What Fish Tank Mates Will Get Along With a Betta?

fish that get along with betta header
Betta fishes made a name for themselves as the aggressive little fin-nippers that would not really tolerate anything else moving in their tank.

However, this reputation has already been disproven too many times because, as you’ll see for yourself, there are fish tank mates compatible with bettas.

Picking good companions for them to live together with is doable as long as you take into account the surrounding decor and the size of your tank.

For example, a betta fish will get along with certain tank mates in a 10-gallon tank but different ones will work in a 5-gallon tank.

What are these fish and how well will they do alongside bettas?

Know that having some live plants in there is essential for a stress-free setup.

Here’s a photo of a betta fish impatiently inspecting its new tank mates:

betta with new tank mates

By 4RyteCords

The truth is male bettas will be aggressive, but only towards other bettas or fish with similar aggression levels.

Because they were actually bred as fighter fish for a long time in the past they have inherited hostility, but only towards their own kind, or very similar-looking fish.

They also come across as very territorial in the wild, so it’s difficult to establish if it’s a nature versus nurture situation.

Following these thoughts, a male betta will be hostile to other male and female bettas and should not be kept together in the same aquarium space.

Transparent dividers do not allow for physical damage but don’t really reduce the stress that comes with glaring.

Females can live in a so-called “sorority tank” because they do not seem to show animosity towards one another.

What are some fish tank mates that will get on with your Betta Fish?

The best betta fish tank mates are non-aggressive fish that can swim fast and remain rather small.

Listed below are species that have worked more than once for myself or someone else.

To be compatible and get along with a betta other aquatic inhabitants need to dwell on different levels in the aquarium or to be agile swimmers.

Here’s what type of tank mates will work in a Betta fish tank:

The best tank mates for a Betta fish are peaceful bottom-dwellers such as the Pygmy Corydoras or dwarf schooling fish that are fast enough to discourage chasings. Good examples of the latter are the Rummy-nose Tetra, the Least Rasbora, and the Pristella Tetra.

In 3, 5, and 10-gallon fish tanks, having an abundance of live plants and hiding places significantly increases the chance of peaceful coexistence between the aquarium companions.

Note that the Betta is a territorial animal and it views newcomers to its home as intruders.

Examples of tank mates for the more aggressive Betta Fish

Research also suggests that the longer it has been living in isolation the higher the chance of aggression.

This demands that a Betta should be introduced last to the community aquarium, especially in smaller fish tanks where space is limited. Otherwise fin-nipping and aggressive behavior may occur.

It’s essential to keep schooling fish in groups of 5 or more or the bullying may turn the other way around.

That being said, here’s a detailed list of creatures that may live and get along with a Betta fish in an aquarium:

  • Dwarf danios
  • Dwarf rasboras
  • Small-sized corydoras
  • A single small pleco
  • Short-finned tetras
  • Agile shrimp (in planted tanks)
  • Loaches that don’t grow big
  • Freshwater snails
  • Mini livebearer fish

Suggested Read: What Are Some Small Pleco Species?

Keep in mind that some bettas will just be too aggressive in their nature and won’t really allow for any tank mates.

Author’s note: In some cases, shrimp may make good tank mates for a Betta fish, but that depends on more than one factor. Visit the link to learn more about this type of setup.

Anyway, in the picture below you’ll see a betta peacefully coexisting with a small school of neon tetras in a 16-gallon fish tank:

betta and a school of neon tetras

The beautifully designed aquarium in the photo is the Fluval Spec Aquarium Kit, in case you were curious.

Top suggestions for a 3-GALLON tank

In a 3 to 3.5 gallon tank, the options for compatible companions are quite limited.

In such a small space, it’s absolutely crucial that you decorate the tank with heavy foliage.

Bettas are curious and like to scout around plants.

If these are missing the fish may become bored which in turn leads to picking on whoever else is moving in its surroundings.

In a 3-gallon tank consider these as tank mates for your betta:

  • Ghost shrimp x2
  • Red Cherry shrimp x2
  • A single horned Nerite snail

Obviously, as the bioload is limited choose either of these and not all of them together.

A picture of a betta fish peacefully hanging out with 2 Amano shrimp:

a betta sharing an aquarium with amano shrimp

By Niner_d

Top suggestions for a 5-GALLON tank

A 5 to 6-gallon fish tank gives you more choice in terms of tank mates for a Betta.

There are many fish and invertebrates that feel comfortable in small tanks.

However, for one with a Betta in it, you should only employ very small schooling fish and non-aggressive crustaceans or snails.

The ones mentioned below rarely grow over an inch.

