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Since bettas and goldfish are the two most popular types people keep as aquatic pets, newbie aquarists may think it good idea to house them together. If you look around at various aquarium sites and forums, you get varying answers that can be quite confusing.
Well, can betta fish live with goldfish? For a quick and technical answer, no, bettas and goldfish cannot live well together on the outset. This is because they have different dietary needs, water parameter requirements and behavior patterns.
However, more experienced fish keepers can attempt it if they so dare. But, truly, you really should know what you’re doing in order to prevent a heartbreaking scene within your aquascape. Having said all that, there are precautions you can take to attempt making it work.
Why Shouldn’t You House Betta Fish ; Goldfish Together?
There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t house betta fish and goldfish together. These include water parameters involving temperature and chemistry along with diet, behavior and general temperament. Seriously consider each point below before deciding to making tank mates out of these fish breeds.
Temperature ; Ammonia
One of the most obvious discrepancies is water temperature. Bettas like it at a balmy 76°F to 82°F, whereas goldfish like things a cool 68°F to 74°F. Also, Goldfish tend to deposit a lot of waste, which increases ammonia levels and bettas cannot tolerate this. These two basic requirements are what will cause either fish to become ill, stressed or even die.
While one would think that frequent water changes should improve ammonia spikes when they occur, it isn’t a good idea. This is because changing the water too much will cause betta fish immense levels of stress. Because of irresponsible breeding and mass production, bettas are very prone to contracting a host of diseases due to stress alone.
Differences Dietary Needs
Another problem with keeping a goldfish with a betta is their differences in diet. Goldfish are omnivores, which mean they eat both meat and plants. Bettas, on the other hand, are carnivores, preferring protein-only during mealtimes. The food recommended for either fish will not jive in a tank.
Betta food is specific to them and goldfish should not eat it. In the wild, betta feast often on tiny insect larvae while goldfish will eat anything they can find, including other fish. When in captivity, if the goldfish is bigger than the betta and the betta can fit inside the goldfish’s mouth, the goldfish will eat the betta.
Behavior, Aggression ; Temperament
Another thing that makes these two types of fish bad tank mates is the fact that goldfish are fin nippers. When they go on the attack against a betta in their environment, this will spark the betta’s short temper and destroy their beautiful flowing fins. Both events will stress and lower the immunity of the betta.
In regards to the infamous betta temperament, they will not tolerate fish appearing like they do. Anything brightly colored with long, flowing fins will immediately cause a betta to become territorial. Therefore, the betta’s aggression will be unable to control when going against a goldfish.
What Would Make It Possible for Betta Fish to Live with Goldfish?
If you still want to try housing a betta fish with a goldfish, you should have a lot of experience as a fish keeper. You should intimately understand all the various problems that can come up and how to fix them. These will include four basic concepts:
- Preventing Aggression: One thing you must think about is how to introduce them into the tank so they won’t become bothersome and/or antagonistic toward each other. This will mean finagling water temperature, having enough room in the tank, installing a screened divider and devising a feeding plan.
- Observe Temperament: The other component in making cohabitation possible is temperament. While goldfish are notorious for fin nipping and bettas are famous for their aggression, not every individual fish will take on these characteristics. If you have peaceful fish with calm dispositions, it may work out just fine.
- Ammonia Control: Yet another factor to consider is the amount of waste a goldfish injects into its environment versus the pristine cleanliness that betta fish require. Ammonia poisoning is so dangerous to a betta that you risk causing them death just by having them be in the same tank with a goldfish.
- One Fish Each: Do not have groups of goldfish or bettas in a community tank where they live together. Having one of each is the maximum allowable to ensure success. Any more of either fish will increase the chances for disaster.
How Do You Setup a Habitable Tank for Betta Fish; Goldfish?
Even though it’s tricky and risky, you can create a tank setup to satisfy both betta fish and goldfish. Understand, though, this is not a guarantee and many problems can pop up in the aftermath. It may end up being a waste of time and money in the end. So, think long and hard about this before attempting it.
If you’re still on the bandwagon to house a betta and goldfish together, consider performing the six steps below.
1. Tank Size ; Accoutrements
First, you must have a minimum tank capacity of at least 30 gallons. This will ensure each fish will have their territory and room to swim about. The larger the tank, the more likely that they’ll leave each other alone. Also, ensure there are plenty of plants, decorations and other nooks for them to rest and hide in.
What’s more, you have to prevent initial battles and aggressions when they first come into their new environment. This is where screened dividers come in handy. It will separate the tank so both have their sides of it, making it easier for each to claim. Plus, it will prevent both bettas and goldfish from being able to crossover.
With a divider like this, you can control propensities toward aggression along with allowing each to acclimate to its new surroundings. Once both the betta and goldfish get used to the idea of having their own side, you can remove the divider under strict supervision.
2. Food ; Feeding Considerations
Even with a large tank capacity, you will still run into problems during feeding time. However, you could consider installing a screened divider in the tank. This way they won’t eat each other’s food or fight over resources.
3. Water Temperature
Both kinds of fish are very sensitive to temperature and must have things set at a particular level to thrive and be happy. The danger here is that the water could possibly be too warm for the goldfish and too cold for the betta.
