Can Glofish and Betta Live Together?

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First things first, Glofish doesn’t describe a first species but a fish category that comprises several species. So far, these include zebra danios, skirt tetras, tiger barbs, rainbow shark, and the betta. If you’ve heard of Glofish before, you probably already know the essentials. If not, here are some points to put you up to date:

  • Glofish have been genetically engineered to glow in the dark with the purpose of growing in the presence of environmental pollutants
  • They display no other differences than regular species other than their unusual glowing
  • The colors available grow in number, with the currently available ones being Galactic Blue, Starfire Red, Moonrise Pink, Electric Green, Cosmic Blue, and Sunburst Orange
  • They are gaining increased popularity in the fish-growing business among both novice and more experienced aquarists

So, how would this fish category fare when paired with betta fish? The answer depends entirely on the species in question. So, let’s assess their compatibility.

Do Glofish Get Along with Bettas?

The easiest answer is ‘mostly no.’ If you know anything about bettas, you understand why that is. Betta males don’t get along with any fish, especially with other betta males. This is due to several reasons:

  • Territorial behavior – Betta males are extremely territorial, especially when there are females around. This will lead them to nip at other fish, bully them, and even hurt them in the process, causing injuries that may infect them over time. Betta males may even fight to the death among themselves, especially when placed in a tight environment with not enough hiding spots. They will do the same with any other territorial fish like the rainbow shark Glofish or tiger barbs.
  • Excessively large fins – Betta males have veil-like fins of amazing colors and pattern diversity. They use their fins as a mating display to attract females and intimidate other males. The problem arises when pairing large-finned betta fish with a fin-nipping species like the zebra danios. These small and energetic fish can cause a lot of problems for betta fish due to their predilection towards large fins. They may hurt and stress the bettas in the process, which already makes them incompatible tank mates.
  • Male hierarchy – A male betta’s most fierce enemy will always be another male betta. They live by specific hierarchical standards, which become obvious whenever males get in close proximity to one another. If you plan on getting a betta tank, only keep 1 male unless the tank is large enough to accommodate 2 or more. And you should decorate the tank with a variety of live plants, wood, and rocks to provide the fish with much-needed safe spaces.

The only way you can pair bettas with Glofish is to rely on tetras for the job. These small, joyful, and peaceful fish have no quarrel with any other species. They prefer living in larger shoals and display a friendly and easy-going demeanor which works great for bettas.

The only issue is that the bettas need to be predominantly females. As we’ve already seen, males aren’t really up for socializing with other species too much. I agree that female bettas aren’t as beautiful or as impressive as males, but concessions sometimes need to be made.

If you’ve decided to take a chance and get a few male bettas, just know that there are risks involved, no matter how many precautions you’d take.

Keeping Glofish with Betta

If you’ve decided you need to pair your bettas with a Glofish species, tetras are your best and safest bet. They are peaceful, calm, and don’t care that much for territorial struggles, so they will get along with your female bettas nicely. Stressing the ‘female’ part, since, as you know by now, male bettas are the cranky ones.

When it comes to accommodating these 2 species, several aspects need considering, such as:

– Tank Size

How much space your fish need depends on a variety of factors such as:

  • Your fish’s size and number
  • Their personalities (aggressive and territorial fish require more space)
  • The tank’s decorations (more plants and rocks demand more space)
  • The interactions between the different fish species
  • Your overarching goals (if you plan to increase the number of fish, get a larger tank, etc.)

That being said, tetras typically grow up to 1.5 inches and like to live in schools of at least 6 individuals. The more, the better, as a general rule. A school of 6 tetras can do fine in a 10-gallon tank, but that’s stretching it a bit if you were to ask me.

I would rather consider a 20-gallon tank for a school of 6-8 tetras. This will provide the fish with enough space to roam around freely and enjoy their environment.

Bettas need around 2.5 to 3 gallons of water per fish, probably more if we’re talking about males. The ideal betta group should consist of 1 male and 4-5 females. Or females only, if you don’t mind the lack of esthetic diversity.

