Discussion about bettas and communities

sirdarksol

It would be best, although not absolutely necessary, for you to be listening to Emilie Autumn's version of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” while reading this, as it is what I'm listening to as I write. A little bit of light-hearted harpsichord music does wonders for the mental faculties, just ask the residents of The Asylum... but I digress, already. ;D

[official moderator]Between little skirmishes in various threads, a thread meant to “disprove” the old school of thought, and a poll, it is obvious that there is a very large disagreement regarding whether or not it is safe to put bettas in community aquaria. This is nothing new. It's a discussion that has been happening on the forum since I first started here. It's a good thing that it's been brought up, although some of the methods that have been used on both sides of the discussion have been less than productive.

The point of this thread is to be productive. I want to see if we can come to a better understanding of what is best to suggest to others. All of us have to make the decision of whether or not to keep a betta in a community for ourselves, but that doesn't mean that we can't have a general consensus, or at least cordial disagreement, regarding how good of an idea this is.

First of all, we need to verify what is meant by “community.” I have always taken it to mean an aquarium that has a variety of fish swimming at all levels. I have <u>not</u> taken it to mean an aquarium with a betta (or other solitary fish) and a small cleaning crew of cories, otos, or bristle-nosed plecos. I certainly have never counted any inverts as creating a community tank. From looking at a variety of threads, this seems to be the most common interpretation, but we want to be absolutely sure that everyone is on the same page. If one person says, “Bettas do not belong in community tanks,” and means tanks that have other mid- and upper-level fish, and another person is thinking of bettas with cleaning crews and says “Yes they do,” the disagreement was created by misunderstanding, rather than by activity.

Second, we need to look at the fact that success is a subjective idea. Some people consider a fish living for a few months to be a success. Others consider a fish surviving a year or more to be a success. Some people consider it a success if their fish are active and colorful, despite longevity. Some people consider nothing less than an active fish that survives its expected lifetime to be a success. There are hundreds of other shades of “success,” as well. This is why a thread asking whether or not you've successfully kept a betta in a community tank has limited use.
I have no simple way around this. I can tell you that, in my opinion, success is not something that I can describe here. I base it on a broad range of experiences, both my own and others', and comparisons between not only life spans, but also activity level. My opinion is not law, though. This is one of the reasons that we all have to make this decision ourselves.
[/official moderator]
[my stance]
I am of the camp that believes that bettas don't do well in community aquaria. The areas that bettas live in are not conducive for the survival of most fish, so bettas aren't really built with a programmed set of responses to various types of fish. There seems to be something about other anabantoids that triggers their aggression response, but even that's not a guarantee. From the stories that I have heard over the past three+ years, it seems that chances are better than 50/50 that a betta in a community tank will be a problem. Those aren't odds that I want to play with, and I really don't want to suggest to others that they do so.

It seems that, over the past couple of years, most of the forum has adopted the same opinion. This doesn't make us right (see my thread about logic, discussion, and learning). I can assure you that this wasn't random. I went to the betta archives and searched for “community” and found, in the first two pages, almost two dozen examples of bettas having problems that appeared to be directly related to the fact that they were in a community tank. There were also a few cases of bettas taking exception to the presence of a bottom-feeder. There were also success stories, but much less frequent. I have also personally seen several bettas kept in community tanks, and all of them had problems.
The problems included:
Issues with guppies, mollies, platies, swordtails. Aggression going both ways on these.
Issues with many different kinds of tetras, including the diminutive neon tetras.
Issues with danios.
Issues with rainbows.
Issues with juvenile livebearers being kept in the betta's tank to grow up.
Issues with barbs (duh.)
Issues with gourami (double-duh.)
Betta outcompeting the other fish for food and becoming constipated.
Betta starving because of faster, more capable swimmers.
Betta continually attacking a pleco.
Betta attacking a cory
Bettas getting stressed and dying of illness for no apparent reason. This included a case of ich that didn't touch the rest of the tank.

These cases, and presumably many more like them (again, my search only included 100 threads), are the reason that many of us are of the opinion that a betta in a community aquarium is a risk that just isn't worth it.

Add to this the fact that three different members who kept dozens of bettas had stated that they noted a marked difference between the personality of bettas kept in community aquaria and those kept alone, and another such person who had made many attempts and said they caused “nothing but problems.”

There have definitely been cases where a betta has survived without violence or apparent stress in a community aquarium. The biggest problem, and the biggest reason that I will not suggest the route to anyone, is that I have not seen any commonality between these cases. It appears to be a matter of random chance. Worse, it seems that the slightest thing can set off a problem, and there's no way of telling what that occurrence will be.
Therefore, I suggest against bettas in communities, and I strongly suggest that people who decide to keep a betta in a community have a backup plan in case of explosion.
[/my stance]
[moderator]
Now, please, discuss. Keep it cordial. Keep it logical. Keep it productive.
[/moderator]
 

Treefork

I've personally had success with bettas in community tanks with various types of fish over the years. By success I mean my bettas have been healthy, active and lived for 2-3 years each. Fish I've had with Bettas with no issues:
White Cloud
Danio
Platy
Cory Cat
YoYo Loach
Plecostomus
Serpae Tetra
Piranha (just kidding)
Swordtails
Neon Tetra
Pictus Cat
Probably a few more than I can't recall from years back. This over the course of about 12 years. My stance has been that I believe betta incompatibility in a community tank is the minority but we only hear about the problems, never the successes. Which makes sense in that we don't have any issues to talk about when we have compatibility success, until someone starts one of these controversial topics.

