Discussion about bettas and communities - Page 2

Shine

There's a big difference between people feeling intimidated and actual intimidation existing.

You're right; there is a big difference between the two. And I have to say that I have rarely seen what I would consider intentional intimidation tactics on the part of the regular site members. However in practice, it doesn't really matter whether someone was intentionally intimidated or whether they just felt intimidated. The result is often the same: most stay silent, and a few react by becoming belligerent.

I'm not trying to pick on anyone. Just pointing out that intention and effect aren't always what we intended from the outset

To another topic; on the bubblenesting front: I have one boy in a community (Ryu), and two solitary (Windago and Iruka). Windago blows nests about once a week, I've never seen Iruka blow one (and by all appearances he is the healthiest most viberant one of the three), and Ryu blows them only occasionally, but is the most active. Swimming around exploring (patrolling, maybe) his territory.
 

NMfishman

As Lucy said, we're going to keep this thread free of pointless chatter, and certainly we're going to keep it free of flames, no matter who is being attacked.

Edit: This post is going to be here for about five minutes, and then I'm going to delete it, as those who need to see it will have seen it.

ok I am all for this remaining strictely about what you orginaly intended and I think this could have potential if it is able to continue. I hope I did not come off as being disrespectful to you or any other mods, I was just wondering what was going on.

I hope this issue will not keep dividing us as we are all Fishlorians and must stick together. Together we stand divided we fall.

As I have said all we can do is agree to disagree and provide info for others to be able to reach their own decision. This can be done by giving personal experience with bettas in communities, both failures and successes. Along with personal opinions, but we CANNOT argue the different opinions because they are all correct, none are wrong.

I ask that we stop the name calling and stop with the different camps. We are all one family in Fishlore, lets stay that way

and again SDS I apologize if I seemed disrespectful
 

LICfish

My apologies if I offended anyone
 

sirdarksol

My apologies if I offended anyone

I don't believe you did.
Edit: Thank you to everyone who has been working together to keep this thread polite and productive. Even in those instances where we disagree, that doesn't mean we think any less of each other. I hope that it continues to be so. This is only a day or so worth of discussion, and I think that, given time, more people will chime in.
 

LICfish

I don't believe you did.
Edit: Thank you to everyone who has been working together to keep this thread polite and productive. Even in those instances where we disagree, that doesn't mean we think any less of each other. I hope that it continues to be so. This is only a day or so worth of discussion, and I think that, given time, more people will chime in.

Thank you

I'm also interested to hear about many more cases.
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

In a non-fish equivalent, I'm going to go with keeping a betta community is like owning a pitbull dog. We're all looking at the same pool of info, and some people swear they are the best family dog to own and others think families who do own them border on unfit parents. To that end, I have enjoyed this thread, thank you to the moderators and those from all camps.

I would suggest to any new posters to indicate male or female betta and not just betta when describing success or failures, I would have liked to have seen more of that. Just a suggestion.

Intimidation... last night when I was posting my emergency accident where one of the tetras lost an eye, I was fully prepared for someone to blame my betta in my community setup. No one did, which was appreciated. I've been told I don't care about my fish at all or I wouldn't risk it. There's zelots on both sides, neither of which is helpful, in my view.

I was not prepared for the feeding challenges. My female betta gets the lion share no matter what I try, not because of intimidation of either at feeding time, but her sheer comfort at the very top of the water and with the sinking food, her ability to eat it before it does. So I do not consider my setup a 100% success. I know the betta is over eating and the potential health problems that will cause. I am considering enacting the back up plan in the near future because of this. I will be interested to see what behavior changes occur in both her and the tetras when this split happens.

Also, per my signature my community was relatively small. I don't know how my female betta would have been like in a larger setup with two or three schools of fish or more activity.

So from all the research here and other sites and my limited two months of experience, I assert also if you're going to keep a betta in a commuity, IN ADDITION TO having cycled media and a backup system ready to go and not choosing ridiculous tank mates like prone nippers and too closely related fish...

What I believe will help decrease your risk of failure/increase your likelihood of success (trying to stay in good form with both views):


Good aquascaping, some leafy substrate to surface plants and other structure that creates zones or territories laid out well. Two caves positioned right next to each other isn't two territories, it's one asking for trouble.

If any schooling or shoaling fish as tank mates, as reasonable sized group as your setup allows should be kept. Two or three of each species will compound your inherent risks and potential for problems.

When researching your fish, be aware of what's normal as the fish ages. Just because your setup is working when everyone else but the betta is a juvenile and suddenly out of the blue fins and scales are flying, perhaps some of the tank mates have matured to the point they require a larger territory relative to their size and or their individual breeding behaviors.

Lastly, a betta is the new kid in school. They have little to no interaction even within their own species so introducing them into a community is risky for that reason. Their curiosity can be mistaken for aggression and if the other fish respond in kind, the betta has no idea he's being told to "leave me alone" so probably won't. Everyone should be very closely observed during that first few days of interaction and if you see this occuring, then yes, that's a time bomb
 

angelfish220

I have only ever kept bettas in a solitary (minus snails) setting. Many I've had seemed to be very protective of their space, others much more laid back. I don't believe that you can say 'bettas should never ever be kept with any other fish, because your betta WILL KILL!!!!!!' nor can it be said 'bettas are a great addition to every community tank'. Because bettas are a fish with many different 'personalities' there are many varying successes (as this thread shows).

Bettas have been compared to dogs with their actions and personalities. This issue reminds me of dogs as well. A golden retriever does great with kids, cats, other dogs ect... yet a pitbull (yes, I'm stereotyping there are nice pitbulls) would not be a good choice for any of the aforementioned companions. Both are dogs, but their dispositions are VERY different, much like bettas.

edit: sorry! I haven't refreshed my page in a while!
 

sirdarksol

Quite a bit off topic, but pit bulls are actually very protective of their family. However, if someone from outside of that family "threatens" someone within the family (and this could even be a friend wrestling with the kid... that's the scary part), the pit bull is more likely than most dogs to go ballistic. Not counting pit bulls that were trained to attack people, many (if not most) attacks are in this kind of situation, where someone that the pit bull doesn't know very well made a rapid or aggressive (in the dog's eyes) move at a family member.

