Theoretical assimilation question- bettas

Youtube has been recommending me videos of bettas in community tanks lately. I've never seen this addressed, either, so I thought I would post and see if anyone has any thought and/or experience.

Say I want a community of ... 'orange' fish. I get my tank all set up and cycled and I buy a school of small orange fish-- ones that don't get too big... maybe guppies or ember tetras or rio flame tetras and get them all happy in my tank. A little while later, I then go and get an orange betta that is about the same size/slightly smaller, probably meaning it is a younger fish. I add it into the tank as well. Since the betta and the schooling fish are the same size and color, right now, the betta wouldn't eat the schooling fish at this point (or would it?) As the betta grows, would the betta grow up thinking that it is one of the schooling fish and not realize later it could eat them (provided it could catch them?) Or, at a certain point, would nature take over and there would be a breakpoint where the betta would think these look like food? Would it be like the ugly duckling story and the betta think he is a school fish?

I realize there are a lot of variables and assumptions-- the ones I first thought of is that this would more likely work if the betta was a female rather than a male, and probably a short-finned variety so s/he can swim with the school (or at least try to). If all the fish ate the same food, would that help the betta think s/he is part of the school? I also know that some bettas can change color over time, so orange betta may turn out to be something else.

I've read accounts where people have peaceful community tanks with bettas and also accounts that are not so peaceful, but none that address similiaries or assimilations. Anyone have other thoughts or experiences?
 
Solution
I don't know if color would matter - how would the betta know what color it is? Then again, a neon tetra would likely refuse to school with ember tetras, even though they're the same size/shape. You raise a lot of interesting questions about a fish's sense of self. Good food for thought!

When thinking about this earlier today, I thought that a similar color would be something that would create a sense of a group (also like the same food, schooling, same tank, etc). The betta may not know what color he is, but he'd look around and see a bunch of 'orange' fish around him. (Maybe he would catch a glimpse of his fins or tail?) Likewise, the other orange fish would notice that there is a slightly weirdly shaped fish in the group...
I've admittedly only had one betta before, but here's my two (uneducated) cents:

I don't know if color would matter - how would the betta know what color it is? Then again, a neon tetra would likely refuse to school with ember tetras, even though they're the same size/shape. You raise a lot of interesting questions about a fish's sense of self. Good food for thought!

That being said, I put my vote in for instinct taking over at some point. You'll still be sort of at the mercy of that fish's genetics/inborn temperament. The betta will be less likely to attack the tetras because it will view them as part of the environment, not competition, but only because they're too big to eat. If you raised a betta from fry with a group of celestial pearl danios (21mm max), I'd bet that they'd still get eaten upon adulthood. I don't think the betta would ever really school because that's an instinctual behavior, not learned.

Overall, I think it's a good plan; maybe 2-3 times* more likely to be successful than buying an adult betta and hoping for the best, but not a guaranteed peaceful tank.

(*P.S.: These numbers are a complete guesstimate, take them with a grain of salt)
 
Great questions!! Short answer would be that it all depends on the personality of the Betta. Long answer...

Are Females Less Aggressive?
Bettas are extraordinarily intelligent. If you ever see them hanging out with a school of fish it doesn't mean they think she/he is a Tetra, for instance, it only means they feel comfortable in their community setting. Secondly, there is kind of a "myth" that female Bettas are more peaceful and, therefore, make better tankmates. THAT IS NOT TRUE. I've had males living together peacefully and a female who killed everyone in her path. It all depends on their individual personalities, and the characteristics of the parents (which is impossible to know unless she/he is a show quality with records). Some are extremely territorial and will do everything in their power to tear the fins and scales of anyone who gets on her way, whereas some like to hang out with their shrimp or loach or cory buddies without a care in the world! It depends solely on their parents and how they were raised, so don't feel pressured to get a male because females are underrated, or to get a female because "males don't do well in a community"!

Should I Get A Young Betta?
Although age doesn't matter as much as temperament, it can be a factor to know whether a Betta will get along with other fish. I would definitely go this route.

Will The Betta Eat My Other Fish?
Again, it all depends on the temperament. Bettas know that Von Rio is way to big to fit in their mouth so they won't try to eat them, but some Bettas are, frankly, big fat bullies who like to nip at someone's fins to show dominance, even if that fish isn't really a competitor. So no, no matter what age she/he is, they won't eat their tankmates.

Will A Plakat Get Along Better?
Not necessarily, it depends on what fish you employ to be his/her tankmate. As many of us know, long fins on a Betta deprives them of proper swimming and eating. Some Bettas will get what I call "chronic fin biting" which is when they tear their own fins in order to swim properly. Sometimes it's a cruel practice that results in depressed, starving, disabled Bettas, other times the fish is perfectly fine! Plakats do swim much better and some of them like to school with other fish, but as mentioned before, it all depends on their personality. It might be a good idea to get a Plakat so she can swim with her tankmates, but, then again, it might be a better idea to get one with long fins so she can't chase and bully the other fish as much. It depends!

Do Bettas Change Colors?
Bettas aren't like Goldfish in that they just randomly change their color whenever they want. When you see an orange Betta, she's bound to stay orange UNLESS she has the marble gene hidden somewhere. The marble gene makes it so that they change to a dark blue as they age - it's usually seen in Koi Bettas. The only other way she can change colors is if she was stressed or sick at the store and wasn't displaying her "true colors" so to speak.