Joe
 

sirdarksol

My stance has been that I believe betta incompatibility in a community tank is the minority but we only hear about the problems, never the successes.

What has led you to this stance?
 

Treefork

Well, foremost I would say my repeated success. The previously closed thread also had many success stories, and Meenu has a poll up that so far has the successes FAR outnumbering the failures. I believe that a few people have failures/issues and post about it, others who have never kept a betta read them, decide that's the way it is and then when advice is asked, people who have never even kept a betta shout "Not compatible! Not a good idea!"
 

Jaysee

My stance has been that I believe betta incompatibility in a community tank is the minority but we only hear about the problems, never the successes.

I put a poll up on another forum which is currently at 25 successes and 2 failures.
 

sirdarksol

Well, foremost I would say my repeated success. The previously closed thread also had many success stories, and Meenu has a poll up that so far has the successes FAR outnumbering the failures. I believe that a few people have failures/issues and post about it, others who have never kept a betta read them, decide that's the way it is and then when advice is asked, people who have never even kept a betta shout "Not compatible! Not a good idea!"

First of all, the now-closed thread was purposefully one-sided, and absolutely useless regarding this discussion. That was why the moderators decided that it needed to discuss both sides or be closed. It would be like me posting a thread saying "Post your car accidents where you weren't wearing your seat belt and didn't get hurt" and then pointing at that as "proof" that seat belts don't help you in an accident. Nobody is served by such one-sided arguments.
Likewise, polls on the topic, including Meenu's poll, will usually produce skewed results for any number of reasons. For example, if you've had one tank succeed and one tank fail... which do you record? If you've tried it a dozen times and it has succeeded, or failed, how do you vote for all of them? Most people will rank their successes as more important than their failures. In the poll on the other forum, as an example, people were counting things like "betta got its tail chewed off by guppies" as successes.

As far as your last accusation, that one is going both ways. Just as there are people who are reading the failures (and I wouldn't call over twenty separate stories regarding failure in about a year as "a small number") and saying "it's not a good idea," there are those who are reading the people who say that they have had success and are saying "see, it's a good idea." That's why a discussion. That's why we're discussing why we believe what we do.

Lastly, your successes. Excellent. That's exactly the kind of stuff we do want in this discussion. How were those tanks set up? Were they heavily stocked? Lightly stocked? Male or female bettas? Heavily planted? Lightly planted? Have you compared the activity of your solitary bettas to your community bettas (presuming you've kept bettas)? Any other information you can share would be good.
 

Meenu

I think that what we are seeing is that many more members have had success with the such setups than will openly say on this forum. No offense to anyone, but some of the people here tend to be fairly close-minded (not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to the well-being of our pets). This can feel oppressive, and I think that many members who have had success with betta communities choose not to discuss them here on Fishlore because of the prevailing viewpoint that betta communities do not work.

My idea was to open a poll, allow free and polite discussion (which was not welcome in a similar thread asking only for success stories - I actually got a PM asking to delete a post I had made in that thread by the original poster). The poll was allowed, but discussion, not even polite discourse, was not allowed by a moderator. Why? Because then the prevailing viewpoint would be challenged? Because we aren't able to discuss things without resorting to arguments and flaming?

I don't have a betta in a community tank. I won't have one, either. For me, it isn't worth the risk, because I don't have a backup plan in case things don't work out. My advice to people lately when they post that they want to try is to have seeded media ready in case they need to rehome.

Likewise, polls on the topic, including Meenu's poll, will usually produce skewed results for any number of reasons. For example, if you've had one tank succeed and one tank fail... which do you record? If you've tried it a dozen times and it has succeeded, or failed, how do you vote for all of them? Most people will rank their successes as more important than their failures. In the poll on the other forum, as an example, people were counting things like "betta got its tail chewed off by guppies" as successes.

That's why I made it possible to pick more than one. As far as the rest, if discourse would have been allowed, then these things could have been discussed in detail.
 

Treefork

I would say 20 times is a pretty small number for a forum with over 24,000 members. In fact, it's 0.08333333333333334%. Probably better odds than hitting the lottery.
 

sirdarksol

Accepting the possibility that there currently is a feeling that members can't talk about their successful aquaria (and it is a possibility, though I don't know how likely it is), I know that this wasn't the case in the past. As I said, this isn't a new discussion for the forum. There were very open discussions regarding it, and people spoke up whether their betta succeeded or failed in their community tank.

I would like to submit another possibility (and it is only a possibility. We can't know). Because the forum discourages people from keeping bettas in communities, we haven't had many stories of either kind come through. It's kind of like the use of aquarium salt. How many here have actually used aquarium salt at every water change? I'm guessing that, at this point, the number is pretty low. Does that mean that we're all wrong when we say "freshwater aquaria don't need aquarium salt?" No, it doesn't.
 

harpua2002

Ok, I'll bite. Great thread BTW. ;D

I've kept many tanks over the years and have had successes with bettas kept in community tanks. To clarify, my own definition of a community tank is one that consists of more than one species of fish that coexist peacefully. My definition of success is that I don't witness aggression or effects of aggression (injuries, etc.), and the betta in the community tank is actively and peacefully exploring all levels of the tank rather than hiding, and displaying good overall health and coloration, and the betta's overall behavior mimics that of the bettas I have kept as solitary fish. For me, a success would basically be a betta that appears comfortable in its surroundings and ignores its tankmates.

