the bright lights. Albino corys typically grow to a maximum of 2-inches in length and are best kept in groups of 5 or more. I recommend keeping them in tanks 30-gallons and up, however, so you have enough space for a group.View on Petco
Bristlenose Plecostomus aka Bushy Nose Pleco (multiple Ancistrus sp)
One of the smaller aquarium catfish, the peaceful bristlenose grows to about 5-inches in length. They are known for the abundant bristles that grow around their mouth and snout. The wild-type fish has patterned brown scales but captive-bred varieties may come in a range of colors from a pale orange to albino. They prefer densely planted tanks 30-gallons and up.
Upside Down Catfish (Synodontis nigriventris)
These entertaining fellows are one of my favorite species for planted tanks over 20-gallons. Upside down cats love to scavenge for food on the underside of your plants and decor. While they can swim upright, they often prefer to stay inverted. These fish grow to about 4-inches in length and you can keep them solo or in small groups of 3.
Candy Stripe Plecostomus (Peckoltia vittata)
Another bottom dwelling catfish to consider is the territorial candy stripe pleco. These fish have prominent yellow to orange stripes and grow to a maximum of 5-inches. They are native to the Amazon region where they feed on driftwood and scavenge for food along the river bottoms. Since they will defend their territory, they are best kept as the only pleco in your 25-gallon or bigger tank and shouldn’t be kept with many other bottom dwellers. They usually get along with bettas in bigger tanks, however.
Shoaling Companions For 20-gallon Tanks And Up
With a larger tank you’ll have more room for small fish that wouldn’t usually be a good option with male bettas, since you can have a big group of them. These attractive schooling and shoaling species work well in large tanks and aren’t flashy enough that your male will think of them as rivals.
Dawn Tetra aka Panda or Paraguay Tetra (Aphyocharax paraguayensis)
These silver colored tetras with black markings grow to around 1 to 1.5-inches in length. They can be aggressive towards other community fish and are best kept in larger groups of at least 15. When kept in sufficient numbers they shoal together, creating a dramatic visual effect. I don’t recommend this type of tetra for tanks under 25-gallons, however.
Green Neon Tetra aka Blue or False Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon simulans)
Another favorite of mine, the green neon is an especially good option for housing with male bettas. These small fish grow to a maximum of 1-inch and have a metallic blue stripe running the length of their bodies. These fish prefer to stick together and are best kept in groups of at least 10 to deter your male betta from fighting with them. They are ideal for betta tanks 20-gallons and up and look especially dramatic in large groups of 50+ fish.
Colombian Tetra aka Red and Blue Tetra (Hyphessobrycon columbianus)
These coin-shaped tetras grow to about 2.5-inches in length and have red markings on their fins and a metallic blue colored body. These guys are strong swimmers and can easily evade your male betta. Since they like to shoal they are best kept in groups of at least 6, and more might be better to reduce aggression between them. You’ll need to have at least a 20-gallon set-up or bigger to keep these flashy tetras with your betta.Get One Here
Head and Tail Light Tetra (Hemigrammus ocellifer)
These small 2-inch tetras get their name from the metallic pink/orange colored spots they have on their tail and head. Their bodies may be clear to a pale silver or gold color. They are a peaceful fish that prefers to live in groups of at least 6, so they are best kept with a male betta in a bigger tank.
Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri)
These shimmering fish look like a school of diamonds swimming together. Their silvery color is set off by the fluorescent dot above their eye. They grow to a maximum of 2-inches in length and prefer to be in groups of at least 3, but 6 fish is even better if your tank is big enough. They are fast swimmers and it’s unlikely that your male betta will try to attack them in a group.
Silver Tip Tetra (Hasemania nana)
These small 2-inch schoolers have a bronze to silver body with silvered-white tips on their fins and black markings on their tails. They prefer slightly soft water but tolerate a wide range of conditions. They do best when added in groups of at least 6, and like many other tetras look very dramatic in larger groups.
Black Line Rasbora aka Brilliant Rasbora (Rasbora borapetensis)
An excellent option for larger male betta set-ups, this species grows to almost 2.5-inches in length and is a powerful schooling swimmer. They prefer to be kept in groups of 8 to 10 fish in densely planted tanks with little water current. They are ideal for tanks 20-gallons and up and usually do well with betta fish.
Best Tank Mates For Betta Sororities In Large Aquariums
Since female bettas are less aggressive and territorial than males, you’ll have more options when picking their tank mates. You can pick brightly-colored or red fish for your aquarium if you want. You can even keep several females together in a sorority if you have enough room!
I recommend using at least a 25-gallon long aquarium for betta sororities and starting with either 3 or 5 females. 50 to 75-gallons is even better if you want a vibrant and diverse community of fish. Long-style tanks are best, since this gives each betta room at the surface without having to squabble over space.
