The betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, is one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby.
Their aggressive behavior has been selectively bred for, hence the name “fighting fish”.
Most betta fish are typically kept on their own in a 5-gallon aquarium, but can they be kept with other fish?
In this article, we explain in-depth the criteria for the perfect betta tank mates. We will discuss more than 50 tank mates that can be kept with male bettas, female bettas, and sororities.
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Betta Fish Tank Mates Overview
Betta fish (Betta splendens) can be highly territorial and aggressive in small spaces but in larger tanks, this can change.
Because of their aggressive nature, these fish should not be housed with slow-moving species with large fins that could easily be mistaken for a betta too. Betta males and females should only be housed together when ready to breed.
You should never keep a single fish in the same tank as a Siamese fighting fish as they will constantly bully the same individual.
Instead, we recommend keeping betta fish with species that shoal and look to keep them in a group of at least 5. This makes picking on the same fish impossible as they are all tightly packed into a shoal.
We also advise against keeping any large or fin nipping fish that may turn the tables and harm your betta. Predatory species should also be avoided.
It is also important that any tank mates you choose are peaceful by nature and do not show any territorial and aggressive behaviors.
When setting up an aquarium to house both bettas and other species, it is best to add the other fish first to allow them to establish their set territories for a few weeks prior to adding the betta.
A second aquarium should always be kept ready, in case anything does go wrong.
There are lots of different types of betta fish that have different shapes and patterns. They can even come with an iridescent and metallic sheen.
Throughout this article, we will share with you the best Betta tank mates for all different types of tank setups.
Best Tank Mates for Bettas
In this section, we will suggest the best tank mate options for Bettas and why they are the best choice for your tank.
These fish are the best choice for your betta aquarium:
- Neon tetra: They are a peaceful, shoaling species that only grow to around 1 inch in length so do not require a lot of room in the aquarium.
- Black neon tetra: Like the regular neon tetra, this fish is the same species that exhibits a different coloration and will add variety to your aquarium.
- Rummy nose tetra: Like most of the tetras on this list, they are a shoaling species that are still relatively small, growing to around 2 inches in length.
- Ember tetra: They are calm, tempered, shoaling fish which grow to be only one inch in length and do not take up very much of the tank’s territory, making them ideal.
- Cardinal tetra: Very similar to the neon tetra, but they grow to a slightly larger size of 2 inches.
- Diamond tetra: A hardy, active and social species which are not known to nip fins.
- Glowlight tetra: A peaceful, shoaling species. They are only small, growing to around 2 inches in length.
- Silver tip tetra: They grow to just over an inch in length and are an active and shoaling species.
- Harlequin rasbora: These are arguably the best tank mates for male Bettas. They are found inhabiting the same waters as Bettas in the wild and grow to around 2 inches in length.
- Fire rasbora: A social yet peaceful species that should be kept in groups of 8 or more.
- Endlers: This is a small shoaling species growing to a size of around 1 inch depending on gender.
- Female guppy: Notice female here. Not male or long-finned guppies as they are slow-moving with brightly colored, long fins.
- Celestial pearl danio: Small shoaling species growing to just under an inch.
- Cory catfish: Bottom-dwelling fish which do best in community tanks.
- Otocinclus catfish: Found in the bottom region of the tank or sat on the side of logs. Not very active in the water column and should not invade the Betta’s territory.
- Kuhli loach: Usually more active at night when bettas are asleep. Will do a great job of hoovering up leftover food and keeping the tank clean.
- Pleco: Bottom-dwelling species recommended for larger aquariums.
- Glass catfish: Transparent fish that are not bright. They grow to around 5 inches so would only be recommended for larger tank sizes.
- White Cloud Mountain minnow: Hardy and social shoaling species who stay in the upper and middle layers of the tank.
- Platy (Short-finned): Social shoaling species which grow to around 2 inches in length.
- Short-fin molly: Very peaceful and shoaling species that live in the upper levels of the tank.
Female Betta Tank Mates
Female bettas are typically less aggressive and territorial than their male counterparts. This allows for more freedom when choosing their tank mates.
With females, you don’t really need to worry about the coloration of the tank mates – this means you can keep more brightly colored fish in the aquarium with them.