Working on that definition, I have successfully kept bettas with CPD's, harlequin rasboras, paleatus, aeneus, and pygmy cories, BN plecos (in a 20 gallon minimum), platies, and probably some others that I am forgetting. I've also had success with invertebrates like nerite snails, amano shrimp, ghost shrimp, although I guess there isn't much point in discussing them here since a betta+invert does not meet my stated definition of community.

My betta tanks are always moderately to heavily planted, which provides plenty of hiding places for the betta and its tank mates in all levels of the tank. To me, bettas always seem happiest in planted tanks that they can explore, with plenty of leaves to rest on when it's time to relax. Maybe giving the betta a stimulating environment in which to live keeps it occupied and less likely to show aggression. Maybe not.
 

Meenu

I would say 20 times is a pretty small number for a forum with over 24,000 members. In fact, it's 0.08333333333333334%. Probably better odds than hitting the lottery.

That's not really fair. I have a few problems with this logic.
1) Not every member has had bettas, or bettas in community tanks.
2) We've had a lot of people join the forum, work out their problems, and not come back. Those people aren't here voting. I've been a part of FL since October, and I've seen repeated threads of bettas killing other fish, or having their own fins shredded. Betta communities do NOT always work out. I think we have to take that as a given.
3) The people who are active, permanent members are usually more experienced that the average hobbyist, or at least more knowledgeable. Members here may have the knowledge to make something like a betta community work where others would not.

Those are some thoughts off the top of my head.
 

sirdarksol

Edit: Totally ninja'd by Meenu.
 

Treefork

Well, the point is, that 20 out of 24000 is a ridiculously small fraction of a percent, so even if you adjusted for active members, members with bettas, etc, it's STILL going to be a fairly small # in my opinion. (It's ok to argue in a friendly way Meenu)
 

Kunsthure

I'm one of those who has never owned a betta that advises against keeping them in community tanks. I also hesitate to advise people that bettas can live with bottomdwellers and snails. The fact that there is a controversy about it is enough of a reason for me to advise against it. If bettas were truly community safe, why are so many people having problems with them in community tanks? Like SDS said, there seems to be no commonality between the successes, and without an identifiable pattern of what works, it is too risky for me to feel comfortable even suggesting it.

It further complicates the issue that a lot of people don't have a suitable back-up plan. Now if Jaysee or Bolivianbaby came here and said they were going to put a betta in a community tank, I'd say go for it because they have so many tanks and enough cycled media to supply everyone in Texas with some. But for the average fish keeper with a 5 gallon or 10 gallon tank that has a betta and asks if they can add anything else, I'd say no because their back-up plan would likely consist of a bucket and rehoming.

-Lisa
 

sirdarksol

Working on that definition, I have successfully kept bettas with CPD's, harlequin rasboras, paleatus, aeneus, and pygmy cories, BN plecos (in a 20 gallon minimum), platies, and probably some others that I am forgetting.

Two questions:
CPD?
Have you worked with male bettas in these tanks, females, or both (separate tanks, obviously).

Well, the point is, that 20 out of 24000 is a ridiculously small fraction of a percent, so even if you adjusted for active members, members with bettas, etc, it's STILL going to be a fairly small # in my opinion. (It's ok to argue in a friendly way Meenu)

But it's still ignoring the fact that what I was quoting from was from the first 100 results of a search. In other words, it was from a very limited time period within the forum.
 

Meenu

Accepting the possibility that there currently is a feeling that members can't talk about their successful aquaria (and it is a possibility, though I don't know how likely it is), I know that this wasn't the case in the past. As I said, this isn't a new discussion for the forum. There were very open discussions regarding it, and people spoke up whether their betta succeeded or failed in their community tank.
I've had a few members tell me that in PMs. That's why I brought it up as a possibility of why people haven't been more outspoken about their tanks. Not many members, but a few. I know that this past week, people have been very vocal about things, but that's a good thing. It keeps our community strong to have open lines of communication.

I would like to submit another possibility (and it is only a possibility. We can't know). Because the forum discourages people from keeping bettas in communities, we haven't had many stories of either kind come through. It's kind of like the use of aquarium salt. How many here have actually used aquarium salt at every water change? I'm guessing that, at this point, the number is pretty low. Does that mean that we're all wrong when we say "freshwater aquaria don't need aquarium salt?" No, it doesn't.
No, of course it doesn't. No matter the outcome of this discussion, it won't mean that to advise someone not to keep a betta in a community thread is "wrong," either. How can there be a right or wrong to this, when peoples' experiences are so varied? All we can do in the end is to warn new aquarists of potential pitfalls.

Two questions:
CPD?
Celestial pearl danio
 

Treefork

Another opinion I have is this: We will never have a "productive" discussion about this. People will just get worked up one way or the other and the thread will be closed. So I bid you all good day and take my exit from this thread.
 

Meenu

But we're having a productive discussion, and nobody seems to be too worked up.
 

harpua2002

Two questions:
CPD?
Have you worked with male bettas in these tanks, females, or both (separate tanks, obviously).

The majority of these tanks have had one male betta. I kept a group of females in a 45 gallon community tank and it did NOT work out, so I ended up separating one of the girls and she went into a 10 gal community, I think I kept some pygmy cories with her or something. I have only owned just a few females actually. For male bettas, I have kept veiltails, crowntails, and one halfmoon in a community.

CPD's= celestial pearl danios. They are extremely mild mannered and stay very small. I'm keeping a black orchid CT with about 30 CPD's in a 20 gallon high as we speak. He'll go up for sale before too long, but he's been a model citizen for nearly a month and I am confident that if he were going to become my pet, this arrangement would continue to work out with no issues.
 

sirdarksol

Another opinion I have is this: We will never have a "productive" discussion about this. People will just get worked up one way or the other and the thread will be closed. So I bid you all good day and take my exit from this thread.

