Betta fish and guppies are brightly colored, entertaining pet fish popular with aquarists worldwide. Imagine keeping both of those species in the same tank; what a gorgeous display that would make!
But can guppies and betta fish live together?
In theory, it is perfectly feasible for guppies and betta fish to share a tank, depending on your betta’s temperament and provided you make certain provisions.
Read this guide to learn how betta fish can live with guppies safely and peacefully.
Can Bettas And Guppies Live In The Same Tank?
So, you can keep guppies in a betta tank with a few provisos.
Guppies are generally peaceful fish, although they can show aggressive behaviors under certain circumstances.
However, bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting fish for a good reason! These beautiful fish can be extremely feisty and territorial, which can lead to problems if you keep them with the wrong tank mates.
Wild male betta fish are solitary, only coming together to breed or in chance encounters with rival males. You cannot keep multiple male bettas together because they will fight, often to the death.
Even a sorority of female bettas usually has one dominant fish that bullies the others.
Guppies vs. Bettas – Differences and Similarities
Guppies and bettas are different fish species, although they do have marked similarities and differences.
Bettas and Guppies – Similarities
Let’s start by looking at the similarities between bettas and guppies.
Both guppies and bettas are known for their bright colors, striking patterns, and flowing fins. In both species, the males are the most decorative and glamorous, with female fish being slightly larger, plumper, and less colorful.
Unfortunately, that similarity in appearance can cause problems between male guppies and bettas, as a male guppy’s vibrant colors and long fins could trigger a male betta to attack it. Male guppies can be territorial to a lesser extent, and they can also be fin nippers, which could lead to confrontations with male betta fish that don’t end well.
As mentioned earlier, male bettas are pretty much solitary creatures that don’t tolerate other males in their territory, whereas guppies are gregarious fish that enjoy the company of their own kind. That said, getting the balance of male-to-female guppies correct is essential.
If you have too many males, they will harass and chase the females, often causing injury and stressing the ladies. Ideally, you want two or three females to every one male guppy.
Female betta fish can live in a sorority of up to a maximum of five individuals. I kept a trio of female bettas with one male, and that worked fine, although that’s not always the case and depends entirely on the male and his personality.
Bettas and guppies are both tropical freshwater fish with similar living requirements.
Bettas are tropical fish, preferring a warm water temperature of between 78°F and 80°F, while 74°F to 82°F is fine for guppies, so you’ll need an aquarium heater for your tank. Guppies and bettas both appreciate a water pH level in the range of 6.8 to 7.5.
Bettas and Guppies – Differences
So, what are the differences between guppies and bettas?
Guppies are active fish, always on the go, even leaping out of the water sometimes.
Most bettas are less frantic, spending their time patrolling their territory and exploring between taking naps on flat leaves and other suitable resting places. That said, betta fish can also jump, so you need a tank with a tightly fitting lid.
Both species are technically classed as omnivorous, although betta fish need a higher level of meaty protein in their diet and only consume a small amount of plant matter and some algae.
Although guppies and bettas can share the same food, it’s best to provide specialist betta food for your betta and tropical fish flakes for the guppies. Both species enjoy frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and the like.
Betta fish and guppies are primarily surface feeders. However, betta fish tend to graze slowly on their food, whereas guppies are greedy fish, rapidly gobbling up the betta food as soon as it lands on the water’s surface.
That can lead to confrontations during feeding times, so you might need to use a feeding ring to provide a separate feeding area at each end of your fish tank. That way, your betta will get plenty to eat and won’t be hassled by the guppies.
Which Species Of Betta Is Best?
There are over 73 known species of betta fish, some of which are reputedly more peaceful than others. However, even if you pick a docile type of betta, there’s no guarantee that he won’t turn out to be a belligerent character. That applies to guppies, too, as some of these guys can be pretty naughty under certain circumstances.
It’s also important to bear in mind the size of the guppies and betta. I recommend sticking to fish of a similar size to help prevent bullying.
One particular betta species should be avoided, in my opinion. Plakats are highly aggressive betta fish and make the worst combination with peaceful tank mates.
These bettas are directly descended from the fighting fish used for combat events in their native Thailand and are usually highly aggressive toward other fish in the tank environment.
How Many Betta Fish Can Live With Your Guppies?