If you’re combining the 2 species, I suggest a 50-gallon tank. You might get away with a smaller aquarium, but it wouldn’t be ideal in my view. A 50-gallon tank is enough to house 10 tetras and 6-7 betta fish and have enough room available for plants, rocks, decorations, a filter, and other components you might deem useful.

– Diet and Feeding

Both tetras and bettas are omnivorous and require a varied diet to remain healthy over time. There’s this opinion regarding bettas that says they can do just fine on plant-based food alone. This is a dangerous misconception that could cause your bettas to fall sick. They also require animal-sourced protein and fat to remain healthy.

The ideal diet should consist of 2 feedings per day for both species and include food items like:

  • Freeze-dried food
  • Fish flakes
  • Pellets high in crude protein
  • Live food (brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae, etc.)

Most of these food items are available in fish shops, or you can obtain them via live cultures at home. There are numerous kits designed to help you set up a live culture system to grow brine shrimp or worms.

Regarding frequency, younger fish tend to eat twice per day, while older ones only need 1 meal.

– Water Changes

Both tetras and bettas need clean waters and a stable environment. This is true for most tank fish, not all, because some don’t mind dirty waters as much. On the other hand, Bettas hate fluctuations in water parameters, and ammonia, especially, can affect them severely over time.

To prevent ammonia buildup, you must:

  • Prevent overfeeding, which can lead to the accumulation of decaying food on the substrate
  • Prevent overcrowding, which results in more fish waste affecting the water’s chemistry
  • Vacuum the substrate occasionally to remove dead plant and animal matter and excess fish waste
  • Have a potent filtering system to dilute ammonia, oxygenate the water, and protect the cultures of beneficial bacteria
  • Perform weekly water changes of up to 10-15%, depending on your tank’s needs

The latter point is one of the most important yet the most neglected in the business. Many novice aquarists forget or don’t care about water changes and only perform them sparingly, which is less than ideal. Water changes are necessary to maintain the water parameters stable and provide the fish with a cleaner and safer environment.

This is that much more important when you have betta fish which are notoriously sensitive to poor water conditions and parameter fluctuations.

– Number of Fish

Theoretically speaking, there’s no set number of fish you should have. It all depends on your overarching goals, experience level, and the tank’s size and setup. If you’re a novice, looking for a hobby to keep you occupied, stick to the minimum necessary.

A community tank combining tetras and bettas should have a school of 6 tetras and a group of 4-5 bettas. When it comes to bettas, either has only one male and 3-4 females or 4-5 females and no males at all. This is enough for a beginner when discussing community tanks.

If you have more experience in the fish-keeping business, you can boost those numbers up as much as you want. Just make sure you provide all your fish with proper living conditions, hiding spots, and enough space to keep them comfortable and thriving long-term.

Can Glofish Betta Breed with Normal Betta?

There’s no definitive answer to that, but I wouldn’t advise trying it for several reasons. Which are actually 2:

  1. The risk for genetic faults – It’s unclear what results from breeding Glofish with their regular counterparts since it hasn’t been done in controlled settings. Or, at least, there’s little information on that. What we do know, however, is that pairing Glofish with regular representatives of the same species has a high risk of causing genetic defects.
  2. It’s actually prohibited – According to the International Betta Congress, you are prohibited from intentionally breeding Glofish betta and selling them to third parties. That’s because Glofish bettas are a patented fish owned by Glofish LLC and produced by Segrest Farms and 5-D Tropical, who sell them on behalf of the former.

Regarding the second point, there may be some confusion involved here. If you’re not allowed to breed or sell them, how do people get Glofish in the first place? Well, you can purchase them off of authorized channels that collaborate with Glofish LLC and are allowed to sell them.

Once you get them, you can only keep and grow them as ornamental fish. No breeding and no selling for profit. That’s a useful thing to remember if you ask me.

Conclusion

Bettas are easy to care for and peaceful for the most part, but that’s not always the case. Males, in particular, can get violent towards one another and even other fish that display visible territorial behavior.

Fortunately, tetras make for a great option as tank companions, whether they are Glofish or not. Just remember that whatever applies to Glofish bettas applies to Glofish tetras as well in terms of breeding and selling prohibitions.

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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