Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Can betta fish live with other fish? 5 incredible options you can add to your tank

When you want to add color and excitement to your aquarium, here are five fish breeds that can live with bettas

Can betta fish live with other fish? We’ve got good news for many of you aquarium enthusiasts: bettas aren’t the horrible tank mates they’re often made out to be — as long as you know something about them. So, what fish can live with bettas safely? Read on to find out.

Originally discovered in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, bettas were first used as fighting fish by village children. Betting on fish fights later grew to become a popular gambling racket that could have devastating consequences for those who bet on the losing fish. At one point, the king of Siam (now known as Thailand) intervened and began taxing fish fights as a way of regulating the industry. 

Generations later, the descendants of bettas bred for their aggressive traits typically aren’t the fish found in our homes. Even so, modern-day betta fish have a largely undeserved bad reputation for being temperamental and territorial.

 

A rainbow colored betta fish swimming in a tank.
ivabalk from Pixabay

Can you keep multiple bettas in the same tank?

Despite their reputation, many bettas don’t actually fight to kill. Unless they’ve been specifically bred for aggression — or they occupy a small space with other bettas — most bettas will nip at each other, but they won’t necessarily fight to the death. 

Fighting behavior is much more common in male bettas, especially if they’re defending their territory or their food. Females, on the other hand, are sometimes able to live together in a hierarchical society known as a sorority, with one female betta asserting herself as the alpha of the tank. Sororities contain a minimum of four to five females, and it’s best to keep them in a large tank with plenty of room for your bettas to hide. 

It probably goes without saying, but you should never introduce a male betta to a sorority, as males and females will fight each other. In fact, even some female bettas are too aggressive to live peacefully within a sorority, so we recommend quarantining your additions before turning them loose to avoid a real-life version of Mean Girls in your tank. 

A bright red betta fish swimming against a black background.
StockSnap / Pixabay

Which fish can live with bettas and make the best tank mates?

While placing two male bettas in the same tank (or a male in a tank with females) is a recipe for a fight, betta fish can actually coexist peacefully with other species. If you’re curious about which fish are compatible with bettas, read on to find your fish’s future tank mate. 

  • Black Neon Tetra: One of the calmest fish out there, black neon tetras are a shoaling species that won’t grow much larger than an inch long, so they won’t take up too much space in your aquarium. 
  • Cardinal Tetra: Known for their vibrant red and blue coloring, the cardinal tetra grows up to 2 inches in length. These gentle, peaceful fish are easy to take care of, and they can live for up to five years. 
  • Celestial Pearl Danio: Also known as the galaxy rasbora, the celestial pearl danio is a lovely fish with an iridescent sheen, a spotted body, and rich orange markings near the fins. These took the aquatic world by storm when they were discovered in 2006, and they won’t grow longer than an inch.
  • Cory Catfish: Best suited to larger tanks, cory catfish are laid-back, bottom-dwelling fish that grow to be 1–2.5 inches long. If you’re looking for one of the most low-maintenance tank mates for your betta, the cory is a fantastic option. 
  • Diamond Tetra: Diamond tetras are a little larger than most tetras, around 2–2.4 inches long, but they’re still small, friendly tank mates that won’t provoke your bettas. They’re also one of the most striking fish you can add to your tank, primarily silver with iridescent flashes of color. 
A blue and red betta fish against a black background.
endriqstudio from Pixabay

Introducing new fish to a tank

As tempting as it is to drop your new fish into a community and keep your fingers crossed, you’ll most likely wind up with a fight on your hands if you do. And that’s not the only reason it’s a bad idea. New fish may contain bacteria and parasites that can easily spread to other fish in your tank. For that reason, we recommend keeping your new fish in quarantine for at least 14–21 days before you introduce them to their new home. 

When you’re ready to introduce your new fish, you can help them get used to the temperature of the new tank by placing them in a plastic bag or a small cup and floating it inside the aquarium. Once your fish have had time to acclimate, it’s time to turn them loose to swim. You’ll want to keep an eye on your tank initially to make sure they’re adjusting well. 

