Why do people say bettas can't be with other fish?

  • #1
My female betta has to be around guppies or she gets really stressed out. I tried putting her into her own little 5 gallon but she became so stressed, I put her back in my 20 gallon community (upgrading in 16 days to a 75!) She went straight for the female guppies and swam with them. She ended up mellowing out, but where ever the guppies swim, she follows. She even picked up their dirty habit of stealing the corydorassinking wafers! 

My new male betta is slightly hyper active, and I wouldn’t call him aggressive, but he does not do well in a community tank. I would love to see him in a community tank but he wouldn’t do well in it. Right now, he’s in a 5 gallon heated, rectangular tank, with an internal filter that filters up to 10 gallons. He has only one cave and a lot of fake plants. And he loves the current. He also flares at everything, but he’ll mellow out eventually.

My only question is, why do people say betas can’t be with other fish?
I’ve had 5 females with 1 male in a previous 20 gallon. They were all okay. Until the dominant female got dropsy and I had to humanely euthanize her.  Then the entire status quo of the tank changed, and I had to take him out and put him in a 10 gallon. He was the most mellow male betta I’ve ever met.

(My 20 gallon with tetras, guppies, corydoras, and my female betta. She's a little stressed because of the camera.)


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  • #2
Betta aka Siamese Fighting Fish.

Generally speaking, there's only a few fish they should be able to be in the same tank with. Experienced betta owners will tell you though that it's also going to depend highly on the fish itself. Some will tolerate other tank mates, and some will not. I've also read that a betta can live for years with certain tank mates and then out of the blue one day attack and kill everything in the tank.
  • #3
From what I've read and seen, the majority of times, male bettas do not do well with tankmates. I've kept male bettas, but kept them solitary as I learned from mistakes others made by tossing other fish in there with them. With males, just because it works on Day 1 doesn't mean it will still work on Day 21. You always have to be watching and waiting, and have Plan B available to fall back on.

I kept a female sorority which worked for me. I don't advise others to do it unless they've got lots of experience under their belt. I have not kept females with other community fish so can't say how they do there.

Years of reading about the experience other fishkeepers have with keeping male bettas with other species backs up the opinion I offer others, that they need to be very careful and vigilant. As with any other species, compatibility issues need to be considered.
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  • #4
I've kept a female sorority and I was still a newby. It was successful, until dropsy hit my tank. 3 female bettas died and it was completely awful.

But I've had really good male bettas who could be in a community tank setting.

Like, my male betta 3 years ago was with 5 females. NO aggression what's-so-ever. I've kept male bettas with mollies and swordtails; there was no problem. The male I have now is the first male betta who I could not have in a community tank setting.

Then my female betta is in love with guppies. She doesn't care if the male (he died of old age a few months ago.) was near her or in the tank. She was chill with it.

I think it depends on the attitude of the betta.
If a male betta since he was very young has been in a community tank or around other fish, he'd probably be alright in a community. Now if a male betta was never in a community setting and was around a year or so, he might be aggressive because he's never seen one.

I had a male betta ignore the community fish and attack a plant. A plant. It wasn't like he disliked it or hated it, he just had no idea what it was. It was very interesting to watch. I'm pretty sure the other fish thought he was crazy.
  • #5
Personally, I wouldn't risk it. TOO MANY variables that could make a good situation go bad very quickly.
I had a male Betta that was probably a very young juvenile. He lived in a 5 gallon with only a mystery snail. This betta was very mild, never flared, etc.
One day, he started blowing a bubble nest and the mystery snail was maybe 4 inches away just stuck to the glass. My betta started ferociously attacking it and even after it was knocked to the gravel, still continued to attack it until I got the snail out.
Things change just like that!
  • #6
I right now own 5 bettas and I'm about to go out and buy 2 females for my 10 gallon the pet shops hadthem together for a long while now...

Anyways of all my bettas only one is a bad. Seed and likes to beat on other fish/shrimp the rest of my bettas are super rare finds as they are shrimp friendly... never took one nip from them!!!

As stated it depends on the betta whether it allows others in its territory or not...
  • #7
It's risky business. Some Betta's, a majority of them, are not meant for community aquariums. Its best to have, as suggested, a separate aquarium that it can live on its own or be prepared to swap out numerous Betta's before getting a peaceful one.

Female's, in my experience, are better off in communities. Male's it seems a bit riskier.

My 2 year old, KinarI now Spartacus, was a community Betta. Though I think what I did right was add him to tank that already had fish in it. If you add betta's before other fish enter, I believe that's when things get aggressive as the its already claimed the tank as its territory.

My two cents.
  • #8
I don't recommend it because it is like setting up a time bomb IMO. The betta can be fine for awhile and then snap killing everything, which to me is highly unfair to the other fish in that tank. People think it is safe and easy to do because there are more success stories on the internet then stories of failure (people will brag that they "beat the odds" so to speak but not so much when the betta killed everything). I have 3 bettas. I wouldn't risk stressing them by adding other fish or risking other fish' lives by putting them in with my bettas.
  • #9
If people would say, yes, you can put bettas in your community tank or you can keep one male with femals together as long as you have two or three females with him in the same tank, many inexperienced people would just do that and fish would be seriously injured or killed. Under the best circumstances, they would be completely stressed out and much more likely to get sick down the road.

I've read the same stories over and over again on various betta forums where people have been told by ignorant LFS employees that it's OK, sometimes with horrible results and in pretty much all cases the fish at least needed to be separated.

Therefore, we can't say it's OK or it might work. Just as we don't generally tell people it's OK to let a lion cub sleep in the same bed as your child. This doesn't mean that there aren't any exceptions (have you seen the photo of Melanie Griffith as child with the lion cub? Still, that isn't anything I would have done with my child), but we all want to play it safe, for our fish's sake and also to avoid a lot of head- and heartache for ourselves when we have to deal with sick, injured or dead bettas and the necessity to set up more tanks to keep them safe as we originally planned. People should always be fully aware of what they are getting into.
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  • #10
I think I watch my tank for hours upon hours if I put a betta into the tank. I still do just because my female is so attached to the guppies.

I would never put her with platys or mollies and I am iffy on glofish (colorful zebra danios.) She's never been exposed and I don't want her or the newer fish stressed.
  • #11
Glofish are very nippy and will stress a betta out. I have 14 glofish and they are crazy. I have had them for awhile now and they have not calmed since the day I put them in the tank. Also glofish are actually hard to keep because of genetics.
I think I watch my tank for hours upon hours if I put a betta into the tank. I still do just because my female is so attached to the guppies.

I would never put her with platys or mollies and I am iffy on glofish (colorful zebra danios.) She's never been exposed and I don't want her or the newer fish stressed.

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