10 Safe Betta Fish Tank Mates & Companions

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There are many betta fish tank mates or companions that can live with male or female bettas under the right conditions. This is known as a community tank and can house more than two kinds of species.

Throughout history, the betta fish or Japanese fighting fish was continuously bred for its territorial aggression. This fighting instinct has never gone away, even for those bred in captivity.

For this reason, some betta fish are so territorial they may never be able to cohabitate with other tank mates. At the other end of the spectrum, some bettas are so calm they could actually be picked on or stressed by other fish. Each betta fish has a unique personality and temperament.
If either of these is the case, it’s okay for your betta to live alone than under constant stress.

What About Other Bettas?

  • Males cannot share the same habitat without a divider.
  • Males and females cannot be housed together.
  • Females can coexist together in a sorority.

Betta Fish With Other Fish

Many betta keepers decide to explore other fish that can live with bettas because their fish appears bored, or because they want to liven up their tank. While companions aren’t required, they can add extra viewing pleasure and experience in the hobby.

Keeping betta fish with other kinds of fish can be tricky unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. During any new introductions, always have an exile tank ready in case you have to quickly remove your betta to safety. You should also monitor the introduction closely for at least 72 hours to assess compatibility.

Tank Size

In order to thrive, betta fish should have 5 gallons of water for their habitat. Adding certain tank mates starts to detract from the necessary environment. Some companions will need more than 5 gallons to thrive on their own, without the addition of a betta.

Pro Tip: Every inch of fish requires at least 1 gallon of water.

Increased cohabitants mean increased bioload or a number of inhabitants creating waste. As waste breaks down it turns into contaminants like ammonia which can increase the pH of your tank’s water. This can make your fish sick. Therefore, a filter is necessary for a community tank.

10 Best Betta Tank Mates

Listed below are each of the fish companions that can live with bettas along with some specific information about the species itself. Each recommended tankmate requires a similar water pH level of around 7.0-8.0 and tropical temperatures in the range of 72-81 degrees fahrenheit.

1. Mystery Snails

Go Gary go! #mysterysnails #mysterysnail #fishtank

A video posted by BETTA FISH (@bettafishorg) on


Scientific Name: Pomacea Bridgesii
Color: Golden, Blue or Dark Brownish
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 5 Gallons or More

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Snails don’t get enough credit for being as cool as they are! They are one of my favorite tank mates for male or female bettas alike. Mystery snails are a great addition because they feed on uneaten food and clean up algae, helping with aquarium cleanliness. They also don’t reproduce asexually like the nerite snail which can quickly become a mess with snails everywhere!

Mystery snails are plant-safe and do well with bettas because of their docile nature. Sometimes a betta will be curious or even nip at a mystery snail, but they have a hard shell they can retreat into if needed. Adults can grow to around 2 inches in size, with an average lifespan of one year. You’ll love watching them navigate around the tank, using their siphon for air at the surface, and watching their tentacles meander around.

2. Ghost Shrimp

ghost shrimp and bettas

Photo by Kai Schreiber

Scientific Name: Thalassinidea
Color: Transparent
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

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The ghost shrimp or glass shrimp is appropriately named for its see-through appearance and is an invertebre. Ghost shrimp are virtually invisible in tanks without close inspection by the naked eye. They make fantastic betta fish companions. Recommended introduction is in a group of 2-4, with 6 or more leading to potential breeding.

Ghost shrimp are easy to care for, inexpensive, and they are scavengers who will scour your tank looking for excess food to eat off the substrate. They can grow up to 1.5 inches in length and live for 1 to 1.5 years with proper care. These translucent critters are really fun to watch, love moss balls and other live plants and help keep your tank clean.

3. Feeder Guppies

feeder guppies and betta fish

from aquaanimania

Scientific Name: Poecilia Reticulata
Color: Females are grey, while males have spots and brighter hues of color
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 8 gallons or More

Feeder guppies are bred for food for larger fish and don’t have the bright coloring or long fins like the fancy guppy. This makes them an ideal fish to live with a betta. Guppies are also content living on their own, so adding one as a tank mate is easier than schooling fish.

Enjoying the same pH and temperature range, feeder guppies are also very resilient fish. Their temperament is relatively docile, so you won’t have to worry about them nipping at your betta.

4. Cory Catfish

cory catfish and bettas

Photo by Corin Royal Drummond

Scientific Name: Corydoras
Color: Bronze
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

Corydoras (cory/cories) catfish are good additions to a community betta tank. They are easy to care for and enjoy the same water conditions as bettas. Corydoras live on the bottom, feeding, and can live alone or in schools (4 or more recommended) depending on the size of your tank. They range from 1.0-2.5 inches in length.

