Neon Tetras and Betta: Can They Coexist in Your Aquarium?

Ember Tetra and Betta

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Neon Tetras and Betta: Can They Coexist in Your Aquarium?

Neon Tetras and Betta fish are two popular choices among aquarium enthusiasts. Their vibrant colors and unique characteristics make them sought-after additions to any tank. However, the question often arises: can Neon Tetras and Betta fish live together peacefully? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore this question and provide you with expert advice on creating a harmonious environment for these two species in your aquarium.

Can Neon Tetras and Betta Fish Live Together?

Before delving into the specifics, let’s address the central question: Can Neon Tetras and Betta fish coexist in the same tank? The answer is yes, but with some important considerations. Compatibility between these two species depends on various factors, including tank size, water conditions, and the temperament of your Betta. I have successfully kept Bettas in a community tank but the tanks were always over 75 gallons, with multiple hiding spots and space everyone.

Neon Tetras and Betta

How Many Neon Tetras Can I Put in a 5-Gallon Tank with a Betta?

Tank size is a crucial factor when keeping Neon Tetras and Betta fish together. You should never keep Neon Tetras in a tank that is less than 20 gallons with plenty of hiding spots and space for both.

Here’s a handy table for quick reference:

Tank SizeIdeal Number of Neon TetrasSuitable Betta Companions
20 Gallons2-3One Betta
30 Gallons5-6One Betta
40+ Gallons10+Multiple Betta (with proper precautions)

Fish Safety: Be Prepared!

Creating a safe environment for both Neon Tetras and Betta fish is essential. Here are some key factors to consider:

Plant Refuge

Live plants serve as natural barriers and hiding spots for Neon Tetras and Betta fish. Dense vegetation, such as Java Moss or Anubias, can help reduce stress by giving fish places to retreat to when needed.

Water Parameters

Maintaining optimal water parameters is vital for the health of your fish. Both Neon Tetras and Betta fish prefer soft, slightly acidic water.

Water Temperature

Neon Tetras thrive at temperatures between 72-78°F (22-26°C), while Betta fish prefer a slightly warmer range of 78-82°F (26-28°C). To find a compromise, aim for 76-78°F (24-26°C). A reliable aquarium heater can help you maintain a stable temperature.


Keep the pH level between 6.0-7.0 for a suitable environment for both species. Regular testing and adjustments using appropriate aquarium buffers can help you maintain the desired pH level.

Choosing a Filtration System

A quality filtration system is essential for maintaining water quality. Consider a sponge filter or a low-flow filter to minimize water disturbance, as Betta fish do not appreciate strong currents. Frequent water changes are also crucial to prevent the buildup of harmful substances.

Tone Down the Lighting

Both Neon Tetras and Betta fish come from environments with dappled or filtered light. Dimmed lighting in the aquarium can help reduce stress and mimic their natural habitat. You can achieve this by using floating plants or adjustable aquarium lights.

Addressing Diet Differences

Neon Tetras are primarily omnivores, while Betta fish are carnivorous. To meet their dietary needs, feed a varied diet that includes high-quality flake or pellet food for Betta fish and small live or frozen foods like daphnia or brine shrimp for Neon Tetras. This ensures both species receive the essential nutrients they require.

Introducing Your Fish to Each Other

When introducing Neon Tetras and Betta fish to the same tank, monitor their behavior closely. Initially, your Betta may display territorial aggression, flaring its fins and chasing the Neon Tetras. This behavior is normal and can be expected during the first few days. However, if aggression continues relentlessly, you may need to rehome one of the species or provide more hiding spots for the Neon Tetras.

Can I Mix Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras?

Yes, you can mix Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras in a community aquarium, provided you have a tank that is 20 gallons or larger. Both species share similar requirements, including water temperature, pH, and diet. Ensure that you have a sufficient school of each species to prevent bullying and maintain a harmonious community.

Do Neon Tetras Need Live Plants?

Neon Tetras do not necessarily require live plants, but they greatly benefit from them. Live plants provide not only aesthetic appeal but also serve as hiding spots and contribute to water quality by absorbing nitrates. If you choose to keep live plants, consider hardy options like Java Fern, Anubias, or Vallisneria.

Can You Mix Different Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras themselves come in various color morphs, including the classic blue Neon Tetra and the green Neon Tetra. These different varieties can be mixed together in the same tank without any issues, as long as their care requirements are the same.

Can I Mix Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras in a Community Aquarium?

While mixing Neon Tetras and Cardinal Tetras is possible, it’s essential to maintain proper numbers and provide a well-planted and spacious tank, typically 20 gallons or more. Both species have similar requirements but may display schooling behavior with their own kind. Ensure that you have a sizeable group of each species to keep them comfortable.

Tank Size

In summary, tank size plays a crucial role in the compatibility of Neon Tetras and Betta fish. If you have a 5-gallon tank, keep a Betta and a small group of Neon Tetras (3-5). For larger tanks (10 gallons or more), you can accommodate more Neon Tetras and even consider mixing them with other compatible species.

Tank Conditions

Maintain optimal water parameters, including temperature (76-78°F), pH (6.0-7.0), and stable water quality through filtration and regular water changes.


Provide a varied diet, including flakes or pellets for Betta fish and live or frozen foods for Neon Tetras, to meet their specific nutritional needs.

Choosing the Ideal Betta for Your Community Tank

When selecting a Betta for a community tank, consider its temperament. Some Betta fish are more tolerant of tank mates, while others may be more aggressive.

How to Safely Introduce a Betta to Neon Tetras

When introducing a Betta to Neon Tetras, watch for signs of aggression during the initial period. Monitor their behavior closely and be prepared to provide additional hiding spots if necessary.

In conclusion, keeping Neon Tetras and Betta fish together in the same tank is possible with proper planning and consideration of tank size, water parameters, and the individual temperaments of your fish. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can create a thriving and harmonious aquarium environment for these stunning species to coexist peacefully.

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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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