Now, back on topic. ;D
 

lea

I think we've seen mostly rational responses form everyone here, which is great as I see what a testy topic this can be.

From my own personal experience of nearly 3 years of betta keeping and trying various setups (including solitary bettas) to have the happiest fish possible, I'll agree with the posts that say it really does seem to come down personality of these vary variable fish, stocking and, IMHO I believe the level of cover in the tank really helps too - even just to provide comfort, a more natural environment and places to explore. This really seems to keep the intelligent bettas entertained .

FYI, all my betta thus far have been more successful (defining this as more active, better colour, healthier etc) in what here is classified as a 'community'. I have had problems with some tetra spp including neons nipping betta fins, but that was in an overstocked tank. I cannot really comment on longevity as my first 2 died of dropsy/possible consitpation aged about 12 and 18months, though I put this down to overstocking and poor, unvaried diet I subjected them too when I was new to the hobby.

My latest betta i've had for nearly 2 years in a 15gal tank with a single small school of mid/upper level swimming fish (was rummy nose tetras, which I replaced with neons and then white clouds - the white clouds are the only ones so far not to occasionally nip the betta), a snail (now dead) and now a small group of corys on the bottom. The betta is very active, has never been sick and looks to be heading to a good age. Note: I also have a larger tank now with lots of plants & drift wood for territory/hiding space. I believe this contributes to it's success as everyone has their own turf. That being said, they often all swim together with no problem.

I believe researching the requirements of ALL the fish you plan to keep together are immensely helpful in setting up the right tank environment to have success, as well as the tank mates you choose. i.e., having open spaces vs hiding spaces (incl tall plants) for various schooling fish; not having too many spp at the same tank strata; low plants, caves & wood etc for bottom dwellers and having ENOUGH tank space to accommodate all the fish obviously

All that said, I just have my new 35L (10g) going now, and have a betta in it. As I realise it's limited size capacity now, I will not be adding any other fish as it it too small for a happy school IMO, but will be adding a mystery snail and a number of red cherry shrimp as a clean up crew and as some distraction/tankmates for the betta. And I will remove them to a standby 5gal if necessary .

Thanks SDS for a good thread - x
 

yallyall1

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.

Yes the tank is heavily planted (fake...) and has a cave... and every week I shift it around, which is more for my pleasure, but may assist with agression.

The endlers are tiny! mine are all male and are all fully grown at 0.75ish inches. Their tails, in comparison to their body size is quite large, say a little bigger than normal guppies.

The trend, I believe is right IMO, and I would not put guppies in... but endlers are small, which might be the reason there is no aggression from the betta (male). My betta is probably breaking the trend anyway, as he rarely flares. He is so peaceful. I have had helgelis rasbora with him also, and this worked just as well... but they died from a heater malfunction :-[

Sorry for the overdue post, I just came back from school... and I've got a TON of homework :'(
 

Jaysee

Here's a really interesting coincidence - the results of the FL community betta poll and the poll I put up on another forum are pretty much EXACTLY the same. I'm not saying that proves anything, just thought it was interesting, for what it's worth.
 

LICfish

Here's a really interesting coincidence - the results of the FL community betta poll and the poll I put up on another forum are pretty much EXACTLY the same. I'm not saying that proves anything, just thought it was interesting, for what it's worth.

That's interesting. Do you know if the "general trend" of discussions on bettas in communities resembles our forum?
 

MaddieLynn

Someone said they wanted to see more scenarios, so here's mine.

I have 1 male plakat betta in a 29 gallon tank with 9 or 10 neons. I also had a baby BN pleco, but he died from some unknown ailment. However, because of the symptoms, I don't believe the betta could have caused it.

The betta is bright, colorful, and eats well. He swims all over the tank and builds bubble nests. I've never seen him harass another fish. He does very well with the neons and doesn't chase him. They don't pick on him either. However, this may have something to do with the fact that, being a plakat, he doesn't have long fins.

I have also kept 2 different female bettas in a community tank (not at the same time) with a much more diverse selection of inhabitants. This inluded mollies, female guppies, zebra danios, apple snails, a male dwarf gourami, kuhlI loaches, otocinclus, ghost shrimp, neon tetras, and probably more that I'm not thinking of. both of my females got on splendidly with the dwarf gourami, and the gourami even built bubble nests while in the tank.

Both females lived for several months and I believe that the first one's death was caused by an accident on my part, while the second's was cause by the aftermath stress of a power failure in winter when the tank temp dropped dramatically. (We were out of town at the time.) The gourami also lived for a long time. He died after my tank sprang a leak. I believe the stress from all of the hurried fish-moving and temperature changes did him in. :'(

So... the point of this long-winded post is that I haven't had problems with bettas in community tanks, and that none of my bettas are known to have caused another fish's death or to have died because of the other fish.

The end!

Edited to add: Yes, I seem to be very accident prone when it comes to my tanks! Thankfully, I haven't had any major problems since the power failure in December.
 

Jaysee

That's interesting. Do you know if the "general trend" of discussions on bettas in communities resembles our forum?

