Can Neon Tetra and Betta Fish Live Together?

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Betta Fish is a common species found in most home aquariums. They are hardy, vibrant in color, and easy to care for. The same goes for Neon Tetras too. Both of these fish species are adaptable and don’t impose a lot of complications.

However, one of the most common questions aquarists has been about their compatibility. Can you house any type of betta fish with a neon tetra?

Even with the betta fish’s wild nature and aggressive behavior, they are pretty compatible with neon tetras. You just need to know the right ways to keep them together.

Like any unpredictable situation, things can go south pretty quickly, especially when you are not qualified or informed enough about the situation.

Don’t worry, though, because we have shortlisted all the crucial information for you in this article.

Keeping Neon Tetra and Betta Fish Together – The Compatibility Factor

Neon Tetra and Betta Fish

When you are taking care of a fish species, they come with a list of requirements. Some are freshwater fish; some like well in brackish water. Some species need two feedings a day; some are bottom feeders.

The list of variations is endless. So, when it comes to bettas and neon tetras, you need to be mindful of these factors. Not just the tank setup, even the water parameters play a crucial role.

The moment you sort those out is where you won’t have to look back again. Keep in mind that neon tetras and bettas can co-exist only when they have optimal living conditions.

To make the process easier, we have divided the foreseeable factors into:

  • Required Tank Size and Capacity
  • Water Parameters
  • Behavior and Temperament
  • Decorations and Tank Setup
  • Feeding Habits

Let us elaborate on them one by one:

Required Tank Size and Capacity

Required Tank Size and Capacity

Bettas are small fish species that don’t need a lot of space to thrive. However, if you plan to build a community tank, ideally, you need up to 10 gallons capacity. Since bettas can get territorial pretty quick, not having enough space will amplify the aggression further.

For neon tetras, they do well in 10-gallon tanks too. Also, neon tetras are schooling fish, which means you can’t keep them alone. So, a large capacity tank is a pretty important factor. Typically, they need to stay in groups of 10.

Neon tetras, like betta fish, typically grow up to 2 inches in length, sometimes smaller. So, if you want to keep them together, having a large capacity tank is needed. Starting with 10-gallons is always a pretty good base.

However, for optimal comfort, a 20-gallons tank is considered ideal. It offers more space for free swimming and expedition around. Since bettas are pretty active, a larger tank helps them move around in comfort. The extra space also prevents these species from crossing paths, keeping territorial behavior at a minimum.

Water Parameters

By some means, both betta and neon tetra have similar water requirements. Although not entirely the same, they have almost identical needs.

When it comes to water temperature, bettas need 78-82° F while neon tetras need 72-82° F. The average mid-ground is the same for the two species. So, invest in a good-quality aquarium heater to achieve the ideal temperature.

good-quality aquarium heater

The pH requirements are pretty similar too. Bettas need between 6.5 to 7, while Neon tetras need between 6-7. Just maintain a neutral water pH, and they should strive well.

The water hardness inclines towards softer water more. Anything with heavy chemicals will end up killing them.

Behavior and Temperament

The first mention of a betta incites talks of aggression. Any aquarist will tell you that they are territorial and don’t do well with tank mates. However, that is not the only truth.

If introduced to a new species with caution, bettas can thrive well in a community tank. You just need to be mindful when you are putting them with a school of neon tetras.

Betta Fish Behavior

Betta fish, especially the male ones, are highly territorial and aggressive. However, their bright color and playful nature make them an ideal addition to the tank.

Whether or not your betta will be compatible with the neon tetra is subjective. Some bettas work well with the change, while some don’t. In case the pairing doesn’t work on the first go, you need to accept it.

It doesn’t matter which species you are pairing it with; if your betta doesn’t take to them in the first round, they won’t later as well. Bettas also exhibit unique behavior right before their death, especially when they are under stress. So, keep an eye out on that too.

Neon Tetra Behavior

A stark contrast to betta is the neon tetra behavior. They are peaceful, schooling fish. Unlike betta that can stay alone, neon tetras need to be in a group of 10 or 20.

However, there is some uniqueness to their behavior too.

Neon tetras can show signs of mild aggression. When paired with male bettas, they can indulge in slight fin nipping. But, this is quite rare and seldom happens.

Also, neon tetras skirt around the middle of the tank. They move around in groups for comfort and safety. Betta, on the other hand, are surface swimmers.

Decorations and Setup

Both Bettas and Neon Tetras like heavily planted aquariums. This prevents conflicts, gives them a safe space to hide, and helps them relax in times of stress.

So, when setting up a co-habiting tank, include a lot of live plants and hiding spots. Besides that, you need to install good low-light aquarium lights.

low-light aquarium lights

Besides live plants, fake plants work well too. Artificial Anacharis works pretty well. Your main aim with the plants is to create enough hiding spots.

Feeding Habits

Bettas are solely carnivores. This means that they don’t take a liking towards veggies or fruits. Neon Tetras, on the other hand, are omnivores. They need a balanced diet, including animal and plant products.

So, essentially, a neon tetra can solely feed on a betta diet but not the other way around.

Essentially, include more on live foods in both their diets. Foods like brine shrimp and daphnia are pretty common.

How to Set Up a Betta-Neon Tetra tank?

When setting up a neon tetra and betta tank, you need to be mindful of pre-requisites. While there are simple factors to look out for, there are certain other factors too.

Add the Tetras First

Tetras First

Starting with a betta in a tank and adding tetras won’t result well. When you have a betta in a tank alone, it considers the entire tank its territory. This can result in signs of aggression.

So, start with neon tetras in a tank and then introduce a betta.

Adding a betta later allows them to adjust to the surroundings and find a spot for themselves.

Skip out on Male Bettas

If you don’t want any hassle or issues with fin nipping and aggression, avoid male bettas. The female bettas are a lot less aggressive. Also, they have more vibrant colors and add a beautiful look to the tank.

The female bettas don’t have the flowy fins as the male ones do. So, risks of fin nipping are lesser too.

Choose a Betta from a Community Tank

Add the Tetras First

Since more and more aquarists are looking into co-habiting bettas, fish shops take care of that too. You will find bettas that have grown up in community tanks. They are already used to living with other species like guppies, making them a perfect addition to your tank.

Besides these pointers, you need to stay vigilant. Instead of adding the fish species together and forgetting about them, you need to look out.

At least for the first day, you need to check their behavior. If you find the betta showing aggression or flaring gills, you need to take them out. You need to be vigilant about the betta.

If they are simply chasing around, that’s fine. However, anything that exceeds the limits needs to walk out. Also, have a plan in case something goes wrong. You can never predict the behavior of either of the fish species, so be mindful.

How Many Neon Tetra Can You Keep with Your Betta?

Bettas can live alone while Neon Tetras need to be in a school.

So, you need to keep them accordingly.

Typically, the ratio is 10:1 (10 being the neon tetras and 1 being the betta fish). You can’t risk putting multiple betta fish together, especially male ones. So, start with just one and then increase the numbers accordingly.

Wrapping Up

Watching neon tetras and bettas in a tank can be fascinating. However, putting them together is a struggle no one highlights. The process is not as easy and smooth as you might consider it to be. So, typically, we’d recommend starting slow.

Understand the requirements and behavior of each of the fish species. Knowing what they need and what they don’t make all the difference. We hope this article gives you a basic understanding of the process and makes the most of the situation.

If you still have any queries, feel free to let us know in the comments. We’d be happy to help you further.

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