Betta fish are an incredibly popular species for aquarists with smaller tanks. These fish are known for their vibrant colours and beautiful fin and tail shapes, making them the ideal choice for those with limited space. These fish can thrive in smaller living spaces and rarely need expansive aquariums in which to thrive.
However, you should avoid the urge to pair up bettas with additional fish. Bettas are a notoriously aggressive variety of fish. In fact, males of the species will dual with each other to the death if not kept separate. Because of this territorial behaviour, many people opt to keep their betta fish as solitary animals. However, there are some ways around the issue.
Things to Avoid When Selecting Betta Tank Mates
While male bettas are fiercely territorial, don’t assume that females of the species are docile alternatives. Many female betta fish can be almost as aggressive as their male counterparts. Therefore, apply the same criteria when selecting tank mates for your tank mates, no matter the sex of your animals.
When selecting tank mates for bettas, choose fish that will attract as little attention as possible. Colourful scales and skin will instantly attract aggressive bettas, so avoid vibrant-looking tank mates. You should also avoid fancy goldfish varieties entirely. Delicate tails and elaborate fin silhouettes may look great on display, but they’ll only invite the aggressive attentions of a territorial betta.
Although territorial, bettas prefer a relaxed environment. Therefore, avoid selecting particularly active tank mates that exhibit darting swimming behaviour. You should also avoid introducing groups of fish that will school together, even if they are particularly small. Curious fish species that might engage your bettas should also be avoided.
Suitable Tank Mates
If you want to make life easy for yourself, you should probably avoid pairing bettas up with other fish species altogether. Instead, opt for invertebrates like certain shrimp species. Not only are shrimp fairly peaceful and unlikely to disturb your betta fish, they will help keep on top of algae growth. The same applies to many types of snails. However, even though these animals are far more laid-back than fish and unlikely to attract the attentions of your bettas, you can’t guarantee a peaceful co-existence.
Bottom-dwelling fish species like loaches are also worth considering as tank mates for your bettas. The main reason why loaches make good companions for bettas is that they are naturally quite reclusive and unlikely to disturb the routines of your betta fish. They will spend much of their time foraging for food close to the substrate layer. Even if your betta fish become attracted by them, loaches are unlikely to come to much harm. They lack the elaborate fins of other fish species, with less delicate appendages to injure.
You can also introduce some varieties of small catfish to a betta tank. Just like loaches, catfish are bottom feeders, so they will remain close to the substrate layers in search of food. Your betta fish will rarely share the same swimming space as these species, so confrontations are unlikely to occur.