When choosing a tank mate for a Betta fish, you need to find something that won’t threaten the fish, nor bring out its aggressive side. For that reason, Betta and shrimp often make excellent tankmates – as long as you choose the right species.
There’s no guarantee it will work though, as some Betta fish will be too aggressive anyway. But, in most cases, if you match your Betta with a suitable species then they will leave each other in peace, and the shrimp can help to keep the tank in the best condition for your Betta to thrive.
With that in mind, read on to learn about which shrimp species are the best match for a Betta fish, and any special considerations you need to take into account when setting up the tank.
Can Betta and shrimp live together?
Betta fish can generally live with some species of shrimp, although it depends on the temperament of your Betta and the size of the shrimp. If your Betta is aggressive then it may harm the shrimp. If the shrimp are too small, the Betta may eat them.
The aggression issue isn’t something you need to worry about as much if you buy female Betta fish, though most people prefer to buy males because they’re more colorful. Male Bettas can still live with shrimp providing they aren’t too aggressive.
Male Bettas become most aggressive when around each other, so you generally shouldn’t keep two males together anyway, and definitely not with shrimp. The male Betta fish will fight, likely to the death, and they’ll stay aggressive which could mean they attack or eat the shrimp too.
Will a Betta eat a Ghost Shrimp?
An aggressive Betta fish may eat Ghost Shrimp, although once fully grown the Ghost Shrimp are normally too large to be mistaken for food. Ghost Shrimp are known as feeder shrimp though and have been used as food for other fish species.
There’s no guarantee that your Betta fish won’t eat Ghost Shrimp, but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk:
- Introduce the Ghost Shrimp to the tank before Betta fish. Betta fish can be territorial, so if you add Shrimp later then the Betta may become defensive and attack them
- Introduce fully-grown Ghost Shrimp, since they are normally large enough to avoid being eaten
- Provide a properly maintained tank with plenty of hiding places for the shrimp
It may seem a little macabre, but a lot of people use Ghost Shrimp as a sort of test for their Betta fish. They’ll introduce Ghost Shrimp to the Betta, and if the Betta doesn’t eat them, they’ll know that the Betta could be suited to having other fish species in their tank too. Where you stand on the potential sacrifice of Ghost Shrimp is your own personal opinion.
Also it’s important to note – while I say that it’s a good idea to introduce adult Ghost Shrimp, since they’re hopefully large enough to not be seen as food, the shrimp are very active breeders. And so any offspring could quickly become food.
Betta and Cherry Shrimp compatibility
Betta fish can live with Cherry Shrimp, but there is the risk that the Cherry Shrimp will get eaten. Cherry Shrimp are generally smaller than some other shrimp species, and the Betta may eat them either due to aggression or mistaking them as food.
Betta and Cherry Shrimp go together well if you do have a mild-mannered Betta that doesn’t view the shrimp as a snack. The shrimp will help to clean the tank of any algae, though don’t see this as a reason to neglect your own care of your Betta too.
Read more: Quantum Black Beard Algae Remover review
If you want to add Cherry Shrimp into your Betta tank, it’s best to go with females. Female Cherry Shrimp grow to around an inch in length, whereas the males are much smaller (and more edible to Betta fish). People tend to prefer females anyway – they’re the ones with the bright red color, which makes them a popular choice.
Because Cherry Shrimp are smaller, you can normally manage with a smaller tank. While a 5-gallon tank is recommended as a minimum for a single Betta fish, you could also add up to 10 Cherry Shrimp into a tank this size without the Betta feeling cramped.
Can Amano Shrimp live with a Betta?
Amano Shrimp are some of the best shrimp you can choose to keep with a Betta fish. Because they’re a bigger species – growing up to 2 inches in length – your Betta is unlikely to see them as food, although an aggressive Betta may still attack them.
One of the other benefits of choosing Amano Shrimp is their long lives. While most shrimp species will live for around a year, if properly cared for then Amano Shrimp will live 2-3 years, a similar life expectancy to the Betta fish. You won’t need to keep replacing them.
There are a few things you need to bear in mind if you want to keep Betta and Amano Shrimp together though. While you know that Betta fish can be aggressive, so too can Amano Shrimp, particularly at feeding time.
