Can Tetras Live with Bettas?

betta and tetra

Can Tetras Live with Bettas?

Both tetras and bettas are attractive aquarium fish species that would be gorgeous specimens to keep on their own. No wonder why this question is a popular one!

The short answer is yes you can put tetras and bettas together if you have a roomy tank, but keep in mind that not all tetras are alike. Some species do better when mixed with bettas than others.

For this reason, it is important to go over what some of the best and worst types of tetras tankmates are as well as which ones might be okay to pair with your betta fish.

The general rule of thumb for betta fish tank mates is to pair them with smaller tetra species. That way they don’t appear as menacing or larger than the betta fish which might 

There are many species of tetras and this article by no means is meant to be an exhaustive list of all the right choices. However, this is a great article to read to get you started on your journey in building a community tank with tetras and bettas.

Types of Tetras that are Compatible with Bettas

Here is a quick list of some of the most compatible tetras with betta fish:

  • Neon tetras
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras

Neon tetras make good tank mates with betta fish but only if you have large enough tank. The best sized community tank would be 20 gallons (or more) although you can get away with 10 gallons. However betta fish can be nippy and if the tank size is too small then you can stress out your neon tetras and lower the quality of life for your community tank overall.

The best sized school for neon tetras is at least 10 fish but you can anywhere between 6-12. Make sure to keep them in a sizable school because these are schooling fish and need to feel safe together.

When it comes to water conditions, luckily these two species have can withstand similar water parameters. Keep the water on the warmer side between 78°F – 80°F. Also, they can withstand similar pH parameter. Aim to keep the water hardiness soft and somewhere between 6.5-7 pH.

Neon tetras are fast little fish so they make good tank mates for beta fish because it is unlikely that the beta fish will be able to nip at their fins.

Another great option for beta fish tank mates are ember tetras. Ember tetras are a great choice because they tend to swim around the middle of the water column. Beta fish would tend to stay out of the way generally (except during feeding time).

Luckily both species eat the same foods. So if you are feeding any daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms, then there’s no need to separate them into different tanks during feeding.

Aim to keep a large school of ember tetras similar to the neon tetras, that is, at least 6 but preferable 10-12. This can mitigate any stressful conditions in your tank and allow the beta fish and tetras to coexist peacefully.

Keep the water temperature warm, similar to neon tetra care, but aim to have the pH be around 5 to 7. Both species should coexist peacefully under these conditions but be aware that some nipping may be seen. Since ember tetras are so small, you may find that slower moving or sick tetras may get eaten by beta fish. As long as they are not consistently fighting, this should be okay.

Rummy nose tetras are another good alternative for beta fish tankmates. They tend to shoal in the middle or bottom of the water column compared with beta fish which tend to swim near the middle or top of the water column.

Rummy nose tetras are the biggest tetras so far mentioned in this article. This means that a large tank (like a 20-gallon tank) would be required in order to give both species plenty of room. This also avoids having their territories overlap which could cause them to fight.

As with most tetras, aim to keep a large school of rummy nose tetras with at least 6 but as much as 12. The goal is to minimize stress and keep your community tank happy.

The water conditions such as temperature should be on the warmer side and the pH level should be between 6.4-7. In general, if you choose this tankmate for your beta fish, it should be fine since they spend most of their time in different parts of the water column.

Cardinal tetras are also good tank mates for beta fish. Cardinal tetras are a little large than the neon tetras mentioned earlier in this article. They make excellent tank mates for beta fish because of their size and relatively easy disposition.

They are schooling fish so make sure you get plenty of individuals and a large tank.

The best water conditions are similar to other tetras mentioned above. Keep the water temperature between 73°F-80°F and the pH level should be between 5.5-7.

Remember to ask your local aquarium shop for more specific information on individual requirements or browse our website for more information about these specific species.   

Black neon tetras are a great addition to your community tank that also includes beta fish. The reason black neon tetras make good tankmates is because they lack color. Betas tend to respond negatively towards color, so the muted coloration patterns are black neon tetras make them the perfect species to pair with beta fish.

Black neon tetras, like most other tetras, need to be kept in a large school of individuals (think between 6-12 individuals). For this to succeed, it is also important to maintain a large enough tank to house them all.

The water conditions are similar to other tetras as well. The water temperature can range a little wider than for other species. Anywhere between 68°F-79°F with a pH level between 6 to 7 would be most ideal to house these two species together.

