Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Bettas in the Community Tank
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Bettas in the Community Tank

for the week of 5/27/99

Half moon betaThere are few fish more beautiful and graceful than Betta splendens, commonly known as the Siamese Fighting Fish. And while these gorgeous air-breathing wonders are probably best suited for life alone in smaller aquariums, they can be kept in certain community situations.

What they bother. Their reputation as "fighting fish" is really only deserved when it comes to other bettas, a few related species like dwarf gouramis, and occasionally other fish that are even more helpless, like fancy guppies. Bettas are usually quite shy and show little aggression towards unrelated fish, although they may snack on tiny tetras or baby fish that can be swallowed whole.

What bothers them. Their long, flowing fins and slow movement make bettas easy targets for fin-nippers like tiger barbs, and they seem downright terrified by large active species such as giant danios. They are usually chased relentlessly by the related gouramis, and of course are no match at all for truly aggressive fish like cichlids.

Other concerns. Some fish don't actually pursue bettas, but outcompete them at dinner time. Bettas are often fairly picky about what foods they'll accept, and the special treats they prefer are often wolfed down by active fish before the betta gets a mouthful. A few greedy eaters such as rosy barbs or any of the small danios are no problem, but a tankful leads to slim pickin's for the poor betta.

Suggested tankmates. Platies, mollies, some of the slower tetras (neons, cardinals, rummy nose), cherry barbs and cory cats are likely tankmates, as are angelfish in larger aquariums.

Making it "Home." Bettas prefer to stake out a small territory in some sort of cover near the surface of the water, so tall plants (live or artificial) are recommended. Minimum temperature should be 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with 80 being ideal.


"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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