However, to avoid potential conflicts it’s essential that the tank is heavily planted.

Your Betta fish will probably get busy exploring the plants or chill in a hiding spot.

This way there will be no clear line of sight between the inhabitants and the chance for hostile encounters is down to a minimum.

Use driftwood, artificial caves, or non-sharp rock work for hiding places.

For a 5-gallon tank consider these tank mates for a Betta fish:

  • Least Rasbora fish x6
  • Danionella Dracula x6
  • Chili Rasboras x6
  • Nerite snail
  • Male Endlers x3
  • Ghost shrimp x4
  • Amano shrimp x2
  • Red Cherry shrimp x4
  • Neon Blue Rasbora fish x5

It’s important to note that most of these recommendations are schooling fish and should not be kept in groups of less than 6.

Recommended read: How to Take Care of a Chili Rasbora

See a greedy betta eagerly eating the food of its multiple snail tank mates:

betta fish eating with snails

By zenquarium

Top for a 10-GALLON tank

With a 10-gallon aquarium for your Betta, there are a plethora of tank mates to choose from, really.

Mind that the rule about having many plants and hiding places still applies here. The biggest mistake I see new fishkeepers make is stuffing a betta in a community aquarium with poor decorations.

These fish need personal space and a place to retreat when they feel like resting. The key to having a conflict-free environment is to provide everyone with such places.

I’ve picked fast dwarf swimmers and docile fish that look nothing like a rival in this list.

In a 10-gallon tank you can try these as tank mates for your Betta fish:

  • Harlequin Rasboras fish x8
  • Rosy loaches x6
  • Rummy-nose Tetra fish
  • Panda Corydoras x3
  • Ember Tetra fish x6
  • Pristella Tetras x6
  • Platies x3
  • Endlers x6
  • Neon Tetra fish
  • A single Mexican Dwarf Crayfish (with caution)
  • Pygmy cories x4
  • Pepper corydoras x4
  • Feeder guppies x6
  • A single Apple snail
  • Cherry shrimp x8
  • Amano shrimp x5
  • Ghost shrimp x8
  • Bamboo shrimp x1

Same as before most of these fish will need to be in groups because of their social hierarchy.

Pepper corydoras make one of the best tank mates for a betta fish as seen in the following photograph:

betta getting along with pepper corydoras

“I’m keeping a close eye on your two.”

By frostadflakes

Here’s how a betta tank with a couple of pygmy corydoras (bottom left) looks like in a 10-gallon fish tank:

betta and pygmy corycats

By merocet

And another snapshot of a betta living with a school of neon tetra companions in their shared 10-gallon tank:

neon tetras and betta fish in a 10 gallon tank

By JierdaStormcrow

Top suggestions for a 20-GALLON tank

Keeping a Betta in a 20-gallon community tank is the best possible setup for the new fishkeeper.

The space in such a large tank is enough to allow for other fish to compliment the Betta’s appearance without creating too much distraction.

The options for companions increase significantly and become diverse.

Mind that it’s still strongly recommended to furnish the community tank with hiding places such as driftwood, caves, or dense aquatic vegetation.

Have a look at the tank mates suitable for a Betta fish in a 20-gallon tank:

  • Zebra Danio fish x7
  • Banjo Catfish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Cherry Barb fish
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Clown Pleco
  • Rummy-nose Tetra fish
  • Neon Tetra x12
  • Black Widow Tetra fish x8
  • Kuhli Loaches x3
  • Glass Catfish x6
  • Habrosus Cory
  • Otocinculus x4
  • Harlequin Rasboras x7
  • Platies x4
  • Mollies x4
  • Fire rasboras x8
  • Cherry shrimp x20
  • Ghost shrimp x20
  • Amano shrimp x8
  • Bamboo shrimp x2
  • Vampire shrimp x1

Calculate the possible bioload of your tank to not overstock it if you want to get more than one species of fish for this setup.

Here are two juvenile Kuhli loaches, being photobombed by a beautiful male betta in their 26-gallon bowfront community aquarium:
betta fish and a kuhli laoch

By wulfychick

Busting the myths around perceived compatibility in community tanks

There are a couple of myths circulating the online space about bettas and their compatibility with the popular community fish.

Some are plain wrong and some have a skewed understanding of the real reasons behind them. Here are the myths around housing a betta with other community fish:

1. “Introduce your betta to the aquarium last.”

This myth implies that if you already have a solo betta you have a lower chance of successfully adding tank mates to its home.

Not at all correct.

Bettas are territorial and really do claim parts of the aquarium as their own. However, a simple rearrangement of the decor will force your betta to think that it’s a completely new habitat you’re putting it in.

