Can Betta Fish Live with Shrimp?

If you’re reading this article, you probably wondering whether betta fish live with shrimp or not?

Here’s the long and short of it: it depends on the betta’s personality.

It helps to know what tank mates betta fish can live with. Incompatible tank mates may cause stress, injury, or even death to your betta fish.

In this blog, we’ll find out if bettas can get along with shrimps. We’ll also explore how you can make sure that both Betta and Shrimp live in relative peace.

So Can Betta Fish Live With Shrimp?

Simply put, most bettas and shrimps can coexist together without any complications. You have to make sure, however, that the tank conditions are ideal for them both.

The bettas also need to have the right ‘personality’. It is not unheard of for bettas to get violent and attack weaker tank mates.

The trick to making this partnership work is introducing the shrimp first, and betta second. The betta will then seek out the territory of its own.

Finally, make sure that your tank is fully cycled before adding shrimps. They are, after all, very sensitive to the presence of ammonia and nitrate levels.

Note: Among all the different varieties of shrimps, Ghost Shrimp seems to work best when kept in an aquarium with Bettas

Creating the Ideal Environment for Bettas and Shrimps

It’s important to create the right environment for both bettas and shrimps.

Starting with lots of hiding spots for the shrimps. A good idea is to use real plants (and faux plants) to create hiding spots.

Bettas and shrimps get spooked easily and need to know they can hide somewhere.

Real plants are a good choice because they also double as nutrition for hungry shrimps! You can also add ornaments, clay pots, wood, and rocks as additional hiding spots.

Caution: When picking out ornaments, avoid sharp and jagged objects. Bettas have sensitive fins that are prone to injury.

In addition, you have to be careful about the choice of substrate.

For starters, make sure the gravel isn’t too heavy and the gaps aren’t too big. This will restrict your shrimp’s movement and they won’t be able to swim fast enough.

Finally, it’s important to be careful about the filter you add to the tank.

It’s not uncommon for shrimps to get sucked into filters and die a painful death. For best results, use a HOB filter or canister filter paired up with sponge filters.

Pro tip: Plan on adding lots of shrimp? You’ll need to add an air stone to keep the tank sufficiently oxygenated.

Plants for Bettas and Shrimps

When picking out plants, you can choose from low light and high light variants. High-light plants require strong sunlight during the day.

Low-light plants are averse to direct sunlight and should be kept away from windows.

Shrimps have an appetite for both plants – so you’re free to decide between either type. Below are examples of low light and high light plants.

Low Light Plants

  1. Java Ferns: Ideal for bare bottom tanks and will thrive in low light.
  2. Java Moss: Very hardy plant that is compatible with most water types.

High Light Plants

  1. Pygmy Chain Swords: Easy plants to work with, but you’ll have to select nutrient-rich substrate.
  2. Water Wisteria: Can be found floating, rooted, and partially immersed.

Tank Size for Bettas and Shrimps

The tank size plays a pivotal role in the health of your shrimps and bettas.

In most cases, bettas and shrimps can be kept on their own in 5-gallon tanks. Since you’ll be keeping them together, you’ll have to invest in a bigger aquarium.

Betta fish love their privacy and want their own territory. They’ll attack any fish or shrimp that encroaches their part of the tank.

Even if the bettas don’t respond with violence, they will be stressed out. Stress is bad for bettas and can lead to a range of negative health issues.

Make sure the tank is at least 10 gallons to house both species. The problem with smaller enclosures is that it brings out the worst behavior in bettas.

As a general rule, do not place your betta fish in tanks smaller than 10-gallons.

That’s enough space for both species to move about without frequently running into each other.

Don’t know where to find 10-gallon tanks? Start with a quick search on Amazon for “10-gallon tanks”.

Aqueon Standard Glass Rectangle Aquarium 10, Clear

Ideal Tank Conditions for Betta and Shrimps

You have to control the water’s parameters according to the preferences of both species.

Bettas thrive in temperatures between 75-83°F and a pH of 7. Shrimps prefer a temperature range of 76-82°F and a pH range of 6.1 – 7.2.