The shrimp won’t be aggressive with the Betta fish, but they do often have their own pecking order within the shrimp, and things can get a little feisty if that pecking order isn’t followed. This behavior could stress out your Betta fish, impacting their own quality of life. So bear that in mind.
All shrimp need plenty of hiding spaces in a tank to feel comfortable, but it’s particularly important for Amano Shrimp.
They shed every month or so, and during this time they feel especially vulnerable. Ensure there are plenty of good hidey-holes for them to recover and you’ll have a happier tank community. I have this cool cave in my nano-tank for shrimp to chill when they need it:
And speaking of tanks – as Amano Shrimp are larger, you’ll need a bigger tank too. If you want to keep Amano Shrimp and a Betta fish together, aim for a tank that has at least 10 gallons, and no more than 1-2 shrimp for every 2 gallons of space.
What shrimp can live with Betta Fish?
The best shrimp to keep with Betta fish are Ghost Shrimp and Amano Shrimp. These species thrive in similar water parameters to Betta fish, and are large enough to normally avoid being eaten by the fish. Choose larger shrimp species that prefer temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read more: Betta Temperature Shock Symptoms
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more popular shrimp species, and why you should/shouldn’t consider them for your Betta’s tank:
These shrimp are some of the largest dwarf shrimp species, and they prefer similar water parameters to Betta fish. They are a good companion.
Bee Shrimp tend to only grow to around 1 inch, which makes them a tempting snack for Betta and other fish. They also thrive in water with a lower pH, between 5.8 and 6.8. Avoid pairing them with a Betta fish.
Blue Bolt Shrimp
While these are a larger shrimp species, they prefer water temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit – too cold for a Betta fish.
Tangerine Tiger Shrimp
Another larger shrimp, these also prefer cooler water from between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 74 degree tank you might be OK but overall they are best kept apart from Betta fish.
These shrimp prefer similar water parameters to Betta fish, but the males are small and likely to be seen as food. You can keep female Cherry Shrimp with a Betta fish.
Ghost Shrimp are a good choice due to their 1.5 inch fully-grown size and their preference for similar water parameters.
While many dwarf shrimp are too small for Betta fish, Bamboo Shrimp are the opposite. Growing up to 4.5 inches, they can be too large to share a tank with a Betta, which may see it as a threat and become aggressive.
Do shrimp eat Betta poop?
A popular myth is that shrimp will eat Betta feces, helping to keep the tank clean. In reality, they might accidentally eat it but will likely spit it back out. They do not consume it as part of their regular diet.
Shrimp will eat algae that grows on the tank, and so they are still beneficial to the health of a Betta fish, providing the Betta doesn’t feel overwhelmed and stressed. But they won’t eat poop – you still need to clean that out yourself.
Betta and shrimp tank setup
When setting up a Betta and shrimp tank, it needs to be big enough to provide ample swimming space, and have enough hiding spots for the shrimp to feel comfortable. Make sure to also choose shrimp that thrive between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In terms of tank size, a single Betta needs at least a 5-gallon tank, but if you’re adding a smaller variant of shrimp, you can still use a 5-gallon aquarium – just keep the shrimp numbers to 10 at most.
For larger species such as the Amano Shrimp, upgrade to a 10-gallon tank, with around 1-2 shrimp for every 2 gallons. The one shown below is perfect:
When choosing hiding spots, natural plants are the best option because they provide natural shade and, as the plant loses leaves to the aquarium floor, the shrimp can enjoy a little extra food. Artificial hiding spots help to add variety but avoid sharp edges that could damage a Betta’s fins.
Certain species of shrimp make excellent tank mates for Betta fish since they’re usually small enough to not make the Betta feel cramped or threatened.
Just avoid any that are too small, since you’ll likely encourage your Betta to eat them.
I’d recommend Amano Shrimp as the best choice, providing you’re able to set up a 10-gallon tank with plenty of hiding places – that way, the Betta will have plenty of room to swim freely while the shrimp will feel secure, and can make sure to tackle any algae build-ups too.
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Featured image: Getting redder by the day by Emilia Murray is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
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