Here’s how to get it to meet its new aquarium roommates:

  1. Remove the betta fish for a couple of days. House it alone in a different tank in the meanwhile.
  2. Rearrange the decorations of your existing main tank.
  3. Add the new tank mates 4 to 5 days prior to re-introducing the betta.
  4. Add the betta fish.

2. “Bettas will inevitably fight and kill new fish.”

If you don’t have a secondary bowl laying around then you can’t just drop the new residents in your existing betta tank, right?

Not really.

Betta fish get irritated by the unfamiliar movements and excitement of new fish.

This may result in a violent response, which is actually frustration undercover.

It’s not a well-known fact that you can simply turn the lights off during the floating of the new fish companions and an hour more after the complete release.

This gives both parties time to calmly explore each other along with their aquarium surroundings.

Mandatory surveillance

Keep an eye out for what’s happening in the tank after adding the new fish. There may be some initial aggression. If it’s only a matter of glaring and chasing there’s a good chance that it will pass in the next few days. However, if there’s constant fin-nipping, then perhaps your betta is not yet ready to live with others.

Also, mind the water temperature requirements of each fish you’d like to add to your betta tank. Most Danios and plecos, for example, are fish that prefer cold water aquariums. You can, however, strike a temperature balance in which all the aquarium mates would feel comfortable. If you’re housing danios along with a betta, the temperature should be diligently kept at 74.5 to 75° F. Make sure the aquarium’s equipped with a reliable heater that doesn’t take much space.

Prepare for the worst

In some rare cases it can’t be helped:

As I mentioned above some bettas won’t ever be able to live alongside other fish.

This is a species with a huge personality spectrum and that includes both ends.

If yours turns out to be a violent little villain then you should have a secondary tank to move him in.

Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst.

Shared betta tank issues and how to resolve them

Bettas don’t get lonely.

They do, however, get bored.

If there are no sufficient hideouts and interesting plants to explore they may decide there’s nothing better to do than chilling on the bottom.

There are many other reasons for that (I linked you to an article where I describe them) but it most often happens because of lack of decor.

When living with others in nothing but an empty tank your little guy can become stressed from too much socializing and end up on the bottom again.

Always add lots of plants and hiding places to your betta tanks.

It’s best to buy a larger tank for more companion options

If you’re in the middle of your research and want to employ multiple companions for your betta you should definitely consider getting a larger tank.

More living space equals fewer (possible) territory disputes among roommates.

If you’re in this phase of research I invite you to have a quick look at my guide on more beginner-friendly aquarium kits for new betta owners.

I made sure these tank kits have everything these fish would need. I’m also listing some more spacious options because I know they work better.

Visit the link and look at the 10 and 20-gallon tanks. These aquarium sizes are the best for housing multiple companion fish with a betta.

Final words

All of this is not rocket science and with the right approach, you can almost guarantee success. Many have done it before you, and now it’s your turn.

Choosing tank companions that will live in harmony with your betta fish takes nothing more than patience and being well-informed.

Leave me a comment below with your choice.

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17 thoughts on “What Fish Tank Mates Will Get Along With a Betta?”

  1. Is it ok to keep zebra danios with a male betta? I have had them in the tank with him since sunday its Tuesday now and they both seem to keep to themselves. However I was doing research and found they aren’t recommended. 🙁

    • Hi, it depends on the fish tank setup.

      Zebra danios swim fast and like swimming in groups. A long aquarium is always better for Zebra danios.

      On the other hand, most captive-bred Betta fish are slow-swimming explorers and tend to be aggressive at times.

      If your tank is long and has enough plants where the Betta could retreat then it should be fine.

      That said, every fish has its personality and if yours do not show signs of stress and remain active and eating well, then you have nothing to worry about. They are likely fine with each other.

      P.S. Zebra danios like to be in groups of 5 or more which helps with peace in the aquarium.

      Hope this helps.

  2. My Betta is not doing well at all. We have a smallish tank with an orange Tetra for company, but my Betta will lie on the floor of his tank all day long. We have another Betta in a separate tank (cannibal) and he is doing fine. So any ideas on what I should do? I m really worried about this fish he had been like this all week.

    • Hi Emma,

      Share with me the water parameters and any changes you have done to that tank in the past 2 weeks.

  3. Hello, can I keep neon green rasbora’s with a male betta? I currently have 6 purple harlequin rasboras and 6 neon green rasboras. I am hoping to get a male betta and increase one of the rabora schooling size a bit. I keep reading that the harlequin rasbora’s will be fine but can’t find any info on green rasbora’s and betta’s together. I have a 130litre (29 gallon):) Thank you.