As previously mentioned, you can’t keep more than one male betta in your tank, as fights will certainly break out, and your fish will end up injured or even dead. So, unless you have a large tank that will accommodate tank dividers, you can only keep one male betta with your guppies.
Alternatively, you might want to keep female betta fish with your guppies. Female bettas lack their male counterparts’ brilliant colors and flashy fins, making them less prone to injury and much less likely to be nipped by the guppies. Female bettas are much less aggressive than males, so keeping a few females can be less problematic than having just one male betta in your tank.
Rather than keeping one single fish, I recommend keeping a group of guppies with a betta. Guppies are social fish that should always be kept with their own kind, and a group is much less likely to get picked on by a belligerent betta.
As with any fish species, it’s crucial that your aquarium is large enough to accommodate them comfortably.
Although bettas and guppies are small fish, they still require plenty of space. If the tank is too small, overcrowding typically results, causing squabbles and stressing the fish.
Stress compromises the fish’s immune system, leading to disease outbreaks, which could quickly wipe out your whole community.
In addition, overstocking places a higher burden on your tank’s filter system, potentially causing dangerous ammonia levels, nitrites, and nitrates to accumulate in the tank water.
If you want to keep four guppies and one betta, the absolute minimum tank size you can get away with is 10 gallons. However, ideally, a 20-gallon tank or larger is better. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually easier to keep a larger tank clean than a smaller one.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to have one gallon of water per one inch of fish in the aquarium. However, since bettas are territorial and potentially aggressive, I recommend allowing at least two gallons of water per inch of fish if you want to keep bettas with guppies in a peaceful community aquarium.
In the tank environment, most fish species have a natural pecking order with the largest, most aggressive individuals at the top. So, to prevent signs of aggression and reduce the stress on your weaker fish, you’ll need to provide plenty of places where they can hide from bullies.
In addition, fish with a territorial nature, such as bettas, need a patch they can claim and patrol as their own. Part of a betta fish’s natural behavior is to rest and take naps at regular intervals throughout the day, and you’ll need to provide suitable surfaces for that.
I like to use plenty of living aquatic plants in my tanks, including floating species that provide shelter for shy fish and vulnerable fry. That’s especially important in a tank containing livebearers, such as guppies, if you don’t want your other fish to eat the babies!
Good plant species you can use include Guppy Grass, Java Moss, Amazon Swords, and Watersprite.
Caves, rocky overhangs, pieces of driftwood, and smooth rocks all make beautiful natural decorations that can be arranged alongside clumps of plants to create natural territories in a betta and guppy tank, as well as offer plenty of shelter.
Can Guppies Breed With Bettas?
Bettas are a type of gourami belonging to the Osphronemidae family, while guppies come from the Poeciliidae family. Since bettas and guppies are two entirely different species, they cannot breed.
Bettas are bubble nesters, and males often build a nest in one corner of the tank, even if there are no females to impress! That’s just a male betta thing and is perfectly normal behavior.
Guppies are livebearers that breed prolifically. That’s why I recommend keeping several female guppies to one male to prevent the ladies from being constantly pursued and hassled by the males.
However, even if you don’t have any male guppies in the tank, the females can still get pregnant and give birth to several consecutive broods. That’s possible thanks to a special physiological feature of female guppies that enables the fish to retain sperm for a short period of time until it’s needed for fertilization.
Preserving Guppy Fry
Unfortunately, in a community tank, newly-born guppy fry tends to get eaten pretty quickly. That’s probably a good thing since guppies reproduce constantly, and your tank could easily get overcrowded if all the baby fish survived.
However, if you want to keep the fry, you could use a breeding box in your main tank to keep them safe or catch them and move them to a separate tank. Alternatively, I find that providing plenty of dense plants and hiding places in the tank enables a few fry from each brood to survive.
Even with the best of care, guppies typically only live for one to three years, so having a ready supply of replacements on hand is always a bonus!
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In theory, it is possible for these two glamorous species of fish to share a tank. Bettas and guppies enjoy very similar water parameters, tank size, and aquarium setup. However, male bettas can be aggressive toward brightly colored fish with long fins, and male guppies can be nippy, bringing to two species into confrontation.
The individual fish’s personality comes into play, too. Some bettas are relatively docile and will tolerate a few tank mates, whereas others won’t. Period.
Do you have a betta fish and guppies in the same tank? How do they get along? Tell us about your fish in the comments box below!