What Fish Can Live With Bettas?

Good tankmates for Bettas are corie catfish, loaches, oto catfish, tetras, rasporas, and smaller plecos, but they should be monitored for signs of aggression.

Bettas are one of the most popular fish especially for people new to the hobby.  They are an excellent fish to live in a smaller tank by themselves.  However, as people get deeper into the hobby and realize that this is going to be something they stick with for years, they end up wanting to upgrade.  A larger tank is often the first step in getting deeper into the hobby.

However, bettas are very picky about their tank mates.  The problem is two fold.  First, bettas have been known to show extreme aggression to the point of killing other fish. In general, bettas don’t do well with other bettas or other fish that look like bettas. Second, bettas have long fins and are often the victims of fish that like to nip.

So the question becomes what fish can live with bettas? There are several fish that make good tankmates with bettas.  This is our list of the top 6 fish that can live with bettas.

Cories (Corydoras Catfish)

Frank M Greco [CC BY 3.0]
Frank M Greco [CC BY 3.0]

Cory catfish are neat little bottom dwellers.  They hang out on the bottom of the tank, far from the top level of the tank where bettas typically spend most of their time. They also come in several different variations, all of which range in colors from tan, brown, and black.  There’s really no mistaking cory catfish for a betta.

Cory catfish are best kept in groups of 6 or more and most will grow to a full size between 2 and 3 inches long.

Loaches

Vlad Butsky [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
Vlad Butsky [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

Loaches are another bottom dweller that do well with bettas.  In their full grown size, most loaches are significantly larger than bettas. For this reason, bettas don’t pick fights with loaches or really mess with them at all.

Loaches come in several different varieties that vary in size, shape, and color.  Yoyo loaches are a very popular species of loaches that won’t get more than about 5 inches long.  This makes it a good option if you are upgrading your starter tank to a mid size aquarium.  Most loaches are relatively peaceful and are hardy.

Otocinclus Catfish

CHUCAO [CC BY-SA 3.0]
CHUCAO [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Otocinclus Catfish (or oto catfish) are a very small algae eating fish that will keep to themselves.  They grow to about 2 inches long and have a very slender body.  Bettas won’t feel threatened by oto cats and they will leave each other along.  Oto cats love lots of hiding places and a heavily planted tank.  They have been known to go into hiding for several days where you won’t see them, but you’ll see their work (clean streaks of glass in the middle of algae growth).

Otos are a little skittish and prefer the company of a few other oto catfish.  Once they are in a group of about 4 or more, they really become active and even more entertaining.  They can also be sensitive to water parameters, so make sure you tank is fully established and stable before adding them to your aquarium.

Neon/cardinal tetras

By Axel Rouvin
By Axel Rouvin

Neon tetras are cardinal tetras are small schooling fish that won’t nip at betta’s fins.  They must be kept in schools of at least 6 of the same species and will really thrive in groups of 10 or more.  If they are kept as a single fish, they become uncomfortable and some nipping behavior can start to show itself.

Neon tetras and cardinal tetras are very beautiful fish with sky blue and deep red colorations.  They can complement the beauty of betta fish and provide a lot of life to the tank.  As an added benefit, neons/tetras are very hardy fish.

Rasboras

I, Lerdsuwa [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
I, Lerdsuwa [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Rasboras are another small schooling fish that won’t pick on betta fish.  Rasboras aren’t known for nipping.  They tend to swim in the middle layer of the tank while bettas will swim closer to the top.

Rasboras come in several different varieties.  The Harlequin Rasbora is easily the most popular species of the family.  They are pink with a black triangle on their body and grow to about 2 inches long.  Rasboras are a hardy fish and are very peaceful with nearly all other tank mates.

Smaller Plecos

Anthony C [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Anthony C [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Small plecos such as the bristlenose pleco are great tankmates for bettas.  They are bottom feeders who will spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank or hanging on the glass.  Plecos tend to mind their own business and bettas have no reason to show aggression towards plecos since there is little resemblance.

Most plecos found in pet stores fall under the classification of a common pleco.  These grow to nearly 18 inches while bristlenose plecos won’t exceed about 6 inches. Plecos have the added benefit of being algae eaters and will help to keep your tank clean.