Cory Catfish and Betta Fish – Can They Live Together?

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Both Cory Catfish and Betta fish are some of the more interesting fish you’ll see in your local pet store. They’re very different too – Corys are more reserved while Bettas are a little more flamboyant.

But how do this odd couple get on if they live together? Do Corydoras Catfish and Betta fish get along as great tank mates, or should you look at other options when putting together your aquarium? Read on to find out.

Corydora Catfish by Bob Jenkins is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Can Betta Fish live with Cory Catfish?

Betta fish and Cory Catfish can live together and generally do well as tankmates. Corys and Bettas have similar water parameter needs, and they generally stay out of each other’s way. Sometimes Betta fish can be aggressive, but it depends on the individual fish.

When checking whether fish can be tank mates, the first question will always be about water parameters. And while Bettas and Corydoras Catfish aren’t exactly the same, they are compatible.

Betta fish need a water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27°C) to thrive, while Corys do best in water that’s between 70 and 78°F (21-25.5°C).

So if you make sure to keep the water between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24-25.5°C), it’ll suit both fish. It’s a small window, but with a good heater, it will be manageable.

This 50-watt heater is suitable for tanks up to 12 gallons, but if you need something suitable for bigger tanks you can try the 200-watt version.

It’s similar with the pH level. Betta fish prefer water that’s close to 7.0 and can manage with a pH just below that. But Corys need a pH between 7 and 7.8. So make sure it’s as close to 7.0 as possible to suit both.

When it comes to ammonia and nitrate levels, both species are at their best when it’s at 0ppm, so that’s easy enough.

If you can keep the water parameters at these levels then both fish can thrive. Here’s the test kit I use to keep on top of the levels in my tanks:

Read more: water changes not lowering ammonia? Here’s how to fix it quickly

The two species generally do well together because Corys are bottom feeders that will stay low in the tank, while Bettas like to swim around the whole tank. So they’ll usually stay out of each others’ paths and live in harmony.

It’s just important to make sure that you pick appropriate food for both. If you normally feed your Betta floating food, add in some sinking wafers so that the catfish at the bottom don’t miss out.

My Betta, Rainbow, in his floating log palace

Will a Betta hurt a Cory Catfish?

Betta fish – specifically males – can sometimes be aggressive and there is a chance that they could attack and hurt Cory Catfish. But it’s rare – Corys don’t serve as any kind of threat, and Bettas will normally just leave them alone.

Bettas get aggressive when they want to show dominance, or if they think that another fish could be food. Corydoras are too big for a Betta to eat, and because they lay low in the tank and are slow swimmers they’ll barely register to your Betta at all.

That’s what makes them really good tank mates. They like the same water conditions but enjoy it in different ways and just leave each other to it. It’s just important that you don’t overcrowd your tank – more on that below.

It’s also worth pointing out that Corys are completely non-aggressive and will never hurt your Betta.

Read more: Betta and Angelfish Compatibility Guide

What temperature tank do I need for Cory Catfish and Betta tank mates?

Cory Catfish need a water temperature between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while Bettas survive best in water that’s between 75 and 80 degrees – ideally as close to 78 as possible. So use a good heater to try to maintain a temperature of 78 to keep both happy.

It’s also important that you make sure to use water as close to 78 degrees when making any water changes. While Bettas are more likely to feel the effects of water temperature with new water added – since the new water will be nearer the top of the tank – both species can suffer from stress if the water temperature varies by more than a couple of degrees until it normalizes.

Read more: Water conditioner guide

Cory Catfish and Betta tank size

Cory Catfish are a schooling fish, so you shouldn’t keep just one with your Betta. Here’s a quick rundown of some different-sized tanks and the best number of fish to keep in each.

Cory Catfish and Betta – 2.5-gallon tank

You shouldn’t keep a Betta fish with Corys in a 2.5-gallon tank. The minimum recommended tank size for a Betta fish living alone is 5 gallons, so it’s too small even just for the Betta. It would cause overcrowding, stress your fish, and risk your Betta turning aggressive.

Cory Catfish and Betta – 5-gallon tank

A 5-gallon tank is still considered too small to keep Cory Catfish with Bettas. Corys are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of 5 or more, and the minimum recommended size for 5 Corys is a 10-gallon tank.

Cory Catfish and Betta – 10-gallon tank

The minimum tank size for a group of 5 Corydoras is 10 gallons, which should be enough to also add a Betta since they’ll stay out of each other’s way. Larger tanks are better, but as long as you keep it to 5 Corys then 10 gallons should be enough.

If you have the space for it then a 20-gallon tank like the one below would be perfect:

This would allow you to add a couple more Corys without stressing out the Betta. Make sure you add plenty of hiding spots, including taller plants where the Betta can relax without delving down to mingle with the Corys.

Read more: Neon Tetra tank size guide

Summary

As long as you’re careful, keeping Cory Catfish and Bettas in the same tank is absolutely manageable.

You just need to make sure that you have a tank that’s comfortably big enough for them to live together, especially when you’ll have a group of Corys to think about.

Then you just have to make sure to keep a close eye on the water parameters and keep them within acceptable boundaries for both species.

With a little bit of care and attention, you can definitely cultivate a very happy tank and see both Corys and Betta fish living healthy lives alongside each other.

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