I’m writing this article as there seems to be some misinformation about the Betta also know as the Fighting Fish. Recently a family member went to a pet store to purchase a platy trio, when asked what else she had in the tank she replied a betta. Now apparently the worker gets slightly rude and tells her the betta will harm the platies and that he cannot stick to the normal 14 day live fish guarantee due to this fact!
There are a few things we need to look at here. First the lack of proper training at chain pet stores and even many locally owned LFS. It cannot be stressed enough to do your own research from trusted sources if you are uncertain or need help. Forums like www.fishtanx.com, have members and staff willing to help you out, so you can enjoy the hobby without all the headaches. While there are plenty of knowledgeable staff at stores across the country there are more that are not so knowledgeable on fishkeeping and let’s face it they’re there for a paycheck not always a love and passion for aquariums.
Secondly there is still a misconception even with some seasoned hobbyist from simply being misinformed and never knowing differently. It comes from the term “Fighting Fish”, killer whales were once thought to be human killers hence the name. Being housed alone in cups also does not do any justice to let people know they are not aggressive towards most other fish.
Finally let’s take a look at a betta’s behavior as well as possible tank mates and tank threats. Never house more than one male fighting fish together, also a male should only be mixed with a female if breeding. Males will fight to the death and throughout history this has been done for gambling, sport and apparently even solving boredom. It is unethical and one male will come out either dead or badly injured. They are very fierce against their own kind, which is why they will flare their gills and act aggressive towards their own reflections. Courthship between a male and female can be quite aggresive as well – before, during and after. Many times the females can be killed after depositing eggs. Females can also be aggressive towards one another, but are known to be able to be kept together. I would recommend a large community tank with hiding spots if choosing to place multiple females in.
Now that we’re done talking about bettas being mixed with bettas, what about bettas being mixed with other fish. Bettas are generally a peaceful fish if not mixing with one another. They usually stay to their self and are slow moving as well as passive and easy going. Almost any peaceful community fish will be perfect to keep with the betta. The fish I would say to stray away from mixing with the betta are; gouramis as they are from the same family and may fight, guppies would be another fish not to mix with the betta simply because fancy male guppies have long finnage much like a betta and the betta could mistake the guppy for one of its own. The last thing to stray away from are fish that will bother the betta, “Fin Nippers”. There’s a nice handful of fish out there that will nip at long fins. Barbs would be one to watch out for the most in my opinion.
To sum all that up into a simple statement; no more than 1 male betta should ever be house together, a male should not be mixed with a female(s) unless breeding, females can possibly be mixed without problem given a large tank with cover, finally feel free to add 1 male betta to a community tank given proper room and keep an eye out for any possible fin nipping.
Thanks for reading I hope this helps people wondering this question or those who have been misinformed. I would much rather see a “Fighting Fish” living in harmony in a nice community tank versus a small unfiltered filthy vase or cup.