Last Updated: March 22, 2023 by Flora Gibbins
How do you keep guppies with other fish species, let alone a betta fish? Quite a question, eh?
The guppy is often one of the first fish kept by a newbie freshwater aquarium enthusiast. They are beautiful, docile, and live-bearing. But when you’re ready to add other species of fish to your tank…
What should you choose?
Betta fish are undoubtedly eye-catching with their vivid colors and long flowing fins and tails, but can guppies live with bettas? Yes, they can, but there are a few things you need to know about keeping guppies and betta together first. Let’s dive in to find out more!
- Can Bettas And Guppies Live In The Same Tank?
- Differences And Similarities Between Guppies and Betta
- Which Betta Is Better?
- How Many Betta Can I Keep With My Guppies?
- Tank Size
- Aquarium Environment
- Guppy Breeding With Betta
- Best Feeding Practices In A Mixed Guppy With Betta Tank
Can Bettas And Guppies Live In The Same Tank?
I am often asked, ‘Can bettas and guppies live together?’ Well, yes, keeping guppies with a betta is possible. While guppies are generally very docile, bettas are somewhat feistier. After all, they are also known as “Siamese Fighting Fish!”
Even keeping a colony of females long-term can end with one dominant female who won’t tolerate the others.
If you’re wondering why you can’t keep lots of bettas in the same tank, but you can keep one with guppies (and a few other types of fish), it’s because the betta hopefully won’t see them as a threat, being of a different species. So can guppies live with bettas? Usually, yes, it’s possible, but a lot will depend on the betta!
Differences And Similarities Between Guppies and Betta
It’s easy to think of fish as just being fish. In reality, they actually have a lot of differences, as well as apparent similarities.
Similarities Between Betta And Guppies
Both have colorful, long, and often flowing fins. Betta fish, particularly the males, are the most decorative.
This similarity can cause a problem if you keep male betta with guppies, as a colorful, long-finned male guppy can be mistaken for a betta. This may cause the male betta to attack it.
Be aware that although guppies are generally thought of as docile, the males can become territorial and protective of their females. This is one reason why you shouldn’t keep a lot of male guppies together.
Although it is usually the betta who attacks the guppy first, this isn’t always the case! Those flowing fins can sometimes be just too irresistible to a guppie, and they take a quick nibble. Unfortunately, this won’t end well, as your betta will almost certainly retaliate.
As they are both tropical freshwater fish, their living requirements are similar. Water temperature of between 78°F and 80°F is ideal for betta fish, while 74°F to 82°F is best for guppies, so you’ll need a tank heater.
The water pH ideal for guppies is 6.8 to 7.5, while for a betta, it’s 6.8 to 7.6. Use a home pH testing kit to determine this.
Both are top feeders, so food that drops to the tank’s floor is often left uneaten.
Differences Between Guppies And Bettas
Guppies tend to be quite active and are well known for jumping out of their tanks. Most betta fish are more sedentary and don’t swim around a lot. The betta can sometimes misinterpret the speedy swimming habits of the guppies for aggression, which may cause one to attack.
Bettas require a high protein, meat diet. They don’t eat vegetables. Guppies are omnivores, requiring both meat and veg to stay healthy.
If you’re wondering, can guppies eat betta food? The answer is yes, but not exclusively.
Guppies tend to be quite greedy and rapidly gobble up any food placed into the tank. Bettas are much slower eaters who will continually graze when food is available.
This can cause a problem, as guppies quickly eat all of the available food meaning the betta has no chance to consume anything. More on this later.
Which Betta Is Better?
There are some varieties of betta known to be more docile than others, and they have the potential to make more suitable aquarium mates for your guppies.
Keep in mind that just like us, fish have individual personalities. Some are just nicer than others! This applies not only to the betta but to guppies too.
Fish size is another important factor here. Try to keep the size of the guppies well-matched with the betta. This helps prevent the smaller fish from being picked on.
How Many Betta Can I Keep With My Guppies?
If you try to house more than one in a tank, almost certainly problems will occur, usually between the bettas fighting each other.
It can be tempting to choose the flashy males over the not quite so beautifully finned females. This can be an oversight as there are a few advantages to keeping a female betta with guppies rather than a male.
Firstly, the smaller fins and tails of the females are less prone to damage which can quickly lead to problems such as fin rot. This disease can soon mean curtains for your, now less than beautiful, fish.
