Betta fish are a great fish to keep in an aquarium, as they are easy to care for, small, and full of beautiful colors! Being small, betta fish can be kept in smaller tanks, such as a 5-gallon tank, and you do not need a huge setup to give them a suitable environment.
However, keeping betta fish in a smaller 5-gallon tank does mean that you are a little more limited on the tank mates you can give them. These tank mates should be able to get along with the betta fish, and also be fine staying in a smaller tank.
What are the best betta tank mates in a 5-gallon tank? You have a few options on the best betta tank mates for a 5-gallon tank, and these include ember tetras, brigittae rasboras, strawberry rasboras, ramshorn snails, and more. You do need to avoid larger fish or fish with aggressive tendencies to keep your betta fish safe.
To help you create the perfect environment for your betta fish, we have listed the best tank mates below so you can pick out your favorites!
1. Ember Tetras
Ember tetras are beautiful little fish. They are small and bright red in color. Generally, they are non-aggressive fish and carry on with their lives quite peacefully.
Being small in size, you can usually put a group of ember tetras into a tank without requiring too much space, which means that you can place a few in a 5-gallon tank (this tank is a great choice if you’re looking for one!).
When placing ember tetras in a tank with betta fish, when the tank is 5-gallons, then you should only place a group of 6-7 ember tetras. This is a large enough group that they will feel comfortable, but not too large that the tank becomes overcrowded.
Ember tetras are easy to care for and will eat just about any food you feed them. They don’t need too much fuss, and once you set them up properly in their tank, they should thrive easily.
2. Brigittae/Chili Rasboras
Brigittae or chili rasboras are small rasbora fish that are suited to live in a 5-gallon tank. These tiny fish find little issue living in a smaller tank, which makes them a good option when looking for a tank mate for betta fish.
These fish come from slow-moving blackwater streams, which pair them up with bettas who are also not suited for stronger currents. Both fish will do well in a blackwater tank setup, which is suitable for both.
To ensure that there are enough brigittae rasboras in a tank for them to feel comfortable, but not too many to overwhelm a 5-gallon tank, you should only add 6 or so fish in.
3. Strawberry Rasboras
Strawberry rasboras not only look really pretty, but they do well as tank mates for betta fish in a 5-gallon tank.
Like brigittae rasboras, strawberry rasboras prefer slow-moving water and prefer to stay in a tank that has a lot of plants, and which is slightly more acidic.
The great thing about strawberry rasboras is that they are a very peaceful fish, and will not act aggressively to your betta fish. They are also easy to care for and settle in quickly and well.
You can add between 5-6 strawberry rasbora fish into a 5-gallon tank with betta fish.
4. Ramshorn Snails
Ramshorn snails bring a bit of diversity to a betta tank, and while they might not have the best reputation, they are sometimes the better snail choice in a betta tank.
Some people might prefer larger snails in a betta tank, but these can be quite exposed in a small 5-gallon tank, and a betta might end up nipping at the snails’ eye stalks and harassing the snails.
Ramshorn snails, like other smaller snails, are often considered pests, but they actually look really nice and can just add some extra color to your tank.
You do need to be careful with Ramshorn snails, as they can reproduce quickly, especially if there is quite a bit of food in the tank. This isn’t too big of a deal, as you can remove any extra snails from the tank, and the betta fish might pick one or two off over time.
Ramshorn snails can come in a host of different colors, such as pink, red, and blue, and can have spots, stripes, and more. They require little care as they adapt to different water qualities, and have a low bioload as well.
5. Least Killifish
While least killifish are not actual killifish, they work well in a betta fish tank that is 5-gallons. They do not grow very big at all and as they are livebearers, they can start to breed very quickly in a tank.
The least killifish do tend to breed quickly, but this might not lead to overpopulation, as the betta fish will likely eat the fry as they are born. You will need to remove the fry from the tank if you are wanting to breed them.
One way to avoid fry being born in the tank is to only keep male killifish, which reduces the chances of them reproducing.
6. Celestial Pearl Danio
Celestial pearl danio fish are really quite beautiful and have really interesting patterns, colors and markings on them.
They do tend to be shy fish, and might not feel comfortable on their own or just in a pair. To make celestial pearl danio fish feel comfortable in a tank with betta fish, you would need to put in a few of them, 6 or more, to feel safe and comfortable.
The only thing you need to be wary of when adding celestial pearl danio fish into a betta fish tank, is that they do prefer colder water than what betta fish do, and this could be a bit of a problem. It helps to just keep an eye on all of the fish to make sure they are comfortable with the water conditions.
7. Phoenix Rasboras
Phoenix rasboras are another rasbora that you can keep in a 5-gallon betta fish tank. They are small fish and are orange and red in color. They are easy to care for and generally unaggressive and peaceful.
Like betta fish and some of the other rasboras, they prefer slow-moving water that is slightly acidic. This makes them a good pairing for betta fish, as they do not need much change in the betta fish tank, and they would get along quite well.
Phoenix rasbora fish can add some beautiful colors to your betta fish tank.
8. Dwarf Rasboras
While the name might indicate otherwise, dwarf rasboras can grow larger than the others on the list, and adults can reach up to an inch long.
Dwarf rasboras are more translucent than the other rasbora types and do not have bright coloring. However, they are still a good addition to the 5-gallon betta tank.
These fish do require a pH slightly different from betta fish, somewhere between 5-6.5, but this should not be too much of a problem as long as there are no swings in the pH level, and it is kept stable.
9. Neon Tetras
Neon tetras can work in a 5-gallon betta fish tank, but they might not coexist as seamlessly as ember tetras do. However, if you really love the neon look of these fish, it is worth placing them in the 5-gallon tank along with the beta fish and seeing how they do.
You should only place around 3 or 4 neon tetra fish into a betta tank, as too many could overcrowd the tank. They tend to get bigger than ember tetras, so this is something you should consider.
If you think that the neon tetras have become too big for the tank, it is best to remove them and place them in a separate tank.
10. Pond Snails
Pond snails are also known as bladder snails. These are very plain-looking snails and aren’t remarkable in appearance at all, but they are actually quite useful to keep in a 5-gallon betta tank.
These snails will eat leftover food, algae, dead plant matter, and any other debris in the tank. They work hard to keep the aquarium clean so that you don’t have to do all of the work yourself!
Pond snails do reproduce quite a bit, and you might have to remove some snails from the tank every now and then to ensure that they do not overpopulate the tank, but this isn’t too hard to do.
These snails are also really easy to come by, as they are quite abundant in ponds and in nature, but it might be an idea to keep them in a separate tank first before placing them straight into the tank with your betta fish, to watch for any disease or parasites that might harm your fish.
How To Introduce Tank Mates To Betta Fish
Betta fish can have tank mates, and choosing the right tank mates can help them to all coexist peacefully, but betta fish can also do perfectly fine left in a tank on their own.
This is especially true for a small 5-gallon tank, as having too many or the wrong tank mate might actually make the betta fish feel overcrowded, and this could cause them to become aggressive.
When adding tank mates to a 5-gallon betta fish tank, you should always be prepared for the worst. Even choosing peaceful fish, you never know how they might react, and there is a chance the fish could be aggressive with each other, even if they have lived peacefully together for some time already.
Here are some tips on how to successfully have tank mates in a 5-gallon betta tank:
Place Tank Mates First
A good idea is to put the tank mates into the aquarium first, and then introduce your betta fish. The reasoning for this is that the betta fish will then see the other fish as part of the habitat, and not view them as invaders who are coming into their own territory. If a betta fish feels threatened this way, it could become aggressive.
If your betta fish is already in the tank, move it to a smaller fishbowl for now and rearrange the plants and decorations in the old tank to make it look different, even adding some more in or removing some.
Add the tank mates into the aquarium and once they have settled, place the betta fish into the tank. They would view the tank as a new environment, and not their old home that has now taken over by new fish.
Provide Hiding Spots
Introducing tank mates to betta fish can be stressful for both parties, and one way to reduce the stress is to provide ample hiding spots in the tank.
A 5-gallon tank is not very large, and the fish would need to feel like they have their own space. Plants and decorations can provide safe spots for fish to hide away in.
If you are keeping very small fish in the tank, it does help to give them tiny hiding spots that they can fit into, which are too small for the betta fish to get into, which helps them find a safe spot if the betta fish are threatening them.
Which Tank Mates Should I Avoid For Betta Fish In 5-gallon Tank?
As much as it helps to know which tank mates are best for betta fish in a 5-gallon tank, it is just as important to know which ones you should avoid.
Placing the wrong tank mates in a 5-gallon betta tank can spell disaster, and is just something that you should really try to avoid. Betta fish can be aggressive, and by placing other aggressive fish in the tank, there will be endless fights and stress.
Here are some fish that you should not place in a 5-gallon betta tank:
- Other bettas
- Sparkling Gourami
- Pea Puffers
- Scarlet Badis
Most importantly, you should avoid adding in more male bettas to the tank, as they could land up fighting each other over territory, which is in short supply in a small 5-gallon tank.
Betta fish can thrive on their own and do not necessarily need tank mates to be happy or thrive. However, if you are wanting to diversify your tank up a bit, there are some tank mates that can coexist with betta fish in a small 5-gallon tank.
You do need to take into consideration that a 5-gallon tank is not big at all, and it does limit you to the fish that you can put in the tank, as well as how many you can add in. You would want to add in enough of the same specie tank mate for them to feel comfortable, but not too many that the tank is then overcrowded.
Above are the best tank mates for betta fish in a 5-gallon tank, as well as some tips on how to introduce them, and the tank mates to avoid!
Can a 5.5-gallon tank be suitable for a betta?
A 5.5-gallon tank can be suitable for betta fish, as long as you have the correct water quality and conditions for the betta, and some plants and decorations for them.
How often should I change the water in a 5-gallon tank?
Weekly changes are best in a 5-gallon tank. Larger tanks, such as those 10 gallons and above, can be changed every two weeks.
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