I feel like keeping one fish often floodgates into the interest of keeping a couple, a colony or even a fully-balanced ecosystem. I know shortly after we adopted Blub I started researching ways of creating a balanced ecosystem with betta fish. My research originally lead me to discover the AquaFarm, which excited me because it felt like the first step towards becoming a “fish expert” and although we didn’t have the best experience with it, it definitely didn’t deter my dreams to have a large tank with multiple fish.
Unfortunately having a betta fish join a community of fish can be a bit of a difficult task since they are quite aggressive, but it’s definitely not impossible. That being said, bettas have been known to get along with a number of algae eaters or bottom feeders as they do not pose a threat to a betta’s territory or food.
FIRST, HOW BIG DOES A BETTA TANK NEED TO BE?
Bettas need their space, especially if they are going to live other critters. It is recommended that for one betta you house them in a tank that’s at least 2.5-Gallons, though ideally, betta likes 3-Gallons while in solitude.
If you’re hoping to house another critter with your betta you’re going to want a tank that’s 5-Gallons. For each critter, you add to the tank you’re going to want to make sure that there is an extra gallon or two of space. This will both ensure you have enough space to put hiding spots for all your little ones and that your betta doesn’t feel like their space is being invaded.
In general, the smaller the tank, the more territorial a betta will become and the more likely they will nip at the other living creatures, even if they aren’t fish.
SO, WHAT CRITTERS CAN I PUT IN WITH MY BETTA?
Now, these little guys might not be the most musical creatures out there, but they do make great companions for betta fish. Why? Well, they’re bottom dwellers that don’t really pay much attention to other fish.
These hardy fish are also fans of warmer temperatures, making it easy to introduce them into a betta tank.
Amano shrimp are great for beginner fish keepers because of their survivability. These shrimp grow fairly large and are less likely to be attacked by betta fish.
That being said, it’s going to be important that your tank has enough algae for these little guys to eat, or you will have to supplement their diet with a balanced zucchini or algae wafer.
Since these little guys moult, you’re going to want to make sure that there are a lot of hiding spots in the fish tank until they develop their next exoskeleton. 4
Amano shrimp are one of the longest living algae eaters you can put in a betta tank, spanning between 2-3 years.
Though not the most exciting, snails are great companions for betta fish. Not only are snails extremely helpful for a tanks ecosystem, as they are algae eaters, but their shells are also perfect for defending themselves against a betta fish’s attack.
I would highly recommend adopting a snail for first-time fish owners as they are one of the easiest algae eaters to introduce to a betta fish. Again, due to their shell, you run very little risks of bloodshed. Snails are also slow moving making it easy for bettas to ignore, as fast-moving fish catch the attention of bettas quickly and will make them attack or chase.
Now, you’re going to want to take a bit of time choosing which sail you’d like to add to your tank as they grow to be different sizes. If you’ve got a small tank, or are looking for a small snail, in general, it might be a good idea to look into adopting a nerite snail. Nerite snails grow to be about an inch long, while other snails, such as the apple snail, grow to be the size of a softball.
Some other snails you may want to look into are the ramshorn snail, which grows up to 2cm in length (a little under an inch). My personal favourite is the malaysian trumpet snail which is predominantly an algae eater who will only begin nibbling on plants when absolutely necessary.
Note: If you are hoping to house snails, make sure your tank is lidded as some snails will climb the side of the tank and escape.
Also known as corydoras catfish are a small fish that span between 2 to 3 inches long. These little guys, similar to snails, hang out at the bottom of a fish tank, making it rare that they interact with bettas.
Similar to snails, cories have a protective outer layer to their bodies. This bone-like layer makes sure that even if the catfish gets nipped by a betta fish no serious damage will occur. That being said, these armoured fish are a great addition to a betta tank!
Cories also share the same love for warmer water that bettas have, making it fairly easy to make sure that both fish are thriving in their tanks.
Another member of the catfish family that is would be a perfect fit is the “pleco.” Why? Well, it’s because Plecos will absolutely never get into the way of a betta fish.
Since plecos are bottom feeders, they will hug the sides of the tanks staying away from all betta fish, never challenging them for food. This will ensure that your betta fish won’t get aggressive and that your tank will be nice and clean!
That all being said, plecos come in a variety of species and sizes, so you’re going to want to make sure you stay away from some (as you don’t want to get one that grows too big). The most common plecos to house with bettas include rubber lipped, bristlenose, clown and pit bull.
Quite possibly, cherry shrimp are one of the smallest algae eaters you can house with betta fish. The great thing about these little guys is that they can get into all crevices in your fish tank, making them one of the best algae eaters if you need a helping hand keeping your tank clean.
Because cherry shrimp only grow up to a maximum of 2 inches in size you can actually keep more of them in a betta tank per gallon (a maximum of 5 shrimp per gallon.) That being said, you’re not going to want to get cherry shrimp that are too young or small, because they will be eaten by your betta fish.
While cherry shrimp are a great addition to a fish tank, I would not recommend them for first-time fish owners as they will require a close since they do not have very much defence from aggressive bettas.
SHOULD I EVER LET MY ALGAE EATERS REPRODUCE?
You definitely can, however, you should do some extra research to see how often they reproduce. Some algae eaters reproduce too quickly and your tank will become overpopulated.
Most algae eaters live between 1-3 years so I would recommend keeping one of each sex and let them slowly reproduce.
DO ALGAE EATERS EVER NEED ANY OTHER FOOD?
Yes, some algae eaters will require other food such as plants. It is always a good idea to talk to someone at a fish store before adopting an algae eater to ensure that you are providing them with all the food they need.
That being said, it is also important to make sure that your local fish store has all the aquatic plants and foods you will need as general pet stores may not actually have the equipment, food or plants necessary to keep certain creatures alive.