The average lifespan for cory catfish in captivity is 2-3 years and their temperament is non-aggressive. This makes them a perfect companion for betta fish. For the most part, they are very active and can liven up a tank. If you want to be extra cautious, you may even look at the pygmy corydoras which are duller in color and only grow up to 1 inch.

5. Harlequin Rasbora

rasboras and betta fish

Photo by Stefan Maurer

Scientific Name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
Color: Orange to Pink Body, Distinct Black Triangle, and Red Hue Fins
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

The rasbora is a shoaling fish that prefers to live with a school of 5 to 6 in a tank. They’re great tank mates for a betta as long as your tank is 10 gallons or more. This will give them plenty of space for necessary activity. Rasboras also love tasty brine shrimp just like the betta.

If you decide to introduce your betta into a tank with the harlequin rasbora, you can expect rasbora’s to grow to around 1.5 inches in length and live on average 5 years. This species is also very peaceful, adding an additional quality to coexistence with the betta splenden.

6. African Dwarf Frog

African Dwarf Frogs and Betta Fish

Photo by Lotzman Katzman

Scientific Name: Hymenochirus Boettgeri
Color: Grey or Brown and Spotted
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

African dwarf frogs are excellent betta tank mates too because of their peaceful personalities. They are also relatively easy to care for. Dwarf frogs can grow up to 2.5 inches in length and live on average 5 years. Males tend to be slightly smaller than females and the species also enjoys at least 2 per tank.

They are very active and like to explore their surroundings. The frogs come to the surface to get air since they have lungs and not gills. If you’re lucky you’ll even witness them shed their skin, (every 1-2 weeks) which is a speedy process that ends with the frog eating it. As for eating, you’ll also love watching them stuff their mouths with food using their little webbed feet!

7. Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras and Betta Fish

Photo by Motohide Miwa

Scientific Name: Paracheirodon Innesi
Color: Neon Silver-Blue with a Red Neon Stripe
Level: Beginner-Advanced
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

Despite advising betta fish owners to avoid tank mates with bright colors, the neon tetra can do well with betta fish because of their speed. In your community tank you will need to add more than one, as neon tetras prefer to school in packs of 6 to 10. A long narrow tank is recommended for plenty of horizontal swimming space.

Typical lifespan is 5 years in captivity, and they can grow up to 4 centimeters in length. In prolonged periods of darkness, you may witness their red stripe fade or disappear completely. Neon tetras are fascinating to watch as they swim together and navigate about the tank looking for food or safety. Neon tetras also like heavily planted tanks with lots of places to hide, just like the betta.

8. Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras and Betta Fish

Photo by Tropical Fish Forums

Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon Amandae
Color: Orange-Red
Level: Beginner-Advanced
Tank Size: 10 Gallons or More

Embers are another species of the tetra and will even school with neon tetras. They grow to just under 1 inch and require groups of 4-6 tetras for adequate schooling. Much like the betta fish, they also prefer heavily planted tanks and tasty brine shrimp.

With average lifespans around 4 years, they will also bring years of joy to a community tank. They prefer the middle of a tank, whereas betta fish tend to prefer the top-half, helping with compatibility and territory issues. They are both, however, surface feeders.

9. Clown Plecos

Clown Plecos and Bettas

Photo by Plantedtank.net

Scientific Name: Panaque Maccus, Dwarf Loricariid
Color: Light Brown to Black Body with Orange to White Stripe Coloration
Level: Beginner-Advanced
Tank Size: 15 Gallons or More

Another algae eater that can be compatible with the betta is the clown pleco. Make sure to avoid the Common Pleco however, because it has the ability to grow up to two feet long! The Clown Pleco is the dwarf member of the species making it a suitable tank mate at a maximum length of around 4 inches.

It’s a hardy and easy to care for fish, enjoying an average lifespan around 10 years in captivity. They like to explore and have tough skin in the event a betta fish does get curious.

10. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loaches and Betta Fish

Photo by AJ Cann

Scientific Name: Pangio Kuhlii
Color: Pink to Yellow Body with Dark Stripes
Level: Beginner-Medium*
Tank Size: 20 Gallons or More

Another cool fish that can live with a betta is the Kuhli Loach because of their docile temperament. They are long, shaped like eels, and love to disappear into tiny crevices. Kuhli loaches mind their own business, love to eat brine shrimp and need at least 20 gallons to be happy.

Other loaches, such as the clown loach* can grow over a foot so make sure to avoid this variant! If you have sand as your substrate loaches may burrow deep into it.

11. (BONUS) Marimo Moss Ball

Marimo Moss Ball and Bettas

Scientific Name: Aegagropila Linnaei
Color: Green
Level: Beginner
Tank Size: 5 Gallons or More

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The marimo moss ball is a really cool living plant, and living plants can make awesome tankmates for betta fish too. They’re almost indestructible (you don’t need a green-thumb), making them especially good for beginners. Marimo moss balls can also live for over 100 years, growing at only 5 millimeters in diameter per year. That’s wild!