No, it does not. It's not controversial.
 

bassbonediva

I have only ever kept one male betta in a community tank. It was my son's blue VT named Gordon. First he was in a 20gH, but that tank started killing off everything (even though my parameters were spot-on), so I upgraded to a 29gal. He was with five platies, four male guppies, a featherfin catfish (was very small at the time) and two or three otos. At first Gordon seemed fine and no one bothered him. Then I started to notice that he was losing color and looking washed out, and he was always hiding in one of the rock caves. Finally, I couldn't stand it any more and I took him out because he just looked so pathetic. He went into a divided 10gal with two other males. It ended up that his neighbor hated him and they would routinely jump the divider to get at each other. I finally came home to Gordon with no fins left, after I had separated them on opposite sides of the tank with one of my docile boys in the middle (his old nemesis had actually jumped BOTH dividers to get to Gordon). I moved him to a cycled 2.5gal by himself, but he didn't last long after that. Just because of his color loss and hiding all the time, I would never put another male betta in a community tank after what happen to poor Gordon. And as I said, none of his tank mates ever harrassed him that I saw and his fins were never nipped until he was in the divided tank.
 

lea

+1 to almost all of the conclusions above which seem to say more or less seem to agree and - which is possibly well summed up by russ575 .

Bettas all seem to be different and it seems we cannot judge how each fish may react to a specific type of set up based on a generic description of he species (just like humans!).

So I guess what I can see is the most common conclusion here (and given my own experience) is that, given a knowledge of bettas variable personalities and keeping their needs in mind, a community could certainly easily work IF it is planned with a betta in mind (ideally who's personality you 'know'), and should ONLY be attempted if a backup is available.

I think this also goes for keeping it by itself, as we have seen several examples here (and I have had 3 or my own), where a betta was actually happier once other companions were added - not that that necessarily means a 'community' in this definition of this thread.

If proceeding in this way, it seems you'll guarentee a successful outcome for your betta either way! . This would be my recommendation to any beginners or anyone considering tankmates/community for their betta.

This is all just my well intentioned :. I think this has been a really productive thread
 

coffeebean

I have kept several bettas, some in community, some not. success in a community depends on the personality of the betta for SURE. they really do have personality and some are much more aggressive then others. I also firmly believe that you need to build the community around the betta and have a back up plan.
I have successfully kept bettas with the following fish. success being a healthy fish, active, good colour, eating well, exploring, not hiding etc.
black rasborras, orange von rio tetras, shrimp, ottos, plecos, mystery snails, and corydoras, black neon tetra, neon tetras, juvenile platys and guppies.
I have also had bettas that would not tolerate even a corycat at the bottom! we currently have a CT with guppies and snails in my sons room. he likes to eat the fry. we also have a VT with black rasborras, orange von rios, a sargent major loach, and shrimp. he doenst even eat the shrimp and is extremely docile.
 

russ757

+1 to almost all of the conclusions above which seem to say more or less seem to agree and - which is possibly well summed up by russ575 .

Bettas all seem to be different and it seems we cannot judge how each fish may react to a specific type of set up based on a generic description of he species (just like humans!).
So I guess what I can see is the most common conclusion here (and given my own experience) is that, given a knowledge of bettas variable personalities and keeping their needs in mind, a community could certainly easily work IF it is planned with a betta in mind (ideally who's personality you 'know'), and should ONLY be attempted if a backup is available.

I think this also goes for keeping it by itself, as we have seen several examples here (and I have had 3 or my own), where a betta was actually happier once other companions were added - not that that necessarily means a 'community' in this definition of this thread.

If proceeding in this way, it seems you'll guarentee a successful outcome for your betta either way! . This would be my recommendation to any beginners or anyone considering tankmates/community for their betta.

This is all just my well intentioned :. I think this has been a really productive thread

Hahaha thank you Lea.
It really does depend on personality, which is the main reason you need to have a backup plan. Things can bad real fast.
 

sirdarksol

Here is what I am seeing on this topic.
First, there is no guarantee, positive or negative, even if you know the personality of your betta. There are people who are saying that their bettas worked fine with neons, and there are people who have had neons tear their bettas' fins to shreds. This means that a school of fish also has a personality. This personality may be determined by something in the water, the barometric pressure, who knows? But my point is that both betta and the community bring a chaotic factor to the table.

Second, cute little avatar pics notwithstanding, bettas are primarily the only fish in their waterways. The reason they have the adaptations they have is that those adaptations are necessary for survival in these areas. The only other Asiatic fish that have similar adaptations are large, ruthless predators like the snakehead; fish that a betta would avoid at all costs, and of course other anabantoids, which tend not to congregate in groups, anyway.

Third, even among those who claim success, there have been some huge problems; even issues that I would call dismal failures. In both the poll and here, I've seen people claiming success when they have had huge problems with their setups.
Now, I'm not attributing this to any purposeful attempt to manipulate.
Rather, I think it's that a lot of people focus on their victories rather than their losses. The negative gets washed out and faded in our minds, and we tend to gloss over such things. If our minds didn't do this, we'd probably all be horribly depressed, and the happiness of our fish would be the least of our worries.

The first one alone is enough for some people to feel that it's a bad idea to do. Frankly, I don't know that I like the idea of a random toss of the dice deciding the fate of my fish. I do my best to remove such randomness where I can.
The second is not a reason not to do it, but it does mean that there are no real natural reasons to do it. Some fish need dither fish or companions to feel happy. This isn't the case with bettas.
The third really just adds to the first.

None of this means that you shouldn't do it, however. It just means you should be careful, you should have a backup plan, and you should be honest with yourself if you are seeing signs that either the betta or the rest of the community is stressed, and move the betta into its own home in such cases.

Anyway, on to some other common themes:
Fourth, planting seems to help things. This is kind of a "duh" statement, because it almost always helps deter aggression. However, it needs to be said.

Fifth, bettas, for better or for worse, tend to ignore fish that are significantly smaller than them. This is often a blessing, but if the smaller fish start to nip, it can turn into a curse really quick.

Sixth, bettas can either be terrified of or seriously aggressive to fish of their size or larger. I've seen testament of a betta battering a pleco to death.