With females being less territorial than males, they are not as worried about other fish invading their space. This allows for more fish to be kept in the tank as well as slightly larger fish.
However, this will depend on each fish’s temperament as you will get some that are more aggressive than others.
It is essential that the species you choose are not known for nipping at the fins of other fish.
Fish that reside in the bottom of the aquarium would be ideal as they are unlikely to annoy or upset your female bettas. Here are some that would be perfect:
Shoaling and fast swimming species are also good choices for the tank. This is good if you have aggressive females they would not identify a specific target for attack.
Male Betta Tank Mates
With male bettas, you have fewer options for tank mates and you need to be careful when choosing what species to add to the aquarium. Males are highly aggressive and territorial, they really don’t like their personal space being invaded.
Male aggression is also heightened when in the presence of other brightly colored fish that are of similar size. In particular red-colored fish should be avoided as this typically indicates aggression within the animal kingdom.
Slow swimming fish are also not advisable as it’s likely they will be attacked.
Long-finned species are not recommended as they will easily be mistaken for another male fighting fish and will likely be killed.
Any small shoaling fish which are not brightly colored would make great tank mates for male Bettas, here is a list of fish that meet these criteria:
- Dawn tetra
- Green neon tetra
- Colombian tetra
- Head and tail light tetra
- Black line rasbora
Fish that occupy a separate area to Bettas are also an excellent choice – these bottom dwellers would be perfect as they will not invade the Betta’s territory:
- Zebra loach
- Albino cory
- Bristle nose pleco
- Snowball pleco
- Candy striped pleco
Adding plants to the aquarium will increase the habitat’s complexity which has been proven to reduce aggression. Plants will also provide shelter for the other species as well as obstruct the betta’s field of view for certain areas of the tank.
Betta Sorority Tank Mates
What is a betta sorority?
A betta sorority is a tank that contains at least five female betta fish. It is also known as a betta harem.
Whilst females are less aggressive than males, this depends on each fish as they can still be aggressive and territorial.
Because of this, you should still choose the tank mates wisely. The fish you choose should meet the same criteria as described earlier. They should be fast swimming and shoaling species that are peaceful by nature and are not known to nip fins. They can also be bottom-dwelling fish.
It is best that sororities are housed in a larger aquarium of at least 30 gallons. The aquarium should contain plenty of areas for hiding such as plants or ornaments as well as a large space for swimming.
The species that would make great tanks mates in a sorority tank are:
- Cherry barbs
- Neon tetra
- Black neon tetra
- Cory catfish
- Guntea loach
Tank Mates Depending On Tank Size
5 Gallon Aquarium
A 5-gallon aquarium does not provide your fish with a lot of space. We would not recommend that a betta be kept with any other fish species in a tank this small.
Don’t allow this to put you off getting a 5-gallon tank because you think he will be lonely – they are not a social species and will keep themselves separate from other fish in larger aquariums anyway.
Instead of adding fish, we recommend stocking the tank with some live plants for your betta, like Amazonian sword plants or some Java fern. You might also want to include some artificial plants – just make sure you choose soft silk ones rather than heavy plastic plants as they can damage their fins.
If you do want some tank mates, you could add some non-fish inhabitants like snails or shrimp.
10 Gallon Aquarium
A 10-gallon aquarium will provide plenty of space to add other fish with your betta.
It should be set up in a way that will provide enough hiding spaces for the tank mates. This can be done by adding lots of plant life and even bog wood logs to obstruct the betta’s field of view.
All the fish described in the best tank mate section above would be perfect for a 10-gallon setup.
Whilst some soft plastic plants can be okay in the aquarium with bettas, hard plastics can damage the fish’s fins so stick with real or silk plants.
Some of the best tank mates for your 10-gallon tank would be fish that occupy the lower levels of the aquarium, such as small loaches and catfish. Non-fish inhabitants like snails, shrimp, and frogs would also work well in an aquarium of this size.
More Tank Mates That Can Live With Bettas
Perhaps you do not want to include any other fish species in your betta tank, and instead, you are looking for non-fish inhabitants.
This section will cover any non-fish inhabitants that make the best tank mates for both male and female bettas.
These creatures must be large enough so that they do not get eaten by the Betta and small enough that they don’t cause harm to the fish.
Here are some species of snail that would make good tank mates.
