Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish
We get asked this question a lot. The three main things to consider when answering this question are the tank size and conditions, aggression level, and the tank mates of your Betta.
Tank Size and Conditions
A simple rule of thumb to follow is that your Betta should never live in a tank with other fish if the tank is anything less than ten gallons. If your Betta is living in anything less, then it is unlikely to tolerate other fish, regardless of what kind they are. Bettas are, by nature, very territorial, and the smaller the environment, the more they will want to dominate it. If your Betta is living in a 5 gallon tank or under with other fish they will likely be very stressed. If you have a tank 10 gallons or more, then there is a greater chance your Betta will peacefully cohabitate with other fish species. Decorations also need to be taken into account. The more items you put into a tank, the less swimming space the fish will have. This will make the tank feel smaller and may cause more aggression in your Betta. Some of our Bettas are able to live in the community tank with other fish and snails. Others are simply too aggressive, even though the tank falls within appropriate guidelines, so they live separately. Male Bettas cannot live with other male Bettas, no matter how large the tank is. This is evidenced by their other name: Siamese fighting fish. If put together, males will fight to the death over territory rights. Females of 5 or more, on the other hand, can live peacefully together as long as they are carefully selected and the tank is 20 gallons or more.
Betta Fish Aggression Level
There is no simple formula for determining a Betta’s aggression level. Each fish is very different, and their aggression levels can vary greatly. Choosing a less aggressive Betta is essential if you want it to live peacefully with others in a community tank. Ideally, you want a Betta that, when next to others at the pet store, is not showing aggressive signs such as flaring and acting wild in its cup. You need one that is trying to avoid the conflict and isn’t actively displaying aggression. This is the Betta that is more likely to succeed in a community tank.
If you are wanting to start a female Betta sorority tank, you need to buy all the Bettas at the same time. A minimum of 5 females is recommend for the best results. This is more likely to be successful since the order of dominance will be established straight away and the initial aggression will not be directed all on to the one weaker fish. Instead, it will be spread over several fish. When at the pet store, put all the cups next to each other and choose the calmest Bettas you can find. When you get them home, put them in your tank still in their cups so they can acclimate. Make sure all the cups are close to each other so that the females can see each other. Once you are ready to release them, make sure you have the time to watch them. It is normal for there to be a little chasing in order to establish the hierarchy, but it is not normal or acceptable for a fish to be injuring another as a result of aggression. One thing you need to remember with Betta fish in general, there are never any guarantees they will get along with other fish.
Choosing your tank mates carefully is one way to improve the likelihood of your Betta living peacefully with other fish . Be careful not to overcrowd the tank, otherwise your Betta will feel like his home is being invaded. If your tank is 5 gallons or less, then you should really only have one Betta and possibly a snail, as long as your tank has a tight fitting lid. Snails are escape artists. A 10 gallon tank can comfortably house your Betta as well as 3-4 other fish. Bettas will not be happy in tanks that have a lot of 'busy' fish that are hyperactive and are always darting around. Instead, they prefer fish that are calmer and not too colorful. If you have brightly colored fish such as guppies in with your Betta, they may see them as a threat or even assume that they are another Betta and attack them. The only way that you can safely have brighter fish is if your Betta does not exhibit much aggressive behavior at all. Suitable tank mates may include, Pygmy Corydoras, female Guppies as they are not usually brightly colored, Ember Tetra, and Harlequin Rasboras. All these fish are calm and more importantly are not fin nippers. Snails are also another good option. Nerite snails, and Mystery snails both do well with Bettas. I have found the small Horned Nerite snail also does well in my aggressive Betta tanks. They are so small my Bettas don't even notice them. If you have a very placid Betta you may also find platys sword tails will work too. So much depends on the aggression level of your fish.
Bettas are naturally inquisitive and enjoy exploring their environment. Keep in mind that the tank size, tank mates, and the selection of your Betta(s) are immensely important. If you have any doubt about their compatibility to live with another fish, it is better to leave your Betta on his/her own. As a Betta owner, you want your fish to live a long, happy and healthy life!
To see more options see the video below.
Happy Fish Keeping!