If a betta finds the water to be far too cold, it could cause them lowered immunity, loss of bright colors, loss of appetite or even death. For goldfish, water that’s too warm will increase their metabolism, which results in fatigue.
4. Dealing with Waste ; Ammonia Spikes
The high levels of ammonia that goldfish tend to inject into their environment due to waste will make life impossible for bettas. Ammonia poisoning will easily affect betta fish and it’s difficult to treat once it sets in. You should also have a quarantine tank on hand so you can approach the problem proactively.
It may seem obvious to be diligent in changing out the water when ammonia readings spike. However, frequent changes in water parameters will alter the environment in a terrible way for bettas. This will cause them stress, which can manifest in various ways with parasitic infections and bacterial diseases.
There are ammonia removal media for high-quality aquarium filters that can be very effective. If you opt for a high-quality filtration system, the current can’t be too harsh or powerful. This is because betta fish like the slowest water movement possible.
5. Introducing both Betta ; Goldfish into the Aquarium
Another important step is how you introduce both a betta and goldfish into the aquarium. You cannot add both at the same time because it’s sure to spell disaster. The opinions on this vary greatly, so you will have to rely on your own judgment. Ergo, introduce them when you’re confident they’ll be peaceful.
Regardless, some people say you should add the betta first while others indicate it should be the goldfish. For adding the betta first, allow them to be alone in the tank for about three to four days. However, you could consider adding the goldfish first but the ammonia waste may spell trouble..
Keeping Them Separated
Another thing you could try is keeping a separate tank for each fish. However, keep them next to each other so the betta and goldfish can see and get used to each other. Do this for a month before merging them into a main tank.
Setting the Temperature
No matter which method you choose, you will have to set the tank at most to 75°F. If you’re starting with the betta, make sure the tank is already at this temperature when you decide to add it. When starting with the goldfish, set the temperature 74°F then turn it up 75°F a few days before adding the betta.
6. Observe Interactions
When a betta finally meets its goldfish roommate, pay attention for how they interact with each other. Expect the betta to approach the goldfish right off the bat in an effort to defend its territory. Don’t worry, this part is very normal. The betta should retreat after a few moments without any flack from the goldfish.
However, if the goldfish engages the aggression from the betta, you’re going to have to remove one of them into a different tank or replace the screened divider. You can attempt to introduce them again later. But if your introduction attempts don’t work out, then you’ll have to keep them separated permanently.
Are There Any Other Considerations When Keeping a Goldfish with a Betta?
In order to pull off having a goldfish live with a betta, you must understand that it’s going to take a lot of money, space, time and resources. Even if they don’t attack or bother each other, you still have the matter of maintaining an appropriate temperature for each fish.
If you cannot afford to do what it takes to care for this setup, then don’t do it. As mentioned before, it may end up being a total waste and nothing to the benefit of either type of fish.
What Are the Best Tank Mates for Betta Fish?
Rather than forcing a betta to live with a goldfish, other species are far better as tank mates. Some of them include:
- Amano Shrimp: Because Amano shrimp are bottom feeders, they shouldn’t cause problems for a betta.
- Cardinal Tetra: They don’t need a lot of room and they’re very peaceful fish, opting for cover and hiding places.
- Cory Catfish: A bottom feeder, cory catfish love being in a community tank and won’t often scuffle with betta.
- Fire Rasbora: Sociable and peaceful, the fire rasbora will avoid betta fish whenever possible. Even in a group of eight or more, a betta usually won’t bother themselves with a fire rasbora.
- Glass Catfish: Because glass catfish aren’t bright, they make an ideal tank mate for a betta. They prefer living in a community tank but the aquarium itself must be large to accommodate it.
- Harlequin Rasbora: Harlequin rasboras live in the same waters as bettas in the wild.
- Kuhli Loach: Kuhli Loaches are nocturnal fish while bettas are active during the day.
- Plecos: Plecos are bottom feeders and take on similar characteristics at a glass catfish. So, they make a good choice as a betta tank mate.
- Short-Fin Molly: Short-fin mollies are very peaceful and prefer the topmost parts of the tank. Since bettas love an aquarium’s midsection, these two shouldn’t get in each other’s way.
What Are the Best Tank Mates for Goldfish?
Likewise, there are many other kinds of fish suited to living with a goldfish. You could consider such species as:
- Bloodfin Tetra: Bloodfin tetras love the upper regions of an aquarium, so they won’t bother or get in the way of a goldfish. However, having plenty of plants and other vegetation will be essential to keep them happy.
- Brown Bullhead Catfish: Even though these tend to be predators, brown bullhead catfish make a lovely tank mate for goldfish. They stay at the bottom of the tank to scrounge for food and lounge about.
- Koi Carp: These fish are so friendly and easy to take care of that they’ll make an excellent member of a community tank with a goldfish.
- Other Goldfish: Of course, the best way to keep a goldfish company is to let them be with others of their own kind.
- Platy: A platy is an excellent goldfish tank mate because they love heavy amounts of algae and can tolerate ammonia spikes very well.
- Swordtail: Swordtails are very adaptable fish and can handle a wide range of water parameters, current flow and overall tank cleanliness.
- Tiger Barb: Tiger barbs love a peaceful environment and often stay away from goldfish as much as they can.