Guppies and Bettas in Same Fish Tank (Risks and Safety)


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Guppies and bettas are vibrant freshwater fish with contrasting behaviors; guppies are lively and social while bettas are often territorial. Combining them in a tank can create a dynamic, colorful display. One might pair them to achieve a balance of movement and color, but it’s essential to ensure a harmonious environment to prevent potential aggression from bettas.

What is the Natural Behavior and Temperament of Guppies and Bettas?

Guppies are social and peaceful fish, often seen swimming in schools and displaying playful behaviors. They thrive in community tanks and are usually non-aggressive. In contrast, bettas, particularly males, are territorial and can exhibit aggressive tendencies, especially towards fish with similar fin shapes or vibrant colors.

Housing guppies and bettas together can be risky due to the betta’s dominant nature, possibly leading to stress or harm for the guppies. However, with careful planning, the lively guppies can complement the solitary beauty of the betta, creating a visually captivating tank.

What are the Risks of Housing Bettas and Guppies in the Same Tank?

Housing bettas and guppies together poses several risks due to their contrasting natures. Male bettas are particularly territorial and may perceive guppies, especially brightly-colored males, as rivals, leading to aggressive behavior.

Bettas might chase, nip, or even injure guppies, causing them stress, reducing their lifespan, or leading to fatalities. Additionally, guppies’ active and social nature can occasionally stress the more solitary betta. Overcrowding or inadequate hiding spots exacerbate these issues. While harmonious cohabitation is possible with meticulous care, the inherent risks demand that aquarists remain vigilant and informed about potential challenges in such setups.

How Can You Keep Guppies and Bettas Safely Together?

To safely cohabit guppies and bettas, select less aggressive betta breeds and preferably female bettas. Limit betta numbers to minimize territorial disputes. Incorporate abundant live plants, like Java fern or hornwort, to ease stress and delineate territories.

Ensure ample hiding spots with tank decor. Avoid larger betta breeds prone to heightened aggression. Opt for spacious tanks to grant adequate room for both species. Maintain optimal water parameters, focusing on temperature, pH, and hardness, to ensure a thriving, harmonious environment.

What Betta Fish Breed is Best for Keeping with Guppies?

When cohabiting with guppies, Plakat bettas are often recommended due to their relatively milder temperament compared to other breeds like the Halfmoon or Crowntail. While all bettas have individual personalities, Plakats, with their shorter fins, are less prone to fin-nipping by guppies and typically exhibit reduced aggression. Still, it’s essential to monitor interactions, as individual betta temperament can vary regardless of the breed.

What are the Benefits of Choosing Female Bettas?

Choosing female bettas when housing with guppies offers a smoother cohabitation experience. Females, while still territorial, generally exhibit less aggression than their male counterparts. Their reduced territoriality minimizes conflicts in a shared tank, especially with active, colorful guppies. Opting for female bettas can thus ensure a more harmonious environment, enhancing the visual appeal while minimizing potential stress or harm to tank inhabitants.

Why Limit the Number of Betta Fish?

Limiting the number of betta fish is crucial due to their territorial nature. Multiple bettas, especially males, in a confined space can result in aggressive confrontations, leading to stress, injury, or even fatalities. Reducing their numbers ensures each betta has sufficient territory, minimizing conflicts. It also allows for a more harmonious environment when housing them with other species, like guppies, ensuring all fish can thrive without constant threats.

What are the Benefits of Keeping Multiple Guppies with Betta?

Keeping multiple guppies with a betta can effectively reduce its aggression as the betta’s attention gets dispersed among the guppies, lessening individual targeting. This ‘dilution effect’ lowers stress among guppies, improving their overall wellness. Moreover, guppies are social fish; keeping them in groups enhances their natural behavior, keeping them active and engaged.

What are the Benefits of Live Plants?

Live plants offer sanctuary and boundaries in tanks housing bettas and guppies, reducing stress and territorial disputes. They provide hiding spots, curbing aggression, and creating a natural environment for both species to thrive.

Aquatic plants like Java Fern, Anubias, Java Moss, Guppy Grass, Elodea, and Hornwort not only beautify the tank but also enhance water quality and offer gentle barriers, fostering a peaceful coexistence between the two fish types.

What are the Benefits of Tank Decor and Hiding Spots?

Hiding spots or tank decor are a boon for cohabitating guppies and bettas, providing both physical cover and visual barriers to reduce stress and inter-species conflict. Betta’s territorial nature is tempered by these hideouts that give guppies a safe haven. Tank decor enhances aesthetics and mimics natural habitats, offering enrichment for the fish. They act as border lines for territory claims, promoting peace while ensuring a mentally healthy environment.

Why Should You Avoid Larger Betta Fish Breeds?

Keeping larger Betta breeds, such as King or Giant Betta, with guppies might not be ideal since their big size and aggressive nature can cause stress and harm. These larger Betta can view smaller guppies as prey due to their bright color and active movement, leading to undesirable conflict.

What is the Right Tank Size for Keeping Bettas and Guppies?

To house bettas and guppies together, a minimum 20-gallon tank is suggested. Adequate space allows both species to mark their territories peacefully and swim freely. Limitation in space can elevate stress levels, leading to disease and aggressive behavior.

A larger tank also supports better water conditions and heat distribution, crucial for their well-being. In a spacious setup, bettas and guppies coexist harmoniously, reducing chances of conflict while replicating a natural habitat.

What are the Ideal Water Quality and Parameters for Bettas and Guppies?

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial for Betta and Guppy cohabitation. Ideal temperature ranges between 74°F-82°F, allowing both species to thrive. The pH level should be slightly acidic to neutral (6.0-7.5), and the water hardness should range from 10-20 dH. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels should be zero to prevent harmful effects.

