7 Of the Best Community Fish for Bettas: Beginners guide

Ember Tetra and Betta

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7 Of the Best Community Fish for Bettas: Beginners guide

Betta fish are known to be fierce fighters, especially towards their own species, but did you know you can add tank mates to their aquarium? Yes, depending on your betta’s personality, he or she can peacefully cohabitate with other fish and invertebrates. However, make sure their aquarium is at least 10 to 20 gallons with lots of cover and live plants or else the betta fish may become overly territorial. Here is a list of the top 7 fish to share the tank with your betta fish. In this guide to 7 of the best community fish for bettas we will show you what fish are compatible with your betta fish and which ones to avoid.

What to consider when choosing community fish for your beta fish tank

Raising betta fish can be difficult due to the need for warm, clean water and regular water changes, their territorial and aggressive nature, and their susceptibility to various diseases.

Water parameters

When considering a tank for Betta fish, it is important to take the size into account; a tank of at least 20 gallons is recommended. In addition, the water parameters should be taken into consideration, as different fish species may have slightly different preferences. These parameters include water temperature, pH, water hardness, and water flow strength. All should be taken into account when selecting tank mates for a Betta fish.

The fish you choose your to put in your fish tank should prefer the same water parameters as your betta fish.

Temperament of the fish tank mates:

When considering your betta fish, the mean reputation that is associated with them can make it easy to believe that they cannot be bullied. However, there are certain types of fish that your betta should coexist with that won’t harm them. Bettas themselves can become victims of bullying due to their long and beautiful fins, making them weak swimmers and even more vulnerable to fin nipping. Therefore, it is important to select fish that are unlikely to cause aggression or hurt your betta.

Size of the fish:

When selecting a tank mate for your betta fish, size should be among the primary considerations. Bettas are fairly small, so you should avoid any fish that are large enough to consume it. Since bettas remain relatively small, make sure the fish you choose to put in with your betta will not harm or bully the betta fish.

Diet of the fish:

It will be easier if the fish in your tank all consume or prefer the same type of food. For example some fish prefer to eat a herbivore diet and some prefer a carnivore based diet.

7 of the best community fish for betta tanks

2. Cory Catfish

Cory catfish, also known as Corydoras, are a popular species of tropical fish that do very good in community aquariums. These small, bottom-dwelling fish are known for their gentle and peaceful nature, and for keeping the bottom of tanks clean, making them an ideal addition to a community tank. Cory catfish have a distinctive, armored body with hard spikes and come in a variety of colors, that can include albino, spotted, green, and black.

Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish

Taking care of Cory catfish is easy because, Cory catfish are hardy and easy to feed, making them a good choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. They are well-adapted to community life and thrive in a well-cycled tank with proper filtration and water quality. Cory catfish prefer water temperatures between 72-78°F with a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 6.0-7.5. They are omnivores and will feed on a variety of foods including flakes, pellets, and small live or frozen foods.

Cory catfish play an important role in maintaining the health of an aquarium by scavenging for food and cleaning up waste. They are also active and social fish that will add both interest and liveliness to a community tank. With their peaceful nature, hardiness, and ease of care, Cory catfish are an excellent choice for a 20-gallon community tank and make an ideal addition to any community of similarly sized fish.

5. Cardinal Tetra

The cardinal tetra is my go to pick for a community fish that prefers to hang out in the middle of the tank, they prefer to stay in schools so it is always best to make sure you have at least four to six in your tank.

cardinal tetra fresh water community fish
Cardinal tetra

The cardinal tetra is a popular and pretty fish often kept in community fish tanks, this small fish is known for its bright blue and red stripes along its body, making it a beautiful addition to a clean tank with a dark background. Cardinal tetras are peaceful and are best kept in a tank with other small, friendly fish.

Taking care of cardinal tetras is not difficult, making them a good option for new fish tank owners while they are a tough fish that can handle life in a tank and will do well with proper filtration and water quality. Neon tetras like water that is between 72-82°F and have a pH between 6.0-7.0. They eat a mix of things, including flakes, pellets, and small live or frozen foods.

When kept in the right environment, cardinal tetras are lively and social, adding a pop of color to any tank. With their peaceful nature and easy care, neon tetras are a great choice for a 20-gallon tank and will fit in well with other similarly sized fish.

Cherry barb
Cherry barb

Due to their popularity among aquarists, the Cherry Barb has been listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. This is due to overharvesting, as well as the dwindling quality and availability of their natural habitats. Therefore, it’s important to practice responsible tank stocking when considering these fish as pets.

If you’re interested in owning Cherry Barbs, here are some tips for making the best decision for you and your tank:

• Start small – Add a group of no more than six to your tank to start with and observe how they interact before adding any more, especially if you’re new to owning this species.

• Water parameters – Make sure that the pH, temperature, and hardness levels are suitable for this species.

• Tank mates – Select other fish that are of similar size and temperament to the Cherry Barbs, making sure to avoid anything that might be aggressive or overly enthusiastic.

• Diet – These fish are omnivorous, so they’ll happily nibble on a range of beginner-friendly flakes and pellets. In conclusion, the Cherry Barb is an ideal fish to own both in terms of looks and care requirements.