The big thing that I want to stress to everybody is that we have to remember that, when we are giving advice, our primary duty is not to our opinion, but to the person we are advising.
This means that our advise needs to be fair and honest. That means not saying "it won't work" or "it will work," because we can't. I have been told that the former has been said, and I have seen the latter. Rather, "It can be done, but it is my opinion that it is a greater risk than it is worth" or "It can be done, but there is a possibility that, despite your best efforts, it will fail and you'll have to rehome the betta" are better options. After that, give advice on how to nudge the odds in favor of success (things like stocking and planting)
It also means that you should think about the person receiving the advice. If you're talking with someone who is obviously new to the hobby and is flustered by basic maintenance, it is probably best to nudge them away from a setup like this. Adding more randomness into an already chaotic situation will only make things worse.
 

lea

Respectfully, most of that seems true SDS, but as we have seen, sometimes a set of companions or ditherfish have been helpful to my betta (i've had 3 such cases, including my latest addition who I now have with 5 cherry barbs in 10gal - his behavior is so much better). When I was new to this hobby I did try to keep my betta alone as recommended, but things significantly improved when I did make him part of a community. So in that sense the original 'dont try tankmates/community as it's a greater risk than it's worth' wisdom even failed me!!

Also, where you say, '...even among those that claim success, there have been some huge problems; even issues that I would call dismal failures.' I don't think this is really the case. Certainly there have been some dismal failures, but I do think most of the successes described here seem to be simply that. Occasionally, there has been evidence of a need to tweak the community, but it seems that this can often happen with other fish community combinations IMHO. Also the notion that the successes are merely focusing only on the positive I think is also a bit misleading. Most here seem quite honest when things have gone right or wrong, as I think everyone thus far has tried to keep the integrity of the thread.

All in all, I don't think it's a greater risk than it is worth, and may even be helpful to the betta in question (although not always, of course), as i've noted above. But I do agree with your advice that "It can be done, but there is a possibility that, despite your best efforts, it will fail and you'll have to rehome the betta" is the best advice for a newcomer .

I think not only can it work, it can be beneficial to these intelligent fish who I have observed, do get bored easily, but any community/companions in the tank must be considered carefully. Given that it can take a bit more consideration in getting a lonley betta some tankmates, I agree also that newbies should steer clear of it, but in that case, maybe newbies should also be advised to stear clear of bettas then in general (as I 'failed' with solitary bettas!) and just recommend they get a school of guppies .

On general behaviour, I realise that they may be a solitary fish in the wild which avoids other fish interaction, but like heavily bred domestic animals of many kinds, I wonder if current betta behaviour we see in those bread for a long time selectively in captivity may vary dramatically from nature. Bettas i;ve seen really do need more stimulation it seems, and if they don't get it from their tanks or humans, other fish can sometimes really resolve that problem. Just a thought of course, and again, I mean this with a well intentioned :
 

Mikey Doodle

Thanks for bringing this up Sirdarksol

I have not been in the hobby personally for all that long, so am probably nowhere near as experienced as a lot of you in thI discussion, but I would like to share my personal experiances with Bettas...

I have given homes to 2 bettas myself. 1 I would consider a successful community inhabitant (so far anyway), the other I would not, so I can sort of see both sides of the coin here.

The first was one of the very first fish I ever bought. He was put into a community aquarium with Mollies and everything was fine... at first. I rescued him if the truth be told, from a rather shabby looking tank with fish who would just not leave him alone. He had stubby fins and a few marks, but I felt so sorry for him and had to take him! For the first few weeks he got along great, but when the male molly started to get a little more aggressive with the females, he also started nipping at the betta. The poor thing hid under a rock for almost a whole day, and only came out to get air and to eat. After this I said I would never do it again. Backup plan was put into place and he now lives happily on his own.

In the meantime, because it had appeared that the first betta was ok in his community tank, I bought another (for a different tank, of course!). That was quite a while ago and he still lives in there now. He swims accross the front of the tank, at all levels, most of the day. He doesn't bother the other fish, and they don't bother him. I do watch very carefully, though, and keep my eye on them. I have a separate tank he can go in if needs be.

I must admit that because of my experiences I would NOT recommend them for community aquaria. Like I said, I have only had 2 of them, and haven't been keeping fish for half as long as some of you guys, but that's where my opinion comes from
 

sirdarksol

Also, where you say, '...even among those that claim success, there have been some huge problems; even issues that I would call dismal failures.' I don't think this is really the case. Certainly there have been some dismal failures, but I do think most of the successes described here seem to be simply that.

Yep, if you only read this thread, you're right.
However, if you look at all of the threads in the forum where people are asking about various problems with their bettas, you will begin to realize that some people are glossing over the huge issues that they have had. I'm not the only one who's noticed it, either. I have had private messages saying "How come this person didn't bring up such-and-such problem they had two months ago? That was directly related to the community."
Due to politeness, we don't want to "call people out" on such things. However, I certainly am not going to let the forum believe that everything is rosy with bettas in community tanks just because people are forgetting about those problems.

As far as bettas being helped by communities, I think that, in most cases, it's not that the betta was helped by the community, but rather, it was helped by the larger amount of water, the cleaner surroundings, the plants, or any number of similar things... possibly even just that human perception of the tank was better. Maybe the odd one or two happen to be happier around other fish, but in my three years of hearing about forum members experiment with bettas in communities, I have not once, until this thread, heard that the betta was better off around other fish.
Add to this the fact that I know of a few betta parents who have had dozens, or even hundreds, of bettas, not one of which did poorly in a solitary tank. That's why I'm quite a bit skeptical about the claim that some bettas are better off in community tanks.
Bettas aren't bred in communities any more than they would be in the wild. They're bred, separated the moment they will start to fight, and kept in individual jars until they are sold.