That was my long answer, if you couldn't tell. Feel free to ask more questions, I've been in the Betta hobby for over 9 years so I know quite a bit about them! Anyhow, I hope this helps you throughout your fishy journey! Good luck
I've admittedly only had one betta before, but here's my two (uneducated) cents:

I don't know if color would matter - how would the betta know what color it is? Then again, a neon tetra would likely refuse to school with ember tetras, even though they're the same size/shape. You raise a lot of interesting questions about a fish's sense of self. Good food for thought!

That being said, I put my vote in for instinct taking over at some point. You'll still be sort of at the mercy of that fish's genetics/inborn temperament. The betta will be less likely to attack the tetras because it will view them as part of the environment, not competition, but only because they're too big to eat. If you raised a betta from fry with a group of celestial pearl danios (21mm max), I'd bet that they'd still get eaten upon adulthood. I don't think the betta would ever really school because that's an instinctual behavior, not learned.

Overall, I think it's a good plan; maybe 2-3 times* more likely to be successful than buying an adult betta and hoping for the best, but not a guaranteed peaceful tank.

(*P.S.: These numbers are a complete guesstimate, take them with a grain of salt)
Aww man...I have been writing my forever long answer since half an hour ago! Hopefully they still see my reply
 
I've had a betta, or pair of them, most of the time in my community tanks, and never had any problems with it. No stressed betta or other fish, no fin nipping or mysteriously dead fish. Color doesn't play any part, but key seems to be in few things:

1. Enough space for everyone
2. Lots of plants, preferebly live ones, as they help to keep water chemistry stable and offer lots of cover. They also most likely affect to fish some ways we don't yet understand, bit like walking in nature does to us compared to artificial environment
4. Well fed fish. If you fish is hungry, he will go hunting. If he's not hungry, he hangs out in various areas.

Only reason why I took my betta (and other predators) out of my community tank is that I wanted my Hillstream loach fry to survive in that tank. And oh boy they now do... but that's a different story.
 
They definitely can work. Super bright colors on other fish can trick the betta into thinking it is another betta-especially if similar size-but most tetras aren't quite that brightly colored and a lot of the ones you usually can get easily that are, don't get big enough lol
 
Aww man...I have been writing my forever long answer since half an hour ago! Hopefully they still see my reply

Haha, I've been there before! Typed out a whole well-organized essay on your area of expertise only to get sniped by some dude engaging in wild speculation. My apologies, I feel the pain XD Though I'm not OP, I'm curious about a couple of things you mentioned -

It depends solely on their parents and how they were raised
Does "how they were raised" mean by their parents or by the fishkeeper? In other words, do the way the parent fish raise the fry affect aggression or am I misreading? If so, that's really neat!
Also, how do the growing fry develop aggression? I'm sure when they're newborns they don't fight each other, but when is point where they do? Are there ways to delay that?

Sometimes it's a cruel practice that results in depressed, starving, disabled Bettas, other times the fish is perfectly fine!
Woah, today I learned! So some long finned bettas bite to "shorten" their own fins and it ends up being a net positive?
 
Haha, I've been there before! Typed out a whole well-organized essay on your area of expertise only to get sniped by some dude engaging in wild speculation. My apologies, I feel the pain XD Though I'm not OP, I'm curious about a couple of things you mentioned -


Does "how they were raised" mean by their parents or by the fishkeeper? In other words, do the way the parent fish raise the fry affect aggression or am I misreading? If so, that's really neat!
Also, how do the growing fry develop aggression? I'm sure when they're newborns they don't fight each other, but when is point where they do? Are there ways to delay that?


Woah, today I learned! So some long finned bettas bite to "shorten" their own fins and it ends up being a net positive?
Really good questions! "How they were raised" means by the breeder or fishkeeper. The way that the parents raise the fry doesn't necessarily affect them, since the mom leaves immediately after they're born and the father only helps them until they're free-swimming.

Fry develope aggression depending on the personalities of the parents which are passed down. For example, if you're parents are curious and adventurous, you're curious and adventurous! It all depends on the way the parents were raised and their individual personalities! Because of this, there's no real way to avoid aggressive behavior, because they might have been born with it. However, it you have a massive aquarium jam-packed full of live plants, I'm sure every little fry could live together peacefully, even males! I once watched a video with a man who bred Bettas. The father and son lived together without issue

Yes, many long-finned Bettas nip their own fins to get away from the distress that it's caused them. As mentioned before, I call if "chronic fin biting". It's most common in Rose and Feathertail Bettas as well as Halfmoons with really heavy tails.

Hope you learned some valuable information today! Feel free to ask questions
 
I don't know if color would matter - how would the betta know what color it is? Then again, a neon tetra would likely refuse to school with ember tetras, even though they're the same size/shape. You raise a lot of interesting questions about a fish's sense of self. Good food for thought!

When thinking about this earlier today, I thought that a similar color would be something that would create a sense of a group (also like the same food, schooling, same tank, etc). The betta may not know what color he is, but he'd look around and see a bunch of 'orange' fish around him. (Maybe he would catch a glimpse of his fins or tail?) Likewise, the other orange fish would notice that there is a slightly weirdly shaped fish in the group, but hey, he's orange and maybe just an odd fish of the group and keep him in the group. Of course, in this scenario, the betta would grow larger, but as the fish don't take pictures and growth happens slowly, maybe they would think the betta is that weird one.

But, like you said, food for thought!
I really appreciate everyone's input so far! I like the back and forth discussion and that it is certainly food for thought (at least for me!)

I've had bettas and in the past - none now- and ember tetras now, and so in my head, I wanted to see how this play out. I have no plans to add bettas to the ember tank at all; but was honestly just posting a theoretical question. I've learned things through this thread as well!
 
Solution

Random Great Thread

Top Bottom