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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I've been tossing around the idea of getting my betta some tankmates.

The reason why is I am not home during the day most days, and when I am out of his sight away from the tank, he just slowly circles and circles. But when I approach the tank, he watches me and everything I do like a hawk, and tries to wriggle after me when I walk away from the tank. If I'm sitting at my computer next to his tank, he just paces and stares at me until I do something, like hold up an object for him to look at.
I don't think it's just for food - he gets fed out of a feeding hole and he motions he wants fed when he swims up under it and sticks his mouth out of the water. I get the feeling I'm his main entertainment.

Now to be clear, I am aware bettas are a territorial species- they do not "need friends", so to speak. Hence I am just looking for compatible species that can serve as some supplemental entertainment for him - in the wild, he would be interacting with other species. That doesn't make him "social," but it does provide enrichment and gives him something to look at and think about besides the 4 aquarium walls.

I wish I could get a bigger tank, since a bigger tank provides more space for more fish, but my apartment is tiny and I have to move house multiple times a year between here and home, so I am not looking to replace my 5 gal. Its small size makes it much easier to transport and reassemble compared to a 20 gal or something.

If this tank is big enough for some sort of tank mate, please share your thoughts!

I also have some brown algae that keeps coming back, particularly in the corners of the tank where my scrubbing can't reach it, so tank mates that eat algae would be great. I am keeping the bioload in mind, though, and don't necessarily want tank mates that make a ton of waste for their size.

As the title suggests, I am also happy to hear suggestions for smaller plants that would do well in low light. Currently I have two floating bamboo and some large mystery plant that seems to be doing well, although I keep having to rub the brown algae off its leaves so it can breathe.
 

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Welp this is not going to be what you want to hear at all, but here you go: I would honestly advise against the tank mate idea. Especially other fishes. Argument #1: the fancy Bettas that we have now are different from the wild types that are still present in Thailand today. Argument #2: you are right in saying that a tank mate will give him something else to look at other than the tank walls. It will also give him something to constantly worry about and be nervous of. Now I know this last bit is pretty much irrelevant, but as a socially anxious individual I can most definitely tell you that alone does not equal lonely. I *love* being alone. So do Bettas.

You can, however, get some shrimps or snails. But there's always a possibility they're just gonna be snack for your fish. I know close to nothing about either invertebrates though so I'll leave it to other people to fill you in about which species to choose. Good luck!

EDIT: you said plants! Well, here are plants:
1) Anubias (the nana variation is the one I have. They're really tolerant, hardy and grows slowly so they won't be a weed)
2) Java Fern (tall plant, maximum height 30 centimeters. Easy to find, not picky and cheap)
3) Marimo Balls a.k.a moss balls (adorable, super mega tolerant, also serves as toys for Bettas!)
4) Floaters like water lettuce, salvinia minima, duckweed and red root floaters (typically hardy and provides shade if your lighting is too bright)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the plant list! And you may be right. I did worry that getting other *fish* would make my betta stressed- he may see them as threats or annoyances. That's why I wondered if maybe invertebrates would be the way to go - they would be less of a threat and more of a background neighbor.

He's not a terribly big betta, just a typical pet store 1.5-2 inch veiltail, so I don't think he could take on a large snail. But the shrimp, maybe so. Hm.
 

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Just remember that snails poop like there's no tomorrow. So if you get a large one, just multiply the amount of a regular snail waste with the snail size. Oh and they eat plants. I recently had unwanted snails in my tank and the little *bleep*ers made holes all over my Anubias!

Shrimps are cool but they reproduce like crazy. I actually just read this morning in this forum that somebody "now has a bunch of shrimp fries they never knew about" when they cleaned their filter! From what I've read around the forum, they also have quite a long list of special needs such as... well, whatever "drip acclimation" means. I'm sure they're cool though. The ghost one is transparent :D makes me feel like living in a horror movie.
 

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Some snails eat plants, some only eat dead plant leaves. Again some shrimp such as Red Cherry Shrimp breed like mini rabbits where as Amano Shrimp aren't able to fully breed in freshwater. They will try but more often then not drop the eggs early, because there are some species of shrimp that require the baby shrimp to be in brackish water to survive.
 

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I have nerite snails with my betta and they aren't bothered by my males. They also aren't the giant poop machines that mystery snails tend to be. Nerites can't breed in Freshwater so you don't have to worry about a snail problem and they don't eat live plants so you won't have to worry about your decor.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have nerite snails with my betta and they aren't bothered by my males. They also aren't the giant poop machines that mystery snails tend to be. Nerites can't breed in Freshwater so you don't have to worry about a snail problem and they don't eat live plants so you won't have to worry about your decor.
This sounds like a darn near perfect tank mate then. My boyfriend warned me that (some) snails can multiply suddenly- he used to have goldfish in a 44 gal, and one snail became hundreds overnight. :p
 

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What you want to avoid are the pond snails. They can quickly overtake a tank. You'll see them all over the glass and gravel of most petstore like petsmart and petco.

You also may want to avoid mystery snails. They are gorgeous but they get pretty large and are poop machines. In my experience, more trouble than they are worth. I've also heard of betta biting at their long eye stalks.

Apple snails get GIGANTIC. I wouldn't recommend them unless you do a lot of reading and have a proper setup for the snail.

Like I said, I love nerites. You don't have to worry about any of those problems with this particulae snail species. Just make sure you either have enough algae in the tank to sustain the snail or buy algae wafers for it. I break up my wafer into four pieces and only drop one little piece in at a time. I recommend doing a little reading about them first, even though they are easy to care for. Always good to know the best products to buy for your fish and invertebrates. :)
 

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IMO I'd leave the betta solo, the larger snails species have insane bioloads (poop a lot more than you'd imagine something that small could). Shrimp are extremely delicate (they can't handle shrimp-in cycling like a betta can for example) and are very likely to end up on the menu ('lobster dinner' for our betta).

I keep the 'pest' snails species in all my tanks. Bladder, pond, ramshorn, and Malaysian trumpet snails-the last one is great for sifting sand substrates, and all eat diatoms (aka brown algae), dead plant matter, uneaten food, and that newly submerged driftwood fungus. These species are smaller than mystery, apple,and nerite snails but they still do poop a lot (less than the big snails).

Diatoms are common in newly set up tanks, it often last for several months, and can pop up when you buy new plants if they aren't thoroughly cleaned yet (come in on the plants) its completely harmless just not very aesthetically pleasing. Trust me when I say: its easier to just clean the algae than deal with the poop of large snails or an fish "algae eaters". Since I keep den sly planted tanks the smaller poops of the small snail species doesn't bother me and helps feed plants.
 

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If you choose nerite, they often will not eat man made foods. You have to have enough algae in the tank and grow extras in the window. I love mine, and the parts that stick out are smaller than other kinds of snails, so Mrs. Fish found she couldn't hurt the snail.
 

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If you can find Horned Nerites they are good for a five gallon as they are less than an inch in size. Those are the Nerites I have in my 5.5 gallon tanks. I bought them from JDAquatics who is a member of this forum.

You could have two African Dwarf Frogs in a 5.5. They are bottom dwellers and have a tiny bioload (about that of a Tetra). IMO, they are the best Betta tank mate and on the frog forums where I lurk Betta are considered the best tank mate so I'm not alone. ;-)

But in reality, your boy doesn't need a tank mate. Filling his aquarium with plants will occupy his time equally.

Have fun whichever way you decide. Oh, and +1 to the plant list.
 
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