Last Updated: September 4, 2023 by Flora Gibbins
Given a choice between a Betta fish and a goldfish, which one should you choose as a pet? If you’re wondering about the answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place. Both Bettas and goldfish make great pets, but they’re very different species with unique needs.
While goldfish are pacifists and won’t harass any creatures they don’t consider food, Betta fish might not play nice when sharing a tank with other tropical fish, being a territorial species of fish.
Therefore, we’ve made this comparison article to help you choose between one fish over the other. So, Betta vs. goldfish: what will it be? Keep reading for the answer!
Main Differences Between Betta vs Goldfish
The main differences between Betta vs. goldfish are:
- Betta fish can be aggressive, whereas goldfish have a calm temperament
- Betta fish don’t grow very big when adults, whereas goldfish can grow as big as a foot-long
- Betta fish have short lifespans, whereas goldfish can live to the age of twenty
- Betta fish are okay with a small tank, whereas goldfish require at least a ten-gallon tank
- Betta fish won’t like water with a strong filter current, whereas goldfish appreciate the workout
Betta Fish Fast Facts
You can think of Betta fish as intelligent loners who like their own company. Thinking this way will help determine how to set up your Betta tank. We’ll discuss additional considerations to keep in mind when keeping Betta fish in more detail below.
Bettas don’t grow to be particularly large fish and can be kept in a small tank. Ideally, a five-gallon tank or more will provide ample space, though Betta can live in tanks as small as a gallon.
Ultimately, larger tanks are preferable to keep these intelligent fish from getting bored.
The tropical fish can survive in poor conditions (water quality) with low oxygen concentration, being labyrinth breathers (fish that breathe air). However, we wouldn’t recommend keeping them in such conditions due to their low tolerance for dirty water. Regarding water temperature, Betta prefers warm water, being tropical fish.
Additionally, Betta fish have a small bioload and can live without filtration. However, we recommend you add a filtration system to the tank for the sake of the water parameters. Regarding water changes, it’s advisable not to do too many during the week. Else, you risk impacting your Betta fish’s immune system by causing them stress.
You’ll need to keep the current at a reasonable speed.
Of course, clean water is ideal, but Bettas prefer slow-moving water and will hide for extended periods if the filter current is too high. So, try using a low flow filter.
Moreover, Bettas can feel stressed if not provided with live plants and hiding spots that mimic their natural habitat. Unfortunately, the preceding tank inclusions are often overlooked requirements for Betta aquariums that prevent boredom and depression in these fish.
Betta fish are carnivorous creatures. Smaller fish, brine shrimp, insect larvae, and insects on the water surface are some of the sources of nourishment in their high-protein diet. They don’t eat plants because their prey provides an adequate fiber necessary for their survival.
Additionally, you can feed Betta fish small quantities of boiled vegetables or steamed spinach or lettuce, which helps treat constipation.
A male Betta can be pretty aggressive to other fish, especially other male Bettas. You might also see aggressive behavior from one male to a female or between two female Betta fish. Additionally, they may flare their gills at anything they deem a potential threat, including your fingers (when cleaning the tank).
Therefore, these fish are best kept alone.
They don’t get lonely the way other fish do but can function in a community aquarium just fine, albeit with limited interaction with the other fish.
Moreover, you should avoid keeping two male Bettas in the same tank.
Additionally, Bettas can be prime targets for fin nippers, so avoid including such species in a community tank with your Betta. Some of the aquatic creatures these fish can live with include African dwarf frogs, Kuhli loaches, and Cory catfish.
These fish are intelligent, so you can teach them tricks like making them follow your finger or leap out of the water. They can also form bonds with their owners, which is a prerequisite to learning tricks.
You can purchase Betta startup kits from pet stores that sell Betta fish for a reasonable price. You’ll find everything you need to provide adequate Betta care in these kits, including a small tank and other equipment.
Betta fishes aren’t as long-lived as goldfish, so they’re a short-term commitment. However, you’ll still need to provide decent care to maintain their health if you consider yourself an aquarium enthusiast.
These Siamese fighting fish make great pets for new fish keepers due to how low-maintenance they are. Though Betta fish live in an outdoor environment in the wild, you should keep them indoors when kept in captivity or for captive breeding purposes.
- They have a low bioload
- Low-maintenance fish
- Betta-specific startup kits are readily available in most stores
- Short lifespan
- They can be aggressive to other Bettas
- They don’t make excellent tank mates in a community tank
Goldfish Fast Facts
Pet goldfish have different tank and dietary needs than Betta fish. So let’s take a deep dive into the considerations needed.
