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What Fish Can Live With Bettas? My Top Choices

What Fish Can Live With Bettas?  My Top Choices

Image Credit: Lidkk, Roel Balingit, Vlad Butsky (CC License)

Betta fish are loners by nature. The ground rule for these Siamese fighting fish is one fish per tank. Why? Because they’re as ill-tempered as they come. 

While some hobbyists dig the aesthetics of having just one betta fish for the entire tank, some of us are more experimental. 

My first pet fish were bettas – a couple of male bettas. Needless to say, one bit the dust within a few days. Don’t judge me – I was only 9. 

Ever since, I’ve raised bettas in all kinds of environments – alone, in a sorority, and even in a community tank. 

Keeping the bettas alone doesn’t trigger horseplay. They’ll keep to themselves and live a happy, solemn life for the entirety. Can two betta fish live together? Depends.

Raising a betta sorority can go either way. You can read about my experience and findings from a couple of researches on keeping a group of female bettas together here. 

Now, I spent an entire weekend trying to shortlist a group of fish that can cohabitate with bettas. Then I looked up on the internet to see what everyone else was recommending, and no offense to anyone, but there were lists containing 50+ fish.

Far from being helpful, these articles were created to make you scratch your head. I get that you wanted to be inclusive and informative, but that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and suggest just about any fish under the sun. 

Enough rant for the day – sorry, not sorry! 

In today’s blog, I’ll only recommend fish I have successfully kept alongside bettas for an extended period. The list might be short, but it’s going to be insightful. 

Let’s begin! 

What Fish Can Live With Bettas?

I have successfully raised bettas alongside bottom-dwellers like cory catfish, kuhli loach, and clown loach. Since they occupy entirely different areas than betta, they don’t run into each other. Peaceful schooling fish like tetras and rasboras can also safely cohabitate with bettas. 

Cory Catfish 

Credit: Karsten Schonherr (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Corydoras paleatus 
  • Maximum Size: 2-3 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 16-24°C (61-75°F)

Cory catfish are my number one choice when selecting tankmates for bettas. 

I’ve had so much fun raising them alongside fighting fish. As bottom-dwellers, these peaceful creatures steer clear of the tank’s surface, where the betta usually hangs around. Thus, the two parties seldom ran into each other. 

In typical catfish fashion, corydoras spend most of their time slowly swimming at the bottom of the tank, foraging for food. Since they’re schooling fish by nature, you should keep at least a couple of them together to witness their schooling behavior. 

Bettas and cory catfish enjoy the same meals. Make sure the food you offer sinks to the bottom, as catfish won’t swim to the top even if hungry.

When I first brought a pair of corydoras to go inside my betta tank, I ensured the two parties were introduced to each other gradually and indirectly. For some time, the betta kept approaching the catfish, flaring and occasionally “ramming” before swimming away to again come back. 

Slightly panicked, I rang my LFS for help and did as they said. I removed the betta, rearranged the tank, added two catfish, and reintroduced the betta into the tank. 

Surprisingly, the fighting fish was quite docile this time – he didn’t charge at the corydoras. 

Here’s an article on subject with more detail: Betta and cory catfish together? Don’t make this mistake.

Kuhli Loach 

Credit: Lidkk (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
  • Maximum Size: 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Temperament: Mellow and peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 24-30°C (75-86°F)

Kuhli loaches are yet another popular choice of fish to go inside a betta tank – even male betta tanks. Thanks to their peaceful temperament, they don’t cause any trouble when kept with fierce fish like bettas. 

As long as there’s enough space for everyone and plenty of hiding spots, Kuhli loaches will keep to themselves. These shy fish are most active at night and will only go out and about when the night falls. 

Like catfish, loaches are bottom-feeders. They spend most of their time chilling at the base. So, they will seldom run into territorial bettas. Also, the water requirement is almost identical. All in all, it’s pretty easy to raise these two parties together. 

Consider a couple of things if you plan to raise them in the same tank. For instance, the tank in question should be quite big. Kuhli loaches grow up to 5 inches – taking on a formidable look.

I raised them together in a 20-gallon tank when I was a teenager. 20 gallons was more than enough for one betta and two loaches. 

Second, the substrate should be sandy so your loaches don’t injure themselves. They often kill time digging the ground and burying themselves. 

Also, make hideouts using plants and PVC pipes. The latter works really well with loaches.

