Bettas and guppies are two of the most popular aquarium fish. They are both beautiful fish with wonderful fins and tails. It makes sense to want to keep them in the same tank. Imagine how bright and vibrant that tank would be!
You’ll be pleased to hear that you can keep guppies with bettas. However, you need to make some changes to the tank environment, the fish populations, and feeding habits.
Guppies are peaceful fish. They are classified as schooling fish because they like to swim together in groups. This is for safety in the wild as guppies are prey fish.
Bettas, on the other hand, are territorial carnivores. They usually eat insects and larvae but they are known to eat fries too. Females tend to be more peaceful than the males who can become aggressive when threatened.
Their opposite natures might seem like a reason to keep them apart. However, the peaceful nature of guppies makes them great tankmates. They don’t threaten the bettas so the bettas don’t feel the need to retaliate.
There is a caveat to this, however. Not all bettas have the same temperament. Some are more agreeable than others. It’s best to select the less aggressive species if you want them to live with guppies.
Delta betta fish and Halfmoon betta fish are far more peaceable than other bettas. We suggest selecting one of these two breeds for tankmates.
The great thing about bettas and guppies is that their temperature needs and pH needs are roughly the same.
Bettas thrive in water between 78°-82°F while guppies like their water to be between 74°-82°F.
In terms of pH levels, bettas like neutral waters with a pH of 7 while guppies are happy in waters with a pH of between 6.8-7.8.
One of the most important things you can do for a harmonious guppy/betta population is to provide lots of live plants.
The plants will give the guppies somewhere to hide if the bettas do get nasty. Also, bettas like to slumber in shady places so the plants will provide a perfect nap spot.
Some of the best plants to include are java ferns, java moss, betta bulbs, watersprite, and guppy grass.
It is important to get the right mix of bettas and guppies. This means keeping on top of population levels and selecting the right mix of genders.
You might already know that male bettas are by far the most territorial. It is never a good idea to have more than one male betta in a tank.
Both male guppies and male bettas have brightly colored flowing fins. They use these fins to attract a mate.
Betta males can mistake male guppies for bettas because of the fins. The bright colors of a male guppy can trigger territorial aggression. Male and male is the worst combination of betta/guppy you could go for.
Female guppies and bettas are duller and more peaceful than their male counterparts. Female betta fish tend to gather in sororities. They stick together for protection and company.
Sometimes, female bettas can mistake female guppies for a sorority sister. This sounds lovely and friendly but within betta sororities, there is a strictly defined pecking order. I guess they’re not all that different from human sororities!
If a guppy is mistaken for a sorority sister, the bettas can bully the guppy. This is how they establish the pecking order. Your poor guppy won’t be prepared for this behavior.
That being said, a population of female guppies and bettas is probably the best dynamic to have in a tank.
The next best scenario would be one male betta and several female guppies. Having a group of female guppies is important. Guppies are schooling fish and become stressed when their numbers are too low. Also, a group of females means that a single guppy is not being focused on and hunted down.
Female bettas with male guppies can work, but again mistaken identities are an issue. Male guppies can try to mate with female guppies. More peaceful than males they may be, but female bettas will not take kindly to this.
Guppies and bettas have similar dietary requirements. Both bettas and guppies need protein in their diets.
Bettas are carnivores while guppies are omnivores. This means that bettas need more protein than guppies. Generally, bettas eat breed-specific pellets with some live insects or worms every couple of feeds.
Guppies will also appreciate the insects and worms, but the pellets can be too high in protein for them.
To prevent guppies from stealing the betta food, you can give the shared food first. Once the guppies are full, provide the betta food. You can use a pipette or tweezers to almost hand feed the bettas.
In terms of feeding times, guppies are normally fed about three times a day. Bettas, who have a habit of overeating, should only be fed once or twice a day.
Guppies will be more than happy to fall in line with the betta’s feeding schedule. You might need to give them a little bit more per feed to make up for the lost feed.
Some fish, bettas and guppies included, will nip the fins of rivals as a way of protecting their territory.
Fins do grow back, but nipped fins are at an increased risk of fin rot. This is because of the open wounds and sores that fin nipping causes.
Fin rot isn’t pleasant for the fish and needs careful management to heal. It is something you want to try and avoid. So it makes sense to limit the amount of fin nipping going on.
Another issue with fin nipping is that fish don’t like to be bitten! If your guppies are brave enough to nip your bettas, they probably won’t live to regret it. Bettas are short-tempered and will retaliate.
Sticking to female guppies and a male betta fish will limit the amount of fin nipping.
People tend to think that betta fish need to live in isolation. This simply isn’t the case.
Bettas and guppies can live harmoniously as long as you make some adjustments to the population, feeding, and the environment.