- Mystery snail: These snails will grow large enough that they do not become food for fish. They also come in a wide variety of colors and will eat any left-over fish food or algae within the tank.
- Nerite snail: They occupy the same area as mystery snails but these species require brackish water for breeding so will not overrun the aquarium.
- Malaysian trumpet snail: This snail would be a great option as they are active at night when the betta sleeps and will clean the aquarium. During the day they will burrow under the sediment.
Shrimp would provide the aquarium with additional algae maintenance and can also add a bit of color. Remember that if they are too small then the betta will eat them. Both ghost shrimp and adult cherry shrimp would be ideal.
You might also want to consider keeping your fish with an amphibian. African dwarf frogs are a peaceful species and make great tank mates.
We have shown throughout this article that there are fish that are compatible with bettas, you just need to provide a large enough tank and lots of hiding places.
A 10-gallon aquarium is the smallest we would recommend for keeping bettas with other fish.
An aquarium of 30 gallons would be the minimum recommended size for keeping a sorority of bettas in a community setting.
We hope we have provided you with some suitable choices and convinced you to try Siamese fighting fish in a community tank.
Your site is excellent! I always look forward to receiving your information. I have 4 Betta tanks and a 35-gallon community tank so everything you send is very helpful!!
I have a frog with my Beta and they’re fine together I need to find a fish or non-fish critter to go in with those two for Algae eating
Nerite snail. They dont have long antennae for the betta to nibble, they can only reproduce in brackish water and they’re champion algae eaters.
They say nertile snails would work keep the algae aqay
I have had my Half Moon Betta in a 6 gal. tank with 3 neons for quite some time. Believe it or not but my neons chase the betta trying to nip his tail fins. Other times the betta chases the neons. This goes on for short periods of time and none of them get harmed. Sometimes it looks like it’s just a chasing game and can be comical. I watch closely just in case one of them gets hurt. So far so good.
You should keep the neons in a group of 10 or more. It is pretty much the same with all tetras you have a big enough group and fin nipping drops dramatically!
I have a couple Beta tanks, always well planted with a couple cave options and a beta hammock somewhere. I always made out good with neons and white cloud minnows, every type of fresh water shrimp I could find, cories, plecos, khuli loaches and dwarf african frogs. In my next place I plan on 2 50 gallon tanks. I always feel sad that most pet stores rarely have betas in a tank so people think they only need that sad little bowl, with me they get a tank with dual filtration and lots of plants and other members of the community. I even added a 5 year beta to a tank that had platies and an upside down catfish and everyone got along.
Hi Daniel, thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It’s great to hear someone taking such good care of Betta fish! Thanks, Robert
FYI: Black neons are not the same species as neons. Certain male bettas can will attack male guppies. Their fancy tails are too tempting.
(Biologist with 40 plus years of experience in the aquarium hobby)
I found the black neons to get a tad bigger than the regular ones and I notice them to also be a tad more aggressive at times if you add smaller fish they go after them.
Thanks for the notes everyone! I have a 5 gallon with plants, plus a male betta, African dwarf frog and a Mexican dwarf lobster, and everyone is living in harmony
Also looking to add a few neon tetras soon
Can you keep male Guppies with a female Beta sorority in a 60 gallon tank? Also, what is the max number of females that can live together in a sorority. I plan on getting the females all together from a pet store that keeps them that way.
Hi Sherry, if you are really keen to keep guppies and betta fish together, then this is the best way to do it, but there is still a risk of aggression. You can keep a maximum of 30 female Bettas in a 60 gallon tank. Thanks, Robert
I’m planning on getting a male beta and some tetras (or maybe rasboras) for a 10 gallon tank, and I was wondering exactly how many tankmates I should get? I don’t want to overstock the tank, but I also want to provide the tetras with enough friends.
Thanks for the amazing information on this sight!
i would not recommend red eye tetra as tank mates for female betas unless you get at least 3 because if you dont they will bully and nip at the fins of the beta
Hi just wondering if u have more info on koi betta since I haven’t decided if to get one or more like 4 since I’m getting one for my 5 gallon tank and want a snail too or shrimp or fish
Thanks again for this info
Currently I have a male elephant ear betta in a 7 gallon tank with 5 meon tetras and a cory and they all live happily. My betta goes to all levels in the tank and he and the cory often brush past each other with no worries at all. In the past I have had a male betta, 2 female bettas, several neon tetras, guppies (male and female), harlequins and a few corys in a 35 gallon tank and they all got on well. The only time I had issues was of the male betta was tending his bubble nest I had to separate the female bettas or he would attack them but he never went near any of the other fish. I plan on getting this size tank again but won’t be getting any female bettas this time. I believe having plenty of plants and decorations in the tank is necessary for a harmonious environment.
