Changing opinion on betta tankmate compatibility - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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I got some Corys for my last betta, who disappeared while I was taking a shower an hour after giving him a new tank, and about 3 weeks after giving him some cories. I have no proof of my assumption, but I believe he jumped out of a TINY space in between the tank & lid (that I’ve covered since then) and into my dog’s mouth. Otherwise he got abducted by aliens. I think the behavior was because of stress, as water quality was perfect, it was a nice cycled tank, lots more space, more decor, etc...
So then, after waiting a bit to make sure there was no illness in the tank, I got a new betta. And this morning I saw him chase and nip at one of my cories......
I’m starting to think the idea that bettas don’t care about catfish is wrong. But the general consensus is that they don’t mind anything that doesn’t look like them or like food. Am I wrong? Do I just have the luck of finding grumpy old men juvenile fish?

Bettas owned:


Swim Shady: doubletail male

Ella: veiltail female

Neo: crowntail male
Bruiser: crowntail male
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a patter or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit" ~ Constantin Brancusi
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Amandaortner View Post
I got some Corys for my last betta, who disappeared while I was taking a shower an hour after giving him a new tank, and about 3 weeks after giving him some cories. I have no proof of my assumption, but I believe he jumped out of a TINY space in between the tank & lid (that Iíve covered since then) and into my dogís mouth. Otherwise he got abducted by aliens. I think the behavior was because of stress, as water quality was perfect, it was a nice cycled tank, lots more space, more decor, etc...
So then, after waiting a bit to make sure there was no illness in the tank, I got a new betta. And this morning I saw him chase and nip at one of my cories......
Iím starting to think the idea that bettas donít care about catfish is wrong. But the general consensus is that they donít mind anything that doesnít look like them or like food. Am I wrong? Do I just have the luck of finding grumpy old men juvenile fish?
Quiet likely, I have several Betta Fish. Some such as Ouro lives with 12 Corydoras (6 Sterbai, 6 Pygmy) RCS and Amano.
Kojin on the other hand, will entertain nothing except live plants in his tank. He had body slammed a Yellow Rabbit Snail to death (or took off their antenna and it starved one of the two) as well as taking out numerous RCs, Amano, Nerites

Why is it that you want tank mates? You looking for a clean up crew?
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Opal's Keeper Since 21/01/2019
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quiet likely, I have several Betta Fish. Some such as Ouro lives with 12 Corydoras (6 Sterbai, 6 Pygmy) RCS and Amano.
Kojin on the other hand, will entertain nothing except live plants in his tank. He had body slammed a Yellow Rabbit Snail to death (or took off their antenna and it starved one of the two) as well as taking out numerous RCs, Amano, Nerites

Why is it that you want tank mates? You looking for a clean up crew?


It was equal parts clean up crew and curiosity. I've never had bettas with tankmates before, and I'd seen it many many places that adding cories could be beneficial to the environment. So I thought, they don't seem to mind it (some even say they like it), the cories could be beneficial and serve a purpose, and I've got a good 20 gallon I hadn't been using so why not give it a shot? It seemed like a safe experiment to run.
How can you judge betta behavior prior to adding other life in order to know what personality you have, whether they'll enjoy it (debatable), tolerate it, or completely revolt?

Bettas owned:


Swim Shady: doubletail male

Ella: veiltail female

Neo: crowntail male
Bruiser: crowntail male
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a patter or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit" ~ Constantin Brancusi
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 08:40 AM
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Oh, I am terribly sorry to hear about the Death By Dog. And the absence of evidence is very frustrating.

I lost two shrimp under similar circs back when I had a cat. No way did the cat go fishing since the lid holes weren't big enough for a paw. So the shrimp must have gone walkabout - and met a surprised but happy cat.

I think one way to gauge aggression is how easily they flare at things. I have 3 betta, and have never managed to make any of them flare at all. The most aggressive behaviour I have observed is when Tagawa entered into a staring match with a nerite snail. I got bored of watching before either party backed down.