Lastly, the lighting should be medium – not too bright or dark. If the lights aren’t overly bright, bettas will stick to the upper half of the tank, and loaches will stay at the bottom. 


Credit: Melqkov (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon axelrodi 
  • Maximum Size: 2.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Temperament: Calm and peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 22-24°C (72-76°F)

There are at least 100 different types of tetras we know. But in this article, I’ll only be talking about neon and ember tetras. Despite the fact that both betta and tetra swim in the top half of the tank, they surprisingly can cohabitate without any qualms. 

When I first brought home half a dozen tetras, I was skeptical about putting them in the same tank as the betta. I was worried for both parties. Bettas are inherently aggressive, and, well, tetras have teeth. 

What I did was I removed the betta first, rearranged the tank, added the tetras, and finally reintroduced the betta. 

As of now, I’ve had no problem keeping ember tetras and betta together. However, the neon variants often tried to nip the betta’s fins. Luckily, this problem was resolved when I upgraded the tank size.

 One good thing about pairing bettas and tetras together is that the former is sluggish. Even if the betta was aggressive towards the tetras, it would be impossible to catch them. Tetras are incredibly fast. 

I skimmed through a few forums to find out if anybody else had success raising betta and tetras. A good majority of people commented that you’d at least need a 20-gallon setup for this union. A 10-gallon tank might not cut it. 

Lastly, remember that if you are planning to bring tetras home, you need to buy at least 6 of them. They’re schooling fish that only do best in groups. Second, they can live for 5-10 years – no small commitment. 

Harlequin Rasbora

Credit: Roel Balingit (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
  • Maximum Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-8 years
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 22-27°C (72-81°F)

I added harlequin rasboras to my betta tank only last year after much anticipation. I clearly remember rasboras showing up in every other “betta tank mates” list on the internet. I was surprised. 

Besides needing the same environment as bettas, harlequin rasboras are quite peaceful and super quick, two traits that can help prevent hostility between the two parties. And that’s exactly how things play out in my tank right now. 

I have added a school of rasboras in the betta sorority tank. It looks like I just can’t get enough of these fish! 

The female bettas are ignoring the rasboras completely so far. Meanwhile, the rasboras are also staying out of their way – clever. But even if the betta wanted to attack the rasboras, it couldn’t owing to its slow speed. 

On the contrary, I did have a problem with this one particular rasbora who would try to nip my betta’s fins at any cost. I had to rehome it at last. 

To introduce betta to its new tankmates, I removed the betta, rearranged the tank, added the rasboras, and finally reintroduced it. This nifty trick worked both times like a charm. 

To sum it up, as long as there’s enough space and hideouts in the tank, bettas and harlequin rasboras can live together peacefully. I’ve successfully kept these fish with a male betta and a group of female bettas. 

Clown Loach

Credit: Vlad Butsky (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus 
  • Maximum Size: 5-7 inches
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful and easy-going
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 26-29°C (78-85°F)

Last but not least – clown loach is yet another favorite to go inside a betta tank. I’ve successfully raised these bottom-dwellers alongside bettas on multiple occasions. 

The fact that they swim at the bottom alone makes them great candidates to go in a betta tank. The betta fish only swims on the surface. The encounter between these two parties will be rarer than a hen’s teeth. 

Also, since clown loaches grow sizably and have a somewhat formidable appearance, even the biggest of male bettas seem intimidated by the loach – at least in my case. 

However, there’s something vital to consider before you get your hands on the loaches. These fish grow to become quite big, and they need to be in groups. 

So, raising multiple clown loaches together requires a huge tank. And most bettas aren’t destined to live in a big tank. Therefore, although clown loaches and bettas make good tankmates, they’re seldom kept together. 

I had briefly added a few clown loaches to my betta sorority tank when I was rehoming my fish and didn’t encounter any problems.

Wrapping Up!

So, cory catfish, kuhli loach, tetra, harlequin rasbora, and clown loach are the 5 fish I have kept alongside bettas for an extended period. Some hobbyists report that they can safely cohabitate with guppies, Endler’s livebearers, snails, and shrimps. 

Bettas often receive flak for being an aggressive loner that wants the entire tank to itself. While it’s true the betta would rather live alone, let’s not forget that they’re only incredibly intolerant of fellow bettas, not other fish. 

There are so many people out there who have successfully raised betta in a community tank. So, feel free to experiment as long as you don’t jeopardize any fish’s life. 

This article here includes some more information on fish you can keep alongside female bettas. You might find it helpful.