Monitoring your tank is also a great way to stop conflicts before they start. If one or more of your fish turn aggressive during the adjustment period, it could be that your new fish will feel much safer when they can hide in the rocks and weeds. But it’s also possible they’re not cut out for communal life, in which case you’ll want to return them to their own tank.  

Bettas are clever, independent fish, meaning they won’t be bored or lonely on their own. That being said, you can find a tank mate or two for your fish. With time and patience, your betta will be part of an active, peaceful community.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
PawTracks Contributor
PawTracks Contributor
Wondering how to keep cat warm in cold weather – here are 9 effective ways to help your pet stay toasty
Try these tricks to keep your cat from being cold
A Maine Coon cat reaches his snow-covered paw toward the camera.

There are many reasons why your feline fur baby should remain exclusively indoors, but it's all the more important to keep your cat inside during the winter months. A blanket of snow may look stunning, but it makes it difficult for outdoor kitties to find their way home. The potential for accidents also increases due to decreased visibility and the presence of black ice.

Even if your cat stays indoors all the time, you'll still need to take extra steps to keep her warm during the cool weather. Some homes are naturally drafty, and with snow and ice accumulating on utility lines, the chance of power outages increases as well. Wondering how to keep cats warm in cold weather? Here are nine useful tips to get you started. 

Read more
Good, better, best: Space heaters that are safe if you have pets
Safest options for homes with dogs or cats
A tabby cat stretched out on a faux fur rug near a space heater.

Having an additional heat source in your home can make all the difference between staying toasty warm during the winter and feeling like you live in a walk-in refrigerator, but not all space heaters are created equally. Whether you share your home with a canine companion, a cuddly kitten, or both, safety is paramount when picking the right space heater for your home. Choosing space heaters for pets requires some research, but we've got you covered.

Let's look closer at our top picks for the best pet-friendly space heaters on the market. 

Read more
Is getting a puppy for Christmas a good idea? You can’t return them like an ugly sweater
Here's what to know before you bring a puppy home this holiday
Woman snuggling Samoyed puppy in front of the Christmas tree

Of all the viral holiday videos to make their way around the internet, there’s nothing quite as heartwarming (and adorable) as seeing a new puppy jump out of a box on Christmas morning. It’s easy to see why many families feel inspired to get this surprise present for their loved ones and show up with a new furry friend during the holidays!
Getting a puppy for Christmas can seem like a special, even life-changing gift, but the cleaning and work accompanying them aren’t as cute. Many families -- especially kids -- aren’t prepared for the effort and expense of raising a dog, which unfortunately leads to pets being dropped off at shelters not long after the holidays.
If you’re considering gifting a puppy to your family this Christmas, make sure you do the research and consider the obligations that pet parenthood entails. Here’s what to know.

Why getting a puppy for Christmas isn’t always smart
Although raising a dog can be a rewarding and joyful experience, it also requires work, patience, and responsibility. Is your family ready to take this on? Are you willing to pick up the slack if they prove that they're not?
According to the shelter staff at the Marion County Humane Society in West Virginia, shelter admissions tend to increase every year at the end of January. Unfortunately, many of these pets are Christmas gifts that families weren’t ready to care for.
“People that got a new puppy or a new kitten, and they expect their young child to take care of them,” one shelter tech told WDTV. "Of course, if the kid doesn't do it, the parent doesn't want to take care of them, either.”
A lack of research is also a huge factor in unsuccessful pet adoptions. Not all dog breeds will do well in all homes, so consulting an expert or doing some reading is vital before taking action. And remember — a cute, tiny puppy can still grow into a huge, rambunctious dog (depending on their breed), so you’ll need to be prepared.
It’s also important to consider where you’re adopting your new pup from because not all breeders are reliable. As awful as it is to acknowledge, some people sell sick and injured dogs for a quick buck. Needless to say, a dog with health concerns can be as loving of a companion as any other — after treatment, of course — but you have a right to be informed about the condition of your new friend, including information about the puppy's parents.
Shelters can help you get to know your pup a bit before bringing him home, but rescued dogs will still need some extra time to adjust to their surroundings. The honeymoon phase may not be as happy-go-lucky as you expect, especially if there has been any past trauma for your pup. If this is the case, don't be upset if your new dog isn't matching the holly jolly spirit!

Read more