Bettas and Neon Tetras

nuitjasmine(10/S24 So Cal)August 2, 2006

Hello! :)

I'm just starting to plan a tank, and I'm hoping that I can solicit some expert advice here. :)

We are trying to set up a 10 gal tank for my MIL. We're tentatively considering a betta for her, as they are so very showy and she would definitely watch them instead of sleeping and watching t.v. all day. ;) (She is elderly & getting pretty senile-- her caretaker will be doing tank maintenance.) Also, her eyes are not great, and bettas are nicely visible. She would probably want more fish in the tank to watch. Cory cats are too ugly for her, though I've read that they are good tank mates for bettas. Tetras have been mentioned, and they are cute & colorful enough that she would enjoy them. I have spoken with a fish store clerk, read the archived posts here, as well as searched online and I've found conflicting info on whether mixing the two is a good idea or not. Has anyone done this successfully? I've also read that having a good sized school of tetras is better than having a small number like 5. I really do not want to have them harrassed, mutilated or killed, and I will not be able to monitor them as the tank will be at her home. I'm almost giving up on the betta idea because it seems like too much of a gamble to mix them. :( I just don't know if she would pay any attention to goldfish or a tank with only little tetras or guppies. We are trying to keep her alert and interested. Any input or other suggestions for her future tank?

Thank you!!! Leila :)

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Hi Leila,

Mixing neon tetras with bettas is a gamble. Some co-exist fine, while others have problems. Though neons are usually peaceful, flowing fins may be too much of a temptation to resist. It really depends on the individual temperment of the betta, but they may go after the neons because of their bright colors. You can try if you like, but if the care giver isn't experienced or you don't have back up plans, I'd try substitutind different fish. A female betta would greatly reduce the risk of aggression both ways, but they do not have the long flowing fins and pet store females generally aren't as colorful. Another idea would be to swap the betta for a dwarf gourami. They come in an abundance of bright colors and patterns, are pretty easy to care for, stay small enough for that tank, and are peaceful. Theres neon blue with red stripes, powder blue, and flame red. Another small gourami is the honey. Wild type honies aren't as colorful unless they are males in breeding conditions, but man made varieties such as sunset or flame/cinnamon are more colorful. Platies are also a peaceful colorful fish. A good ratio would be 7 neons and one dwarf/honey gourami OR 6 neons and 2 platies.

Hope that helps :)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 12:53AM
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I have Cardinal tetras with my M Betta.
Cardinals are far more colourfull and proven to be a hardier fish.

MIxing the two can only be a problem with certain varieties
of Betta the common Betta is not a problem at all. One word of caution keep well away from any of the red colourings as sometimes this group can be nasty at times and not suitable for a tetra tank.

Also a small tank will require constant work, feeding, changing the water, cleaning the filter just to name the basics. The person looking after the tank will have to have a very good knowledge of fish keeping and the tank will require a 7 days a week care.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 1:20AM
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So long as the tetras are added before the betta, he shouldn't bother them at all. They'd be as furniture to him. There are cases where bettas have decided neons are food, but that's uncommon, and it's possible he only did because they were added after him. The real problem with mixing the two is that neons will very likely nip at the poor betta's fins. It's possible to have a tank where the neons don't nip the betta, but it's a big chance.

You could, however, make that sort of tank work for sure. You'll have to find a long-finned female betta, which isn't uncommon. Their fins are not as flowy as the male's, but they come close, and they do the hungry betta dance just as well. The main difference is that their fins won't come to tiny points that tempt the neons. You can identify a female by the white spot on her chest area, which shouldn't be hard to find. Long-finned females are often mis-labeled as males because of their finnage.

Be sure to get a school of seven neons. I tried less once, and it did not turn out well. Seven and a betta should be alright in a 10g, and adding plants would help because they'll absorb some of the fish waste. If you don't know about aquatic gardening, there's a plant called anacharis which is very cheap and durable, and it grows like a weed. No care is required for it other than turning on the light that came with the tank during the day (no more than 12 hours). With the addition of plants, you could also add an ottocinclus to eat algae, but don't get one unless an algae problem developes. The poor things will starve to death in a clean tank.

Do you know about the nitrogen cycle? I can't tell from your post how much you know about aquaria.

I have to agree that cories are ugly. Everyone loves them, but I just can't see why. No offense to cory-lovers, of course; I know I'm in the minority.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 1:22AM
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The smaller the tank (because of the small space) the more possibilities of incompatibilities IMO.

I definitely am in the court that loves cory cats. I think they're actually rather cute. Love the way they can move their eyes around, wink them, and when they are happy and settled, they school in a fashion that is very fun to watch. Cory's are active little fish and yes, they are great companions for Bettas... again, in my opinion! :)

Neons are iffy fish, IMO. I have more success in keeping wild-caught cardinals than neons. Seems like neons just don't like my water parameters or something. Black neons are not flashy, but are hardier fish.

You might want to consider glass cats. They're interesting looking fish, peaceful, and are not top dwellers like Bettas.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 7:05AM
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10 gallons is too small for glass cats. (Which is a shame because I have a 10g and really want some.)

I've had an opposite experience with neons. When I first started my tank, I fully stocked it right off the bat and cycled with them because I didn't know what I was doing until after I'd got them all. I was surprised that they all came out of it alive and well. Maybe my local neon stock is just really good or I'm lucky. I know cardinals are more popular with experienced keepers, maybe because they've had neons die easily. *shrug* Cardinals and neons are the same fish as far as stocking value and compatibility go, so you could fit either in. I think black neons are larger and more aggressive, aren't they? I haven't kept any myself to know for sure.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 7:23PM
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hi i have a 10 gallon tank with a betta and 2 neon tetras. at first the betta chased the tetras but after a few hours he gave up on chasing them because they are too fast for him. they now live pretty peacfully together

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 6:08PM
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I would first ensure that the Nitrogen Cycle is accomplished before adding more fish. You can buy an Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate test kit and monitor the chemistry of the tank.