A marimos key benefits include: low cost, longevity, little maintenance, algae eaters, nitrate eaters, and oxygen production. If you’re not quite ready for another fish species, the marimo moss ball is an excellent addition to any tank.

Female Betta Tank Mates – Sororities

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Females can coexist together as tank companions in a sorority. A sorority is a community tank of female betta fish with 5 or more members. The minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons (long horizontal tanks are better than tall vertical tanks).

Female bettas are also aggressive, territorial, and unpredictable at times so it’s important to monitor behavior and provide plenty of hiding spots. Younger females tend to react better than elders who are used to seclusion.

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Betta Tank Mate Checklist

  • It’s better to add a betta to an established community tank.
  • Purchase the correct minimum tank size for your community tank.
  • Community tanks should be filtered and heated accordingly.
  • Quarantine all new fish in a separate tank for 4-6 weeks.
  • Always acclimate tank mates to reduce stress and shock.
  • Have an exile tank and net ready should anything go wrong.
  • Monitor tank mates closely for at least 72 hours or more.
  • Add lots of plants and other decorations for hideouts.
  • All new tank mates must require similar water parameters.
  • Many species listed above require different food than a betta.
  • Avoid tank mates with bright coloring and long fins.
  • Never add other aggressive fish species.

Recap

Despite common misconceptions that betta fish can only live alone, all of the species listed above can be suitable betta fish tank mates. Due diligence must be exercised, however, because of the varying temperaments across the betta splenden species in both males and females. Even if you do everything right, there’s no guarantee your betta won’t become an aggressor or a victim.

After adding a companion to the same tank, monitor for signs of stress in your betta and the other companions over several days. This may include lack of appetite, visible wounds (e.g. fin tearing), nonstop chases, and extended periods of quarreling.

Prolonged stress and fighting will only lead to sick or dead fish. Make sure you follow the checklist above, especially for ample hiding spots and tank size recommendations. In situations where the environment appears unsafe, be ready with a secondary tank or container to remove your betta.

If your betta fish doesn’t get along with a tank mate, don’t worry, they’re not a schooling fish and will be just fine on their own. Aquascaping with live plants and decor can be equally pleasing and fun.

Have any helpful advice or questions? Add them in the comments below!

24 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    How about zebra danios? Would think they would be fine with a Betta, and would certainly liven up a tank.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Zebra danios are a shoaling fish meaning they do best in groups of 5 or 6 or more, and are very active and top feeders like bettas. Bettas also need to get to the surface for air, creating potential territorial issues. They would need a minimum of 15 gallons or larger to accommodate them and the betta with lots of hiding spaces for the betta. They can coexist together depending on your individual betta’s aggressiveness and temperament, but aren’t necessarily the best tank mates for a betta fish. In short, yes they can, but be prepared to monitor closely how they react together.

      Reply
    • Bryan

      Fancy guppies are not a good tank mate because of their long fins and coloring. Betta fish can easily mistake them as another betta species and will become very aggressive and nip at their fins and fight with them.

      Reply
      • N

        It all depends on the personality of the Betta and the size of the tank. My Male Veil Tail Betta is housed in a 55 gallon community tank with many different fish, including fancy guppies, and everyone lives together peacefully. If you have a large enough space and a Betta that is not aggressive, Betta’s can live with many different types of fish in perfect harmony.

  2. Daniel

    I have a Crown Tail Male Betta. Would he get along ok with a Fiddler/Red Claw crab? I’m setting up a Crabitat (air pocket) in the tank for it and want to make sure the Betta wont mess with it. The tank is 10 gallons

    Reply
    • Bryan

      I wouldn’t recommend them for co-existence because the crab if it got the betta would do some serious damage and betta fish are very curious. Since your tank is 10 gallons, why not divide the tank in half with a tank divider? Fiddler crabs need aquarium or marine salt too and like to climb out of tanks a lot, not to mention they need shallow water and the ability to get onto land surfaces too.

      Reply
  3. Jeane

    Personally I don’t think white cloud mountain minnows are good tankmates for betta fish. WCMM are coolwater fish and bettas are tropical. My betta tank is at 78 degrees, some people keep them at 80. If I had WCMM I would keep them in an unheated, room-temperature tank. If you have the WCMM at the upper end of their temperature range, and the bettas at the lower tolerance of theirs, neither of the fishes are going to be at their best.