Again, I am not saying that it shouldn't be done. However, this thread hasn't really changed the ratio of problems to successes that I have seen. I have seen so many problems over the years that it is impossible to think of them as the exception, rather than the rule.
 

Meenu

Maybe the odd one or two happen to be happier around other fish, but in my three years of hearing about forum members experiment with bettas in communities, I have not once, until this thread, heard that the betta was better off around other fish.
Add to this the fact that I know of a few betta parents who have had dozens, or even hundreds, of bettas, not one of which did poorly in a solitary tank. That's why I'm quite a bit skeptical about the claim that some bettas are better off in community tanks.
Bettas aren't bred in communities any more than they would be in the wild. They're bred, separated the moment they will start to fight, and kept in individual jars until they are sold.

I also find this claim to be odd.
 

Shine

Some bettas will 'mope' if they don't get enough attention from their human when they have become accustomed to frequent interaction. Why shouldn't a betta that has gotten used to its fishy-neighbours be upset if they vanish? (due to a tank move, death, etc)

They seem to be fairly intelligent little fish. And the more intelligence a creature has, generally the more stimulation they crave. Honestly, I'm not about to say that bettas need company to be happy. I have a couple with tank mates and a couple in solitary... and both sets of fish appear to be quite content with their set ups.

And as far as this statement goes:
realize that some people are glossing over the huge issues that they have had
In some cases this might be true but... I think the opposite is true as well. Yes there are and can be problems; but blowing them out of porportion doesn't help either. For instance: Ryu didn't really like the mystery snail. He'd flare at it, and peck at its shell when it tried to surface for air too close to his bubble nest..... But so what? After it had been in the tank a couple weeks he quit flaring, and ignored it unless it ventured too close to his nests. He gets along fine with the cories, so why the snail offended him is beyond me

And as far as poor snails goes, no one says you 'shouldn't put them with goldfish' but my goldies ate the feelers off one snail. And eventually killed it--evil goldfish. Ryu never did that!
 

sirdarksol

In some cases this might be true but... I think the opposite is true as well. Yes there are and can be problems; but blowing them out of porportion doesn't help either. For instance: Ryu didn't really like the mystery snail. He'd flare at it, and peck at its shell when it tried to surface for air too close to his bubble nest..... But so what? After it had been in the tank a couple weeks he quit flaring, and ignored it unless it ventured too close to his nests. He gets along fine with the cories, so why the snail offended him is beyond me

And as far as poor snails goes, no one says you 'shouldn't put them with goldfish' but my goldies ate the feelers off one snail. And eventually killed it--evil goldfish. Ryu never did that!

When I talk about problems, I'm not talking about a little bit of flaring. I'm talking about instances where a betta develops a severe problem, like some type of disease or heavily torn fins, despite pristine water conditions and despite the fact that the other fish are not getting the least bit sick.
Also, as I said in one of my first posts here, I don't count inverts as creating a community for this purpose.

As far as goldfish and snails, had I seen a discussion on the topic, I could have told you it's a crapshoot. My goldfish was named "He Who Eats Snails" for the obvious reason.
 

Shine

ha ha--glad to know that I'm not the only one with murderous goldfish! ;D Wish I'd read the warning label. I felt bad about not removing it :-\

Oh and I know about the inverts 'rule' ... that's why I mentioned the cories in that tank too I could never figure out why they weren't annoying him but the snail did. Though he seems to have gotten over his snail fixation now...except his precious nests of course
 

lea

Fair point SDS, i'm always happy to yield to greater experience

As noted, my opinions just come from my own personal experience with the 3 bettas i've had. I appreciate the skepticism (i'm a scientist by trade, so I find that quality invaluable), but in my case I can certainly say that mine did do better with other fish. I appreciate that perhaps I am somewhat of an oddity in your experience though . For the record, when I did add other fish, the tank set up was not changed at all save for the addition of the tankmates, so I can conclude it was the extra company that did help in my cases.

Watching my tanks, my boys do really seem to benefit from the extra stimulation (I agree with Shine on this one, bettas seem to be very intelligent and I would guess more prone to needing some form of stimulation!), but I agree I may just be lucky in this case.

And I also agree, I do not want to suggest to anyone that everything would always be rosy in a betta community either! Just noting what my experience has been for the record and it does seem possible, but given the evidence to the contrary, I may certainly be an exception rather than the rule. And i'd stick to your original advice that it can work, but be prepared to rehome if need be .
 

Red1313

Huh, life steals me away form FishLore and I miss all the interesting stuff it seems... I love a calm debate/discussion thread and this one has really been a good read. However I don't feel that I have all that much to add to this one unfortunately.

Other than my cold water community tank I typically tend to have "solitary" fish. I haven't tried any of my Betta's in what SDS classified as a community in the first post. Pest snails, Bronze Cory's, and an Otto are the only things that I've tried with my betta's. (ok there was a very very brief Betta RTS combo but that was an emergency situation and should never ever be repeated).

One male lasted a couple months in peace with his cory trio (due to a tank break they'd been moved to his 5 gal), however he did eventually start to harass them. He was removed and replaced with one of my female betta's who did quite well with them, so well that she later moved into their 20 Gallon tank where I regretfully lost her to unknown causes. However she had the sort of personality that got along with everyone. (Except the RTS he didn't like her much.)

Coolie ( a VT Male) went ottohunting in his tank. Again it was a 5 gallon but the Otto never seemed stressed by this as Coolie typically ignored him until he made a dash across the tank.

My red female (Ruby) briefly shared a divided tank (again with the RTS) and she harassed him ruthlessly the day she burrowed under the divider. He was more then 3 times her size but she refused to leave him alone despite retaliatory chases.

While none of these have been true communities as such, based on research I've done, my own experiances, and the personalities of my fish I'd have to caution on potential problems of a betta in a community. I'm not saying they don't work, I'd rank them as having a potentially better success rate then sorority tanks but they'd have to be set up and maintained carefully, and tailored to a betta's personality.

