Can Cherry Barbs Live With Bettas?

In general, cherry barbs should not be kept with bettas. However, cherry barbs can live with betta fish, provided they have sufficient space in the tank so as not to overcrowd each other’s territories. Cherry barbs are mostly mid-level tank dwellers, with bettas inhabiting the top level. Both have similar needs regarding water conditions and dietary needs.

Betta fish are solitary fish with huge personalities that can be pretty interesting to watch. But like most species, you have the shier individuals that make me wonder if they ever get lonely. And if they would benefit from having some tank mates to improve their quality of life?

Can Cherry Barbs Live With Bettas?

Betta male fish are solitary individuals that are highly territorial and will defend their territory against other betta males. Still, some are open to being housed with other fish, such as cherry barbs.

So long as they have enough space and decorations in the tank to provide them with the needed space and coverage, some bettas will benefit from having tank mates.

Housing cherry barbs with your betta depends on how aggressive your betta fish is. Betta fish personalities can differ significantly, depending on the betta.

Some bettas are shier than others and happy to share a tank with others as long as no one encroaches on their territory. But, at the same time, some bettas are highly aggressive and will tolerate no other fish in the same tank.

Cherry barbs are docile fish that enjoy the company of other cherry barbs. They find safety in numbers and will be happiest in a school of at least six.

Cherry barb males can be aggressive, but this is often only seen during mating and setting up hierarchical dominance or during feeding.

Cherry barbs are mid-level tank dwellers and occasionally move to the bottom or the top of the tank to eat. Whereas bettas occupy the top levels of the tanks, so they generally don’t swim in the same areas.

But to answer your question, can cherry barbs live with bettas? Usually no, but in some cases, the answer is yes.

Keeping an eye on the group is essential to remove any aggressors, if need be, to prevent any injury or death to any of your fish.

Cherry Barb with Darker Plants

How Many Cherry Barbs Can You Safely Put With Bettas?

The quantity of cherry barbs you add to your tank with a betta depends on your aquarium size.

Although betta fish are sold in small tanks, cups, or ornamental jars, giving the idea that bettas don’t need much space is, in fact, false.

In their natural environment, bettas will choose two to three square feet of area to defend as their territory.

Keep in mind the rule of thumb that for every inch of fish, you need one gallon of water in your tank. This will help you determine the tank size according to how many cherry barbs you want to keep with your betta.

Cherry barbs are content in a school of six or more, with a mix of males and females. The best ratio is to put a minimum of two females per male.

Are Cherry Barbs Fin Nippers?

There is a misconception about cherry barbs being fin nippers. They are generally not nippy fish as long as they are adequately housed. Still, stressed fish can be provoked to attack other fish, especially if there is insufficient space in the tank.

Decorations and plants are other significant factors for cherry barbs and bettas. They need plenty of hiding places and cover to rest, hide, and explore.

So, if you see your cherry barb becoming nippy, there is something seriously wrong in your tank.

Compatibility Factors Of Cherry Barbs And Bettas?

Both these fish have similar requirements with water conditions and enjoy well-decorated tanks with plenty of plants and caves to keep them busy and provide shelter.

Water Conditions

Both these fish have similar requirements concerning water conditions. Bettas are hardy fish and can tolerate high and low water temperatures like the cherry barbs. Still, they will get more aggressive if the conditions are not optimal.

The same goes for the pH levels and the water hardness. Both these attractive fish have the same preferences regarding water conditions, so ensure your tank is set up to the requirements for happy fish. Remember to add a heater in winter to maintain the water temperatures just like they like it.

Required Water Conditions
Water TemperatureBetween 73°-81°F (23-27°C)
Water pH Levels6 -8.2
Water Hardness5-20 gH

Tank Requirements

As previously mentioned, tank size is essential for cherry barbs and bettas to live happily together in a tank.

Both these species need space to claim their own territory without the others posing a threat.

Cherry barbs and betta fish enjoy similar decorations and abundant plants, caves driftwood, and leafy drifting plants to act as a shield against light or hind under.

They need lots of decorations and plants to create an area where they can hide, explore, and rest. To make the right environment, you can decorate about two-thirds of your tank with the desired plants, silty substrate, and decorations.

Refrain from crowding all your decorations at the bottom. Instead, provide different levels of decoration to appeal to both your fish.

With that in mind, a fifteen-gallon tank is a bare minimum to house six cherry barbs with a betta. Twenty gallons would be better; the bigger your school of cherries is, the bigger your tank needs to be.

Purple and Blue Betta

Dietary Needs

Another reason why cherry barbs and bettas do well together in a tank is that their dietary needs are similar.

Although the betta fish is a carnivore, and cherry barbs are omnivorous, both mostly eat insects, insect larvae, worms, crustaceans, and zooplankton.

However, bettas can also feed on plant matter, roots, and algae like cherry barbs. However, plant matter alone is not enough to sustain bettas.

Lifespan And Size

Bettas have a three to five-year lifespan, similar to cherry barbs which have a four-year lifespan.

Both fish are similar in size, with bettas reaching 2.5 inches, and cherry barbs can grow to 2 inches.

How To Safely Introduce Bettas To Cherry Barbs?

Once you decide to add these two beautiful fish together in a tank, it’s always best to try and first determine if your betta will accept the cherry barbs.

There are a few ways to introduce the fish to a communal tank.

It’s always best to first add the cherry barbs to the tank to establish their environment. If you add a betta first, there is a chance that he will consider the whole tank his territory and want to defend it against new intruders.

If you know your betta and have had him for a while, you will have come to understand his personality. You will be able to determine if he is an aggressive type or one of the more docile and laid-back guys.

If it’s a new betta, place his tank next to a tank where he can see other fish and keep an eye on his behavior.

Once your cherry barbs have settled in their new environment, add your betta and watch for any signs of aggression between them. There may be some initial chasing and aggression, but it should settle down once each group has identified its territory.

That is why plenty of plant matter and decorations are essential in the tank, helping the cherries hide if necessary. Once the bettas cannot find them, they lose interest in the chase and return to their comfort zone.

What Other Fish Can Live With Bettas

Providing your betta with a larger tank and more space will give them a better state of life. Cooped up in a small tank can make the betta lazy, and the lack of motivation can create unhappy depressed fish.

Providing betta fish an environment with other fish, in a tank big enough to house all different level fish happily together, can provide your betta with exercise, make him more aware, and possibly make him a lot happier.

However, avoid any fish with bright colors and flashy finnage, as these will be seen as a threat to the betta fish.

Some of the fish that can be added to a tank with a betta fish are:

  • Freshwater snails
  • African dwarf frogs
  • Cory catfish
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Kuhli loach


Providing a large enough body of water to support your cherry barbs and betta fish can deliver a mutual environment for both fish species. They have similar requirements with water conditions, decoration, and dietary needs, which make them ideal tank mates. But as bettas are known for being territorial and aggressive, always keep an eye on the tank’s cohabitants to ensure they do not harm each other.