As long as you practice smart tank stocking and look after them properly, these fish are sure to bring life and color to your aquarium.

These fish are known to be peaceful and tolerant when it comes to their tankmates. They can easily be combined with a range of other freshwater fish species, regardless of their size. Thus, Cherry Barbs make an excellent addition in a diverse aquarium community.

3. Otocinclus

Otocinclus catfish, also known as “otos,” are a species of small algae eating fish that are kept in aquarium to clean up and control algae. They are known for their peaceful and hardy nature, which makes them an ideal addition to any community tank with bettas. Otocinclus catfish have a slender, brown or black body and are known for their ability to clean algae from aquarium plants and surfaces.

Otocinclus catfish
Otocinclus catfish

In terms of care, otocinclus catfish are easy to take care of and is well-adapted to captive life. They prefer a well-cycled tank with proper filtration and water quality and some live plants. Otocinclus catfish require water temperatures between 72-82°F and a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 6.0-7.5. They are strictly herbivores and require a diet consisting mainly of algae wafers or blanched vegetables.

Otocinclus catfish can play an important role in maintaining the health of an aquarium by keeping surfaces of the aquarium and plants free of algae.

4. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loaches make excellent tankmates for your betta fish! These eel-shaped beauties are peaceful, and do a great job of cleaning up leftover food in the aquarium. Although they can be a bit shy, they add a ton of personality to the tank. A must-have for any aquarist looking to add an extra bit of life and color to the aquarium!

Kuhli Loach

The Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii), also known as the Coolie Loach or Leopard Loach, is an Old World fish from the Cobitidae family. Originating in Southeast Asian freshwater streams, such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Borneo, the Kuhli Loach was first classified in 1846 and was used historically as a source of food in Indonesia.

4. Harlequin Rasboras

The peaceful, 2-inch Rasbora is ideal for beginner fish keepers. These fish feature an eye-catching orange body with a black triangular patch that adds to its attractive appearance. To ensure a healthy and happy school of Rasboras, it is recommended to buy at least six. These gentle fish get along with other tankmates, including Bettas, and provide great exercise and enrichment for them as they’ll attempt to chase the Rasboras without much success. To learn more about caring for Rasboras, take a look at our full care guide.

Harlequin Rasboras for tank

The Harlequin Rasbora is a fish with an orange-pink body and a large, triangular black pattern on its back, extending from the midpoint of its dorsal fin towards its caudal peduncle. The tail fin is red on the outer rays and hyaline on the inner part. The pectoral and pelvic fins of the Harlequin Rasbora are found in a common cyprinid pattern, the pectoral fins sitting behind its operculum, and the pelvic fins forward of the dorsal fin.

A mature Harlequin Rasbora measures up to 2 inches (5 cm) in length. Males tend to have a slightly bigger black patch and a more rounded marking at the anal fin while ripe females have a fuller body outline.

Species of fish similar to the Harlequin Rasbora are Trigonostigma espei and Trigonostigma hengeli, which were once considered subspecies. These fish have a more slender body shape, and the black marking is replaced by a horizontal strip tapering to the caudal peduncle, thickened and extended below the dorsal fin. This marking pattern is also known as a lamb chop, due to its resemblance to the cut of meat.

3. Ember Tetras

Adding these red-orange tetras to an aquarium of at least 10 – 20 gallons can give it a lively, vibrant look. You should try and get a school of at least five or six to reduce the chance of the predator picking any of them out. These peaceful fish typically swim around the middle of the tank and consume the same food as the other herbivores, simplifying their care.

ember screencap

The Ember tetra fish is a brightly colored type of fish that is often kept in aquariums. They require a minimum tank size of 10 gallons with a few live aquarium plants. The water should be lightly acidic and around a pH of 6.6, with temperatures ranging between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep them healthy and happy, the tank should have a darker substrate and plenty of live plants, as the Ember tetra is quite fond of swimming through them.

When purchasing Ember tetras, it’s best to get a group of at least 6, though the recommended group size is 9-10. Tetras should also be kept with other types of tetras, such as the neon tetra, though they should not be kept with fish significantly larger than them. These fish swim mainly in the middle level of the aquarium and prefer to feed on food located there rather than on the bottom of the tank. To avoid any leftovers, it is recommended that Ember tetras are kept with bottom feeding fish such as pygmy corydoras.

Ember tetras are relatively easy to care for and can be fed a variety of food, including flake, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. To really bring out their colors though, it is a good idea to also provide them with live foods such as worms and brine shrimp. If a well-maintained aquarium is provided for them, Ember tetras can potentially live for up to 10 years or more.


In conclusion, the best community fish for bettas should be chosen based on their temperament, diet, compatibility, and tank requirements. These fish should be peaceful, non-aggressive, and provide an appropriate diet for Bettas. The tank and water parameters should be carefully monitored to ensure the optimal environment for these fish, and regular maintenance should be performed to keep the tank clean and healthy. With the right setup, Bettas and a variety of compatible community fish can enjoy a peaceful, colorful aquarium that’s both beautiful and functional.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Aquarium Enthusiast

I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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