So I have come to the conclusion that my three are rather laid back.
One happily lives with nerites, wood shrimp and rasboras (never shown ANY interest in the shrimp, but there is masses of cover for them, not that they use it much)
One lives with ember tetras (and has never deigned to notice them)
and one lives alone, but I think he needs to add some kind of cleanup crew, because I would rather someone else did it, rather than me.
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70litre tank: mature setup; betta, purple rasboras, male guppies, amano and wood shrimp. Heavily planted.
22litre cube tank: (Tagawa); betta, yellow dwarf shrimp. Pond snails and 1 assassin. Heavily planted.
Midnight in the 57litre tank (Midnight) ember tetras, 1 amano, 1 ghost, 1 nerite, pond snails, 1 assassin, doing his thing. Heavily planted.
200litre tank; honey gourami, cherry barbs, green neons, otocinclus, nerites, pond snails, amano. Heavily planted.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 08:48 AM
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Every Betta is different in their demeanor. Some are very laid back and some are very aggressive. For those who think they are only aggressive to anything they take as another betta are very wrong. When adding tank mates to a betta tank. The first thing you need to know is how aggressive your betta is. There are times when a single betta in a tank with no mates seems so passive. But add something to their tank (their tank being the key words)They go bonkers.

Just like a human they are possessive. (this is MY HOME and ONLY MY HOME.)
When I put two Mystery snails in Ben's tank I thought long and hard before doing so. Ben is a good boy and very laid back. He was in the tank since brand new. (it was HIS home. ) I have always planted a betta tank heavily with live plants. Giving not only him, but any other fish lots of places to hide and get away quickly from aggression. When I say heavily planted I mean a jungle. I have to look for Ben when he isn't right out in front.

I placed at first (2) mystery snails in the tank to get rid of an algae bloom. I didn't want to use chemicals to do this for fear it may kill not only the algae but also Ben and the plants. I got lucky when Ben paid little attention to them. He would swim up to them and flair and then swim away.

i tried them also in Gunny's tank (My gun metal gray Elephant Ear). This did not work well with him. He had been alone in his tank for 4 years and never had any thing else, but plants. He did not take to having something else invading his home. So out they came. I tried other fish earlier on but those all ended up dead. (I didn't realize Gunny was killing them) I had never put anything else in with him.

When Harry was alive I had tried shrimp and found out to him they were a snack. I put in some Neon's and he enjoyed chasing them when he could find them but never hurt them. They lived together for 8 years until Harry passed. I took them out of his tank and placed them in one of my community tanks. They are enjoying a life of living in a mansion now that they share a larger tank.

So In all of this I never recommend tank mates and thinking that betta will only react adversely only to any other fish that they think is one of their own. And really anyone thinking this way or telling a customer this is Dead wrong. (Or the tank mates are Dead, wrong.)
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Last edited by Old Dog 59; 03-29-2019 at 08:53 AM.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 08:52 AM
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Yeah, I think the general consensus is that there isn't a guaranteed tank mate that will work with Bettas, it all depends on the specific betta. My little dude only tolerates his snails and considering he flares at anything else that comes near his tank (including my finger haha) I don't think he'd enjoy others in his domain. haha
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 11:29 AM
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You could possibly divide that 20g, maybe using a clear divider or the DIY craft mesh and see how the Betta reacts to movement on the other side?
That way you could get the Corydoras and keep the Betta Separate if needed?

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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You could possibly divide that 20g, maybe using a clear divider or the DIY craft mesh and see how the Betta reacts to movement on the other side?
That way you could get the Corydoras and keep the Betta Separate if needed?