Bottom Dwellers For Tanks 25-gallons And Up
Bottom dwelling scavengers and algae eaters make for attractive and entertaining members of your betta community. Your betta sorority will likely ignore their activities since they concentrate their action in the lower parts of your tank. Some good options for betta sorority tank mates include:
Assassin Snail (Clea helena)
These small brightly colored snails with chocolate markings make a great addition to bigger community tanks. They are unique in one aspect—they help control other snail populations by eating their small offspring! If you have a problem with your nerite snails taking over your tank, get a few assassins. They’ll sort through the detritus on the bottom of your tank and clean-up the problem. They won’t bother other fish or fry.Available on Amazon
Snowball Plecostomus (Hypancistrus inspector)
This dramatic 6.5-inch pleco has a dark brown or black body covered with white spots. While they don’t really eat algae, they are scavengers who will eat leftover food and detritus on the bottom of your tank. You’ll definitely want to supplement their diet, or they might just start eating your plants and the other fish’s food. These showy catfish do well in planted tanks 25-gallons and up but are too big for smaller set-ups.
Common Plecostomus (multiple species in the Loricariidae family)
These fish are the omnivoros giants of the aquarium world! While they may be sold as suitable for small betta tanks, the truth is these guys keep growing and growing. I had a common pleco for over 5 years in my 55-gallon community tank. When he hit 24-inches in length I had to rehome him because he started eating my community fish! A younger pleco may fit in your 25-gallon or 50-gallon betta sorority for a while. But they usually become more aggressive as they age.
Yoyo Loach aka Almora Loach (Botia almorhae)
A colorful striped scavenger that grows to about 2-inches in length, the yoyo loach is active during the day. They get their name from the way they move up and down the water column like a child’s yo-yo! They can be a bit territorial among themselves and are best kept in bigger tanks where you have room for a group of 5 or more. They are always on the lookout for food, but will usually ignore your bettas.
Guntea Loach aka Peppered Loach (Lepidocephalichthys guntea)
These attractive scavengers have a long grey or pale brown body with black stripes or spots. They can grow up to 6-inches in length and resemble a freshwater eel. They prefer to dig through your substrate looking for food and require a densely planted tank with lots of hiding places. They are best kept in groups of at least 3 and are ideal for 25-gallon tanks or larger community aquariums.
Clown Loach aka Tiger Botia (Chromobotia macracanthus)
For large betta sororities in tanks over 75-gallons, the clown loach can be an entertaining and colorful member of the community. They have vivid red-orange bodies with prominent black stripes and can grow up to 12-inches in length. They are social fish who prefer to be in groups of at least 5, or they tend to hide all the time.
Panda Cory Cat (Corydoras panda)
For tanks 30-gallons and up, the panda cory can be a fun addition. These peaceful scavengers grow to about 2.5-inches in length and have gold and black markings on their bodies. Like the albino variety, the panda requires a densely planted tank and smooth substrate to prevent injuries to their whiskers. They prefer to be in groups of 5 to 7 and usually get on well with female bettas.Check on Amazon
Glass Catfish aka Ghost or Phantom Cats (Kryptopterus vitreolus)
Glass cats get their name for their transparent bodies. You can see straight through these fish and observe their skeleton and internal organs! These scavengers like to shoal together and look really impressive when you have a group of 5 to 10 in your tank. They are shy and may take a while to adjust to your betta tank, but once comfortable you’ll find these fish very entertaining. They are a good option for community tanks 30-gallons and up.
Schooling Fish For Large Tanks 25-gallons And Up
While not suitable for smaller betta tanks, you can keep a wide variety of tetras, rasboras and minnows in an aquarium that’s 25-gallons or bigger. These small fish are at risk of your betta’s aggression when they are kept in small numbers but in large schools they usually work well with sororities.
Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)
One of the few non-aggressive species of barb, these shy fish get their name from their bright red color. Male fish are brighter than the females but both genders make great options for bigger aquarium communities. They grow to a maximum length of 2-inches and are best kept in groups of 10 or more. They usually school together for safety and like to have room to swim.
Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
Known as the “jewel of the aquarium trade,” neon tetras are incredibly popular companions for community tanks. These 1¼-inch fish have bright red and blue metallic stripes and are simply beautiful to watch in large numbers. You’ll want to add them in groups of 10 to prevent problems with your betta sorority, and they are especially dramatic in larger groups of 30 or more.Available on Petco
Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
Another favorite of mine, the black neon has a metallic blue stripe underlined with black markings and a fluorescent orange dot above their eyes. Like the neon tetra, these friendly fish are best kept in groups of 10 or more. This is an ideal option for bigger tanks where you could keep a group of 30 to 50 and enjoy the impressive effect when they school together!
