Can Betta Fish live with other fish?

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times that Betta fish don’t live well with other fish, particularly other Betta fish. And that, for the most part is true, but there are exceptions to the rule. Just because Bettas will fight other fish doesn’t mean they’ll fight every fish they come across. 

In fact, small, plain looking fish don’t pose much of a threat to a betta – and especially if they have lots of places to hide; you might be just fine. So that poses the question: can Bettas play nice and live with other fish? Can you have a thriving community that includes these feisty friends?

That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Let’s jump right in. 

Will they fight other fish?

Believe it or not, Bettas can be a part of a thriving community tank. But that doesn’t mean you just start mixing to your heart’s content. There are some things you should do first. 

The first thing you want to do – is to try to figure out how aggressive your betta really is. Each fish is like any other animal – they have their own, unique personality. Some are way more laid back than others. Others will fight at the drop of the hat. Some are fine for the most part, but can be territorial. How can you tell if your betta is all about metta world peace? You can start by watching them in the pet store.

Bettas are usually kept in small containers and stored on top of one another – and they can see everything and everyone around them. Watch their behavior. Is there a male that appears agitated? Do any of them seem bothered by the site of another fish? Are they puffing their gills and flaring their fins when they see other bettas? If they are – they’re probably too aggressive for a community. 

The goal here – is to choose a betta that is more interested in avoiding conflict than actually initiating it. Try to choose the fish that looks the most peaceful in the pet store. Keep in mind though – that just because they’re on their best behavior that day is no guarantee that they’ll do ok in a community tank – but you will improve your odds. 

How to set up your community for a betta

The first thing to do is to introduce a betta to a tank and not the rest of the tank and community to the betta. That way, they won’t feel like their territory is being encroached upon and they’ll have to carve out their own space in the tank. The next big thing is to be mindful of the size of your tank. You don’t want it to be overcrowded. Bettas like their space and need enough of it to call their own. If they don’t- they’ll respond aggressively. They’ll almost never work in a five gallon tank; but ten gallons usually works perfectly fine. 

Second, you’ll want to be sure that you’re putting them in a tank with fish that aren’t that colorful. The more flair a fish has, the more likely that a betta will see them as a threat. Long story, short – boring is always better with betta fish. 

Finally, be sure to add lots of plants, caves and other decorations inside the tank. This will allow lots of real estate for your betta to lounge around in; but also gives their neighbors a place to hide if the betta decides to go on a bender one day. That way everyone has a place.

Trust us when we say – we totally understand and agree with people who are hesitant to add a betta fish to their community. That being said – it’s 100% possible to pull off so long as you’re careful. Stay away from males, stay away from multiple bettas and try to pick fish that look less aggressive and peaceful. Then simply set up an environment where they can thrive. So long as they don’t feel threatened; they should behave just fine. 

Hopefully these tips help your decision come into a little bit clearer focus. Good luck!

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