Though they are nicknamed siamese fighting fish, bettas do not have to live alone. Every betta splenden will react differently to new tank mates. Some Betta fish get along with nearly anyone you put them with and some get stressed out and may become defensive. Remember that bettas require warm freshwater conditions, so be sure to only look at tropical freshwater fish.
Monitor the fish over the first few days to watch for any aggression or fin-nipping. Though they are nick named “siamese fighting fish” it is easy for the betta to actually be the victim. Due to their laid back attitude, be sure to place them with a calm-tempered species. They will typically do well with many community or schooling fish.
Non aggressive community fish are the most compatible with betta fish
Beta fish are loners and do not need nor want a companion. In fact, bettas will ignore all other fish unless being picked on. Betta fish tend to be quite lethargic and choose not to race around the tank. This is why community fish of a calm nature would be best as tank mates.
Tip: Avoid any species that are known to be fin-nippers such as barbs. However, barbs could be kept in a large enough school making it likely that they will be too occupied to stray from their group.
I know it is likely that you’ll experiment with other species of fish and you may even have great luck with it. I am merely giving you guidelines for higher success. Now here is a list of who should absolutely NOT be living with your betta.
Not Recommended for Betta Fish
Cichlid Goldfish Bettas Puffers Gourami Fancy Guppy Oscar Koi Pacu
*Note that when I mention bettas not being with their own kind I am referring specifically to male bettas. Female betta fish get along great together due to the lack of competition with each other.
Goldfish with Betta Fish
I know Goldfish are very tempting because bettas can live with them in harmony. I classified them as incompatible for the following reasons:
1. Goldfish require cooler water(65-75 degrees) whereas betta fish need warmth(75-80 degrees)
2. Goldfish are very active and can be aggressive by nature which could stress your betta out.
3. Goldfish will grow to at least 6 inches long and could eventually eat your betta.
Guidelines to follow when choosing a tank mate for your betta fish:
2. Bettas are low key so be sure to pick fish that aren’t likely to chase him around the tank and nip at his fins. This will cause injury and stress which will lead to illness.
3. Look at the adult length when choosing a tank mate. For example, Bala sharks may seem like the perfect size but full grown their length is 12 inches!
If you follow this and find your betta isn’t very sociable you can put him back in a bowl or small tank. At this point I know that can be disappointing but at least now you have more freedom in choosing fish you would like to add to the aquarium. Owning fish is a commitment and an aquarium requires regular maintenance so take it slow and don’t be impulsive with your decisions.
Learn more of the basics with our Beginner’s Tanking Guide
Learn How To Set up a New Aquarium Tank