Question? Please? I have a super chill male lunar flare. I put two cory catfish with him, in a five Gallon tank and they acted like pure insanity. Up and down, vroom, vroom, knocking my Betta out of the way, all day long, think it stressed him out, although he appeared to enjoy the company (less bored), but too much activity, with them bullying him, pushing him out of the way and taking over the tank. He’s such a sweet guy. He started to build a bubble nest. Oh…and the bubble nest? Heard both. He’s getting ready to die, or he’s immensely happy.. I’m so confused. I took the corys back (responsibly), switched my betta to an ornate 10 gallon tank and now he’s alone again, bored like before the corys, he’s just sitting on his leaf hammock most of the time. I’ve just been getting too much confusing info about my betta’s well-being and happiness. What would you suggest? Tank mates? None? Which and how many? Would appreciate anything that will help him live a long, happy life. Thanks !
I always liked rummy nose tetras I am just starting a ten gallon male betta tank
Can I put a beta fish with a beta shark?
I have two male bettas one in a 25 gallon and one in a 50. obviously, I really want to get more fish in my 50 gallons because 50 is a lot for just one betta. I would like some more fish in my 25. I would like some snails and khuli loaches in both, and some ghost shrimp in my 50 some Mollys and platies in my 50 as well. In my 25 ids like some tetras but I don’t really know how many I should get.
I had a beautifull male Betta but his wife was over sexed! I removed the female, after their first successful mating,to another small tank. When the fry started swimming he thought they were nice to eat. As the female didn’t look fat with eggs I temporarily put him in with her while hurrying to set up a larger tank for him with plenty of plants. But within minutes she wanted to breed again! Many plants but she knew where the nest was and wouldn’t leave him alone. The poor thing couldn’t keep up with nest work and chasing her away. He sunk to the bottom exhausted. I kept bringing him up to the surface for oxogen but I could see he’d lost the will to live. The new tank was ready early next morning but he was dead. His offspring all have mainly the colours and form of the female and only one is behaving like a male ie bubble nesting and unsuccessfully trying to impress a sister. The male is not growing the fathers long fins. Reading your article I seemed to have done the right thing as he lives in a 50L very well planted tank with four Cardinal Tetras and some Ember Tetras and Pygmy Corys. I have a lot of moss and Crysalwort growing on wood where my Red Shrimps laid their eggs and there was an enomous explosion of breeding.Even though with a good diet provided, including Dennerle, they still prefer any leafy plants. I removed many young to other tanks and thank goodness the Betta is nose in the moss eating eggs. One prolbem solved. But how do I get my offspring to breed males with long tales? The male is the size of females you buy so I assume he is now a young adult. I bought a new male of another colour for the original female as she kept dropping eggs (and for genetic mixing when all the young had matured and confident of their sex.) The pair were in a 100L tank,planted,wood,hides and plenty of crystalwort floating to help with nest making. I thought that I wouldn’t have to move her and at that time her young were too small and all over the place. You can guess what happened. Yes she killed him. Are all female Bettas over sexed or is this normal if they like their mates? Her present mate, well they nested with eggs twice but now they seemed to have entered into a plutonic relationship.
I have a 20 gallon long with a Male Betta, 4 male guppies, 1 female guppy, 1 khuli loach, 2 black khuli loaches, 2 gold ribbon type loach, 15+ adult cherry shrimp and 60+ baby/juvenile RCS. It’s somewhat heavily planted with a turtle cave in the back. Is this a suitable setup? I’m thinking of adding more plants, another cave type, and a betta hammock.
I have a Halfmoon King male Betta with a single angelfish, six neons, and one African Dwarf frog. It’s a harmonious mix and believe it or not, the Betta and Angel are best buddies! They follow each other around and when the Betta lays down to rest the Angel stays close by and waits for him. =*)