When in doubt about adding fish, either introduce them together, before a pecking order is established or put the bigger fish in last. Also, provide hiding places (plants, shale, PVC,...)

Personally, I would have one tank for small fish like Neons, Cardinals, etc... and another tank for medium sized fish, like Bettas, Gouramis,...

Breeding Bettas and some Gouramis is also a fun process, if you are interested.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:06PM
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If you want to set up a tank for an eldery person whose eyesight is weak and is becomming senile, and you will need to rely on tank maintenance by a caretaker who may not like or have the least notion of how to care for fish, I would strongly recommend that you belay both a 10 gallon, and tropicals altogether.

If your budget allows and there is space in your MIL's home for a 29 with a really good filter, the old lady would receive great pleasure from a few fancy goldfish and the caretaker would have far less work.

Because they are cheap, Goldies are greatly underrated as aquarium fish, yet some of the fancies are among the most beautiful of all fishes and will become very tame with a little personal attention, but they are large and bulky and simply cannot be kept in small tanks, let alone bowls.

To make keeping Goldies really simple, you almost can't beat a 29 with an Eclipse hood on it. Then, all you would need are some large decorative stones too large to be picked up in a decent sized siphon hose. Then, cleaning the bottom is easy. Once a week, just move the stones around to pick up any mulm on the bottom, give the interior glass a swipe with a scrubber kept for that purpose to remove any algae, then 3, 5 gal. buckets out and 3 in- and the tank would remain sparkling clean and the fish healthy.

However, the caretaker would have to know how to take the filter apart at least once a month, to clean the impeller and change the filter pad, but once they have done it, they would see how quick and easy a chore it really is.

Such a set up would support 3 fancies nicely and your MIL would have beautiful, slow moving, hardy fish that would be both large enough to hold her attention even with weak eyes, and tame enough to keep her watching and talking to them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 1:43PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

I've mixed betta's and neons and cardinals in larger tanks [150gal tank and 130gal pond] without any problems. I think you'd be ok with a 10 gal but limit to 5 neons. Or try some fancy guppies.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 2:26PM
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My male betta (Houdini) gets along fine with his three neon buddies.they have a slight dominance thing going for a few hours but then they got along fine.I find that it helps if you set up a few hiding places for the neons and a small cave-like decoration for your betta.i have a one gallon tank (for now).hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 8:26PM
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You shouldn't put fancy guppies with male Bettas. They make mistake them for rival male bettas and attack them.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 9:16AM
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I suppose your tank has long been set up and your MIL might even have passed away by now, but in case anyone searching for similar information comes across this thread, here is my personal experience: I have kept a 10-gallon tank for a few years. My local fish owner told me that I could combine my Betta with the small fish (White Clouds and a beautiful sewellia loach) in the tank. I tried it, and my betta was far too aggressive. However, when he was a couple of years older, I tried putting him into the tank again, and he did just fine. I think he had "mellowed" as he aged! And I know it's hard to believe, but individual bettas do have differing personalities, and some can be more aggressive than others.

My personal recommendation for an older person with poor eyesight would be either fancy guppies (alone, not combined with a Betta!) or a few good-looking goldfish. I totally agree with Birdwidow about this! "Fish snobs" look down on these species because they are cheap, but they are quite beautiful, not to mention soothing to watch. It is also easy to replace them now and again if one passes on.

One more note: choosing species that enjoy similar water temperatures is also important if they are going to be tankmates. Bettas need temperatures of at least 70 degrees, preferably at least 75. Neon tetras would also do well at these temperatures. If your house temperatures sometimes dip below 70 degrees (for instance, if you like to turn down the heat at night), you should get an aquarium heater to keep your water temperatures stable. Fancy guppies and goldfish, by contrast, can be kept in an unheated tank).

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 12:08PM
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I'm now in my third tank of tetras and bettas housed together and I haven't had any problems with any of them. In all 3 cases the bettas have chased the neons for a couple minutes in the beginning and then everyone left everyone else alone. I think it might just depend on the temperament of the betta

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:44AM
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I'm now in my third tank of tetras and bettas housed together and I haven't had any problems with any of them. In all 3 cases the bettas have chased the neons for a couple minutes in the beginning and then everyone left everyone else alone. I think it might just depend on the temperament of the betta

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:01PM
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I have three Betta's: a red male, a blue female and a green female. I had six Neon Tetra's but I just got back from Stamford for the memorial weekend and I now have two Neon Tetra's. The Betta's look well fed and there are minute particles flowing around the tank, probably Tetra meat.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 9:20AM
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I have a ten gallon tank right now that peacefully houses 8 neon tetras, but I plan to add 2 more, and one male betta. But you have to put Lots of plants in it, I use the silk fabric plants because they are soft on the fish and will not hurt them or tear the betta's fins. And some other aquarium decoration. If your tank size permits it, add more neon tetras. The more tetras the better because this way they don't feel treatned by the betta and are much less likely to nip the betta.

It was the male betta's tank, then I got neon tetras. I floated them for 1/2 hour and the betta came to investigate the new fish. Later the betta lost intrest, then I added the neon tetras. Went very smoothly, and no aggression from either side.

I hear cories also mix well with a betta, but I have no personal experience of doing it. But there are online videos of this. Don't forget to buy some aquarium salt, the betta needs this and the tetra can tolerate 1 teaspoon per gallon of water.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 1:49AM
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