It may seem counterintuitive since betta fish have a reputation for being aggressive, but bettas and cherry shrimp can live together in the same tank.
In this article, we’ll help you prepare your tank—and your betta—for cohabitation.
Setting Up for Success
If you’ve tried to introduce your betta to other aquatic creatures in the past and it didn’t go well, then the unfortunate reality is that it’ll likely be the same case with cherry shrimp.
However, if you have a new betta fish or your betta already lives with companions, you might be able to introduce it to cherry shrimp.
Below are some critical factors to help set your tank up for success.
Buy a Shrimp-Friendly Betta
Some pet shops already do the hard work for you, as they raise their bettas with cherry shrimp.
So, if you don’t own a betta yet but know that you want it to live with cherry shrimp, try to buy a betta that’s already cohabitating well with them.
Another good indicator that your betta will get along well with cherry shrimp is observing how it behaves in the tank before you buy it.
If other creatures are steering clear of the betta, then that’s a sign that it has aggressive tendencies.
Give Your Shrimp a Place to Hide
While the goal is for your betta never to attack your cherry shrimp, you can reduce the chances of this happening by offering your shrimp plenty of hiding places.
Java moss, driftwood, and live plants are excellent options to mimic a cherry shrimp’s natural habitat. Your betta fish will appreciate the hiding places, too, for it’ll make it feel safer.
As a result, your betta fish will spend more time in the open water (and less time near your shrimp) since it’ll feel like it has access to hiding spots at any moment.
Have a Large Tank
The larger the tank you have, the less chance there is of your betta attacking your cherry shrimp.
Small tanks can augment a betta’s frustration and make them more aware that they’re sharing their space with cherry shrimp. Therefore, attacks are more likely.
At a minimum, you should keep your betta fish and cherry shrimp in a ten-gallon tank.
Nevertheless, the bigger the tank you’re able to offer, the better chance both your betta and shrimp will have the chance to have a harmonious and long-lived life.
Betta fish are territorial creatures. Therefore, if you don’t already have a betta, consider purchasing your cherry shrimp first.
Doing so also offers cherry shrimp the opportunity to discover the many hiding spots that you set up for them in the tank.
Once you introduce your betta, it’ll feel like it’s entering someone else’s home instead of the other way around.
Problems to Look Out For
Despite your greatest efforts, if your betta wants to attack your cherry shrimp, it will.
So, before you wake up to a graveyard of shrimp, you can look for some tell-tale signs that your betta will get aggressive.
Often, if a betta is going to be aggressive with cherry shrimp, they’ll start in right away by chasing the shrimp.
Sometimes, your betta might be testing the shrimp out to make sure they respect its dominance.
Other times, though, no matter how much the shrimp run away, your betta may continue pursuing them. If that happens, you’ll know that you need to remove your betta from the tank.
We recommend staying near your tank when you first introduce your betta and cherry shrimp.
You should also have a net and separate bowl ready where you can easily transfer your betta out of the tank if the situation calls for it.
Are Cherry Shrimp Healthy for Bettas?
It may seem like a strange question to ask since your goal is to have your betta fish cohabitate peacefully with your cherry shrimp.
However, betta fish are predators. To make the situation more complicated, they have a high-protein diet, and in the wild, they eat small crustaceans.
In short, cherry shrimp are an excellent source of protein for your betta fish.
For this reason, some people like to purchase cherry shrimp for their bettas as a combination of added color to their tank and to supplement their betta’s diet.
However, since you’re reading this, your goal is likely to keep your cherry shrimp alive. Therefore, offering lots of hiding places is critical to your shrimps’ wellbeing.
We recommend offering dry or frozen protein-rich foods to prevent your betta fish from eating your cherry shrimp.
- Mosquito larvae
- Brine shrimp
These offer your betta fish an excellent diet, meaning that your cherry shrimp will seem less appealing to it.
Arranging a Betta and Cherry Shrimp-Friendly Tank
You already know that lots of hiding spots are critical for the longevity of your cherry shrimp when they live with bettas, but there are other tank-related factors to consider.
When creating hiding spaces, make sure to offer narrow crevices, which is where the shrimp will hide, and larger spots for your betta—they like to hide too.
In the wild, cherry shrimp love hiding inside thick plants and rocky environments. Java moss is a favorite among these shrimp, and as it grows, it offers even more hiding places.
Betta fish enjoy similar hiding spaces, although their skin is delicate. Therefore, make sure anything you add to the tank has a smooth surface to avoid injury.
Also, betta fish enjoy larger plants to relax in. Anubias and betta bulbs are excellent examples of betta-friendly plants.
Choosing the right kind of substrate, the material at the bottom of your tank, is critical for healthy cherry shrimp.
You should avoid using marbles and other large rocks. The reason being is that they can shift, meaning a cherry shrimp could get lodged beneath them.
Similarly, a cherry shrimp’s leg can get caught in moving gravel. For this reason, you’ll want to choose a fine substrate. Such material will also help a shrimp find yummy debris more easily.
Your betta fish is large enough where it doesn’t have to worry about getting sucked into the filter, but this isn’t the case for cherry shrimp. Therefore, you should purchase a sponge filter.
In particular, canister filters and HOB filters that have a sponge on the intake tube are excellent options for preventing filter deaths among your cherry shrimp.
They may be small, but cherry shrimp are notorious for multiplying, and they can consume a lot of oxygen in a betta tank.
For that reason, we recommend adding an air stone, which will increase the oxygen concentration in the water.
Temperature and pH
Thankfully, bettas and cherry shrimp share similar preferences when it comes to pH and water temperature.
Bettas have a slightly better tolerance for cooler and warmer water, with a 76 – 82°F range being ideal for them.
On the other hand, cherry shrimp prefer water between 77 – 81°F. Therefore, this is the temperature range that you should aim to keep your tank within.
When it comes to pH levels, cherry shrimp are the ones with a higher tolerance for differences—they thrive with pH levels of 6.2 – 7.3.
In contrast, bettas need a pH level right around seven, which is neutral and the pH level you should aim for.
Nevertheless, both bettas and cherry shrimp can live slightly outside their most ideal temperatures and pH levels.
For example, if you want to encourage breeding among your cherry shrimp, you should increase the temperature of your tank to 80°F.
How to Handle Feedings
Here’s some good news—it’s easy to feed bettas and cherry shrimp together (and, no, we’re not talking about feeding cherry shrimp to your betta).
Cherry shrimp will eat your betta fish’s food droppings, plus any algae in the tank.
Best of all, they’ll stay far away from your betta while it’s eating, so you don’t have to worry about aggressive behavior at feeding time.
Cherry shrimp will gobble up your betta’s leftover pellets, plus any daphnia, larvae, and bloodworm you feed it.
That said, we recommend tossing a sinking-algae wafer into your tank about once per week to ensure that your cherry shrimp are getting all the nutrition they need.
If you start noticing that your shrimp stop eating the algae in your tank, then it’s a good indication that you’re feeding them the wafer too frequently.
Miscellaneous Factors to Consider
In addition to the big items we covered here, below are a few more things to keep in mind about cherry shrimp before introducing them to your betta.
- If you need to give your betta fish medication with copper, move it to another tank—copper is toxic to cherry shrimp.
- Cherry shrimp are most vulnerable when they’re molting.
- Once the molting is complete, the shrimp will eat their exoskeleton, so you don’t have to take it out of the tank.
Ready to Spruce Up Your Betta Tank?
Cherry shrimp can be a great addition to a betta tank.
By taking the precautions we discussed here, your betta and shrimp will have an excellent chance of a long and happy life together.
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