It's too bad that you feel that way, but I commend you for realizing that, because you do, you wouldn't be able to take part in such a discussion.
 

harpua2002

I'd love to see this discussion continue... anyone else have any details they would care to post?
 

Meenu

I figure as the evening peeps get on, Harpua, we'll be getting the Aussie viewpoint.
 

harpua2002

Hehe, this is true. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own time zone. ;D
 

Treefork

Well just for that I'm coming back in. Veiled insults won't keep me away.
 

Lucy


I'm sorry for my off topic post everyone.

Well just for that I'm coming back in. Veiled insults won't keep me away.

Up until this post this discussion has remained productive (as meenu put it )

Assuming a comment commending you on knowing yourself well enough to bow out was a veiled insult is counterproductive to what this thread is about.


Now, please continue the discussion in a polite and respective manner.
Any further off topic posts will be deleted.
 

Shine

I can't really speak for anyone else but I know when I was younger I often felt intimidated posting on sites where the overwhelming vocal majority had already stated their case about a given subject. I would often just read the thread and 'go away' rather then speak up and risk being censured for having an unwelcome opinion... or at least one that was not overly popular to have. Being blasted for commenting doesn't generally make one feel overly welcome...

Now I usually speak my piece and move on, as 'flaming' and pointless arguing is wearing

I can't say that I have had bettas for all that long yet. Only 6 months or so; but I have two in 'minI communities' and two that are by their lonesome. The one community is limited to cories and the male VT betta, and has been working for 6 months now without problems. As I said in the previous (locked) thread, Ryu seems to like watching the cories; and even eats down with them (trying to steal more bloodworms no doubt) without ever trying to chase them off. The only time I've seen him all irate was against the snail who was trying to come up for air near his bubblenest--how dare it? ;D

The other community I am trying is with a female betta in a 10 g. This one has only been going for about a month now, so it is probably too early to say it is a 'true' success. I'd like to have neon tetras (2 atm), but several have died of neon tetra disease, so I think I am going to try the black neons instead. Note that I am not putting tetras in the range of a male bettas flowing fins. I haven't seen any signs of aggression in this tank either (except for a couple eaten shrimp... which as inverts don't count in the 'community' description we are going with) Oddly 2 of them are still alive after a month, so I'm not sure why they have been left in peace

I have plenty of live plants in both tanks (more once they grow in a bit). Both bettas have good colour and are active, as are the two solitary boys.
So far I have had two cases of fin-rot: One was with a solitary boy and the other was with Ryu. And both of those fin issues (long since resolved) happened within a couple weeks after I bought them. So best bet is that both were due to issues/poor conditions in their cups, but no way to prove that I suppose

I would never encourage someone to buy a betta just to 'add' to their community tank, but I do think bettas can live comfortably with other fish if the tank and the other inhabitants are set up with the betta in mind. A bit contradictory I know, but....
 

harpua2002

I would never encourage someone to buy a betta just to 'add' to their community tank, but I do think bettas can live comfortably with other fish if the tank and the other inhabitants are set up with the betta in mind. A bit contradictory I know, but....

Not contradictory at all IMO. What I read from your post is that bettas can do well in community tanks that are planned with their needs in mind, and also that they should not be "impulse buys". I could not agree more.
 

bolivianbaby

A friend and I were discussing this last weekend.

I've come to a few "possible" reasons why betta community tanks pass or fail. Please remember, I've never kept a betta in a community tank, so this is based on my "betta only" tanks and their individual personalities.

1. I've never had a red betta that I would consider putting in a community tank. They have always been some of my most aggressive. By that, I mean lots and lots of flaring, eating from my hand (lack of fear), and generally "too curious for their own good" fish. Years ago, way before Fishlore, I kept up to 10 bettas at a time in those "betta vases", separately of course. My reds caused more trouble than any other color betta I had, with both my males and my females. Constant flaring, attempts to jump out of the vase, etc.

2. Bettas from actual breeders/show lines would possibly be more aggressive because they flare more. If I'm not mistaken, the flaring is how they show themselves.

3. Veil-tails seem to be the most mellow (except for any red I've ever kept).

Once again, this is just food for thought-nothing proven, just things I've noticed about my individual fish. I hope somehow this helps.
 

LICfish

I think this is a productive discussion for all. I keep my betta alone as I prefer not to risk it and have no space for a back-up plan.

A couple of points:

I agree with sirdarksol that the polls may not be helpful since, as he stated, the idea of success can vary. Unfortunately, without more details, it is difficult to determine of these are true cases of success.

I also agree with Meenu that many members may not be willing to share their stories from fear of "harsher" (for lack of a better word) posts.

Although I agree that I wouldn't suggest adding a Betta to a community tank without a backup plan, I believe we should all keep an open mind. I'm fairly new to the hobby but I'm sure as fishkeeping habits have changed over the past decades many views can still change.
 

FLGirl

Hey hey, I'm a new betta owner! ;D (very new) I did do allot of research before I got my betta; who was actually given to me his owner didn't want him anymore.... He actually spent most his life in community tanks... heres what I know (of course this is just what she told me and what I seen)

:My Betta's Housing History:

At first he was in a 10 with 3 female platies

Then that turned into a 10 gallon with a Serpae tetra, 3 platies (females), Pearl Danios (I think) there where about 5 of them swimming together like crazy in there, a little albino cory and a BN pleco. Then she had moved him, platies and the BN pleco to a larger community tank..she said he had been more active(swimming around) with the platies but just started laying on a plant all day with the others there.

The larger tank was 30-40 gallons and had all kinds of fish I don't even know what all they were. He was on the bottom of the tank just lying there (most of time except feeding) I was told..she said he just got to be a dull fish as he grew...

She had allot of fish she didn't like so much anymore as she had moved on to more ''advanced'' fish..

Hes in my 10 by himself now and doesn't seem dull at all. Though a couple times he has seemed bored when I came in and then got all active again (I know he could of just been chillin like bettas do)...I'm going to try a snail but it can go to my 20 if need be...Hes had so many tank mates before I don't think he will mind though...she recommended I get some female platies that it might perk him up but I don't think I will...I mean I think he is happy I plan on getting some new decor soon too. I do think he would prob be a betta that did ok with some kind of peaceful tank mate/s though I don't plan on anyone more than the snail (maybe try shrimp).

:As A Newbie Researching What Conclusion Did I come to?:

From research and reading here the general message I got was that some Bettas occasionally do well in communities but in general its not recommended (both because of the betta and other fish who could harm the betta)

:Things Iv Seen:

At a local chain pet store they put signs up that say ''Add a betta to your tropical community tank for a splash of color'' I think that could go very wrong!!!

At a local pet store they kept all their female bettas in one tank, It was the first time I had seen such a thing and was surprised. Later I learned that it was a sorority kind of thing. I have to admit it, the thought came to mind of how it would be cool to have a betta sorority but I don't think Id try it. They all seemed ok but that was just while I visited (not to say it wasn't always fine though)

At many pet stores I see bettas in cups and bettas (m and f but not in together) in with other fish (zebra danio etc.)


:All in All What do I think?:

Iv found that with all animals that there are always a bunch of them who don't read the books and articles about how we say they are suppose to behave...

I do think it's possible to have one in a community given the bettas own personality (we all know they all have em!) is compatible with that and how thoughtful you are about the setup (even if your betta is open to tank mates they might not be open to your betta!). I believe it's possible some bettas may even be happier...I also believe there are plenty who would not even tolerate it....not even a snail! okey:

That's why I don't think it should be recommended widely because its not been established to be a sure fire thing the majority of the time..but I'm not throwing stones at you because you want to try either. The success stories are great, I'm happy for everyone it's worked for! I do think it really shouldn't be tried with out caution and a back up plan....It would be probably be wise for only people with more experience but I think someone who really researched and was prepared could try it too..

So, all that to say that I think when it comes to the betta there isn't really a definitely right or definitely wrong when it comes to them being in communities.


Phew, that was allot longer than I thought it would be. More than my couple of cents worth. Hope I didn't bore you!
 

russ757

I think that the success of a community aquarium w/ a betta depends on the fish. We cannot judge the whole human race on a few people, nor can we judge whether or not bettas are community fish on a few specimens. Thus there is no definite answer from me, feel free to disagree with me.
 

jerilovesfrogs

I have 4 boys, and I have tried snails with all, and only one still has his. they each tried to peck, nip flare chase etc. it happened in the first 5 min(pk), to several weeks(vt, ct). the dt currently is fine with his, a horned little nerite. I also have not seen this betta flare....though I have not pushed him to. i've had him the least amount of time, about 3=4 weeks.

knowing bettas fairly well.....and what they can do, or will/will not tolerate, i'd be a bit scared of putting one in a community. I might be brave enough to try a female in a community though.
 

NMfishman

I had a betta in my 10 gal for about a year with 5 glowlight and 5 neon tetras along with cherry shrimp. I had a java fern and a couple other small plants with a cave in the tank. This worked fine for a year and both the betta and tetras completely ignored each other. Unfortunately I decided to add three guppies to the tank and their high activity stressed him to death. Adding the guppies was a stupid decision and I can know see that guppies are NOT a good tankmate for bettas, but I still think there are good tankmates.

I think keeping a betta community is possible if careful planning is done. As others have said the tank mates for the betta must be carefully chosen as must the aquascaping giving all the fish places to hide and get away from each other. Another thing would be chosing when to add each fish, I would not reccomend adding more fish to a tank that has only had a betta in it, this is because the betta will have the entire tank as his territory and will not be happy when a new fish has entered it. The same for other territorial fish, such as if you were brave enough to try a gourami and betta together, I would add them at the same time so that neither fish has an esablished territory. The last part and could be the most important would be having a back-up plan that would enable you to instantly separate the betta should any trouble arise.

A very important factor to consider is that bettas each have a distinct personality, so one betta may work but another in the exact same set-up may not. The same goes for the tank mates of the betta, they could have different personalities.

Tank size will also affect compatibility. I would not add fish as tank mates to a betta in a tank smaller than 10 gal, but I think shrimp and snails would be fine as mates in a tank smaller than 10 gallons (If you overly care about the shrimp and snails I would still recommend a back up for the betta incase he decides they would be a nice snack)

I think one factor affecting bettas accepting tank mates would be how they were kept at the fish store, some stores keep them in cups right next to each other without seperation where as others have something seperating them. The bettas not seperated from each other are used to seeing each other (tho I would never reccomend adding two male bettas together no matter how used to seeing each other they are) the bettas seperated from each other probably have not seen another fish since they were small fry in the breeding tank. The bettas that were sepperated when introduced to a fish would be very curious of the new addition and this could result in aggression, whereas the ones who have seen the others are at least used to other fish near them. This is just an observation of mine and I am not sure how true it is.
 

