Tetras and bettas are some of the most common and easy tropical fish to keep in home aquariums. Both species are quite colorful and can live in small fish tanks, with some hobbyists choosing to raise their betta in bowls.
Even so, betta are very territorial and cannot be put in the same tank with other bettas, especially the males. This aggression also makes it tricky to pair them with other tropical fish in community aquariums.
On the other hand, most tetra species are peaceful and make good community fish, but can they live with betta?
YES and NO; let me explain
Tetras are a big group of fish with over 100 different species, most are small to medium size, but some are big. For this reason, thoughmost small tetra species, which are common in the hobby being able to live with bettas, bigger species that show aggression are not good candidates forbetta tanks.
However, it also good to note that most tetras occupy the mid-level of the tank, while bettas love to hang out at the top near the water surface.
Therefore, with a big aquarium where tetras are able to keep a safe distance from your betta, you might possibly hack an otherwise difficult pairing.
To further increase your chances of success, you can add fast swimmers like neon tetras that will easily get away from the slow-swimming betta.
Neons are the best tetras to pair with bettas because of their speed and where they spend most of their time in the tank. They are also the most popular and one of the most beautiful species.
Keep reading for more insight on keeping tetras with bettas.
Will (Can)Tetras Eat Betta Food?
When considering a community aquarium, you want a pairing that is easy to keep together, which includes fish that prefer the same water conditions and will eat the same type of food.
So, will your tetras and betta accept the same food?
Yes, tetras and betta are both not picky and don’t require any special diet, meaning tetras consume betta food graciously.
However, I recommend looking at what fish keepers refer to when they speak of betta food separately.
#1 — Can (Will) Your Tetras Eat Betta Pellets?
Betta pellets are small, nutritionally balanced, floating pellets that provide an ideal staple for betta fish. They are arguably the most effective choice for your fishes and can make a good daily source of food.
Most tetra types that are ok living with betta will accept betta pellets, with the only challenge being aggression from a hostile betta during mealtimes.
Overall, I recommend you skip betta flakes and offer your tetras and bettas pellet foods because they offer a superior base diet.
#2 — Can (Will) Your Tetras Eat Betta Flakes?
From my experience, tetras prefer betta pellets to betta flakes. In a community tank, the tetras will even ignore the flakes altogether if they have a pellet alternative.
Moreover, pellets are arguably a better staple for your fish (as mentioned above) than flakes, plus tetras mouths are much smaller than the betta, so it is easier for them to take bites out of the pellets as opposed to betta flakes.
Best Tetras to Keep With Betta Fish
Several tetra species can live with bettas albeit tasking, below are the four (4) you should consider when looking to get companions for your betta.
Neon tetras are tiny, eye-catching fish that swim really fast and occupy the mid-water-level in aquariums, for this reason, they make good betta companions.
A betta cannot get to a neon tetra, its simply too fast, tiny and agile to go after.
Another pro that makes neons good betta tankmates is they accept betta food, and although they require a fully cycled tank to live in, they will survive in similar water conditions as those of a betta.
Even so, neon tetras are quite sensitive to water quality, so keep your aquarium safe by cleaning and performing water changes frequently.
One other thing you will want to do to keep your neons safe is to add plenty of plants and decor for your fish retract to and hide in case the betta gets too much. You also don’t want your tetra sitting ducks while trying to rest.
Neon tetras are schooling fish that love to swim in a group of their own kind, so add at least six (6) in your betta tank.
Embers are another beautiful species of tetra that has brilliant colors and a playful nature and can live with bettas. Because of their colors, they are sometimes called fire tetras.
Bettas and embers will live together in a 10-gallon tank, but you may want to have an extra tank with a filter and heater ready in case your betta decides to go on a killing spree as they sometimes do.
Like neon tetras, embers are schooling fish, so add a group of at least six (6) individuals with your betta. But make sure there is enough space for everyone in the tank.
This way you will not have any problems between your tetras and betta because they occupy different water levels.
Black Neon Tetras
Black neon tetras (not to be confused with true neon tetras) are an energetic species of tetra native to Paraguay basin in Southern Brazil. They have a pleasant personality and an equally pleasing look.
Compared to regular neon tetras, they get to be a bit more full-bodied and not quite as long as the neons.
Bettas and black neon tetras are possible to pair because these tetras don’t have as brilliant colors as true neons. Their hues also help hide better behind plant and dark backgrounds without the vibrancy they add in aquariums.
Nevertheless, black neons swim in the top of the tank same as bettas and are a whole lot more active than true neons, so I recommend you maintain them with female betta fish, which are less territorial.
Rummy Nose Tetra
One other pairing that is worth trying is rummy nose tetras with your betta fish, but keep a close eye on the fish, plus have a cycled tank on standby in case your have to take the tetras out.
In conclusion, all tetra-betta pairing will depend on the temperament and aggression of your betta. Some are pretty chill and would rather spend their time inspecting the plants, glass or follow shrimp around, but others, especially males, are odd-balls with the potential to cause havoc.
I should also emphasize that there are times the tetras become the bullies and nip your betta’s fins. Therefore, investigate if your notice your betta looking oddly quiet, he may be stressed out by other members in the community.
Be that as it may, the four members mentioned above are among the less nippy tetras and should be mostly safe to keep with a betta. Species like the black skirt tetras are wild nippers that you should not keep with bettas or any other tropical fish that has long-flowy fins or tail.