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The rule of thumb is to keep male Bettas alone, but some owners keep them in community tanks. Have you ever tried a community Betta?

"I recently purchased a male show Betta and I thought I would try and see if he would live peacefully in my community tank. In my 10 gal I have 4 Lyretail Mollies, 6 guppies, 4 Cory Catfish,3 red clawed Crabs, and last I counted about 13 Ghost shrimp. I know that it's crowded but in 6 months I haven't had any problems. Anyways my concern is this, either I don't see him eat or he isn't eating. Could it be that he is adjusting from going from a small cup to and actual aquarium? Is he intimidated by the other fish? As far as fish are cocerned I am a NEWBIE when it comes to Bettas, so any info would be much appreciated. By the way I've read about all the posts about bettas but none cover this issue since no one really tries to mix them into community tanks. "


May 14, 2008 at 11:54 pm
(1) Phil says:

The Betta will get along fine in your “crowded” community tank for the same reason the rest of your fish do – it has found it’s own level. Dwelling, as it does, in minimal amounts of water, and mostly at the surface, the Betta doesn’t encounter the other fish for the same reason it’s possible for humans to live in an apartment house for years and not encounter their neighbors very often. The Corydoras live in the basement, the Crabs hang out on the front steps, the Mollies and Guppies live across the hall from each other on the first floor and the shrimp, well, they’re always out all night. Meanwhile, the Betta’s got a studio efficiency in the attic.
Like most living things, when competition for food, clean water, and space is eliminated, they have no reason to even take notice of each other.
Also, Bettas are “hardwired” to react physically and hormonally to fish of similar appearance and movement. The fish you mention not only occupy different space, but bear little resemblance (with the possible exception of the Mollies) to a rival Betta.

The only problem with keeping a Betta in a community tank lies not so much with the community but with the tank dynamic itself. Bettas have adapted to thrive under conditions few other fish could survive. Conversely, the same factors which make your “crowded” tank so successful – good aeration, circulation, and surface movement – are uncomfortable and even stressful for the typical Betta, which thrive in, let’s face it, puddles. What you might want to try is creating a small “dead zone” in a corner of the tank near the surface which might make the Betta more secure. A floating or stationary breeding box (the kind used for livebearers to safely birth in) with the bottom removed or cut out might be one solution, or perhaps a tangle of floating plants tethered in place – anything that will baffle or suppress surface agitation typically caused by filtration/aeration devices in the tank. That’s my guess for what’s keeping your specimen from eating properly.
Wait, here’s an idea…canvas the local flea markets, second-hand stores, or your own attic for the following two items: a wide vase or flowerpot (preferably ceramic or terracotta) and clear glass vase, drinking glass or fishbowl. The combined height of the two should be equal to or slightly higher than the water depth of the aquarium.Place the flowerpot, inverted, in the aquarium first, and then the vase or fishbowl right-side up on top of it. The vase or fishbowl should now be full of aquarium water, with the rim at or slightly above the surface. This is your new aquarium-within-an-aquarium Betta tank! You know, I like the idea so much I can’t wait to try it in my own tank…

Good luck, and thanks for asking About.Com

May 16, 2008 at 12:31 am
(2) Keelyn says:


I have a Betta in my 2 foot community tank. The first couple of days I noticed that the Betta wasn’t going for any of the food I put in the tank, so I started putting a little bit of the flakes next to where he was, when I fed the fish. After a few days, he would readily swim upto the place I put the flakes in when I fed the fish, and I didn’t have to feed him separately. Now three months later he swims around the tank just like the other fish I have in there.

I am now thinking of upgrading to a 5 foot tank so that I can have another Betta in there, and there should be enough of space for the both of them to stay out of each others way.

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