Forget what you’ve heard—fancy goldfish don’t like to be confined in a tiny bowl long term. In fact, one goldfish may need at least a roomy ten-gallon tank if you’re serious about giving it the proper care this fish deserves.
These cold-water fish have a heavy bioload and need an environment with adequate filtration and clean conditions.
Ideally, it’d be best to keep your goldfish in a long, narrow tank that provides sufficient space to swim instead of a round bowl. Also, including an external filter in your setup will help keep the tank squeaky clean.
Goldfish can reportedly tolerate stronger filter currents than Betta fish due to how big they grow and how frequently they swim. So, in addition to keeping the water clean, you’ll give these fish a necessary workout.
Additionally, goldfish produce a lot of waste (being extremely dirty fish), raising the tank water’s ammonia levels (which may cause ammonia poisoning). So expect to perform frequent water changes and monitor water parameters, especially if your goldfish don’t live alone.
Finally, it’s important to include live plants in your goldfish tank as the aquatic fauna provides them with a place to hide and graze.
You can feed your goldfish vegetables like arugula, broccoli, lettuce, and herbs, and these meals will help prevent constipation. They also enjoy feeding on fruits, while freeze-dried or live protein-rich foods like brine shrimp are great for rousing the fish’s hunting instinct.
Additionally, you can get flakes and pellets formulated for the nutritional needs of goldfish from pet stores. However, you’ll have to supplement their diet with other foods like those mentioned above. You might also be able to get your hands on gel mixes, though they’re not as widely available and can mostly be found online or in specialized pet stores.
The common goldfish has a calm temperament and won’t attack any tankmates they can’t swallow whole. However, these fish are omnivores and will eat the fry and eggs of their fellow fish, ghost shrimp, snails, small fishes, and other creatures sharing the same tank.
Male goldfish tend to get a little rough with the females during mating season, so you might have to separate them to reduce the risk of injury.
Like Betta fish, goldfish are also intelligent and will learn tricks and can identify fish keepers.
Goldfish have a longer lifespan than Betta fish. While Bettas live for a short time, goldfish can live up to the ripe old age of 20, given adequate care. Therefore, prepare for a long-term commitment if you decide to keep a goldfish as a pet.
Additionally, its ubiquity makes it the most popular fish to own among first-time fish keepers. These fish can live in ponds, whether alone or among several goldfish.
- Their calm temperament makes them ideal for community tanks
- They have a varied diet with readily available foods
- These fish are highly ubiquitous
- They’re very intelligent
- They produce a lot of waste and so can be high maintenance (frequent water changes)
- They can grow quite large in adulthood and so require larger tank space
Can You Keep Them in the Same Tank?
So, you’re finding it hard to decide when a light bulb flashes over your head: “why pick one when I can have both?” If you can afford a tank big enough for both fish and furnish it with live plants and hiding spots, putting Betta fish and goldfish together in a community tank is a no-brainer. Problem solved! Right? Not exactly!
As mentioned earlier, Betta fish are highly aggressive due to their territorial nature. Meanwhile, goldfish, while calm, are notorious fin-nippers and won’t be able to let your Betta’s flowing fins pass them by without getting a taste.
In other words, putting the two species together is a recipe for disaster.
In the best-case scenario, your Betta fish may sustain fin loss due to its fins being nipped at by the goldfish. In addition, fin loss can develop into a bacterial infection that may prove fatal to all fish life in the tank if left untreated.
There’s also the issue of your goldfish’s regular bowel movements. It’ll be dropping a lot of waste in the water, which, worst-case scenario, will raise the ammonia levels, which won’t be fun for anyone. Also, if you’re diligent about changing the water to keep the parameters balanced, you might stress your Betta out.
It isn’t a good idea to keep Betta fish and a goldfish together, so you might want to reconsider.
Fun Fact: According to this article, goldfish and betta in one tank is not ideal. What about guppies? Learn more by visiting this post, Guppies And Goldfish: Is Co-Existence Possible Between Them? for details!
So, which of these two fish species makes the better pet? That depends on many factors like the size of your aquarium, how much of a commitment you’re willing to take on, and whether you want to start a community tank.
Betta fish are ideal if you only have a small tank and don’t want a pet that needs constant maintenance. Also, they’re a shorter commitment due to their short life spans.
Conversely, goldfish are great if you have ambitions for an aquarium teeming with aquatic creatures due to their calm temperaments. Additionally, their life spans make them ideal long-term pets.