It’s also good to realize that the bacteria which causes fin rot can be spread to your other fish if it’s not dealt with swiftly! So beware.
Secondly, female bettas are less aggressive than males. Choosing a female betta can have fewer problems than keeping a male.
Bettas are fiercely territorial, so they would see the guppies entering their space as a threat, likely invoking an attack.
Make sure you keep more than one guppy with your betta. Having a colony of guppies will prevent your betta from picking on one single fish.
Can a betta fish live with guppies? Yes, but it may not always be easy!
Providing a large enough tank is crucial to keeping things friendly between your fish.
When keeping betta with any other fish, the larger the tank, the better. As an absolute minimum, the tank should be 10 gallons (with at most four guppies and one betta). Something closer to 30 gallons, or more, would be preferable.
For most small types of fish, it’s normal to have one gallon of water for each fish in the tank. But, because you want to have a lot more space with a betta, you’ll need more. Shift the ratio to two gallons of water per fish when keeping a betta in a mixed aquarium.
As fish have a natural pecking order, less dominant individuals need plenty of hiding places to get away from any aggressors.
Think about it this way; if someone spent all day chasing and pulling out your hair, you’d soon start to get pretty run down and depressed, right? The same is true for your fish. Once in this state, a fish will often die. Sickness quickly takes hold of the weak and can infect the others in the tank.
By placing ornaments with spaces where fish can hide and living plants to provide additional shelter, your fish have a way of escaping any tormentors.
Betta fish also like to shelter themselves in plants and under ornaments, so having them in your aquarium will help keep all of your fish happier.
Suitable plants include things like: Java Ferns, Java Moss, Watersprite, Guppy Grass, or Amazon Swords.
Guppy Breeding With Betta
Guppies and bettas are two different species, guppies being Poecilia reticulara or Lebistes reticulatus from the Poeciliidae family and betta being Betta splendens from the Osphronemidae family. Interestingly, they are a type of Gourami.
Being from different species and families, breeding bettas with guppies is impossible.
Take care when your guppies have fry, as a betta will see them as food… Try using a breeding box while the fry are tiny and move them into a separate tank to grow on.
Only introduce your young guppies back to the tank when they are large enough to be no longer seen as something on the menu for your betta.
Don’t overpopulate your tank! It will have a detrimental effect on the water quality and, ultimately, the health of all your fish.
Best Feeding Practices In A Mixed Guppy With Betta Tank
Guppies are omnivores and eat meat, insects, and plants. Bettas are pure carnivores. Yep, under those pretty, colorful fins, there lurks the heart of a great white shark.
Can guppies eat betta food? Yes, they can and happily will! But it isn’t sufficient to keep them healthy as they need to have their veggies too!
Bettas enjoy blood worms, baby brine shrimp, daphnia, mosquito larvae, worms, and other small fish.
How To Feed Your Mixed Tank
- You can buy pelleted betta food. This is convenient but giving a range of other frozen foods, as shown above, can be beneficial for their health. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
- Vegetable fish pellets are great for your guppies. They won’t be attractive to the betta, as they are carnivores.
- Guppies are quick to gobble up their food quickly. Your betta eats far more slowly, and this can result in it not receiving sufficient nourishment to stay healthy.
- Try feeding the guppies first on one side of the tank. Once they’ve eaten some food, start feeding your betta on the other side.
- Using a pipet, give your betta a small amount of food at a time by squeezing it out right in front of him. This can be very helpful and ensures he is getting enough to eat.
- Keep the quantity you give in the pipet small, or you may provoke a feeding frenzy from your other fish. This could scare your betta away.
- Don’t be tempted to overfeed your fish. This will cause its own problems, resulting in a build-up of contaminants in the tank. Dirty water will quickly result in health issues.
Personally, I don’t particularly like using fish flakes. They quickly drop to the bottom of the tank, and as guppies are naturally surface feeders, much of this food is likely to be left uneaten and rot. Pellets are better because they float.
Can you keep guppies and a betta together? Yes, you can keep a single betta with guppies. Can bettas live with guppies? No, it is not advisable to keep more than one betta with guppies, even if the bettas are females.
Ensure the tank you have is the largest possible. The more space your fishes have, the less territorial they will be. Then introduce the betta into the guppy tank and not the other way around.
Choose a less aggressive betta type and carefully monitor what’s going on.
Fish are a great source of entertainment and a pleasure to own. You should get some! Let me know your thoughts. 🙂