Two freshwater fish that have beautiful and complex strains are the guppy and the betta. Bettas have hundreds of colors and patterns, and a good deal of tail types. Guppies have hundreds of strains, colors, hybridizations, and a decent amount of tail types. Mixing and matching a tank to have both of these fish would look stunning, but can you?
Unfortunately, the answer is mostly going to be no. The problem is the aggressive nature of bettas. They can misidentify other flashy colored fish, such as guppies, as other bettas, and will attack to “reclaim” their territory. However, it may be possible to keep your betta with female guppies, and in very rare cases, male guppies as well.
In this article, we will cover bettas in community tanks, guppy care, betta care, male and female guppies, and guppy fry.
Bettas in Community Tanks
A community tank is an aquarium that houses multiple species of compatible fish. These compatibilities include temperament, temperature, and water hardness. The temperament of bettas tends to be on the aggressive side, so bettas in community tanks will either be hit or miss, depending on your betta’s temperament.
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If your betta gets along with tank mates, then you can consider a community tank. Bettas need their temperature to be between 77 and 82 degrees, so their tank mates must also prefer those temperatures. That throws out temperate and sub-tropical fish like the Asian stone catfish. If not for a lack of temperature overlap, this small, bottom dwelling catfish would get along very well with bettas.
Bettas prefer very soft, acidic water. However, they have been domestic for so long that they can adapt to a wide variety of water conditions. That being said, they do prefer softer water. It is best to keep them with other fish that prefer softer water, such as harlequin rasboras.
Guppy Care vs Betta Care
As previously mentioned, bettas like soft, acidic water. On the other hand, guppies need hard water to live. Their water must be moderately hard to hard, very different from what your betta wants.
If you already have hard water and buy a betta locally, then it will be accustomed to hard water. This will meet the conditions for keeping your betta with guppies in terms of temperature and water hardness. However, it is not possible to keep guppies in soft water.
When it comes to water hardness, soft water fish will adapt better to hard water than hard water fish will to soft water. Fish get some of their needed minerals from the water they live in. If the water is soft, the fish is very efficient at this. However, if they live in hard water, they are less efficient.
A soft water fish will still be able to get their minerals, though they may take in too many at first. Hard water fish will not be able to pull in the needed minerals. However, the fish must slowly be acclimated to the new water to avoid osmotic shock, even if they are soft water.
Even though your betta would be happier in softer water, it is possible to overcome this obstacle. Bettas prefer higher temperatures than guppies. Guppies can survive in the temperatures that bettas like, but their lifespans will be shorter.
When warm water fish live in lower temperatures, their metabolism will slow. This has negative impacts on their immune, digestive, and circulatory system. As a result, this leads to lethargy, sickness, fin rot, and bloating in bettas. When cold water fish live in warmer water, their metabolism speeds up and simply makes them age faster, if the temperature is just a few degrees warmer.
Male Guppies vs Female Guppies
Bettas will attack any fish that they think is a betta fish. Unfortunately, this applies to one of the guppy sexes. Male guppies are very flashy and have beautiful coloration. As a result, this can lead to the betta misidentifying them as another betta.
Once the betta identifies the male guppy as a betta, your betta will attack. It doesn’t matter if you have a male or female betta. They will attack. The guppy has no defense other than swimming away, and guppies have a tendency to die of stress. Therefore, if nipped or chased excessively, the guppy will die.
Female guppies are very plain in color and are larger than the males. They are often a dull gray or brown color, much unlike domesticated betta. Therefore, it is unlikely that a betta will see this dull colored fish and think of it as betta.
An alternative to fancy guppies is feeder guppies. These guppies are dull in color for both the males and females and can be smaller. They tend to Endler blood in them, which is a smaller species of livebearer. Endlers also have a feeder strain, and these get mixed with guppies, resulting in large Endler hybrids and small guppy hybrid.
The smaller size can either be a benefit or a disadvantage. On one hand, the smaller size may lead the betta to see them as less of a threat and they can have an easier time hiding. It could also lead to them being bullied by the betta more so than a larger fish.
The primary issue with feeder fish is their quality of care. They are often not cared for very well since they are sold cheap and quickly. Since feeder fish often have internal parasites or other illnesses, quarantine is necessary.
Guppy Fry and Bettas
When you mix bettas and guppy fry, it will either be a win-win or a lose-lose situation, depending on your intent. If you want some guppy fry to live, it will be a lose-lose situation. The betta will eat all the guppy fry it can catch, which will be most, if not all. However, if you are overrun with guppy fry, the betta can help.
Since it is possible to keep female guppies with bettas, this can greatly work in your favor. Female livebearers, including guppies, can store sperm and produce young for over six months after their last contact with a male. This can ,
If you started with 10 guppies, 7 female, 3 male, or just 10 females, you may end up with several hundred in a month. Since they will continue to produce offspring for several more months, you will have a serious issue. However, if you have a strain in high demand, you should be able to sell them. However, even with a high-quality strain, unloading hundreds of fry is challenging.
Most livebearer owners end up having to install population control. Even though the parents eat their children, they do not actively hunt them, and many survive. The method of population control varies widely and includes using the babies as live food. Some don’t have the stomach to catch and feed the babies to another fish, so putting a predator in the tank is a good alternative.
In conclusion, it may be necessary to find an alternative tank mate for your betta. Guppies do not always work out, especially if they are male. However, it is possible to keep bettas and guppies together through a good mix of luck and effort.