    • Hi, Lyle,

      In my opinion, Neon-green rasboras should be absolutely fine with a betta in your setup.

      Regards

  4. My Betta (short fin Plakat) in 10g tank chased three orange Guppies for 6 hours. Got concerned. Added very large silk sword plant, ie fake, and plastic rock with cave that I had spare. Eliminated aggression. First full day together today. Beautiful! Reccomend Guppies.

    • Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your input and thanks for confirming what I keep repeating throughout this post.

      Adequate decoration and plants, in particular, are vital for a successful community fish tank with a betta in it!

      Thanks again, good luck to you.

  5. In the 10g tank, how many neon tetras I can add along with a betta

    • Hi,

      Neon tetras have a relatively low bioload so you can easily stock 7 to avoid aggression on their side.

      BUT:

      1. Make sure to get a filter

      2. Make sure to FULLY cycle the tank beforehand (You can do that with bottled bacteria) otherwise, your fish will perish right away.

      3. Keep the water temperature at 79-80 F (use a heater for that)

      Also a note: Whoever says that neon tetras need at least a 20g tank, they have simply never kept them in a 10g. This is a myth circulating the Internet is all I’m saying.

      Hope this helps!

      Momchil

  6. I decided to upgrade my Betta’s digs from his one gallon vase (I was clueless) to a 6.8g tank. He’s been hugging the power cord of his tiny heater that wouldn’t keep the water much above 72F and I hated seeing him so miserable. Thankfully before I moved him I started researching new tank setup and realized I was about to do everything wrong.

    Now after spending way more than originally intended, I’m going to start a fish-in cycle per your previous article’s directions using API Quick Start; are any of the little friends above more likely to endure the process due to their hardiness? I’d like to end up with a small school of buddies and a snail along with my male Betta.

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to pass along your experience – your site has been so easy to navigate and understand, and simply full of information. I really appreciate it!

    • Hi Leigh,

      Thanks for the warming words. I’ve put a lot of time and effort to make sure that it’s helpful! Please confirm that I haven’t paid you to say that, haha! 😀

      Anyway, onto your question:

      Danios are particularly hardy fish. In fact, they are the ones I recommend to start a fish-in cycle with. Corydoras are also pretty hardy.

      Do make sure to follow all the directions and shake the bottle well! Also, be sure to add up some plants in there.

      Good luck to you and your pet betta buddy!

      • *I certify I have not been compensated in any way for my very true statements. Haha

        Thank you so much! I’ll look for a danio today!

        I set up the tank Sunday so it’ll be running 48 hours before the first fish. I added substrate and several live plants, didn’t wait long enough between dechlorinator and the first dose of Quick Start (hadn’t found you yet!) so I added a second dose 24 hours after the first. I also bought a water test kit so we’ll see what that looks like today. And I’ll try to be patient adding fish. 🙂 I hate that my Betta is stuck in his tiny apartment a little longer but I’d prefer that over things going awry! Plus the water has warmed up a bit as it’s warmer outside now.

        I’ll keep you posted on how things go! Thanks again!

      • Well they only danios they had were zebra, so I grabbed one…not realizing they can grow to 2”. Will the smaller tank inhibit growth some, or will they still reach that max size? I know I’ll have to end up with a couple more, and if they all reach 2” I’ll end up with a pretty crowded tank once I add my Betta. No option for a bigger setup, unfortunately.

        I already feel bad that he’s zipping around in there alone, but I’m trying to convince myself it’s for his ultimate benefit!

        • Hi Leigh,

          Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of reports of that. I know for a fact that for certain fish the smaller space will stunt growth, but I have no experience in that with zebra danios.

          The little guy will become aggressive and stressed if he is not in a school. Perhaps, you can negotiate a return with the pet store for some credits, after the fish tank has cycled?

          Apologies for being unhelpful…

          • Not unhelpful at all! Maybe not the answer I wanted but all info is good info. I did speak with an associate at the store today, and he said I have 14 days to return the fish if needed…but he also voiced that 3 zebras and a betta wouldn’t be an overload in his opinion. I’m going to think on it a bit before making a decision.

            I really appreciate your dedication to helping others and all the info you’ve shared with me and everyone else checking out your site. Finding helpful and up-to-date info delivered in a simple manner is very refreshing. 🙂

          • Thank you!

            Zebra Danios would need to be in a group of at least 5 to minify aggression, so keep that in mind. You should be able to cycle the tank in 2 weeks (I’ve done it enough times already).

            Good luck, Leigh!

            IF you have a question don’t hesitate to ask.

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