Discus Fish and Betta Fish – Can Live Together?

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Betta fish are surely one of the most wanted tropical pets when it comes to aquatic lovers. But so are many others, including the amazing Discus fish. And the choice can sometimes be really hard, so we often refuse to settle on one species only and decide to get multiple instead.

Discus fish and Betta fish both share similar environmental requirements, but can they actually live together?

Male bettas should never be kept together with discus fish due to their aggressive behavior. Discus are very sensitive to aggression, and they will get very stressed if there is an aggressor in the tank. Female bettas might be a better option, but you should always have a backup plan.

When it comes to their temperaments, it is probably best not to try matching up these two fish. But still, there are several successful cases of these living together in harmony once some basic requirements are provided.

Betta Fish Behavior

When it comes to adding Betta fish to a community tank, the golden rule is to always avoid doing that with male fish. Indeed, although all Bettas can be quite aggressive, this is certainly enhanced with males.

They are solitary little creatures and do not accept well any other fish inside their tiny habitat unless it is a female. So, if you already own a male Betta, the best is to leave it in its own tank, enjoying the lifestyle they love so much.

Female fish, on the other side, can sometimes function well with other fish, but constant monitoring is essential.

Discuses are Schooling Fish

Although they usually pair up with one partner when breeding, Discuses are schooling fish and they are therefore happiest when kept in smaller groups. The best is to keep them in a group of at least 6, so they feel safe.

Keeping your Discus into such groups is what will make them feel really comfortable and safe around their new home. And, consequentially, this will reduce their need to become aggressive while defending their territory.

Another important thing to have in mind when setting up a home for such fish is the tank size. Indeed, such groups of Discus require at least a 100-gallon tank to live a happy life.

The shape of the tank is not extremely important, but it is recommended to choose taller tanks whenever possible. Discuses prefer living in deeper waters, but this will ultimately also contribute to them better avoiding Bettas.

Water Requirements

As mentioned above, these two fish share similar water requirements, which is great news.

Although Discuses prefer somehow warmer temperatures, there is a perfectly nice range of crossover values, so keeping the tank water temperature around 82-degrees Fahrenheit will work amazing for both fish.

The pH which suits best to both fish is anywhere between 6.8 and 7.0. The shared water hardness values are between 4° and 5° dGH.

A factor that is vitally important is keeping their water clean at all times. That means setting up a proper filtration system inside the tank but also performing regular water changes. The suggested activity is changing around 20% of the tank at least once per week.

If you decide to go with an unfiltered aquarium, however, prepare yourself for changing the water several times each week.

Both fish are extremely sensitive to spikes in water specifications but also to increased ammonia levels. That is why it is vitally important to maintain stable and clean water at all times.

Feeding Bettas & Discus Fish

Feeding times are really similar for these fish, so you can easily offer them meals simultaneously. While Discus fish are omnivores, Bettas are primarily carnivores and require a protein-based meal plan.

They can share a lot of food and even delicious snacks, but it is really important to choose these carefully, to avoid them feeling as they need to fight for their food.

Discus like feeding at the mid-level of the aquarium, so perhaps choosing some slowly sinking type of flakes or pellets could be a great idea.

In the meantime, choose non-sinking food for your Betta, so it can stay on the top of the tank while eating. That way, they will not have to interfere with each other.

Another thing to be aware of is that Discuses are substantially larger when compared to Bettas, so they will obviously require more food to grow healthy.

Bettas, on the other side, need super-small portions of food, or you may otherwise be risking of your fish overfeeding and becoming obese.

However, if you decide to feed fish across your community tank, please always make sure there are no food residues.

These can sink to the bottom of the tank and hide among the substrate, increasing ammonia levels in the tank without owners even noticing.

Can You Keep One Betta and Discus Together?

Female Bettas, just as their male companions, are perfectly happy when living alone. They do not mind having a solitary life and are happier when not being disturbed. However, Discus are schooling fish and therefore require living in groups.

When kept as individual pets, they can almost certainly get really depressed. Some of them can even become so stressed that they will ultimately die. Therefore, the best is to match up a single female Betta with a school of 6 Discus.

It is really important to follow such guidance and not to disregard it. Although they may seem fine during the first days, Discus will eventually become overly frightened when forced to live outside their school. And vice versa, Bettas can become overly aggressive when two males are kept together.

Wrapping Up

Having a large tank with enough of greenery which can act as a great hiding spot is the best starting point to match up these fish species which are usually not famous for getting along together.

But so is choosing your fish wisely. Remember, never ever place a male Betta or a single Discus into a community tank.

Besides that, providing enough love and attention to all fish may just turn out to life in harmony for these adorable creatures. But always have a backup plan. Even if some fish may seem to ignore each other during the first couple of days, this can change quickly.

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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