Rummy Nose Tetra (multiple species, mostly Hemigrammus family)
Another tetra that makes a dramatic appearance in large groups, the rummy nose is ideal for sorority tanks. These fish can reach 2.5-inches in length and are known for their bright red snouts and black tail markings. As they weave in and out of the school they create fascinating patterns of movement. You’ll want at least 10 tetras to enjoy the effect and bigger groups are even more dramatic.
Ember Tetra aka Fire Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae)
These small fish rarely get larger than ¾-inch but their striking bright orange to red color really stands out in a community tank! These active and playful fish prefer densely planted tanks, where they can dart around the vegetation looking for food. I recommend adding them in groups of 20 for the best visual effect. Larger groups are less likely to entice your female bettas into fighting as well.
Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
If you like the colors of the neon tetra but want something more unique, this could be the species for you! The cardinal has the reverse coloration, with a metallic blue stripe edged along the bottom in bright red. They are similar in activity to the neon and other schooling tetras, however, and usually do best in the same type of aquarium set-up.
Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus)
Glowlights get their name from the way their bodies seem to light up in the right conditions. Their metallic orange bodies and prominent darker stripes seem to glow when the light is dim. They prefer planted tanks with room for swimming and will school together for safety. You can keep them in small groups of 5 or in larger, more dramatic groups of 10 or more.
Golden Tetra aka Gold Tetra (Hemigrammus rodwayi)
These hearty fish look similar to the silver tip tetra but have a metallic wash to their scales, giving them a shimmering appearance. They may grow up to 1.6-inches in length and do best in groups of at least 6 to 10. Keeping them in sufficient numbers will also reduce the likelihood your betta sorority will mess with them. They are more challenging to keep than other tetras.
Red Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomene)
These coin-shaped tetras have a fluorescent red spot over their eye, which gives them their name. Their bodies can grow up to 3-inches in length and their shimmering silver bodies and black markings look very elegant in your aquarium. They are bigger than many other species of tetra and do best in tanks 30-gallons and up.
Blue Tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui)
A popular and colorful option for a community tank, the blue tetra poses problems for betta tanks. These active fish often nip at the fins of others, which is why they are not a good species for a single-betta tank. When kept in a group of 7 to 10, however, they’ll usually leave the betta sorority alone. If you opt for blue tetras, keep an eye on your tank and be ready to remove them if they cause problems.
Penguin Tetra (Thayeria boehlkei)
These golden colored fish have a black stripe running down their bodies and tail, which makes them look a bit like a penguin. They can reach about 3-inches in length when fully grown and prefer planted tanks with hiding places and room to school. This is a great option for tanks 30-gallons and up, although their golden color makes them a bad choice for tanks with male bettas!
Celestial Pearl Danio (Celestichthys margaritas)
These fish average about 1-inch in length and have striking metallic blue bodies with iridescent spots. They should not be confused with the plain pearl danio, which is larger and lacks the dramatic color or markings. The celestial danio prefers densely planted tanks with plenty of room to school. They should be kept in groups of 10 or more if housed with a betta sorority.
Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)
These striped 3-inch long schoolers make a great addition to a community tank and are very popular options for betta sororities. They enjoy a planted tank but need plenty of room to swim to remain happy. Zebra danios are best kept in groups of 10 or more, which is why they need at least a 30-gallon tank if you’re keeping them with bettas.
White Cloud Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)
These small 1.5-inch long fish make for a dramatic appearance in your tank when schooling in sufficient numbers. They have silvery green scales with pink to reddish colored stripes and red colored dorsal and ventral fins. They do best when kept in groups of 6 or more, and usually do well in large community tanks and betta sororities.
Mosquito Rasbora aka Chili Rasbora (Boraras brigittae)
These shy schoolers are native to the forests of Southeast Asia and prefer densely planted tanks with dim lighting and plants growing along the top of the tank. They can grow up to 1.5-inches in length and have a bright red body with black markings on their bodies and fins. They like to have plenty of room to swim and school together and are best kept in groups of 10 or more.
Fire Rasbora (Rasboroides vaterifloris)
A coin-shaped fish with a pale to bright orange-red colored body, the fire rasbora may grow up to 2-inches in length. They do well in planted tanks with dim lighting and will school if they’re in a group of 6 or more. While they might be a bit too brightly colored to keep with male bettas, they often do well in betta sororities.
Lambchop Rasbora aka False Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma espei)
These fish are named for the lambchop-shaped markings on the side of their bodies and closely resemble the harlequin rasbora. They are much easier to care for than the mosquito and fire rasbora. While they prefer a planted tank they don’t require the low lighting the other types usually need. Unlike the harlequin, however, the lambchop rasbora needs to be kept in a group of at least 6 to 10, which is why they are unsuited to tanks under 30-gallons in size.