Well, the thing is, he doesn't react to them at all unless they just happen to swim right in front of him, then he chases them down to teach them a good lesson I suppose. He doesn't flare, and doesn't really show any signs of aggression, he's well fed too so I don't see it being a "gotta eat that guy" reaction. It's more of a toy-chasing movement. So I don't think a divider would do any good (at least for this guy) but in the future if I get over the trauma of this go-round, that's definitely the route I'll take. I'm going to move the cories out tonight, then once the betta settles down and de-stresses put him in a 5 gallon. I'm honestly probably just going to use that 20 for some Mickey Mouse platy's and call it a day for betta tankmates. Better safe than sorry!
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Bettas owned:


Swim Shady: doubletail male

Ella: veiltail female

Neo: crowntail male
Bruiser: crowntail male
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a patter or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit" ~ Constantin Brancusi
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 07:17 PM
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Welcome to the Forum!

Betta are territorial fish plain and simple. Some more so than the other; some have bigger "territories" than others. They chase other fish out of their territory because that is what they do and how they establish the boundaries of this territory.

Cory/Catfish and others occasionally zip to the surface. Some Betta ignore this temporary intrusion; some do not.

What is the GPH of your filter? Is the tank well enough oxygenated for non-labyrinth fish? I am sure it is but sometimes owners maintain a low-flow-oxygen-level that is fine for Betta but not for those with only gills. So gotta cover all the bases. This zipping to the surface, if frequent, could mean you need more oxygenation.

One way to tell if the tank is oxygenated for all the residents is to note if a Betta frequently breathe from the surface or makes use of its gills and seldom surfaces. I cannot recall the last time I saw one of the Betta in my community tanks surface breathe.

I would not give up on the Betta just yet. Chasing something new is perfectly normal. In 40+ years of Betta-based community tanks I have had fewer than 10 (actually, I can only think of five) that did not settle down after a week and ignore the other fish. Those guys who had to live alone aggressively and relentlessly chased other fish all over the tank or stalked one particular individual from the get-go. They were in another tank faster than you can blink an eye.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Welcome to the Forum!

Betta are territorial fish plain and simple. Some more so than the other; some have bigger "territories" than others. They chase other fish out of their territory because that is what they do and how they establish the boundaries of this territory.

Cory/Catfish and others occasionally zip to the surface. Some Betta ignore this temporary intrusion; some do not.

What is the GPH of your filter? Is the tank well enough oxygenated for non-labyrinth fish? I am sure it is but sometimes owners maintain a low-flow-oxygen-level that is fine for Betta but not for those with only gills. So gotta cover all the bases. This zipping to the surface, if frequent, could mean you need more oxygenation.

One way to tell if the tank is oxygenated for all the residents is to note if a Betta frequently breathe from the surface or makes use of its gills and seldom surfaces. I cannot recall the last time I saw one of the Betta in my community tanks surface breathe.

I would not give up on the Betta just yet. Chasing something new is perfectly normal. In 40+ years of Betta-based community tanks I have had fewer than 10 (actually, I can only think of five) that did not settle down after a week and ignore the other fish. Those guys who had to live alone aggressively and relentlessly chased other fish all over the tank or stalked one particular individual from the get-go. They were in another tank faster than you can blink an eye.
Ohhhhhh I hadn’t even considered the oxygenation. As a betta girl, and never a giant 20 gallon for one fish girl, oxygenation wasn’t even on the thought train. They don’t zip up to the surface a lot, but, they’re zippy though! Honestly I’ve experienced way more joy in owning those little fellers than I expected of a fish considered primarily “clean-up”. I did go home and provide a lot more cover and everyone seemed super chill about it and happy. I watched them for a bit and then had to leave when I was comfortable with the behaviors. As far as my filter flow, I’m honestly not sure (and I can’t say for sure until I get home). I got the actual mechanism when I purchased the 20g but never throw out any kind of manuals so I still have the info. But again, as a betta girl, the lower power output the better, so it’s probably not moving fast enough for any kind of oxygenation.

Bettas owned:


Swim Shady: doubletail male

Ella: veiltail female

Neo: crowntail male
Bruiser: crowntail male
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a patter or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit" ~ Constantin Brancusi
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