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Betta fish will eat anything that moves and this is a problem when you want to create a community aquarium. It means you have to be judicious about which species you choose to be cohabitants.
So, can betta fish live with shrimp? Yes, they can but it depends on the temperament of the betta(s) and the type of shrimp you want to use. Bettas are best with Amano, ghost, cherry and bumblebee shrimp. But many other species are either not compatible or not good for beginners to the hobby.
Even with the right pairing, you have to ensure both species have plenty of room along with an abundance of hiding spots. It is a bit of a juggling act, but many aquarists have housed bettas and shrimp together with great success. Paying close attention to what both need and being diligent about keeping the peace are key.
Housing Bettas with Shrimp
In most instances, shrimp and bettas can live together peacefully and happily. However, more aggressive and territorial bettas will not be kind to any type of shrimp, even if you acquire the most idyllic species. But, if you have a betta that’s rather chill and calm, then they can very much live together in harmony.
It’s a difficult decision to house a betta with shrimp because of how prone the betta will be to eat it. However, shrimp are excellent for cleaning up excess algae and eating food the betta fails to during feeding time. So, this is going to be a delicate operation that requires responsibility and discipline from the aquarist.
Take Care with Aquarium Setup
Therefore, you must exercise a lot of care and attention to the aquarium’s setup to ensure it will be sufficient for both shrimp and bettas. The basic takeaway here is that if you plan to house shrimp within a betta tank, you must ensure there’s enough hiding spots for them. This means lots of plants and other decorations.
Also, because shrimp are bottom feeders, you should always ensure the substrate is soft. The best is either sand or smooth pebbles. Water conditions are also an imperative component. Betta fish love things on the warmer and acidic side with very little water flow.
Shrimp are sensitive to severe shifts in changes to the water, so everything must remain stable, clean and pristine. Therefore, plan on making at least a 25% water change each week to maintain this stasis. Anything more could kill your betta fish. To ensure the survival of shrimp in a betta tank you must:
- Keep betta fish full and well-fed but do not to overfeed them.
- Keep plenty of plants and decorations to provide an abundance of hiding spots.
- Having large shrimp gives the best chance for survival.
- Have enough food for both species.
- Do plenty of research on bettas and shrimp.
Male versus Female Betta Fish with Shrimp
Another thing to think about is the gender of betta fish in your tank versus the type of shrimp you plan to keep. Either males or females will be very aggressive or peaceful toward shrimp but both will leave larger species alone. However, dwarf types are subjected to the individual temperament of the betta.
Regardless, since female bettas are smaller than males, you’ll have more luck with females. Even still, temperament will be a top priority. It’s important to keep in mind that bettas will eat anything they can fit their mouths around and shrimp are definitely on the menu.
Shrimp Species Good to House with Betta Fish
There are only a handful of shrimps good for housing with bettas. So, you want to study up on as many shrimp species as possible and consider the temperament of your betta. Even if you have the most peaceful betta in the world, there is always a risk of them eating your shrimp.
The Amano shrimp is an excellent choice for bettas. They go by several names such as Yamato, Japonica and algae-eating shrimps. They’re lively and named after Takashi Amano, a famous Japanese photographer and aquarist who highlighted this species as a natural cleaning crew for fish tanks.
Their talent for tidying their environment while also being quite beautiful is what makes them great for betta fish. Amanos are the longest living and largest species of ornamental shrimp. They can reach up to two inches long and live for three years or longer. Ergo, these are a great shrimp for novice aquarists.
Their bodies are very gray but the stripes and dots running on the sides of their bodies give them a gorgeous appearance. However, their dull coloring is how they are perfect roomies for betta fish since they’ll be less attractive in that sense. So, the likelihood of aggressive behavior mitigates this.
Amano Shrimp Behavior
However, Amano shrimp tend to fight often amongst themselves, especially during feeding time. They’re bottom feeders like most other shrimp, picking up scraps and munching on falling food. But, there’s a distinct hierarchy among them. So, to eat first, the alpha will attack subordinates.
Bettas eat at the surface, so there’s no confrontation between the Amano shrimp and the betta. However, the commotion between the shrimp at feeding time has the potential to stress the betta. So, keep two Amano shrimp in a 20-gallon tank to help reduce territoriality and stress.
While betta fish are often not a problem for Amano shrimp, they are vulnerable to predation during the monthly shedding of their shells. This is what keeps them healthy but it does tend to make the shrimp very defensive.
Tank Setup ; Water Conditions
Amano shrimp share the same water temperature as betta fish, which 78°F and a pH of 7. However, Amanos aren’t nearly as particular since they can tolerate a temperature range between 70°F and 80°F with a pH of 6 to 7.
There should also be plenty of hiding spots for the shrimp. This includes decorations and plants in the tank, which aids with territorial behavior. Betta fish will also appreciate these areas since it gives them a place to build nests and sleep.
Provide Amano shrimp freeze-dried bloodworms and shrimp pellets to supplement their grazing for leftovers and algae. It’s the only way to ensure they stay nourished and acquire all the necessary nutrients to survive.
Also known as glass shrimp, the ghost shrimp is one of the more popular for housing with bettas and novice aquarists. They’re amazing little crustaceans that appear nearly transparent, hence the name. They reach about 1½ inches long when mature and are far too big at that point for bettas to mess with.
Likewise, because ghost shrimp love the company of their own kind, they won’t hassle other fish, including bettas. So, the likelihood of a betta attacking or exuding aggressive behavior toward them is very low indeed. Because ghost shrimp love peace, stress will be nonexistant for the tank’s inhabitants.
Although bettas will stay away from fully mature ghost shrimp, they will eat baby ones. Therefore, if your shrimp are reproducing, you must keep an eye on your betta’s activities. Regardless, they can live for as long as a year and a half under the right conditions.
Water Conditions ; Tank Preferences
What makes ghost shrimp excellent betta tank mates is how they share a nearly identical preference for water conditions. Ghost shrimp love a pH between 7 and 8 with a temperature ranging 72°F to 82°F. So, you can’t go wrong with housing these two together.
Because ghost shrimp are consummate socialites, they must have others of their own species for them to remain content. Consider keeping two to four ghost shrimp in a tank with betta fish. This is because these particular fish are frequent breeders and you want to avoid a population explosion in your tank.
Additionally, your tank should be at least 10 gallons before adding these shrimp. So, even though they don’t need a lot of room, you want to give some distance between them and the betta. It’s the best way to maintain peace and happiness. Regardless, they will keep your tank clean and eat any leftover food the betta fish do not.
One of the brightest and most attractive shrimp capable of living with betta fish are the cherry shrimp. They’re often a bright, almost neon pink, which is from where their name derives. However, they can also be red, green, blue, yellow, black and violet.
It’s also important to note that female cherry shrimp tend to be brighter in color than the males. So, when you buy cherry shrimp for your tank, ensure you have a healthy number of males with a few females to keep color attraction down.
Cherry Shrimp Behavior
These shrimp are very prolific reproducers, so it won’t take long to see babies appearing shortly after introducing them to a new environment. When this happens, you have to watch for aggressive betta activity and keep count of the babies you see to ensure they’re not eating them.
This is one of the biggest red flags in making cherry shrimp part of a betta tank. It’s not a matter of if the betta will eat the babies, it’s a matter of when they choose to do it. Truly, it’s a risk pairing these two together.
Appearance ; Tank Requirements
Cherry shrimp tend to be small but the females are the larger of the two genders. They never get longer than an inch. So, they can be an easy target for betta fish that tend to be on the more aggressive side of the species’ temperament. This means it’s an ideal shrimp for aquarists with some experience.
The tank parameters for cherry shrimp and bettas are very similar too. The shrimp require a temperature between 57°F and 84°F with a pH of 6.5 to 8. Clearly, they match up well with bettas in this way. Cherry shrimp love to munch on algae and leftover food but they also require algae wafers and pellets.
Bumblebee shrimp get their name from their distinct stripes. They appear either red and white or black and white. They love to dig in the substrate looking for scraps to eat. They reach an average length of 1½ inches and, due to their small size, are the target of larger fish.
If bright colors are attractive your betta, bumblebee shrimp may not be the best thing to add. When a betta does attack this type of shrimp, they’ll pull at the shrimp’s legs or bully them to the point where the stress literally kills them.
Therefore, it’s not the most ideal species for novice aquarists. This is especially true since these shrimp are very picky about their tank conditions. But, if you set up the most ideal environment for both your betta and shrimp, they should live together fine.
Bumblebee Water Conditions
Bumblebee shrimp prefer cooler water that should never exceed around 74°F. This is because water oxygenation is much better when the water is cooler. It dissolves readily and allows bumblebee shrimp to flourish. Therefore, have an air stone or filtration system that adds plenty of oxygen into the tank.
If you can maintain adequate oxygenation, then you can raise the temperature of the tank to 78°F, which is best for betta fish. Also, bumblebee shrimp love soft, slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.5 and 7, which matches up well with a betta’s preferences.
Even though bumblebees scavenge for scraps and algae, you still should provide pellet food to ensure they’re getting all the nutrition they need. Additionally, they love a planted environment, which provides secure hiding and resting places.
The substrate in the tank shouldn’t be large, chunky or sharp. Ensure the particles are small enough to allow for a bumblebee shrimp’s scavenging proclivities without damaging or injuring them.
Shrimp Species to Avoid Housing with Betta Fish
Even though the four shrimp mentioned above can live with betta fish, you should avoid certain shrimps. This is because they are far too small with a bright color or their water/tank requirements are incompatible. Including shrimp that will have difficulty thriving is very inhumane, to say the least.
- Crystal Red Shrimp: Crystals are very similar to cherry shrimp but their size is a little smaller. This makes them questionable to house with a betta fish. It can work, but this would be for very experienced aquarists. There also has to be plenty of hiding places for rest, safety and their babies.
- Bamboo Shrimp: Bamboo shrimp are huge, even at juvenile size, which would make one think they’d be the best to house with betta fish. Even their water conditions overlap to some degree. But, the problem is that these particular shrimp love a very strong and harsh water current. Bettas will not tolerate this and it can make them ill.
- River Shrimp: Another excellent option at first glance is the river shrimp. What makes them difficult is that they must have a considerable amount of time to adjust to the tank’s water parameters and this can kill them. So, experienced aquarists should only attempt it.