When I was a beginner fish-keeper, I often wondered whether or not I could keep my betta fish along with other shrimp. The answer might surprise you!
It is technically possible to keep betta fish with certain types of shrimp, but it really depends on the temperament of the fish as well as the type of shrimp. There are a variety of factors, such as betta fish aggression, tank size, shrimp species, and tank parameters that you need to consider.
Keep reading to find out everything that you need to know about betta fish living together with shrimp. There are some pretty interesting facts here!
Betta Fish and Shrimp – Factors to Consider
The fact of the matter is that betta fish are not always peaceful, and they are fish that are known for having some aggressive tendencies.
Therefore, whether or not you can keep them together with a variety of shrimp really depends on the betta fish itself.
Besides the temperament of the betta fish, there are also other factors that you need to consider when attempting to house these fish together with various types of shrimp.
Male vs Female Betta Fish
Perhaps one of the main concerns here is whether you have a male or female betta fish. Yes, this does make a big difference. As is the case with many animals in the wild, male betta fish are known for being much more territorial, aggressive, and dominating than female betta fish.
It is much more likely that a male betta fish will tolerate shrimp and other tank mates much more than male betta fish will.
If you have a male betta fish, chances are pretty big that it might go after the shrimp or any other fish that you tried to keep with it.
Furthermore, on that note, it is recommended that you never keep two male betta fish together, as they will most likely end up fighting and likely killing each other. Therefore, if you plan on keeping betta fish with shrimp, you should get females.
Territoriality and Aggression
Regarding the above point, you must consider that some betta fish can be highly aggressive and territorial. This is the case with males and females, although males are more so than females.
It could be the case that some betta fish may view various shrimp as rivals to their dominance, in which case aggression will occur.
If a betta fish thinks that a shrimp is encroaching on its territory, trying to steal its food, or anything else of the sort, it will likely become aggressive and try to defend what it views as its own territory.
Specific Betta Personality
Whether or not a betta fish will tolerate shrimp as tank mates has more to it than just aggression and territoriality. Just like with human beings, fish are individuals. This means that each fish can have its own individual and specific type of personality.
Some betta fish may be very happy and tolerant of tank mates, whether fish or shrimp, whereas some betta fish may be a bit grumpier and less accepting of tank mates.
This may not necessarily have to do with territoriality or aggression per say, but rather just with personality. This is not unlike people. Some people enjoy the company of others whereas other people enjoy being solo more.
Something else that you need to consider if you plan to keep bait to fish with any other tank mates, whether fish or otherwise, is the tank size.
This plays a huge role, especially because as mentioned above, betta fish can be very territorial. The issue here is that the smaller the tank is, the more likely the betta fish is to be territorial.
The less space it has, the more it will want to defend that space. Therefore, it is essential to provide your betta fish and shrimp with a very large tank, so that they will both be comfortable. If the betta fish has enough room to maneuver and have some of its own territory, it is much less likely to mind the shrimp.
The rule of thumb here is that every inch of fish should have at least two gallons of tank space. As betta fish generally grow to around two or three inches in length, a tank of around 5 gallons should suffice. However, this is not including the addition of the shrimp.
If we are talking about shrimp being added into the equation, then you’ll want a tank of at least 7 gallons.
This is if you only have one shrimp. At the very least, each additional shrimp in the tank should have two gallons of tank space on its own to ensure that the betta fish does not view it as a threat.
If you plan on keeping these animals together, having a tank that is on the larger side is recommended.
Not only does the size of the tank matter, but the setup as well. You need to provide your betta fish and the shrimp with enough tank decorations and objects to make them both feel comfortable.
A large tank with many caves, plants, and other such decorations will provide your betta fish with a natural environment.
Not only does it provide your bait to fish with a natural environment, but it also provides the fish with some obstacles so it can’t as easily get at the shrimp. Furthermore, plants, rocks, and caves act as hiding spots for the shrimp.
It allows the shrimp to have its own space and stay out of sight, making it much less likely to agitate the betta fish. Having a well-stocked tank with plenty of plants, rocks, and more is definitely required if you plan on keeping these two animals together.
Types of Shrimp
You also need to consider that not all types of shrimp are suitable to keep with betta fish. If you have very small and transparent shrimp, such as cherry, ghost, and amano shrimp, they’re much more likely to be targeted by betta fish.
However, if you get something like a bamboo shrimp, which is much larger and more aggressive, your betta fish might not go after it.
The point here is that you want relatively large shrimp that have deep coloration, as betta fish seem to be less inclined to go after them.
The smaller the shrimp are however, the bigger the chances of your betta fish attacking it. In some cases, if the shrimp is small enough, the betta fish may even view it as food and try to eat it.
You then also need to consider the parameters of the fish tank. Betta fish require the pH level and the water temperature to be at fairly specific levels. If either the pH or the temperature are significantly off, it can cause serious health issues with your betta fish. The same is true for shrimp.
Therefore, you need to get shrimp that can live in relatively similar conditions to that of the betta fish. If the two cannot live in the same conditions, then one will inevitably die.
If your fish tank is already suited for your betta fish, and you add shrimp that can’t live in those same conditions, they won’t last for very long.
Feeding the Betta Fish
Going back to the issue of food, if the shrimp are very small, betta fish may view them as an easy meal. Therefore, not only is it essential that you get shrimp that aren’t small enough to be eaten, but also that you keep the betta fish well fed.
If you feed your betta fish as much food as they can eat in two or three minutes, twice per day, it should never be hungry enough to go after your betta fish. However, if you forget to feed your betta fish for a day or two, chances are pretty big that those shrimp will start to look tasty.
When all is said and done, keeping shrimp with betta fish is a bit risky. However, if you follow all of the tips that I’ve provided above, it should be fine.