10 Worst Betta Fish Tank Mates – Avoid These

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If you are looking into creating a community tank along with your betta fish, you certainly know how complicated this can get. Indeed, these colorful fighters do not make the most peaceful pet when it comes to other fish.

They are highly territorial and can often show signs of aggression. Community tanks containing bettas are not a mission impossible, though. There are several species that tend to function well together, but they need to be chosen carefully.

Others, oppositely, must be widely avoided. To ease your research on which mates to steer clear of, here comes our list of the 10 worst betta fish tank mates.

1. Other Bettas

The worst thing to do when adopting more than one male betta is to place them into a single aquarium. Indeed, they will immediately feel threatened and will defend their territory. Male betta fish do not function well together and they need to be housed separately. Always.

When it comes to females, their behavior is a bit different. They can live in groups sometimes, as long as placed simultaneously and with no male specimens around. Females usually live in sororities, even in the wild, so this is perfectly acceptable and safe.

They will be slightly aggressive towards each other but only until a hierarchy order is established. Once they agree on their alpha female, they really can live in harmony.

However, if you wish to add a female to an already established sorority, they can often hardly bully the newly arrived one, so always try placing them into a single aquarium at the same time.

2. Shrimp

Shrimp are known to be quite peaceful aquatic creatures. However, they can often end up as betta food when placed into such community tanks. They can be remarkably diverse when it comes to their sizes, so always avoid smaller ones as much as you can.

Even if they can usually hide from betta fish by tucking themselves among the tunnels and plants, they generally do not make a good match.

That said, adult shrimps also tend to eat betta fry, so this is certainly another disadvantage for many keepers. Most of the shrimp breeds will share similar water requirements with betta fish, but these colorful hunters do not seem to tolerate their presence well. Therefore, better to be safe than sorry.

3. Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs are enthusiastic nippers and must therefore be separated from those fish that feature long tails and fins. Although they share most of the water requirements with betta fish, they certainly do not make a good match according to their behavior.

With bettas being territorial and tiger barbs loving to chase fins around, this can only result in injured or sick fish.

Tiger barbs are schooling fish, so are happiest when kept in groups, but only as long as there are no other species around. They can also be surprisingly fast and agile, making it almost impossible for bettas to avoid their frequent nipping.

4. Goldfish

Although we often see both betta fish and goldfish sold or kept in bowls, that does not necessarily mean that they can share a home. On the contrary, they make terrible tank mates. And for several reasons.

First of all, betta fish thrive in warm water while goldfish love being in a somehow cooler environment. This means that you would be faced with one of your pet’s suffering because of inadequate water temperature.

Secondly, bettas are mostly carnivorous while goldfish are omnivorous, meaning that they cannot share food. But not only. Actually, with feeding both on meat and plants, goldfish tend to produce much more waste when compared to the Siamese fighters.

This can bring to often ammonia spikes or, alternatively, super-frequent water changes. And with betta fish being extremely sensitive both to ammonia presence and to frequent water changes, this is certainly something to avoid.

Adding to that, goldfish can often decide to nip on betta’s fins, which is surely really dangerous and unsafe.

5. Cichlids

There are many different sub-species among the cichlids family, but most of them are not suitable tank mates to betta fish.

Although the majority is tropical and shares water specifications with Siamese fighting fish, the biggest issue is in their behavior. Indeed, both species are extremely territorial and can become aggressive towards each other.

Cichlids are usually significantly larger than betta fish, meaning that bettas can easily become their meal if the cichlids species is carnivorous. But even if that does not come out true, they will certainly fight with each other and your betta may get severely injured in no time.

6. Gouramis

Betta fish and gouramis belong to the same family. Therefore, both species are highly territorial and protective of their tanks. If you place these two together into a single tank, you are risking of having hard fights until one of them dies.

And, with bettas mostly having long and sensitive fins, this is surely a hazard you need to avoid. If your betta’s fins become injured or torn, it may have difficulty swimming and could develop fin rot or a deadly bacterial infection.

Gouramis usually function well with those species which bettas can live in harmony as well. These include corydoras catfish, tetras, khuli loaches and others.

7. Dwarf Pea Puffer

Dwarf pea puffers and betta fish make a terrible combination, both with female and with male specimens. Indeed, they are both small and aggressive, with puffers presenting extremely hostile behavior. Additionally, puffers are famous nippers, so your betta may probably turn out finless in no time.

Furthermore, puffers really tend to produce a lot of waste, even with their super-tiny size. That means that you would be forced to perform highly frequent water changes to avoid ammonia spikes.

This can, consequentially, seriously compromise your betta’s wellbeing, as it can get easily stressed whenever water is changed. On top of that, even if they do share water temperature requirements, all other parameters basically differ, making it impossible for these species to thrive if housed together.

8. Rainbow Shark

This is probably one of the worst combinations ever. Rainbow sharks are super-territorial and extremely aggressive. And with them being quite larger from bettas, placing a single betta into such a community tank would possibly turn into a massacre in no time.

On top of that, rainbow sharks require much larger tanks than bettas do, but also longer. They are extremely active swimmers and prefer spending their time towards the bottom of the tank.

Betta fish, on the other side, love living in higher tanks, where they can happily circle around the top and mid-levels. Additionally, rainbow sharks need higher water flow to thrive while bettas can suffer from swimming difficulties if there is a strong current.

9. Axolotl

This adorable salamander is very fragile, just as your betta is. Therefore, please keep them separated at all times, to ensure they are staying healthy during their lives in captivity.

Axolotls do not really enjoy sharing their tanks with other mates (even with their own species) and are happiest when housed alone. Their gills are really sensitive to nips and injuries, so a betta could potentially really harm your walking fish.

But not only. With axolotls growing quite large through their adult phase, they could occasionally try feeding on a betta. Such behavior could either kill your betta fish or it could bring your salamander to choke on the betta. Even though bettas are much smaller, they are not meant to be an axolotl treat.

10. Turtle

Even if you choose a relatively small-sized turtle, it is still not a good companion for your betta. Turtles are very agile hunters and they feed on fish in the wild. Therefore, they will almost certainly either try or succeed feeding on your colorful pets.

On top of that, bettas require warmer water when compared to turtles. That means you would have to adjust the temperature to one species only, leaving the other in un-ideal conditions and with the impossibility of thriving.

Turtles are best to be housed with much smaller fish which make better swimmers than bettas. That way, they can promptly escape the turtle’s mouth and seek refuge along with the plants and tunnels.

There are other fish such as discus fish, Oscars, African cichlids and other larger and aggressive mates, that you should never house with bettas.

Wrapping Up

Finding the ideal tank mate for your betta pet can be frustrating sometimes. Firstly, you need to seek those species which not only share water parameter requirements but also those which produce less waste, to avoid too frequent water changes which can cause stress to your betta fish.

Furthermore, with betta fish being highly protective over their territory and food, you certainly need a peaceful tank mate which will successfully avoid conflicts and fights. Bottom feeders can often be a great solution, as they tend to stay away from bettas and basically simply ignore them.

Wherever your research for the most suitable tank mate may lead you, we highly recommend avoiding all 10 species from our list. These are surely not a good fit.

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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