Betta Fish and Tiger Barbs – Can You Keep Them in Same Aquarium?

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Having various fish in a community tank no-doubt makes for a colorful and varied home aquarium, but it does come with its own set of problems, one of which is fish compatibility.

Because I’m a fan of tiger barbs, I often get questions about fish that are compatible with tiger barbs. When this happens, I go out of my way to also point out which fish aren’t compatible with tiger barbs.

To my amazement, the question “Can I keep my betta fish with my tiger barbs?” comes up often.

I say to my amazement, because if you know tiger barbs, you may know that they’re mischievous little fellas that like to chase other fish around and nip at their fins.

I always shoot down attempts to place betta fish and tiger barbs in the same aquarium because they’re incompatible fish that are going to have a bad time if kept in the same aquarium.

Before I explain why you shouldn’t keep betta fish and tiger barbs in the same aquarium, here’s a little brush up on each species:

Betta Fish

betta-fish-vs-tiger-barb

Betta fish (aka Siamese fighting fish) are a splendor to look at. They have long, flowy fins and can be found in a variety of colors including yellow, red, blue, orange, black, blue and other color morphs.

Betta fish live only 2-3 years and adult fish reach sizes of up to 3 inch. They prefer water in the 75–86 degrees F temperature range, water pH between 6.8–7.4, and hardness up to 20 dGH.

Although many will opt for small tanks when keeping betta fish, I discourage this practice, especially because maintaining good water chemistry in a small aquarium is difficult.

Plus, they aren’t the smallest fish around, so plenty of space is always better than cramming fish in a small tank. I don’t recommend anything below 10 gallons.

Regarding their diet, betta fish have a preference for live foods, and accept brine shrimp, tubifex, glass worms, beef heart paste, frozen and freeze-dried foods as well as flake foods.

As for their temperament, bettas are territorial and they become rather aggressive when two males are kept together, or if kept together with fish that are similar in size and aspect as they mistake them for rivals.

Females can be kept together, and a male can be added to the mix.

Tiger Barbs

tiger-barb-vs-betta-fish

Tiger barb fish are another popular freshwater aquarium fish that are easily recognizable after their black markings and orange bodies.

They grow 2.5 – 3 inches long and prefer well-planted tanks with sandy bottoms. They’re lively fish that require ample swimming space and should be kept in schools of 6 or 7.

Their tank should be at least 30 gallons with water in the 72 to 78 degrees F range and a pH of 6.5. Hardness should be up to 10 dGH.

Tiger barbs eat all kinds of fish foods including flakes, live, frozen and freeze-dried foods. They’ll also accept vegetables.

They’re hardy fish that will do best in clean, well oxygenated water.

As semi-aggressive fish, placing them in a community aquarium requires that you know about their behavioral issues.

Tiger barbs like to pick on their own mates but will also chase and nip at the fins of other fish. Keeping them in a large school can temper their aggressive tendencies.

Why You Should Not Keep Tiger Barbs and Betta Fish in the Same Tank?

Tiger barbs aren’t good companions for betta fish. Although their water parameters are somewhat similar, their aggressiveness makes them an incompatible pairing.

Tiger barbs will most likely pester your bettas and nip at their fins, potentially exposing them to infections and diseases.

Plus, if you’re adding tiger barbs to a 10-gallon tank that has betta fish in it, you’re going to have an overstocking problem.

Whenever you buy fish from a pet store, don’t rely too much on the information you’ve been given and do your own research on each species to see if there are any behavioral issues or difficulties in keeping with other fish.

I’ve heard it countless times that people we’re given inaccurate information at pet stores and their fish got hurt or even worse.

Do your own research on compatibility and behavior and double check everything pet store employees will tell you.

Having a community tank something means that you don’t get to have all the types of fish you want, and you have to choose tank mates based on compatibility and not physical features alone

Which Fish are Compatible with Bettas?

Betta fish can be kept in a community tank with the following fish:

  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Corydora Catfish
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Neon Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Clown Plecos
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Harlequin Rasboras

As I mentioned, you shouldn’t keep bettas with other male bettas and other barb species.

Which Fish are Compatible with Tiger Barbs?

Tiger barbs are compatible with the following types of fish:

  • Other barbs like the Cherry Barb, Rosy Barb, and Black Ruby Barb;
  • Corydora Catfish
  • Plecos
  • Clown Loach
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Zebra Danios
  • Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Platies

It’s not a good idea to keep tiger barbs with bettas, guppies, angelfish or goldfish.

Final Notes

If you care about the well-being of your fish, you must thoroughly research them not only to find out which fish you can keep them with, but also to make sure you provide optimal water and tank conditions.

Pet store employees aren’t the best source of information, therefore, do your own research on the things you’re curious about.

Make sure you keep an eye on how different fish get along in the tank and separate fish that don’t get along.

This will prevent injuries, diseases, and will ensure a peaceful and stress-free environment for your fish, which is also extremely important for their health.

I hope that I’ve convinced you not to keep betta fish with tiger barbs and offered you plenty of examples of fish that are compatible with these species.

Tiger Barb Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Puntius_tetrazona001.JPG

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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Questions and Answers

dani’s. Pothier October 28, 2019 Reply

This was very informative. I was told I could keep tiger barbs with a beta. I love my Beta!! Had her for a few months. 2 days ago cannot find her ANYWHERE. Nothing! I think the tiger barbs must have eaten her??? My other fish are a pleco and 5 danios.

    How many tiger barbs you have? If there is a school of 4-6 tiger barbs, they can kill and eat the betta fish for sure. It is enough that one of them attacks the betta and the rest follows.

Funny how you said barb fish will most likely pester the beta fish. Unfortunately I woke up this morning only to find my tiger barb laid lifeless at the bottom of the aquarium with some missing fins while my beta was nipping its face every 5 seconds. To add to the nightmare, my clown loach was nowhere to be seen and I finally found it’s  white skelly near the barb when I tried to get the barb out of the tank. Watching the shocking crime scene first thing in the morning has definitely caused my stomach to churn. 

I wonder what has happened in the middle of the night. They had been tank mates for at least the last 3 months along with angelfish, gourami, silvershark and a few others small fishes.

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