A reader asks which fish would be compatible with her new Betta fish! Although Bettas have their territorial side, it is possible to set up a community tank for them where they can live peaceably.
Male Betta fish instinctually fight off other male betta fish or any other fish who looks like another betta fish. In other words, if the other fish has the long, flowing fins of a betta; that is reason enough for his instincts to kick in and he will go on the attack - nipping the other fish's fins! So, a general rule is to avoid putting any fish with long, flowing finnage in a community tank with a Betta fish. On the other hand, there are the fish who will bite your Betta's fins if they are put together.
Some examples of fish to NOT put in with your Betta in the community tank are: guppies, goldfish, angelfish, guaramis, silver dollars, tiger barbs (cherry barbs or o.k.), some of the larger tetras, and, of course; another betta fish.
Some good tank mates for Betta fish are: platy, rasbora, white cloud minnow, plecos, corydoras, plecostomus, neon tetras, oto and cory cats. Of course, you know that you need a heater and filtration in your aquarium for all of the above!
Remember that Betta fish are not really fast swimmers, so you want to avoid the type of fish who may want to try to outswim your Betta and harass him and bite and nip at his fins! (Like the barbs!)
It also will depend on the individual temperament of each fish you choose to tank together, so you will need to observe them carefully together at first and be prepared to move one to another tank if necessary. Betta fish CAN be peaceful community fish, but sometimes you can get a Betta boy with an aggressive temperament. It's the same with other types of fish, too. Each one is a dear, little individual - unique even down to his own little self - not just because of his type that we categorize him under! Just like people! That's why you can begin by choosing fish who are known to be compatible, but don't stop there!
Remember to take the time to observe your community of fish more than usual at first, and then always observe them consistently and on a regular basis throughout their lifetime. Get to know your own little community for the safety and happiness of everyone involved: be it human or aquatic! We can all get along and work together to make each day wonderful! Just don't let the weeds of neglect choke the path to your friendship with your little fishy friends!