My 2 cents.
 

JRDroid

I have not tried a betta in a community, but all of my bettas have been happy and healthy in solitary tanks. Sitting here watching my betta then looking across the room to my 55 gallon community, I think my calm betta would be completely stressed out by the activity of a community tank.
 

Betta/Horse lover

My betta is happy and healthy with his 3 Platies and his Pleco.;D
 

sirdarksol

My betta is happy and healthy with his 3 Platies and his Pleco.;D

That's great, Buddy. But I see that you've run into a couple of different snags within the past week. This is the kind of thing that I've seen repeatedly. For a time, the tank will work out, but something will touch off violence in one direction or another, and, if the aquarist is lucky and had a backup plan, the worst thing that will happen is that the fish need to regrow a couple of fins.
Hopefully, though, things will even out. Not all such instances are a death sentence for the tank. They are indicative of the reason there are so many members who are loathe to try this kind of setup.
 

Tannin

The common perception that the Betta will eventually kill it's more docile tank mates is not an accurate one in my humble opinion. In most community situations , the Betta itself faces the biggest threat , it's attractive and long finnage being an attractive target for nipping by most other fish.

I have done it in the past with a degree of success but it was a 36 inch tank , sparsely populated with half dozen KuhlI loaches, Corydoras SterbaI , Harlequin Rasboras and a solitary indigo male Betta called 'Van der graaf generator' . Planted with real plants as well as silk plants. Lot's of large river rocks as well. They got along fine. The Rasboras would swim by right in front of Van der graaf's nose and he would do nothing , just chill , watching the world go by.

I think the large size of the tank and relatively few inhabitants definitely helped.

Tried it only once though , so I still would not generally recommend it , especially for beginners.
 

sirdarksol

The common perception that the Betta will eventually kill it's more docile tank mates is not an accurate one in my humble opinion. In most community situations , the Betta itself faces the biggest threat , it's attractive and long finnage being an attractive target for nipping by most other fish.

Actually, both are a significant reality. In the past couple of weeks, there have been two instances in which a betta has harassed a livebearer. In one case, sadly, the attack was fatal. There have been more such instances over the years.

Granted, I think that the betta-as-target is the more common of the two, made worse by the fact that long-finned bettas tend to be slower swimmers.
 

Tannin

Actually, both are a significant reality. In the past couple of weeks, there have been two instances in which a betta has harassed a livebearer. In one case, sadly, the attack was fatal. There have been more such instances over the years.

Granted, I think that the betta-as-target is the more common of the two, made worse by the fact that long-finned bettas tend to be slower swimmers.

Betta's have peculiarly unpredictable responses to other fish. For example, you generally hear about Platies being great(relatively) tank mates for Bettas but I've personally seen one case where the Betta left everything alone but the Platies. A Betta is too slow for most other fish to inflict serious damage , therefore I am quite surprised as to the demise of the livebearer you mentioned. Even Serpae Tetras are too fast for the Bettas and Serpaes are not the zippiest by any means. I assume the livebearer(Guppy , most likely) and the Betta shared a pretty small tank?

As regarding the earlier discussion about the quality of the successes and failures and how to factor that in before forming a concrete opinion either way , I believe the size of the tank has to be considered in the case of failures. You cannot keep a Betta with ANY fish in a 3 or 5 Gallon tank , it's just too small. The probability of failure is pretty close to one when you have conditions like that. A Betta is a semi-aggressive fish to other fish at the best of times and you wouldn't keep semI aggressive fishes in tanks as small as that , would you? It is just not viable.

Now tanks , upwards of 15-20 Gallons with non aggressive , non similar fish, I am sure the successes would be much higher statistically in relation to the number of failures. I think most of the 'issues' with keeping Bettas in communities arise from small, cramped tanks and poor tank mates. A Bigger tank allows the Betta to have a well defined territory it can patrol to it's pleasure(Mostly a bottom to surface Plant, Tall decorations , Castles, Area behind and near the filter). They should happily chase out other fish intruding upon their 'zone' and rarely will they actually take a nip.

I would love to hear experiences of keeping Bettas in communities, successful or otherwise, in larger tanks , say 20 Gallon(US) and upwards.

Apologies for my English as it is basically my third language. Thanks.
 

Meenu

Welcome to Fishlore, Tannin. I think you're providing valuable insight to this discussion, and no need to apologize for your English. You're doing great.
 

Tannin

Welcome to Fishlore, Tannin. I think you're providing valuable insight to this discussion, and no need to apologize for your English. You're doing great.

Thank you for your kind welcome.
 

pamd

I also want to welcome you, Tannin, to Fishlore! You have already provided a valuable opinion in English, and your English is well-written.

I'm a bit afraid to add to the discussion, but I'll go ahead anyway. I personally wouldn't risk a betta in a community tank. I have no reason to do so, and watching for signs of aggression between a betta and tank mates would be stressful, not soothing, as an aquarium should be.

I am very happy for all those for whom it has worked out, though. Just my risk-avoiding behavior, and I suppose that can make one avoid some of life's joys. To each his own aquariums, but a community tank with a betta is not right for me.
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

I finally did it and split the betta from the tetras & pleco. She got her own 10 gallon and they got a 55g. It wasn't over aggression from any party, I didn't trust her health in the 55 gallon (it's pretty deep to have to make a top of the water breathe from the gravel from the bottom, which was discussed in the thread "how big a tank is too big for bettas".
And I couldn't shake the overfeeding issue and did not want to risk her continuing to over eat at meal times.
It's only been 24 hours but she doesn't seem less active or unhappy in her tank alone (which may be just exploring still). In the next week or two I'll really have a sense of whether of not she's more or less "happy" than the almost 3 months in the tetra community. That will be all I will be able to contribute further, for whatever any other members want to make of it.
The tetras, per their usual, are indifferent to everything except a net and food, LOL
 

Jaysee

Apologies for my English as it is basically my third language. Thanks.

