Betta fish are some of the most colorful and gorgeous freshwater fish. If you keep them in a large enough tank, they can make an amazing centerpiece fish. However, they are highly aggressive and can only live with a select few fish. The fish must be compatible in personality, food, and temperature, which does provide some options, but not too many.
Luckily, there are many colorful schooling fish that get along very well with bettas if you have a tank of at least 20 gallons, but not a 20-high. These fish do great in temperatures around 78-80 degrees and soft water, just like bettas. You will have the most luck with bottom dwelling fish since bettas inhabit the top layer of water.
In this article, we will discuss harlequin rasboras, celestial pearl danios, micro rasboras, corydoras catfish, kuhli loaches, clown and bristle nose plecos, mystery snails, nerite snails, and improper tank mates.
Harlequin rasboras are one of the best schooling fish tank mates for bettas. They are a gorgeous fish with primarily red and orange coloration. Harlequin rasboras are also called Pork Chop rasboras due to the pork chop shaped black coloration on the back half of their body.
Since they are a schooling fish, they need to live in schools of at least 6. They will eat most any tropical fish flake food and are not overly demanding in their care.
Harlequin rasboras grow to be a little under two inches and can live in a betta’s preferred temperature. They do very well in tanks between 78 and 82 degrees. In terms of breeding, you shouldn’t have to deal with fry since they are egg layers and will eat their own eggs.
Celestial Pearl Danios
Celestial pearl danios are also called galaxy rasboras and are a very small schooling fish. They appreciate heavily planted tanks and tend to be very skittish. They have black and orange striped fins and a gray body speckled with white spots, hence the “galaxy” name.
Celestial pearl danios are a gorgeous fish and their gray and white coloration will complement your betta’s color. They do not do well in tanks that are over 80 degrees, so they do best at 78 degrees with your betta.
If you have very aggressive betta, it may be better to pick a different schooling fish for your tank. Due to their small size, only slightly over an inch, they are extremely skittish, so
Even though 6 is the minimum requirement for schooling fish, 8-10 would be better for these fish. Having a larger school would allow you to see them more often, as the school makes them feel more secure.
Micro rasboras refer to a group of very small rasboras, such as Phoenix rasboras and chili rasboras. These tend to be bright red in color and look stunning in any planted tank. These scarcely reach an inch in size and while skittish, they are less shy than celestial pearl danios.
Their small size is a plus, as bettas are less likely to attack them, but their bright coloration will be an issue for bettas that are only moderately peaceful. Their bright coloration may cause the betta to view them as another betta, and the betta could attack.
These are a schooling fish, and due to their small size, you could easily keep a school between 8 and 20 in a 20 long, and 8 to 12 in a standard 20-gallon tank. They prefer temperatures between 76-80 degrees and are not picky eaters.
These catfish are adorable little schooling fish and need to live with at least five other friends. There are many species of corydoras that are available as pets, but since they are different species, they require different water temperatures.
They are primarily herbivores and will eat most sinking algae wafers and pellets. You should attempt to keep the betta from eating their algae wafers, as excess plant matter can cause bloating and digestive issues in bettas.
The best corydoras to keep with bettas are the bronze, albino, peppered (up to 79 degrees), emerald green, bandit (up to 79), skunk (up to 79 degrees), julii (up to 79 degrees), and false julii corydoras (up to 79). Other corydoras, such as panda corydoras, require cooler temperatures than bettas.
These catfish are an absolute joy to keep, and sometimes bettas even try to school with them! It’s absolutely adorable to see the little catfish puttering around with betta in tow.
Kuhli loaches are another commonly sold bottom feeder. These come in multiple colors, most often solid black, solid brown, and purple and yellow striped. They look like little wiggling snakes and need a school of at least six but do better with ten or more.
They are much more skittish than the boisterous corydoras, but they do have their own charms. Kuhli loaches do require a good amount of hiding spaces, especially caves and large plants. They are primarily nocturnal and need a safe place to hide during the day.
However, if you feed them during the day, they will come out in the day more often. If the betta terrorizes them, they will not come out too often. On the other hand, if your betta ignores them, the presence of another fish out in the open will help them feel more secure.
Clown and Bristle Nose Plecostomus Catfish
Plecostomus catfish is a genus of over one hundred different species. Some of these species are commonly kept in aquariums while others are extremely rare to find. Here, we will discuss two of these plecos that you can find commonly, but others have temperature overlaps with bettas.
Clown plecos and bristle nose plecos are some of the smaller pleco species.
They both require some driftwood in the tank as they rasp on the wood to help their digestion. Plecos, in general, have very large bioloads, which means they eat a lot and they poop a lot.
Due to this, you will have to significantly increase the amount of water you change if you have a pleco. In addition, they need both a great deal of plant matter from algae wafer and freshly blanched vegetables as well as protein through meat-based sources, mainly sinking pellets. In general, plecos do not hide as much as Kuhli l
These plecos greatly appreciate having multiple caves to hang out in. While they are nocturnal, they do still spend a good deal of time out during the day. Clown plecos only get around three to four inches in size, while bristle nose plecos stay around four to five inches in size.
Commonly Suggested Improper Tank Mates
Some fish are commonly suggested as betta tank mates, but they are not good tank mates at all. Here we will discuss tank mates that may be recommended to you and why they are not a good fit with your betta.
Common plecos are at the top of this list. They are often sold as “algae eaters”, but they really will not eat your algae. They become carnivorous after a few months of age and get two feet long. Most people will never be able to provide enough room or food for these fish as their tank must be three feet wide to provide room for them to turn and the length must be well over six feet.
Neon tetras are another common suggestion, but these fish do not do well at temperatures over 75 degrees while bettas do not do well at temperatures under 78 degrees. Asian stone catfish and white cloud mountain minnows are very similar in this regard. All of these fish will have reduced lifespans and increased risk of disease if kept with bettas.
In conclusion, betta fish are compatible with several other fish species if your betta is not overly aggressive. These species are compatible in terms of water quality and water temperature. Some need food that bettas cannot eat, so you must make sure your betta doesn’t get ahold of their food.