The Best Betta Fish Tank Mates

One of the most common questions Betta Fish owners ask is if their Betta Fish can have a tank mate or live in a community tank, and if so what kind of fish.

The answer: Yes your Betta Fish can have tank mates, but you need to be careful or the tank mates might wind up as lunch for your Betta! Betta’s are known as fighting fish and are very territorial so you can’t just add any fish to your tank.

Want to find out more about adding the Betta Betta Tank Mates?

Betta Tank Mates are NOT out of the question! Yes, when you bought your Betta Fish at the pet store it may have seemed strange to see them alone in their own separate containers, while entire tanks of other fish swam in peaceful harmony.

This may seem strange but Betta’s prefer to be alone. They like to be king of the tank and don’t want to be bothered. So generally it is the owner of a Betta Fish that will get more satisfaction out of adding more fish to the tank, not the Betta Fish.

You may have been told Betta Fish must live alone, this simply isn’t true. You just need to find other tank mates with the right temperament. Remember, Betta’s are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish – they are territorial, will fight, and can be aggressive towards other fish. So its best to let them be “king of the tank”, and simply find other fish that won’t rock the boat.

The Most Important Rule

The success of pairing you Betta and other fish generally falls on the temperament of the Betta. 

  • If it is aggressive and you’ve seen it attack or kill other fish then it may be best to keep this fish alone. 
  • If you are unsure of how aggressive your Betta is or have never tried then be careful as you add fish. 
  • Its best but not always possible to already have the other fish in the tank so the Betta does not consider the entire tank its own territory.
  • If you see the Betta starting to get aggressive then remove it. Be prepared to separate fish, worst case even have an extra fish bowl in-case you need to stop fish from eating each other.

General guidelines about fish *NOT* to put in a tank with a Betta

  • 2 Male Betta’s – they both want to be “king”   and should never live together.
  • Male and Female Bettas – they should only be put together during breeding
  • Any sort of cold-water fish. Betta Fish are a tropical fish and like water around 78-82 degrees. Many cold water fish can’t handle the tropical temperatures of a betta fish tank
  • Long Tails or Fins – any sort of fish with long tails fins will be seen as one of their own kind and get attacked
  • Hyper or Aggressive Fish – any ‘A’ type personality fish swimming around the tank in the same manner as a Betta will make for a bad tank mate
  • Fin Nippers – any fish that has a reputation to nip at other fins
  • Small Tank – generally if your tank is 2-3 gallons you should probably not add anything unless its an extremely mellow fish. Generally you want at least a 5-10 gallon tank before adding any other fish. If your Betta is in a smaller tank and lives with other fish without attacking them it still may be stressed out from lack of room in the tank, so I suggest not trying unless you have a larger tank.

General Rules for adding a Tank Mate

  • Larger Tank Size: First you’re going to need a larger tank. Since a Betta on its own should have a 5 gallon tank its best to consider a 10-15 gallon tank if you plan on adding other fish to make a community tank.
  • Peaceful calm fish that aren’t aggressive are preferred, you don’t want one that is going to see the Betta as a threat and try to take it on.
  • Swim at different level: Look for fish that swim or hang out in a different part of the tank. Since Betta’s generally swim in the middle as well as come to the surface then fish that are bottom-dwellers work out great.
  • Fish that aren’t too flashy – if they are flashy they can be seen as a threat
  • Size: don’t get a fish that gets too large, stick to ones that are a few inches long or less at full size
  • Freshwater Plants: not only help with the water quality but can act as a hiding place
  • Hiding Places: To make the tank less threatening and feel less crowded for everyone add hiding places like driftwood or decorations where fish can hang out and feel safe.

You want too look for fish that aren’t flashy to look at, and generally swim in a different part of the tank. If you have a small tank I wouldn’t recommend this – shoot for having a 10-15 gallon tank or more.

The Best Betta Fish Tank Mates:

  • Zebra Snail – not a fish at all but a great tank mate that you don’t have to deal with the groups of them like a schooling fish. And they help keep your tank clean which is why its our #1 tank mate.
  • Rasbora: these fish are natural neighbors of Betta’s in the wild, which means they enjoy the same water and environment. The are also a quick fish which can quickly out-swim an aggressive Betta so they should make great tank mates.
  • Corydora Catfish – otherwise known as Cory’s are slow moving catfish that are peaceful bottom-dwellers and won’t interfere with your Betta. There are many types of Corydora’s – most are schooling and prefer slightly lower temps and do best to keep your tank right at 78 degrees. Since these are schooling fish where you need at least 2-3 I’d again start with a larger tank like 10-15 gallons
  • Platies: you can add 2-3 of these fish for a single Betta in a 10-15 gallon tank. They are a social fish that generally should exist fine with your Betta, and come in a variety of colors.
  • Neon Tetra – a smaller fish that is very cool to look at and isn’t much larger than an inch. Problem is they are a schooling fish and generally need to be kept groups of 6 or more – which also means you should have at least a 10 to 15 gallon tank. Most likely this will rule out any beginner fish keeps just looking to add a pal to the tank, but if you are equipped properly then give it a try!
  • Otocinclus Catfish: this is a suckermouth type of catfish that stays small and can be added to well-established tanks. These are mellow fish that will help keep your tank clean, but beware of other sucker fish as they can grow quite large.

Adding the Tank Mate

  1. Leave the fish in the bag and place it in the tank (don’t cut any
    holes yet)
  2. Watch the reaction of the other fish. If the Betta flares up and
    continues to flare after 15 minutes its best to not integrate
    these fish. Flaring is when they stick out all of their fins
    to look larger.
  3. If the Betta does not flare then its probably safe to keep the
    fish together, but watch them closely for the first few days
    and if they nip or attack each other immediately separate them.