You have NOOOOO need to appologize. Your writing in English is better than many who speak it as their first language.

Welcome to the forum!
 

Tigerfishy

Hey Used2B, it will be interesting to see once the betta has settled. Let us know!
 

lea

HI Tannin, welcome! You raise a great point about community and tank size, any fish needs it's own territory in my opinion, and the very small tanks just can't provide that (no matter well planted or full of hiding places) for any more than 1 small school of a single species or a single non-schooling fish. You may be able to have both if they share very different tank regions, like top and bottom dwellers, but that would be it I believe.

I don't have anything new to add to my previous comments, but I do want to update here (for the record ) that I've had my new 10 gal betta community going now for about a month which is a well planted tank containing a betta, mystery snail and 5 cherry barbs (and a few red cherry shrimp which hitched a ride on the driftwood planted with java moss I bought!). Everything is going very well so far .

On the side of caution I have my 5 gallon on standby for the betta, but so far so good. The betta went in first followed by the snail which he flared at occasionally but now leaves alone. Ditto for the cherry barbs, the occasional flare at first but now he largely keeps to himself patrolling the tank and calmly watching the cherries chase each other all day among the plants. I find the cherry barbs a great fish for bettas as they are more interested in themselves and are very peaceful to everyone else, plus they school loosely and swim all over the tank which looks lovely.

FYI, even the shrimp I found are ignored so far, and I thought at least they would get eaten!

As this tank is in my study, I watch it for several hours a day and i've seen no signs of stress or aggression so far.

Again, I researched this combination and had my backup ready, but it does seem I have another happy betta community as a result. Will let you know if it does go sour though!
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

As far as bettas being helped by communities, I think that, in most cases, it's not that the betta was helped by the community, but rather, it was helped by the larger amount of water, the cleaner surroundings, the plants, or any number of similar things... possibly even just that human perception of the tank was better. Maybe the odd one or two happen to be happier around other fish, but in my three years of hearing about forum members experiment with bettas in communities, I have not once, until this thread, heard that the betta was better off around other fish.

It's been a week since I split my female betta and the tetras as reported in the earlier post. Some interesting things happened.

1. The first two days, she (betta) looked noticeably different. She was swimming around but not "exploring" or interacting with her surroundings. She was not eating aggressively per her usual. Thanks to fishlore knowledge, when in doubt, CHECK THE WATER and I had a .5 ammonia reading, despite using an established filter & gravel transferred from another tank and 100% of the water. PRIME and 24 hours later back at 0.
*Had I not checked the water parameters I would have assumed she was "missing the community" and put her back in with them rather than the fact I was having a mini-cycle in spite of my best efforts.

2. I lost a tetra in the 55g. (And NOT one eye, my little guy from another thread who I would have expected if any casualties were going to happen).
One morning I was doing my head count and noticed reduced flow on the established filter on that tank. A tetra was stuck stone dead on the back of the intake tube. I examined him very close and could see no visible injury, and everyone had looked just fine the night before. Looked at everyone else, even rustled out the only other inhabitant, the BN pleco, and they all looked just fine. Water quality immediately tested, .25,0,10 PRIME and 24 hours, and we were back at 0 ammonia.
*Had my betta been in the community, it would have been unfair and incorrect but I would have likely attributed this death to her, which I feel, IMHO a lot of people would have done if I had posted about it. It could have been ammonia poisoning, but I doubt it, everyone else seemed unaffected and were not and still are not showing any signs of stress. So I have no idea what killed it.

3. The part that matters.... she's the same. My betta. Alone in her 10 gallon with a cool log and a marina betta plant and a little decoration, she still does her at the glass shimmy & shake and charging her reflection. She swims under and around and plays around the filter tube and heater. She did all that in the community tank too. The only marked difference that remains is she does not eat as aggressively (unless it's a pea or a bloodworm, that's like, lucky I still have a fingertip still) her pellets or her flakes. I don't know if it's because she isn't worried the tetras are going to get it before she does (which hardly ever happened and her over eating is why I chose to separate them) but that's the only thing I can think of. Or a bad attitude of disdain b/c she doesn't get garlic soaked food, bloodworm, or chopped pea every day

Like I said, that's all I have to add (though I know it was long, sorry). I don't know like SDS said in the quote above about her being "happier" in a community. I know she was, and healthy, but she is just as happy in her own tank. I'm happy with them separated and now would probably doubt hobbyist who maintain their fish is happier in a community. Not to call anyone a liar, but I don't think you can really know unless you try them out both ways, like I did, and I found out... it didn't make a bit of difference and I sleep better knowing they are seperated. Just my... well, that's probably a buck's worth of thought x
 

sanjin

An update - 2.5 weeks later

Our betta is now separated into it's own tank as well. This may not have been so much due to the combination of fish we had in there previously, but because fish had to be added to the tank that wouldn't have been chosen to be part of a betta + community. Or perhaps it only accelerated problems that were just starting to show.

On Saturday, we got my brother-in-law's 125 gallon tank, which he had just a few fish in, so we added them to our 38 gallon during take down, cleaning and set-up of the giant tank, which takes quite a while. The problem fish is a turquoise rainbow fish, which is substantially bigger than the betta. I think already before we added the new fish in, I noticed the betta drifting backwards a little in the "flow" of the water, (and we don't have a strong filter on there at the moment), and missing the flakes when it tried to eat (aiming wrong). Once the new fish were in there, the betta started listing to the side both when still and swimming, and sometimes laying practically nose first into a plant or gravel. One time, when the betta was swimming across the tank, the rainbow rushed after it and bit it, I think. No visible damage was done by the bite, and it's swimming ability was the same before and after.