Algae Eater

I'd love to give the intimate details of my two attempts, but it would take all day to give enough details to satisfy any argument! One worked until an accident killed several of my fish, including the betta, and the other didn't work at all. So, I think my experience is inconclusive. I agree that it depends on the personality of the individual fish involved--not just the betta--and requires special planning. I don't think I would encourage anybody to try a betta in a community, but I would definitely encourage a back up plan for anybody that did!
 

Jaysee

Thus there is no definite answer from me, feel free to disagree with me.

How can anyone disagree?

As far as polls are concerned - there isn't a gold standard to measure a tanks success by, no matter what's in it. Fish keeping is an individual thing, and each hobbiest must decide if their tanks are working for them.

I don't think it's a big deal that someone whose betta got it's tail chewed on said their tank was successful. I think the quality of that success story is equal to the quality of many failures (I have a betta with 3 tiger barbs and an oscar in a 10 gallon tank).....poor.

It's one thing for a tank to be thoughtfully put together and fail....another to be put together without rhyme or reason and have it fail. I think the quality of the failures ought to be scrutinized as much as the successes....it's only fair.

Our FL poll is at 20 successes and 2 failures - I think that supports the notion that people don't want to chime in when it's against popular opinion.
 

Tigerfishy

Having read and re-read this thread, I have decided to put my opinion, and my opinion only. Here goes...

My 1st betta Mars (a red VT) was bought before I knew about FL, upon the infamous LFS advice, I had him in a tank with danios, tetras and cories. He was great at first. Then he stopped being active, stopped eating and just rested on top of his filter all the time. I had no idea what was going on, I came here and was informed that they do not like company. Immediately I got him his own tank (already had cycled media good to go luckily), put him in it and waited.

After a week in his new home, he perked up, we saw dancing, we saw his love for food return, and we saw bubble nests. Contrary to BBs statements about red bettas, mine was a big wimp and did not like all the activity going on around him, most likely caused by the danios being too active for his liking and scaring him. There was never any nipping or chasing (his fins remained fully in tact), he just did not like all the fuss.

Since then, all my bettas have been kept by themselves. I have now got 6 of them, all housed alone and they are all doing great. I would not risk a community set up again, based on my experience. Having seen how happy they are alone (each and every one-and I have got bettas from a breeder, from an LFS that kept them in tanks and also an LFS that kept them in cups), I will continue this method.

I value my bettas (and all fish's lives). MY OPINION is that we need to keep them happy in the artificial set ups we have and I keep a close eye on them. I get quite attached to my bettas, not so much my community, but I do my very best to keep them happy, healthy and in tip top condition. I feel we owe them this. Keeping them in a false environment, we have to do all we can to maximise happiness.

My bettas have decorations to swim though, hide in, hide behind. They rest on top of their filters, or more commonly, mine sleep floating at the top and not resting on anything. I get nice big bubble nests, I get very active bettas dancing manically constantly, not just feeding time, I have vibrant colours. I generally have very happy little boys that look forward to my interaction without fear of opponents, predation or any risks.

At the moment, Mars has dropsy, but he has been a trooper, and as he was my very first betta, I would hate to lose him. He has gotten a little smaller and his scales have flattened, but even at this stage, I am giving him all the best I can provide. We owe it to them, their little delicate lives are in our hands...

(Wow, sorry for the long post, I guess there's more to say on the subject than I realised... Again, this is my opinion, not directed at anyone, not intended to act as the definitive answer, not anything except my opinion, asked for by this thread )
 

Nick G

I think this is a great thread.Personally I do not agree with keeping Bettas in communties. I think a lot of emphasise has to be put on what is considered to be a success, as SDS stated. My own personal idea of successful fish keeping is that the fish live in as natural an enviroment as is possible to give them, and mimic their behavior from the wild to a certain extent. Almost all of my fish fish are Cichlids, and I put a lot of effort into giving them the chance to reproduce, as I feel that this is the most basic instinct of living things, and that they should be allowed to do so if it is feasable. Convicts are some of the easiest fish to breed, I have a pair who do so often in my 90gal, however if I removed them and put them in a 10gal they would not breed, and the male would probably kill the female, as they would not be in an enviroment they felt comfortable in. I know for a fact that a single Male Betta kept in a small heated, filtered tank by itself will show all the signs of wanting to breed, including blowing bubblenests. This indicates to me that the fish is in good health, and happy in it's enviroment. I would be very interested to know of any members who have witnessed breeding activity of any sort in Bettas kept in community tanks, either actual breeding if a male and female have been kept together, or even a single male blowing bubblenests.
 

yallyall1

HI guys! This is a great thread, as it is productive...

My idea of success is a happy betta, that will come out to the front and do his/her little dance... I would also include time as another factor, but with that being said, my argument is flawed by that aspect (and yes I admit!). Also no aggression!

I have 2 CT bettas in a 10G and a 7.5G and have had no deaths (apart from a panda cory). They are both male. One will ignore anything, and will cruise the substrate and be a normal betta. He is very relaxed and I am fairly confident he will cope with non-nippy schooling fish. The other flares a little bit, but as if to say... ''don't hurt my cories!'' and NEVER at them. However, I am less confident with him... I knew I was pushing it with him and the cories, but I had a backup plan... and its all going well so far.

About being afraid to post their successes, there is a book written by richard dawkins, that raises this point. It is called the god delusion, and it begs the question '' why do we never question religion?''. This, at least to me is about arguing against popular belief. for example, some cult in mexico (forget the name!) believes that they can only see god while being on illicit drugs... and they are allowed, because of their religion. Of course, we shouldn't be talking about religions in this thread, as that would be hi-jacking the thread, but it has striking resemblance to our talk about bettas.