    Reply
  4. Katie

    I had recently gotten 4 females. Would a pectus catfish be a good companion till more can be added I lost two of my female bettas out of illness they had from the store I got them from (they had been in the same water for over a month) they won’t get a new shipment till Thursday and Marhion is picking on Ilisia tearing her back fin apart but I don’t have another tank to keep them separated.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      For now, I would recommend separating the two females instead of placing another tank mate in there. Place one of your females in another tank or temporary container (even a plastic Tupperware container can work temporarily). With only 2 females, one will continue to pick on and dominate the other until they eventually cause significant damage or kill them. For a female sorority, you need to have at least 4-5 females to combat this problem so I would wait until you can replace the one’s who died. Sometimes sororities are hard to establish if you have particularly aggressive females.

      Reply
  5. David V

    Hi Bryan.

    RE: Corys, there are dozens of different species and variants available, and although they are great tank mates for pretty much any aquarium, they should definitely not be kept alone. Keeping them in groups ( even 3 of them ) really makes a change in activity level, and just makes for happier fish imo.

    If space is an issue, Panda Corys are very small ( and adorable ), and if you’re willing to try something a bit more colorful, Emerald Corys would make a great contrast to a darker Betta ( but these do get quite big ).

    Thanks for the info, and congrats on the site.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Thank you, David, for the additional information. Very helpful!

      Reply
  6. Siri

    Hi, I own a 60L tank with 1 male betta, 4 female bettas, 4 albino corydoras and 1pleco, not sure if it is clown or common, but I’ve had it for 5months now and its not bigger than 2inches. I have a lot of live plants, which is mostly placed in the background and two of the plants are of the type that grow very long and fast, so they stretches up to the surface. I have gravel bottom, a small area with sand, and 3moss balls and several hiding spots / caves. And what I was wondering about is, would it be okay to add some (4) ghost shrimps?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      For a 60L/15Gallon tank, I’d say you are already well-over the maximum bioload of inhabitants that I’d recommend.

      Reply
  7. Cat

    Would cherry barbs be okay? I plan to set up a betta tank in the future its 10 gallons and i do want to plant it. Im trying to get as much research as possible before getting fish which wont be for awhile. Also any filter recommendations?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      I would steer clear of barbs, they are also aggressive. For filter recommendations check out the article in the FAQ section.

      Reply
      • Ian

        Hi , just reading through these post and going by these my tank should be a disaster! Lol, but I have a male Betta in a jewel 240 tank, along with 5 cherry barbs , 6 wcmm, 8 chilli rasboras, 3 celestial pearl danio, 6japanese daisy rice fish,4 Dario dario, 3 sucking loach and a mixture of around 30 shrimp ie reds blacks ghost yellow blue, temp at 24′ tank is well planted ,also moss balls ,java moss bog wood and lots of caves and hiding places the only problem i get is my shrimp are multiplying, but this keeps my betta busy being a predatory fish weaving in and out of plants caves and moss, never seen him eat any , but all in all its a happy tank!!

  8. Michelle Beno

    Hi! Currently my ten gallon tank is cycling (no fish yet, but soon!) I’ve never had a betta but have always wanted one. I’m afraid a ten gallon tank will look empty with just one fish but don’t want to risk other fish mates. What snails, plants, and possibly shrimp do you recommend? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Mystery snails or black racer snails are ideal, and ghost or cherry shrimp (10+ of them). Also, read the plant page for recommendations there, and that would make a nice 10 gallon.

      Reply
  9. Sariel Kage

    I’m planning on having a fairly small community tank with a single betta and several tankmates, but I’ve never been able to find a lot of the fish listed here and on other lists for betta tankmates (WCM minnows, ember tetras, harlequin rasboras) and I’m iffy on neon tetras since I’ve had terrible luck with them in the past (I’ve bought a total of 10 and most of them died within a few days. I’ve never had this problem with any other fish in my large tank). Are there other types of rasboras/tetras that bettas can get along with? What about danios, platies, or female swordtails? I find mixed answers on the latter. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      It’s hard to give a definite yes/no as some have had bright colored long finned fish with their bettas with no problems, while others report extreme aggression and fighting (each situation can be unique and temperaments). It’s best to err on the side of caution, staying away from other territorial fish, bright colored, or top/surface feeders and dwellers. You could try the platy’s and monitor closely, and obviously you’d need a fairly medium-large sized tank.

      Reply
  10. Sue

    As a teenager, my dad used to keep several fish tanks with several fish species, so I guess I have the instinct for caring for fish. A few years ago, I had two “bookend” tanks. I had a male betta in each. As I had many house plants, to “clean” the tanks, I would use a turkey baster to suck water and yuck from each tank and water the plants with it .. the plants loved it. To replenish the water I would use a gallon jug of fresh water that I had filled when I cleaned the tanks the week before, thus tempering the water. It worked for several years and both fish and plants were happy and healthy.

    Reply

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