Can Male Betta Fish Live with Other Fish?

Last Updated on October 6, 2020

Seeing a single male betta fish in all its gill-flaring glory in a tank all alone can sometimes make a fish keeper feel as though something is lacking. There will come a time when you will ask yourself if it is possible to put another fish together with your male betta fish. Let’s discuss the important things to know if you consider looking for a companion for your betta fish.

You may be asking this: “Can male betta fish live with other fish?” And that’s exactly what we will explain below.

We may give some advice on the compatible companions which have been safe to put with your betta fish. Always have a backup plan though because your betta may be more aggressive than others. Have a spare tank if you need to separate the newly gained fish. You can also ask your fish keeping buddies ahead of time if they will take in any fish your betta will not welcome.

What kinds of fish can live with a betta?

A betta fish can live in a community tank with other species of fish especially if there is plenty of room for all inhabitants. Remember that we recommend a 5-gallon tank for a single betta fish. If you have a 10-gallon tank, then you have room for some tank mates!

Avoid getting fish that are fin nippers such as Tiger Barbs. They will attack your male betta fish’s flowing fins. Damage can lead to serious injury which can make your male betta fish prone to disease such as fin-rot.

Keep in mind the 1 inch of fish per gallon guide. This is not set in stone as the golden rule but it gives you an idea if your fish have enough swimming space and that the tank is not overstocked. 

Overstocking also stresses out fish making them more prone to diseases. This will also make the tank more cramped preventing fish from swimming to safety when they need to. It will also be a burden to the bacteria that break down ammonia into nitrites and into nitrates.

Having an overstocked tank will not keep water parameters stable long term and will require frequent water changes. Ammonia spikes are lethal to fish.

Choose fish that are peaceful and show schooling or shoaling behavior. This will make it difficult for betta fish to single-out a target to pick on. Here is a list of fish that can live with a male betta fish. Always have a backup plan though just in case your betta fish isn’t as friendly as expected.

  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Neon Tetra
  • Black Neon Tetra
  • Ember Tetra
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Fire Rasbora
  • Female Guppies that do not have too much color and large fins.
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Cory Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Kuhli Loach

Related: Can 2 Female Betta Fish Live Together?

Can Male Betta Fish Live with Other Fish?

Do betta fish get lonely?

Male betta fish are solitary creatures who prefer to guard a territory against other male betta fish. Male betta fish are more aggressive and will have more damaging fights compared to female betta fish territorial disputes. Remember to avoid putting two male betta fish together in the same tank. They are known as Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason. 

Male betta fish can thrive in living alone. It will not mind other fish that it will not consider a threat. Seeing other species of fish will provide some activity for your betta fish to prevent it from being bored or lonely. It will also give you more action to look inside your fish tank.

Related: Do Fish Get Sad When Other Fish Die?

How do you know a betta fish is happy?

Betta fish, especially the males, need to have a territory to make their own. It will guard it and you will see it constantly doing rounds making sure there is no invader. When it detects another male betta fish, or even just its reflection in a mirror, it will flare its gills and this is an excellent sign of dominance over its territory.

A betta fish is calm and will not attack any fish it doesn’t consider as a threat. The fish recommended will usually stay out of your betta fish’s way as it swims along exploring its home.

A male betta fish will hide inside the decor of your fish tank if it feels threatened by other tank mates. It may also stay there as a sign of stress and if it does not enjoy interacting with the other fish. A stressed-out betta fish will lack appetite and will be prone to diseases.

A 5-gallon tank is a minimum to provide a suitable environment for your male betta fish. This however leaves small room for other fish tank mates. You can choose to assassin snails, mystery snails, and Malaysian trumpet snails in a 5-gallon betta fish tank. These will not bother your betta fish at all.

You can also have ghost shrimps or red cherry shrimps but they may seem tempting to eat for your betta fish. Provide plenty of hiding places for the shrimp just in case the curious betta fish tries to make a snack out of them. Bettas are after all carnivorous fish that like to hunt their prey.

The tank size then becomes a very important factor to consider if you want to house your male betta fish with tank mates. A tank with a bigger volume will always be better for the betta fish and the other inhabitants of the community aquarium. This will give more space for everyone to swim around and will lessen the chance of water parameters fluctuating because of overstocking.

Consider feeding too. A happy betta has a good appetite. Learn about the dietary requirements of a betta fish and make sure it gets its proper share of food during feeding time.

A healthy betta fish is a happy betta fish. As long as you meet the basic requirements to let the betta fish thrive then there will be no problem with keeping betta fish with some tank mates.