Turning Your Betta Tank Into A Community Aquarium
Most of us start by keeping betta fish on their own, but as the aquarium bug catches on, you may find yourself dreaming about setting up a community aquarium. This can be a challenge when you have bettas, as these fish are territorial and don’t like to share space with other species. With a little planning, though, you can make it work!
Best Aquarium Size For A Community Betta Tank
I don’t recommend keeping bettas in anything under 5-gallons, and for community tanks, bigger is definitely better! How big of a tank do you need to start a community aquarium? It depends on the type of tank mates you’d like to keep!
If you’d just like to add a couple of invertebrates to spice up your small set-up, then you may be able to stick with your existing tank, heater and filter. But if you want to keep a group of females or a male and a variety of community fish you’ll need a much bigger tank.
I recommend planning out your dream tank on paper before investing in equipment and fish. You’ll need at least a 10-gallon tank to keep a single betta and a few other community fish and a minimum of 25-gallons for a group of female bettas.
How To Set-up Your Tank For Success!
The size of your tank matters, but how you arrange your decor and equipment is key to minimizing aggression between your betta fish and their companions. Use rocks, sticks, plants and other decorations to create distinct areas and hiding spots in your tank. That way fish can patrol and defend different territories without fighting.
In large tanks over 50-gallons, you can also use filters and bubble stones to generate water currents for groups of schooling and shoaling tetras, rasboras, and minnows. Since bettas don’t like swimming in a current, they will avoid these areas and stay in the calmer parts of your tank.
How Many Tank Mates To Add?
The general rule of thumb for aquariums is to allow a minimum of 1 gallon of water for every inch of fish in the tank. Using this rule, a fish that grows to 2-inches in length would need a minimum of 2-gallons of water. More space is always better. If you add too many fish, you might have problems with your water quality.
In a 10-gallon tank, you could fit a single betta and up to five inches of other fish. So you could potentially add three to five smaller tetras to your betta aquarium. But more than that could cause your fish to feel stressed and might overwhelm your filtration system. Your betta might pick on other fish if they don’t have enough room.
Choosing The Right Tank Mates
There’s never any guarantee that things will work out between a betta and other community species, and sometimes things go sour without warning. Still, there are some ways you can identify good candidate species for your community tank.
The best options are:
- Peaceful betta friendly fish that are a similar size (2.5 to 5 inches in length) and that have short fins and tails.
- Fish that prefer the bottom of your tank, where bettas usually don’t hang out, or those who are active at night.
- Fish that school or gather in shoals, if your tank is large enough to contain a nice-sized group (10+). If your betta can’t single out a fish to pick on from the group then they usually get along fine in larger tanks.
- Species with similar care requirements to bettas. Go with fish that prefer their freshwater filtered, around 78°F and with a neutral or slightly acidic pH.
Avoid getting fish that:
- Are aggressive or semi-aggressive rather than peaceful community species. Even though bettas are territorial and males tend to be especially aggressive, they don’t do well in semi-aggressive or aggressive community tanks.
- Have long fins or tails. Fancier, more elaborate community fish may get harassed or picked on by your betta.
- Prefer brackish (slightly salty), saltwater, or aquariums with a high water pH.
- Are much smaller than your betta, unless you have a large tank with room for them to school or shoal. If your betta can single out another individual, they will chase them. If they can fit another species in their mouths they may end up eating them.
Rules For Adding Community Fish To Betta Tanks
Follow these guidelines when establishing your community tank to minimize aggression between your betta and their tank mates:
- Always have a hospital or quarantine tank on hand in case you have to remove an injured or overly aggressive fish. Things don’t always work out. I’ve had to return fish to the aquarium store before, and if your betta is particularly pugnacious or your tank is small there’s no guarantee they will get along with others.
- Choose peaceful fish compatible with bettas, and add them to the tank a week or so before introducing your betta to the community. This gives the other fish time to settle in and establish their own territories before your betta joins them.
- Add your community fish to the tank in odd-numbered groups, if possible. This looks more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and reduces the chances the fish will compete with each other (or your betta) as they settle in. So add 3 or 5 tetras to your small community tank rather than 2 or 4.
If you were looking for a list of fish that could live with bettas, I hope my article has given you enough ideas to fill your tank. What did you end up adding to your community aquarium? We’d love to hear about your betta fish tank mates in the comments!
While I can’t sum up the entire list of 57 species in a sentence, they are all appropriate options for betta community tanks if you take the right precautions. The key to having a peaceful tank is choosing the right companions based on the size and layout of your tank and adding them in the right numbers.