For best results, you’ll have to be very specific with the water parameters. Bettas prefer a pH of 7, but if you bring it a bit down to 6.8, it will keep both Betta and Shrimps happy.

Similarly, the best temperature for the tank is around 80°F. This is slightly warmer for the betta, but it is perfect for shrimp.

As you can see, both species have overlapping preferences for their water. So it shouldn’t be too difficult to replicate the above conditions.

Diet and Feeding both Species

Bettas and shrimps like to eat the same food. For obvious reasons, you’ll want to keep your betta on a more varied diet.

Most shrimps are happy scavenging on what’s left of the feeding frenzy.

The best choice is to use high-quality pellets. However, you can supplement this with other mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

Toss in a bloodworm every now and then, and both species will be happy.

Shrimps will gobble up anything that your betta loves. The best part about shrimps is that they also clean up after the betta.

So anything that floats to the bottom, your shrimp will eat up. Shrimps also eat algae and plant matter that accumulates in the tank. This is one of the reasons why hobbyists like shrimps – they make maintenance a breeze!

In fact, experts recommend tossing in the occasional algae wafer to keep shrimps sufficiently occupied. Just don’t add too much or your shrimp won’t eat it.

This will lead to the growth of too much algae – and that’s never good.

Controlling Chemicals in the Tank

There are a few things you should note when keeping shrimps and bettas.

The first is that you must absolutely avoid copper. This metal is toxic to shrimp and will result in their death.

If you must administer copper medication in the tank, quarantine your betta first. Even the smallest amounts of copper will be deadly to shrimp.

Secondly, shrimps are prone to molting. During this sensitive time, shrimps will be extremely vulnerable.

This will bring out the worst behavior in your betta. It’s not unheard of for relatively peaceful bettas to try to eat molting shrimps. This is why it’s important to add lots of hiding spots in the tank.

Once your shrimp have discarded their old exoskeleton, they’ll eat it for nutrients.

Finally, it’s important to ensure that the nitrate and ammonia levels are in check. Make sure that your tank is properly cycled before adding shrimps.

Do not allow ammonia levels to spike because it will kill shrimps right away. You can keep ammonia levels in check by adding lots of plants to the tank.

Also, stay on top of regular maintenance, water changes, and filtration.

Will the Betta Fish Attack Shrimp?

You won’t know for sure that your betta will attack its tank mates. With that said, there are a few signs that may be indicative of their behavior.

The most obvious sign is that your betta is predisposed to aggression.

Some hobbyists report that their betta wastes no time in attacking shrimps. The betta keeps at it despite the shrimp’s best efforts to stay out of sight.

If the above describes your betta, then it will kill your shrimp. But you won’t know for sure until you see your betta’s personality unravel.

It is worth pointing out that bettas are predators, after all.

When they see fragile creatures floating about, it just activates their hunting instinct. The shrimp might keep your betta entertained – at the cost of being constantly harassed.

It ultimately comes down to how you feel about this situation from a moral perspective. If you’re okay with the shrimp being bullied into a corner, then go ahead.

But if that’s your goal, you’re better off seeking alternatives such as larvae and brine. However, shrimps do make for a nutritious meal and are affordable to replace.

Wrapping Up

Suffice to say, it is easy to keep bettas and shrimp in the same enclosure.

In fact, both species are very compatible tank mates due to overlapping care requirements. With that said, you will have to know if your betta is aggressive.

If the betta is aggressive, just keep the shrimp out of its way.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • For best results, add lots of hiding spaces in the tank
  • Introduce the betta after you add the shrimp
  • The tank should be at least 10 gallons
  • Add lots of hiding spots such as caves and driftwood for both species
  • Keep the temperature at around 80°F and the pH at 6.9
  • Feed your betta a varied diet and let the shrimp scavenge what’s left of it
  • Do not add any copper in the tank because it will kill the shrimp
  • Keep the ammonia levels low otherwise, your shrimp will die quickly

Other articles you may also like: