Betta and Angelfish Compatibility Guide – Can They Live Together?

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Betta Fish and Angelfish are two popular species with freshwater fishkeepers due to their striking looks and entertaining personalities.

Keeping them in the same tank can be challenging, though.

Betta and Angelfish are two species with a reputation for being aggressive, so read on before you decide to move them into the same tank!

Will Betta Fish and Angelfish fight?

If not given enough space and the right conditions, Betta Fish and Angelfish will attack one another and fight. Male Bettas are particularly aggressive, and Angelfish are fin-nippers by nature, so the long, flowing fins of a Betta are likely to be very tempting.

So the next question is, are there any conditions where Angelfish and a Betta can be in the same tank?

Angelfish by Yannick Ongena is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Can Angelfish and Betta live together?

In theory, Angelfish and Bettas can live together, but as with most questions in fishkeeping, the answer depends on the tank conditions and the fish involved. Some varieties are more suitable, and the size and setup of your tank play a crucial role.

For example, female Bettas are more suitable tank mates for Angelfish as they’re less aggressive and have shorter fins.

This is important because Angelfish are fin-nippers, so they would be less tempted by the shorter fins of the females, who would also be more able to swim away.

Can male Bettas live with Angelfish?

If you’re planning to keep a male Betta with Angelfish, you’ll need to plan well when setting up your tank.

Firstly, it’s better to buy younger Angelfish as the adults are more aggressive.

Then you can introduce a non-aggressive male Betta who won’t be territorial as the environment will be new to him. Introducing any fish into an established male Betta’s tank makes it far more likely they will see their new tank mates as ‘invaders’ in their territory and become aggressive as a result.

As the young Angelfish grows, it’s more likely to display the fin-nipping behavior mentioned above.

Betta varieties with longer fins would therefore be less suitable than some of the shorter-finned varieties like Dumbo Ear or Plakat Bettas. Half Moon or Crowntail Bettas would be easy targets for nipping.

Even better, the Giant Betta is a short-finned variety that grows up to 4 inches, while Angelfish grow up to 6 inches. Being much closer in size, it’s less likely that the Angelfish will pick a fight with this variety.

Keeping a Betta with adult Angelfish

Bear in mind that it’s one thing for male Bettas to live with juvenile Angelfish, but as they grow Angelfish become bigger and more aggressive. As they pair off and start to display mating behavior, they reach their most aggressive stage of life.

Keep an eye on the behavior of your fish as they grow, and have a plan B in case you need to move your Betta into a separate tank.

The most important factor in Betta and Angelfish compatibility

However, possibly the most important factor in successfully keeping Angelfish and Betta together is the tank size. As mentioned, Bettas are territorial and need to feel like they have their own space.

Bettas spend a lot of time resting in one place so if the tank is big enough, it’s easier for them to stay out of the way of the more active Angelfish, who are more likely to leave the Betta alone if they bump into each other less frequently, which is obviously more likely in a bigger tank.

Keeping them apart altogether is impossible without a tank divider, but this defeats the object of keeping Angelfish and a Betta in the same tank. A better tactic is to break the line of sight between the two with plants and decorations – an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach.

Betta and Angelfish tank setup

Rainbow at feeding time, with Amazon Sword leaves

Bettas need lots of resting spots, so broad-leaved aquatic plants like Amazon Swords are perfect for snoozing against and breaking lines of sight.

You’ll find your Betta spends plenty of time relaxing against the leaves, and they make an ideal hiding place if the Angelfish get too close.

I always recommend real plants as they help oxygenate the water and keep the chemical environment stable, while the plastic varieties can often have sharp edges which can damage a Betta’s fins.

Read more: Why does my Betta have clamped fins?

However, my male Betta seems to like these Betta hammocks which stick to the sides of the tank and allow him to rest near the surface, seemingly without damaging his fins. He also spends a lot of time in his floating Betta log, which you can buy on Amazon here.

When setting up your tank, go for a sandy substrate rather than gravel. Bettas shouldn’t mind too much, although sand will be much kinder on their fins, but it’s the Angelfish who’ll be really grateful.

According to BettaCareFishGuide, sand is similar to the substrate of their natural habitat in the rivers of the Amazon in South America. The article also mentions that it’s a good idea to go for a tank with plenty of vertical space due to the shape of Angelfish, who grow up rather than out!

Betta and Angelfish feeding

This is a tricky area as you’ll have a group of Angelfish competing for food with a single Betta.

Angelfish are omnivores and will enjoy a varied range of plant and animal-based foods, but you’ll need to make sure your carnivorous Betta gets some meat.

Angelfish will thrive on a varied diet of high-quality flake and pellet food, as well as freeze-dried and live foods like Daphnia and Brine Shrimp. Chances are that releasing these into the tank will mean your Angelfish are well-fed, but the solo Betta could miss out.

Luckily the floating Betta log mentioned above has a handy feeding hole in the top, so you can carefully drop food in here to make sure your Betta gets enough to eat.

Make sure your Betta gets no more food than he can eat in two minutes or you could have swim bladder issues if he’s over-fed.

Alternatively, if food is left uneaten you’re likely to see ammonia spikes in your tank water, which will lead to health problems like ammonia poisoning.

If this happens, do regular water changes to bring down the ammonia levels and make sure you use water conditioner to make your tap water safe.

Read more: How do you lower ammonia levels in a fish tank quickly?

Angelfish and Betta in 55-gallon tank – will it work?

A 55-gallon tank would be OK, but a tank of this size would only be big enough for one male Betta and 5 Angelfish, which is the minimum recommended group. It would be better to go bigger if possible, as this would allow a bigger group of Angelfish.

Also, once you’ve added plants, rocks, driftwood, and other decorations, you’re really pushing the capacity of a 55-gallon tank.

You’re more likely to see your Angelfish and Betta fighting as they compete for the limited territory and just generally bump into each other more.

Here’s what can happen when the two don’t have enough space and places to call their own:

Having a bigger tank would allow your Betta to establish his own territory near the surface of the tank, while the Angelfish enjoy plenty of space around the middle of the tank where they naturally like to swim.

If you’re struggling to work out the ideal tank capacity for the fish you want to keep, try AqAdvisor. This handy tool works out the stocking capacity based on the fish you want to keep together and gives convenient tips about their compatibility.

Angelfish and Betta in 29-gallon tank – will it work?

A 29-gallon tank is not big enough to keep Betta and Angelfish together. Angelfish need to be in groups 6 (minimum), and need lots of space due to their size. A tank this small wouldn’t give them the space they need or give the Betta its own territory.

Angelfish are naturally competitive so need a group this size (or ideally bigger) to stimulate that behavior and allow them to establish a natural hierarchy, just like in their natural habitat.

In a tank this small, fishkeepers have the choice of over-stocking and making a dangerous environment for all tank mates, or keeping too small an Angelfish group, which is likely to cause boredom and stress.

Angelfish and Betta tank parameters

The easiest thing about keeping Angelfish and Bettas together is that their ideal water parameters are closely matched.

Bettas thrive in water with a neutral (7.0) pH which falls nicely in the range enjoyed by Angelfish (between 6.8 and 7.5). Water temperature should be between 75 and 82°F (24-28°C), with general hardness between 5-15 dGH.

As with any fish, it’s important to keep an eye out for any fluctuations in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. I use this testing kit to monitor the levels a couple of times a week so I can react if there’s a sudden spike.

Read more: Betta temperature shock symptoms & treatment

Summary – can I keep Betta Fish and Angelfish together?

If you’re an experienced fishkeeper and you have a big enough tank to keep both your Angelfish and Betta happy, then by all means follow the advice above and see how your fish get along.

My recommendation would be to have a backup tank set up, cycled, and ready in case you need to separate the two.

It’s easier to have a smaller tank (5 gallons or more) set up for your Betta in case they just can’t get along.

The most important thing is that your fish are happy and healthy. While it’s theoretically possible for Angelfish and Bettas to live together, fishkeepers have a responsibility to give them the happiest life possible, not cause them unnecessary stress and suffering.

Good luck!

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