Fighter in the Community Tank: Mixing Betas

You have probably seen hundreds of them sitting in small plastic cups in various pet stores and you may have had a few Betas of your own, each one swimming gently in a little tank that never seems big enough. I know i have had a few betas, mostly as a mom taking care of my kid’s beta.

One beta, a very feisty one that would flatten its face whenever I entered the room and try to fight with me, was the epitome of what I believed a beta or Siamese Fighting Fish should be. He was tough, bright red and with a little blue and a great fish with a lot of personality. Unfortunately for him, he had too much fight and his short life ended with a horrible accident during cleaning that involved a net, a garbage disposal and a hysterical woman calling her husband at work because the fish had jumped into the garbage disposal. Needless to say, it took me a little while to get over being a fish murderer.

Anyway, with that much fight, Betas are often recommend for single containers and although they look beautiful, many fish lovers will avoid them since they can’t appreciate their beauty in a large community aquarium. It is actually a myth that you can not keep Betas in a large aquarium with lots of other fish and by following a few simple guidelines, you too can add a beta or two to your tank.

Myth One: Beta’s will attack each other

Although Betas will attack each other, there are ways to get around this problem. Generally, it means placing females with females and never mixing females with males, or males with males. I have heard of it being done successfully and I have seen an aquarium with two betas in it but it really depends on the fish and how it takes to being placed in a tank with other Betas. You can test the mood but if the fish are fighting, it is time to separate them.

Myth Two: Betas will attack other fish

Once your labelled a fighter, it tends to stick with you and no one trusts you not to bully every fish in sight. This is what has happened to the Beta but it can be placed in a tank with other fish. One rule of thumb that an aquarium expert gave me was to keep fish that weren’t as flashy as Beta. Without the competition, the Beta is more than happy to avoid the other fish and just hang out under some nice tall plants.

A few helpful tips to keeping Betas

If you have decided to add a Beta to your community tank, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

First, avoid any fish that are known for fin nipping. The fins of a Beta are just to tempting a morsel and it is just an unpleasant way to spend the day for anyone.

Second, try to keep the number of aggressive feeders to a minimum. Betas are not the fastest eaters, which has more to do with their refined palates, and will often miss out on the choice pieces of fish food that they prefer if there are more fish to take the food from them.

Third, try to find species that mix well with Betas. Some suggestions are Cherry Barbs, Mollies, Otocinclus, Glolight Tetras, Dwarf Chain Loaches, Platies, Neons and Angelfish, although there is debate on the success of mixing last two with Betas.

With a little patience, maybe a bit of trial and error, you should be able to successfully mix your Beta into a community tank and have no problems with having a known fighter on the block.

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