We were already getting a new tank up and ready - I filled the 15 g half full so it wouldn't be too deep, and put Kordon Fish Protector in it. We moved the betta over very quickly after being bit, and when I put it in the new tank, it tumbled/somersaulted in as though it were dead and had no control of it's body. We were very worried about it. Then it breathed real hard through it's gills for a minute, and then layed around the rest of the evening, still listing to the side. When we woke up in the morning, he was good as new. The total time he was sharing the tank with the new fish was about 3-4 hours.

I think he definitely likes his new tank, and feeding is definitely easier. Feeding him in the bigger tank was tricky, because he becomes really passive when feeding. He's super slow to line up and go after a food flake, and the others would come and take it from him even when it was only about a millimeter from his mouth.

The rainbow has never gone after any of the other fish, even though one is a very tiny guppy. However, he has a very aggressive feeding style, which I think is stressful for some of them. I think it will be better when the giant tank is ready, and they can be very far apart at feeding time.
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

An update - she looks like a different fish, there was another color there.

I really noticed it last night as I was playing with her against the glass. She has developed a beautiful pink across her body where she was white before. After getting her out of her cup into the quarentine, she turned bluish on her fins and one long stripe down her body. Then she went into the 20 gallon community and didn't lose color and seemed perfectly happy.

Having been in her own 10 gallon for almost two weeks now, she's gotten even prettier. I have to go with more healthy on her own. Her behavior is the same but that extra color couldn't have just happened I don't think.

So I amend my previous post as she's the same to... she's better off in solitary.
 

lea

Update on my new 10 gallon community also - the cherry barbs and the few RCS I found hiding n the java moss I bought are all going very well! My CT even schools with the cherry barbs sometimes, but largely just swims about and comes to the glass to see me as normal.

I'm amazed that no-one is eating my RCS either, I thought they woul become lunch for sure but my betta treats them like scenery

The only issue was my mystery snail - he got his antennae nipped by the betta little and gets harrased by the barbs, so I moved him to my 15 gallon where by VT betta ignores him. However, the catfish eat his food so I tried moving him back to the 10 gallon and now all is well. I guess the betta realised antennae aren't tasty and the barbs havethe curiosity out of their system, and he now gets ignored by all the fish and happliy eats any leftovers
 

LC

with bettas you never really know ya know? I mean I tried having one with shrimp and some cory cats...and at first she left them alone and was very peaceful...but then we remembered why we ever named her BB. its cause she was one meaaaaaaaan girl! one day out of nowhere she swam up to one of my little albinos and tore off his barbels! I was so mad bad fishy! bad! after that I never kept em together...too risky
 

Loki.x

First, this is just my opinion.

However, I feel any community tank could potentially fail. Whether Bettas are present or not.

Just an example, two dogs may not necessarily get along. A dog and a cat may not get along. A cat may not be able to handle having fish in the house. Fish may just not get along. Of course there are more sensible options when housing fish together (I mean, you can't question what went wrong after you put your Goldfish in the Piranha tank), but any tank could potentially fail.

Not every fish has the same personality, just as not all of us do. Not all fish agree with being housed together, just as not all of us agree with the decision either.

I do think it is risky to try and keep your Betta with other fish, as you don't really know what could happen, but I also don't believe the idea should be swept under the rug. If someone had a success with a community tank including a Betta, than they did.

People and animals, are scared of the unknown. If a fish has been on his own for a long time, I wouldn't be surprised if he's incompatible in a community tank. If your fish has been living in a community tank since he was young, it makes sense that he would get along with other.

Just as dogs and cats need to be socialized in order to understand, fish do too. Just as any animal fights, so can fish. Why did that Goldfish just ram into the other.. Aren't they compatible? Any fish can potentially kill another. And you cannot predetermine how ANY fish will do in a community tank. It's apart of life, stuff happens.

If you are worried, of course its the safer option to keep your Betta alone, but some people have more experience, and can handle it. Some people don't know what to do when the fish start fighting, others can see the problem early and fix it.

Tons of my friends' fish have killed others. One fish "disappears", the other grows 2x's in size, lol.
Others couldn't figure out why their (Snapping) Turtle was living with his food.

You just never know..
 

lea

update again - on watching my 10 gallon yesterday and today, I saw my cherry barbs (1 in particular) are harrassing my mystery snail again. I have now re-homed him to a friend.

Just goes to show how mean other community approved fish can be too! +1 to LokI
 

Soswozere

I've had a female Betta in my <20 g community tank for about 7 months now.
This is obviously a short time, but I've had no problems with her.

Corydoras, Rams, Glo-lite Tetras, Danios, and inca snail.
Plants, rocks and a hollow plastic tree-trunk.

The betta has claimed a hole in the tree-trunk as her own little cave.
Initially she would try to give chase to the zippy danios if they ventured near her cave, but as they are so fast, she was no threat to them. Now she doesn't pay any attention to them.
She did flare at a newly introduced female Ram, but backed off when the Ram faced off.
She lets the juvenile corys swim all over her, and follows the dominant male Ram when he is chasing the other Rams, but doesn't get involved.
As for the glo-lite tetras, they might as well be invisible to her.

I imagine, as with all creatures, personality is the biggest variable that determines success. Also the choice of tank mates.
 

Sakana4

Hi,

So I haven't read every thread on here but I was just thinking, if many people say the bettas can be teritorial and need there own space, maybe they can work wonderfully in community tanks just in larger tanks with groups of small schooling fish such as tetras and with some bottom feeders like corries? I really have no experience w/ bettas, but I really would like one

Anyways just wondering if maybe that is something to think about?!

Soswozere said how his is in a 20 gallon tank and is doing well so maybe they just need bigger tanks than we are thinking?
anyways jw
 

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