It dosen't mean that I recommend bettas in communities, but if they are done right, and the betta is relaxed and you have a backup plan... I say go for it! That's my point. I'm not saying that they always will, but if done right i'm 80% sure that it will work out, but that's y opinion.

I have only been fishkeeping for about half a year, so I do believe that many others on this forum are more experienced with fish in general than me... but this is my experience...
 

harpua2002

I think this is a great thread.Personally I do not agree with keeping Bettas in communties. I think a lot of emphasise has to be put on what is considered to be a success, as SDS stated. My own personal idea of successful fish keeping is that the fish live in as natural an enviroment as is possible to give them, and mimic their behavior from the wild to a certain extent. Almost all of my fish fish are Cichlids, and I put a lot of effort into giving them the chance to reproduce, as I feel that this is the most basic instinct of living things, and that they should be allowed to do so if it is feasable. Convicts are some of the easiest fish to breed, I have a pair who do so often in my 90gal, however if I removed them and put them in a 10gal they would not breed, and the male would probably kill the female, as they would not be in an enviroment they felt comfortable in. I know for a fact that a single Male Betta kept in a small heated, filtered tank by itself will show all the signs of wanting to breed, including blowing bubblenests. This indicates to me that the fish is in good health, and happy in it's enviroment. I would be very interested to know of any members who have witnessed breeding activity of any sort in Bettas kept in community tanks, either actual breeding if a male and female have been kept together, or even a single male blowing bubblenests.

I've actually seen bubble nests many times from the bettas I've had in community tanks.
 

sirdarksol

I don't think it's a big deal that someone whose betta got it's tail chewed on said their tank was successful. I think the quality of that success story is equal to the quality of many failures (I have a betta with 3 tiger barbs and an oscar in a 10 gallon tank).....poor.

To be clear, you feel that a tank where a betta gets harassed by its tank mates is a success?
This is why the forum can't rely on things like the poll. You may consider it a success, but I know that there are many members of the forum who would not. Therefore, we want to look at what happens when bettas are kept in community tanks, rather than whether they choose that something is a success or not. At the time of your writing, 20 "success" and 2 "failure." However, there are more than two failure stories in this thread alone. Certainly, there are some stories that even I, with a fairly high "success" bar, would consider successful. However, there are numerous that are in a grey area.
It's only in examining the stories themselves, rather than somewhat arbitrary numbers in a poll, that we, both as individuals, and as a group, can come to some idea of how frequently a betta kept in a community aquarium is a success. That's why we kept the discussion separate from the poll.

Our FL poll is at 20 successes and 2 failures - I think that supports the notion that people don't want to chime in when it's against popular opinion

And yet, we have had many people speak up here, and there have been no attacks.
As I said in my first post, there have been discussion tactics used by both sides that have been extremely counterproductive. Some of them have been unconscious: Nobody is doing them on purpose, but they're harmful nonetheless. I think this constant bringing up of how harsh the "solitary betta" group is going to be to people who speak up is one of those things. Though there may have been a kernel of truth to it, continually bringing it up is reinforcing an opinion way beyond its original strength. It's something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
My point of this thread was to create an open discussion, which has been working pretty well. I would like it to keep working well. Lucy and I both want this discussion to remain peaceful, and we will come down hard on anyone who flames any group or individual.
 

sanjin

My family had a community tank when I was about 12- I'm guessing it was no more than 20 gallons max. I had a male veiltail betta who lived in it's own bowl for a very long time -probably in much less than ideal conditions. At some point he developed a habit of jumping out of the bowl, so we moved him to the community tank to see how he would do. We saw no aggression towards or from him, and he seemed quite happy. I'm pretty sure he lived at least another year in that tank. The tank companions I remember with certainty are platys, neon tetras and a pleco. I counted that as a success in Meenu's poll.

Currently, we have a lightly stocked, very new 35g community tank. We have a male crowntail betta in with a female guppy, two male swordtails, and a peacock eel. I saw the betta flare at one of the swordtails once, when he was first put in. I think it was just a matter of trying to figure out where he was and whether his companions posed a threat to him. The guppy seemed to have a natural fear of the betta. We watched all the fish very closely the first few hours, but they settled in very quickly. Our betta swims around and explores the whole tank. The swordtails will swim right by it, and nobody gets flustered. We have lots of hiding places in the tank, and added a ton of java fern yesterday. As we get more fish, we will be careful about which varieties we choose for this tank, and watch all the fish very carefully. I feel strongly that one incompatible fish, or stocking the tank with one too many fish could turn a good situation into a bad one. We definitely want more fish tanks, and are preparing for the ability to be able to move either the betta or a different problem fish on a moments notice. I consider our current situation to be a pending, or potential success.


Regarding not speaking up about housing your fish in a controversial manner: I must admit that reading some of the threads here I instinctively thought I might want to keep quiet about our tank set-up. Then I realized that I don't actually know anyone on this board. Plus, I'm new here, so it's not like I have an established reputation to uphold, so I might as well be honest. I say that referring only to myself, and my tendency to feel like I have to fulfill expectations other people have of me to "do the right thing". (This is something I have been working on for many years. :rolleyes
 

sirdarksol

=
I have 2 CT bettas in a 10G and a 7.5G and have had no deaths (apart from a panda cory). They are both male. One will ignore anything, and will cruise the substrate and be a normal betta.