Types of Tetras that may be Compatible with Bettas

If you want to consider other tetras that weren’t mentioned earlier in this article, then here is a quick list of all of our favorite tetra species:

  • Glofish Tetras
  • Diamond Tetras
  • Congo Tetra
  • Mexican Tetra
  • Flame Tetra
  • Buenos Aires Tetra
  • Glowlight Tetra
  • Green Neon Tetra
  • Columbian Tetra
  • Black Skirt Tetra
  • Lemon Tetra
  • Emperor Tetra
  • Bloodfin Tetra
  • Silvertip tetra
  • Red Eye Tetra
  • Rainbow Tetra
  • Penguin Tetra
  • Ruby Tetra

Now some of these species may work as tankmates for bettas, however, make a note of which species interests you and ask your local aquarium hobby shop for more information about specific behaviors of certain fish.

For example, congo tetras may not work the best as good betta fish tankmates because congo tetras tend to have longer and more showy fins which would attract the nipping behaviors from bettas.

Emperor and diamond tetras for example may work fine as good tankmates for betta fish. Both are active shoaling fish that would generally leave the betta fish alone and socialize within their own schools. Always make sure to provide adequate tank space by opting for 20 gallon or larger tanks. The good thing about housing tetras and bettas together is that they typically require the same water conditions (like temperature and pH levels) and they often eat similar food items, so allowing these species to coexist would be much easier.

Types of Tetras to Avoid with Bettas

Now that you are familiar with some good and okay choices for betta fish tankmates, let’s go over which species of tetras you should certainly avoid at all costs.

  • Black Phantom Tetras: They are technically docile and friendly and typically a great addition to your tank. However they are very territorial and would not be a good fit with betta fish. It may not directly mistreat betta fish but black phantom tetras would cause unnecessary stress in the overall community tank.
  • Bleeding Heart Tetras: They are extremely fast fish and are known to be nippers. Bettas will have a hard time avoiding bleeding heart tetras and the flowy fins will attract nipping behaviors so it’s best to avoid this pairing.
  • Serpae Tetras: Although these are beautiful fish to house and look at, they do not make good tankmates for betta fish. The reason for this is because they are extremely nippy fish and will tend to bite fish that are slower than them. They are also very competitive during feeding time which makes them difficult to control when housed with slower moving betta fish.

What is the minimum tank size when keeping betta and tetra together?

The minimum tank size when keeping betta and tetra together is 10 gallons. You need to invite a lot of space in order for both species to coexists but still have their own territories. You can get away with housing them in a 10 gallon tank but ultimately you risk increasing competition and stress levels.

What is the optimum tank size when keeping betta and tetra together?

The optimum tank size for housing betta and tetras together is 20 gallons. This is the best tank size because it allows plenty of room for the two species to get along and minimize stress. Tetras should be housed in a school of fish (typically around 6-12) and you need to have the space to be able to make them happy and stress-free.

Can neon tetras live with bettas in a 5 gallon tank?

The answer is no. A 5 gallon tank is way too small for these two species who need a lot of room to have their territories. This tank is way too small and you also risk them being territorial and nipping at each other.

How many tetra can you keep?

Since they are schooling fish, the best way to keep them is in a large school of individuals with at least 6 but sometimes around 12. You can also combine different species of tetra in the same school, just make sure they are compatible with each other.

How do you introduce tetras to bettas?

The best way to introduce these two species is to first place your betta or tetra into quarantine tank or fish bowl for several days. Make sure they are healthy and observe them swimming for a little while. Then slowly acclimate them to the tank’s water conditions. This will ensure that they will successfully integrate into the tank’s environment.

How to minimize fin nipping in tetras?

Fin nipping is often the cause of stress or your fish not getting enough exercise. Making sure your tank is big enough is the first step to minimize fin nipping. Another cause of fin nipping is not having enough room in the aquarium for exercise and general movement. Like mentioned previously, making sure you have an adequately sized tank will ensure your tetras won’t be stressed out. Also, make sure the school of fish is large enough. For example, if you have 10 individual tetras in a school, then increase it to 12 and see if that makes a difference. Having this variety encourages normal social behaviors and reduces stress.

Other Tank Mates to Consider for Betta Fish

In addition to tetras, these species might be good tank mates for betta fish:

  • Mollies
  • Cory catfish
  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Albino Cories
  • Guppies
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Aquarium snails

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