What are the Dietary Differences of Guppies and Bettas?

Bettas are carnivorous, thriving on high-protein diets with a preference for live or frozen food, while guppies are omnivorous, consuming both plant-based and protein-rich foods. To ensure all fish get the right food, feed them specialty-fish food tailored to their dietary needs.

Separate feeding zones would prevent competition. Given the betta’s aggressive nature, monitor feeding times to avoid overfeeding and to ensure all your fish are receiving adequate nutrition.

Why is Important to Monitor for Signs of Stress or Aggression?

Bettas can become aggressive if stressed and may start bullying guppies. Monitoring for signs like excessive chasing, nipping, rapid breathing or reduced activity is crucial. Also, look out for stress stripes, discolored scales, or loss of appetite. Immediate intervention, such as partial water change, rearranging decor to disrupt territories, or separating the aggressor can help restore peace.

When to Separate Bettas and Guppies?

Separating bettas and guppies is essential when signs of incessant territorial aggression, injuries from attacks, or relentless chase persist despite remedial actions. Irregularities in feeding habits, signs of stress, or disease should also trigger separation. If the betta’s behavior poses continuous threats to the guppy’s well-being, it’s best to have them inhabit separate spaces. Their safety and comfort should be prioritized to maintain a healthy living environment for each species.

What are the Best Ways to Save Guppy Fry Kept with Bettas?

To protect guppy fry from potential predation by bettas, add dense live plants, like Java moss or Guppy grass, creating hiding spaces. Using a separate breeding tank for pregnant guppies can safeguard fry post-birth. Once born, move fry to a nursery tank letting them grow safely. Feeding bettas adequately reduces their hunting instinct. Despite these measures, if predation persists, permanent separation of bettas and guppy fry may become necessary to ensure survival.

Updated: October 4, 2023
Questions & Answers
  1. Do you need multiple guppies, if not will the betta be more aggressive?

  2. avatar

    Corbyn, if you want to keep guppies with betta fish in the same tank you should keep multiple guppy fish. The betta fish will not be less aggressive living with multiple guppies, but will not be able to focus and harass only a single fish till death. Having its attention divided on multiple fish will decrease its interest in attacking the guppies.

    1. avatar

      Placing one guppy with one male betta fish together is a bad idea. You should not do that, because your betta fish will most likely hunt down the guppy, or at least stress him/her out very much. This combination will be fatal for the guppy fish.

  3. I just bought a Black orchid betta , would I be able to add three guppy’s or two guppies with it in a 8 gallon tank ?

    1. avatar

      I don’t know much about the behavior of a black orchid betta fish. If it is a male, most likely it is more aggressive. However different betta fish have different personalities. You could add 3 guppies with the betta fish, though you should pay close attention on how your betta fish reacts. If he is chasing the guppies, probably you should not keep them together, because your guppies will be stressed.

  4. Deborah Riccio

    I have 2 male Halfmoon bettas in a 15G with a black divider. I have a new 20G with 3 dwarf neon blue gouramis that were sold to me as shy and peaceful. They are anything but that. I have a pair of blue tail albino guppies that I’m afraid to turn loose in the 20G. They’re in a netted Breeder box in the 20G, but the Gouramis are stalking the box. I’m afraid to let the guppies lose. Both tanks are heavily planted. I’m thinking of putting the guppies in with the bettas until I find homes for the Gouramis. Am I better off putting them both on one side or one on each side. Each side is 7.5G, heavily planted, both with driftwood and a coconut cave. Plenty of hiding spots. I also ordered a 5G Fluval tank with all the trimmings from Amazon which should be here in a couple days. That’s my alternative backup plan for the guppies until the Gouramis are gone. So, should I leave them in the breeder box until the 5G arrives, or put them in with the bettas? Thanks for your help.

    1. avatar

      I think you can leave them in the breeding box for a few days, but this could lead to stress.
      You can also try to release them into the 20G tank and see how the gouramis interact with them. If the gouramis are very aggressive towards the guppies, you may try out the betta tank.
      If there are lots of hiding spaces, there should be no problem, but certainly I can’t guarantee that. I’ve kept guppies with both gouramis and bettas together. Sometimes gouramis can be territorial and can nip on the fins of guppies. It is really hard to tell what to do in this case. Just try out different things and see what works best.

  5. What should you add first, the guppies or the Betta? Also I have a standard Betta in a 5 gallon tank and I’m wondering how many guppies I can add if I can add them after?

    1. avatar

      Hey Liam! Probably you can add the guppies after your betta fish, though keep one eye on the tank for a while to see if there is any aggression. In a 5 gallon tank I would not add more than 3 guppies and one betta fish. If I were you, probably I would not add more fish with your betta, because things can go wrong is such a small tank. Even though if it is heavily planted, betta can be really territorial in such a small aquarium. So, I suggest to let your betta fish be alone or upgrade to a bigger tank.

  6. I’m thinking of getting a betta fish in a 5-gallon tank, but I also want guppies. Will they be ok living together in a 5-gallon? If so, how many guppies do you recommend I put with the betta? I was thinking maybe 2, but I wanted a second opinion.

    1. avatar

      I would not really recommend keeping a betta fish with guppies in such a small space. You can put 2 guppies and 1 betta fish in a 5 gallon tank; it can work out, but your guppies might be stressed out.

    1. avatar

      With a female betta this might work out well, though a male betta might harm your guppies.

  7. Katie at Meadowia

    I really enjoyed reading this article about Guppy Fish and Betta Fish, I learned so much about how to care for these beautiful fish!

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