Myth Busters: The Truth about Bettas
There is a common misconception that when keeping Bettas, they must be isolated from other fish because of their aggressive nature, and should not be kept in community aquariums. Bettas can, in fact, coexist with other freshwater fish, and make vibrant additions to community tanks when kept with the right species.
A few tips for starting out with your Betta: in terms of tank selection, Bettas can get by in 5 gallon aquariums, but will do better in 17 litre aquariums at the smallest – especially if they will be sharing their space with other fish. Typically, the bigger the tank your Betta has, the less likely they are to resort to aggression with other fish. Bettas will typically be compatible with the following common fish species: Cory Catfish, Platies, Plecos, Minnows, and Mollies, to name a few. These fish will also thrive in similar water temperatures/conditions as the Betta. As a rule of thumb, if you plan on keeping a Betta fish in a community tank, do not select other fish with long and flowy fins to share their tank space. Some fish to avoid pairing with Bettas include Cichlids, Goldfish, Gouramis, Fancy Guppies, Koi, and Oscar fish, as these species are all vibrant in colour and have aggressive tendencies, making fighting a much more likely possibility.
Avoid pairing Bettas together, especially male Bettas. Female Bettas may be kept together in small groups, provided there is plentiful tank space, but do try to avoid keeping Bettas in the same tank if possible. Even female and male Bettas tend to avoid each other except during mating season – males can seriously injure or even kill their female counterparts in small tank environments. Overall, keeping aggressive fish together will result in harm to one or both fish, and will result in an overall stressful environment, making future fighting more likely to occur.
Apart from fish, you may also wish to consider some other aquatic animals to share a tank with your Betta. Snails are safe choices because of their hard shell coating, as are Ghost or Cherry Shrimp with their translucent bodies (making them unnoticeable to Bettas). African Dwarf Frogs are also an option, since they look very different from fish and therefore wouldn’t pose a threat to your Betta.
Bettas make a perfectly good addition to community aquariums, but it’s important to be mindful about placing your Betta with the right type of fish and aquatic life to avoid aggression, stress, and unnecessary fighting. Monitor fish behavior closely after setting up your tank to ensure that all fish are living in a healthy aquarium environment.