You might also be interested in the best fish tanks for your Betta.
The Siamese fighting fish or Betta splendens is the most celebrated member of the Gourami family. Colloquially known as Betta, this aesthetically pleasing fish has an invasive character hidden behind the grandeur of appearance.
As the very name of the species suggests, it behaves aggressively towards the fishes of their own community. Even though the female ones are occasionally co-operative, the male fishes are likely to fight each other to death if you happen to put them into the same tank. Even the most seasoned aquarists would admit to have a tough time housing these territorial species.
In their native place South-East Asia, B. splendens thrive in rice paddies, warm standing waters, and flood plains, primarily in ditches of Thailand (also called Siam, hence the name Siamese Fighting Fish), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Contrary to popular belief, a spacious environment to swim, proper heating, and filtration are the necessary elements for a healthy aquarium environment for your multi-coloured fighter fish. Still, they require significantly less maintenance compared to most other fishes, giving rise to a growing market of self cleaning fish tanks suitable for Bettas.
These hyper-aggressive fishes are not at all in need of a tank mate. If you still wish to keep other fishes in the same tank, I would suggest you to choose the species wisely to avoid turning your aquarium into a battle ground of marine world war. As a rule of thumb, if you have a tank that can hold minimum ten gallons of water, you can go ahead with finding a roomie for your Betta.
Buying a suitable aquarium for your Betta isn’t the hardest part. Choosing the right tank mates for these wild fishes is undoubtedly a Herculean task. The individual characteristic of the Betta has an important role to play here.
From my personal experience, I can say that Siamese fighting fishes are often misunderstood regarding how they behave with other species. They can actually live peacefully with a few other communities. Although some of those other species are overly wild, especially during their breeding season, they generally do not cause any significant damage to either your Betta or the fish tank. Here are our top 7 picks of Betta tank mates:
1. Ember Tetras
Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae) are suitable to be housed with Betta fishes for their peaceful, submissive nature and can survive under the same condition as their Siamese tank mate. They are the creatures of shallow water in the lower Amazon basin. These fishes are small in size, having an average length of 15-20 mm. Both communities love to swim around floating plants in the water, so, make sure you decorate the aquarium with lots of plants and other natural elements.
Embers are not fin nippers and have dull colour which further adds to its viability. They are comfortable in acidic water with a pH level between 5.0-6.5, a temperature between 20-29 degrees and gentle filtration. They enjoy eating brine shrimps, flakes, and blood worms. They can be an ideal fit in community fish tanks for their amazing compatibility level. It doesn’t really like to take up fights with larger, boisterous Bettas.
2. Harlequin Rasboras
The scientific name for harlequin Rasboras is Trigonostrigma heteromorpha. In their natural habitat, this species live side by side with Bettas without being violent — which means they have a natural compatibility towards each other. The chief reason to consider harlequin for your Betta tank is its appearance.
They are not fin nippers and don’t possess bright colours, giving themselves no chance of being diagnosed as a male Betta by your Betta fish. Both can survive peacefully under similar conditions and also share similar dietary habits. These omnivorous fishes are about 2 inches in size, easy to take care of and can live in a group of 8-10 alongside a Betta in an aquarium. Give them bloodworms, flake foods, Tubifex and an occasional treat of fry infusoria.
3. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
The name is not the only impressive thing about this fish from the mountainous regions of China. White Cloud Mountain Minnows or Tanichthys albonubes can be easily housed with mortal combatants like Bettas in the same tank. It’s a bit tricky to find this gorgeous species in local shops as their locality is limited to the Delta region of Pearl River. Moreover, it has been officially declared as an endangered species by the China government.
These fishes hardly nip the fins of their co-habitants and dwell peacefully with other communities in the same tank. The ideal pH range of the water for this fish is 6.0-7.5. You might face troubles while setting a right temperature for your Betta fish tank as Mountain Minnows are cold water fishes and Bettas prefer warm water. To make the tank water suitable for both communities, keep it at a moderate temperature of around 75F.
4. Pygmy Corydora
Among the numerous species of Corydoras Catfish, Pygmy is regarded as the most compatible tank mate for violent aquatic animals like the Siamese fighting fish. The members of the Corydorus pygmaeus group are found in the waterways of the South American region.
Keeping them in a school of 6-10 fishes along with Betta will be harmless for both communities. Younger fishes are bottom feeders and eat insect larvae. There is no way they would agitate a Betta since they have dull colour. Dwelling in a water pH level of up to 7.0 is not an issue for them either. Their tiny size and calm nature make them a perfect roomie for your pet Betta.
Loaches are one of the most sold fishes around the globe for community aquariums. Both Betta and Loaches are tropical fishes, so, you need not worry about creating a mutually favourable condition for both communities. Loaches are however slightly aggressive. Putting them in groups of 6 is the best way to avoid any potential face-off between the Betta and Loaches.
There are many varieties of Loaches. Pond Loaches are the most preferred as domesticated fishes. Its eel-like look, olive green hue and shy nature rarely catch the attention of a Betta. Pond Loaches are bottom-dwelling scavengers and live on Tubifex, bloodworms and other microorganisms.
6. Feeder Guppies
Feeder Guppies are easily identifiable by the absence of flashy coloured fins and black spots all over their skin. Feeder Guppies are dull in colour and adaptive to a wide range of conditions.
These species are bred in the fish farms and ponds of Florida. They are found in myriads of shapes, ranging from top sword, double sword and bottom sword fin type. Feeder guppies are tiny and mostly bland, so, you can fit them alongside a Betta comfortably.
7. Clown Pleco
Panaqolus maccus or Clown Plecos are beautiful, tiny, harmless algae-eaters who can get along nicely with territorial marine creatures like Betta. They are beneficial in keeping the water of the aquarium clean by eating algae. They also enjoy gorging on driftwood.
A Betta will think twice before getting into a tiff with a powerful catfish like Clown Pleco. These fishes like to roam freely, therefore, a large aquarium of around 20 gallons of water or more is preferred. They thrive well in soft, mildly acidic water.
Summing it up
The mysterious world of aquatic animals has a diversity beyond the imagination of a human being. People like me who try their best replicate a part of this world inside an aquarium know how much effort it takes.
Siamese fighting fishes are no less than the knights in shining armour, they are brave, flamboyant, vigorous and pride of the aquariums. Perhaps these are qualities that make them one of the largest selling aquarium fishes in so many countries.
I hope this guide about betta tank mates has been useful to you. So, now that you know a lot about what other fishes you can keep alongside your Betta, what are the other fishes that you are planning to keep in your Betta tank?
Header Photo by: Sarawut Korsoongsak