Your tank with bettas and endlers: Heavily planted/decorated, or is it pretty bare? Also, are how big are the Endler's compared to, say, a full-grown guppy? (I've never seen a full-grown Endler's) Also, how long are their tails?
The last two questions may seem random, but one of the things I've noticed that has attracted bettas' attention is longer tails on fish that come somewhere near their size, and I'm wondering if your betta is breaking that trend or not.

I've actually seen bubble nests many times from the bettas I've had in community tanks.

Cool.
 

LICfish

I think this constant bringing up of how harsh the "solitary betta" group is going to be to people who speak up is one of those things. Though there may have been a kernel of truth to it, continually bringing it up is reinforcing an opinion way beyond its original strength. It's something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think you have a good point. But I also think that by bringing this up, at least IMHO, may encourage others to speak up, if indeed this is true. At least personally, when I first started, I was a bit concerned about some responses. I don't mean this to offend anyone in particular. I just wanted to add this in the hopes of still keeping this discussion productive
 

Tigerfishy

I'm gonna jump back in here in response to something SDS posted about the "solitary betta group".

I keep all my bettas alone based on my previous experience. If however, someone wants to try a betta in a community, I warn them what COULD happen and let them know to have a backup just in case anything does happen (again this is based on my experience when I luckily had a backup immediately available).

I have seen successes posted (where's lea, she has a good one too with her minnows?) so I let people know that they do best alone, but if they are willing to try it, have a backup so if they do get unlucky they can rectify with as minimal damage done as possible.

Really this was to clarify that some members of the "solitary betta" camp may not feel as strongly as people may anticipate when posting to ask if they can keep mr or mrs betta in a community set up.

I don't think anyone should worry when posting anything they believe in as long as they are being sensible in their judgements of such a situation. Everyone has an opinion and noone should be afraid to express!
 

NMfishman

Though I do like this thread and I think it is being productive, I am not really sure if we will ever really be able to say one way or another. As we have heard some people HAVE been able to successfully keep them in communities and others have NOT been able to. I think this is a bit like politics with the Republicans and the Democrats each side firmily belives they are right and the other wrong, but really both are right it just depends on your personal opinion. People have debated politics, saying why each view point is right and why this decision is better than that one, but it does not make one any better than the other, it just gives people the information they need to decide for themselves.

Just remember that no one is wrong in their opinions, everyone is right, they just might not agree in opinions. I think giving straight information is key to allow people to form their own ideas about this. I also belive that attempting a betta community is near impossible if you don't have good info and good planning, so I think we need to get the info out there from people who have had success about what they did and what someone trying to start a betta community needs to do. Also hearing from the ones who had failure is good so we can see what happened identifiy the problem and make sure not to repeat it again.

I hope that this thread continues to head in the direction it has been, so far it has been mostly good and has kept on course. I just wanted to add this so people understand that no one is wrong and I hope it will keep one side from really attacking the other for their different opinion.

Basically we need to agree to disagree
 

LICfish

Tigerfishy and NMfishman - great posts

I think this thread is very productive and I think we all seem to have an agreement on certain things.

Have a backup plan if a betta is added to a community tank.
There are both success and failures.
 

Meenu

Since I'm the one who brought up what has now been labeled the "solitary betta camp", I'm going to add a few of things about that.

First, I straddle the fence on this issue, so I can pretty easily see both sides of it. I think it's safer to keep a betta by itself, so it's how I tend to advise people. If someone asks how to stock their 20g, for example, I would never suggest cories, tetras and a betta. But if someone wants to put a betta in their community, I will advise about potential pitfalls and to have a back up plan.

Secondly, just because the anti-betta community conception exists doesn't mean that an attack will actually happen. There's a big difference between people feeling intimidated and actual intimidation existing.

And third, I've seen people who are passionate about this subject call those who are on the opposite side "cruel", which is an attack. I've also seen people who want to keep bettas in a community have tantrums the past few days. We all need to keep open minds and not be so quick to label and judge.
 

Jaysee

I don't think it's a big deal that someone whose betta got it's tail chewed on said their tank was successful. I think the quality of that success story is equal to the quality of many failures (I have a betta with 3 tiger barbs and an oscar in a 10 gallon tank).....poor.

It's one thing for a tank to be thoughtfully put together and fail....another to be put together without rhyme or reason and have it fail. I think the quality of the failures ought to be scrutinized as much as the successes....it's only fair.

To be clear, you feel that a tank where a betta gets harassed by its tank mates is a success?

The QUALITY of the success/failure is what I am calling into question. I think my point is clear.
 

Tigerfishy

Meenu, it seems we're kinda the same on opinion. That's why I felt the need to clarify, as I'm one of the more obvious members that keeps the boys by themselves, but this does not necessarily mean I oppose the idea of them in communities. I just oppose the idea of them in MY community.

Plus to be completely honest - I couldn't trust any of them, one even flares at his pellets as he swims towards them to eat, another attacks the static, non-moving, non-threatening gravel with NOTHING on/in/around it!!

Jaysee I got what you meant, about what has potentially caused the failure/success. Whether it be a simple bad choice of tank mates or a well though out calm species with them...
 

Meenu

The QUALITY of the success/failure is what I am calling into question.

Which makes a poll like the one I put up very much less valuable than this discussion thread. Both you and SDS are right and have raised a good point. It is difficult to quantify what a "success" is, as much as it is to quantify a "failure".
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
1
Views
376
CaptainAquatics
Replies
1
Views
145
BigManAquatics
Replies
5
Views
434
Rtessy
Replies
12
Views
757
ronaldmcdonald
Replies
1
Views
247
Debbie1986

Random Great Thread!

New Betta Threads

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom