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Female Bettas: Choosing Tank Mates For Small Tanks

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

At one time it was really hard to find female bettas. While they aren't as flashy as the males, many of them are beautiful and come with great personalities. There are other advantages to keeping females as well! They make great tank mates for all sorts of cool fish and they usually do well in groups. Here is a guide that will let you pick out the perfect tank mates for your female betta if she is being kept in a tank smaller than a 10 gallon tank.

Aggressive Females.
Most females are laid back and won't have a problem. In fact, in community tanks they are more likely to be picked on by others than to be the one picking on the other fish and invertebrates. However, every now and again there is a female who is high strung and doesn't make a great community member. If you already own a female betta then hold some bright colors up to her tank, jar, or bowl and see how she reacts. If she flares up her fins and her gills then she might be too aggressive for many tank mates. However, if she is laid back and easy going no matter what color her space is next to then it is likely she will do well in a community tank. If you are looking for a new betta (or bettas) for a community tank then check out the article Tips for Choosing a Betta for Your Community Aquarium.

Benefits of a Tank Over a Bowl.
There is a great debate among betta fish keepers as to whether or not they can do well in a small space. The truth is that they can survive there and often survive well if taken care of, but there are a lot of advantages to having a tank. A tank provides better water quality, a filter, and more oxygen. These things can make a great difference in their life and in how easy it is to keep them. See Betta Care: A Vase or a Tank for more information.

Very Small Tanks.
Tanks under five gallons are really small. While they aren't good for many things they can be used for a place to keep a betta. There are a few things that should be noted. First the smaller a tank is the harder it is to keep clean and the other thing you should know is that what you put in and how much you put in there should be directly related to how much space you have! Small tanks don't offer much space. In fact, most small tanks already have too much fish in them with your betta if you follow the rule of 1" of fish per gallon of water. None the less, here are a few things you can keep in a small tank with your betta.

  • Ghost shrimp. Some people have said that their betta has eaten their ghost shrimp, however this doesn't happen often because the shrimp has a hard shell, is good sized, and is hard to see. You can keep 1 ghost shrimp for every gallon of water you have. You should provide some place for them to hide while they shed.
  • Snail. You can keep 1 snail in a small tank. Choose one that doesn't multiply on their own such as a mystery snail or a nerite snail. If you do choose a nerite snail then you should make sure you have algae first since that is all it will eat and you can't just toss in extra fish food for it.

5 to 8 Gallon Tanks.
If you tank is a little larger than it can hold a little more. However, it is still pushing it. You should not add any small schooling fish (a common recommendation online) to your betta tank because this would over stock it and could cause fish to die from ammonia and nitrogen poisoning. Instead you should consider these options.

  • Ghost shrimp are still an option. You can keep more of them following the 1 ghost shrimp per gallon of water rule.
  • A snail can still be kept in this tank. You should still only keep one because there won't be enough food for more than that without lots of over feeding. You will already have competition for food with the shrimp (if you are adding both).
  • Or you can buy three otocinculus catfish (otos) to go in your tank with your betta instead of the snail. You shouldn't have a snail and otos in the same space because of food competition. You will also want to feed your oto some extra vegetable based foods including algae wafers and vegetables. See Tips for Feeding Your Fish a Well Rounded Diet for more information on your food options for your otos (they are herbivores and will not eat meat!). You should be buying three because they do best in groups and will get lonely if they don't have friends.

10 Gallon Tank.
A ten gallon tank is a very popular size and often seen as a good "starter" tank. However, it really can't hold that many fish. It does offer you a few more choices than the other tanks.

  • Ghost shrimp can still be kept up to 1 per gallon, though if you are going to have a lot of bottom feeders a half dozen is a better number.
  • You can keep up to three snails (of the short that won't multiply like crazy) as long as you aren't going to have otos. If you want snails and otos then get one snail.
  • You can still get three otos, but you shouldn't get more than three and if you chose another bottom dweller than you should avoid getting the otos.
  • You can get three corydora catfish to go with your betta, but you shouldn't have any other fish if you do this.
  • You can get three khuli loaches, but you shouldn't have ghost shrimp because the khuli loaches are likely to eat them. They will work well with your betta, but you shouldn't have any other fish in there.
  • You can have three female bettas together. By keeping three you will stop fights and you will have lots to look at. You can keep 3 female bettas with the 3 otos, but you shouldn't keep them with any other fish.
  • You can keep two African dwarf frogs with your female betta, ghost shrimp, and snails. Your otos should do okay with this mix as well. Make sure that you are feeding your African dwarf frogs correctly!

Your female betta will look great with a few tank mates. Just make sure that everyone is getting enough food and that you are taking care to not over stock their tank. It is easy to do and it often looks just a bit bare if it isn't over stocked, but in the long run it will save you a lot of time, money, and fish! If you have a larger tank that you want to put a female betta in see Female Betta: Choosing Tank Mates For Large Tanks!



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