Neon Tetras And Bettas (A Guide To Keeping Them Together)

Keeping neon tetras and bettas together is possible, however, caution is always advised. You may have heard that bettas are aggressive and neon tetras are fin nippers. While both these things are true, in certain circumstances, they don’t have to stop your plans. In fact, if you keep reading, you’ll find out how neon tetras and bettas can live together peacefully.

Can Neon Tetras And Bettas Live Together?

In short, if you keep neon tetras and bettas in a tank that’s at least 15 gallons, but preferably 20 gallons in size, then it’s possible. Also, keeping the tank heavily planted with mid-height aquarium plants and floating plants you’re going to have a better chance of success. And the final piece of the puzzle is perfecting the amount of open space and hiding places, for both species of fish to feel safe.

Neon Tetras And Bettas – The Compatibility Factor

As you know already neon tetras can be fin nippers and bettas can be aggressive. However, this doesn’t mean this will occur every time. In fact, many hobbyists have great success in keeping the two together. But, before you try to do this, make sure you have a backup plan ready just in case.

Before purchasing neon tetras, you should have a cycled 5-gallon tank ready to move your betta to if things don’t work out. Or, if you don’t want to spend money, tank dividers are a great choice as well.

Asides from having a backup plan ready, here are the best ways you can increase compatibility between the two.

Add Tetras First

If you have a betta in a tank by himself, he’s going to see the whole tank as his territory. So when you try and add other fish into the tank he’s not going to like it. This will often result in aggression, that could spell trouble for neon tetras.

However, if you add a betta to a tank with other fish in it, then he’s more likely to find a smaller area of the tank to keep himself to himself.

Try Female Bettas

If you haven’t thought about it before, why not try keeping neon tetras with female bettas. Female bettas are just as beautiful and luckily less aggressive. On top of this, they don’t have flowing fins like males, so the chances of fin nipping are going to decrease.

Choose A Betta Which Is Already With Other Fish

A lot of smaller fish shops keep bettas in the same tank as other fish. These bettas are already showing you they aren’t aggressive. By picking one of these bettas, then you’re going to reduce the chance that your tetras are going to be attacked.

Provide Plenty Of Hiding Places

Bettas can often be stressed out by schooling fish, so it’s important you add lots of hiding places to your tank to reduce the chance of stress occurring. Plants are your best bet, but they don’t have to be the only decoration. You can also add driftwood, caves and man-made ornaments to keep your betta safe as well.

Keep Tetras In A School

To reduce the chance of fin nipping you should also keep your tetras in a school of at least 6 or more. If you don’t keep them in a big enough group they often become stressed. This stress often results in fin nipping and aggression. And under no circumstances should you keep one neon tetra alone.

Keep Them In A 15 Gallon Tank Or Bigger

Lastly, make sure you’re keeping the fish in a big enough tank. While bettas are happy to live in tanks that are 5 gallons in size, neon tetras need more space. Remember, 15 gallons is the minimum size you should keep them in and bigger is always better.

Neon Tetra Behavior

For the most part, neon tetras are peaceful fish, and if you follow the rules above they’re not going to aggravate your betta. They are also schooling fish so you need to make sure you’re keeping them in schools of at least 6, however, ideally 10-12 will make them happier.

If you have aggressive betta then be aware that neon tetras like to swim in the middle of the tank. If you’re not sure how your betta is going to react to this, then try adding bottom dwellers such as cherry shrimp, dwarf crayfish, or corydoras catfish first.

Neon Tetras can also grow up to 1.5″ in length and in good conditions live for 8 years.

Tank Requirements

Neon Tetras don’t have any particularly eccentric tank requirements. In fact, setting up your tank for a betta will often be perfect for neon tetras as well.

One big requirement, however, is a tank that’s at least 15 gallons in size. If you don’t keep neon tetras in a tank that’s 15 gallons or bigger then problems will occur. And remember, pick a tank that has length over heigh as neon tetras are horizontal swimmers.

If you keep them in tanks smaller than 15 gallons, not only will there be increased aggression, but ammonia spikes are likely to occur as well. The bacteria in a tank smaller than 15 gallons will have trouble removing built-up waste, which will cause ammonia spikes as well as poor water conditions.

It’s also important for both fish that there are lots of plants in your tank. Live plants are preferable (check out the best plants for bettas) however, silk plants can also work. Just make sure you avoid any plant which is sharp or that may damage your betta’s fins.

When adding plants, create certain areas in your tank which are heavily planted with plenty of places to hide, and other areas that are open swimming space. Tetras need lots of space to swim, but also just like a betta, places to feel safe as well.

You don’t have to stick to plant life though. You can also add driftwood, caves and man-made ornaments to your tank. As long as they create lots of hiding places your fish will love them.

As well as lots of decoration, dim lighting is preferred by neon tetras as it mimics their natural environment. However, don’t worry about your betta, as he’ll also feel safer in a tank that’s slightly darker, as it will be easier for him to hide.

And lastly, make sure that you don’t add your neon tetras to a new tank, but one that has matured. Fluctuations in water conditions can be fatal to neon tetras as they’re particularly sensitive to them.

And when you’re performing water changes, try not to change too much at once, 10-20% at a time is sufficient. Anything more and your neon tetras are going to become stressed.

pH & Temperature

Neon Tetras and bettas need similar conditions to survive, and in fact, neon tetras can survive in a pH between 5 – 7.5. Bettas need a pH as close to 7 as possible, however, they can also live in water that’s slightly acidic. Neon Tetras can also survive in temperatures between 68-82°F. While bettas ideally need to be in water that’s 78°F they can live happily in water between 76-82°F.

Knowing the different behavior, tank requirements and diets of multiple fish is a difficult task to accomplish. In fact, there are fish that can live with your betta you haven’t even thought of yet! If you want to know about every fish that can live with your betta then click here.

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Neon Tetras are omnivores and bettas are carnivores. So while you’ll be able to feed your neon tetras some of your bettas food, you can’t feed your betta some of your neon tetras food.

For the most part, high-quality fish flakes are going to be fine for your neon tetras, and high-quality betta pellets can be used for your betta. However, on top of this, you should also incorporate live food into your tank.

Daphnia, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae make great choices. And if you can’t get them live, then freeze-dried and frozen are also great alternatives.

You can also feed them bloodworms, however, this should be done sparingly. Bloodworms are a treat for your fish, and they can often cause constipation and swim bladder disease when used too much.

(Learn more about bloodworms)

Lastly, it’s a good idea to leave blanched vegetables in your tank every so often for your neon tetras. Just make sure you remove them after a day or they’ll begin to rot in the tanks water.

If you’re interested in knowing about 30 other tank mates that can live with your betta then check out this HUGE list of betta tank mates!

How To Spot A Healthy Neon Tetra

When purchasing neon tetras you want to make sure you’re choosing the healthiest ones. Not only does this increase the chances of survival when they’re integrated into your tank, but it also decreases the chances of disease being brought into your tank.

So when choosing your neon tetras make sure you’re looking for the following:

  • They should be active and swimming around the tank. If you notice a tetra swimming by himself or hiding, then avoid choosing them.
  • Their coloring should be bright, and not dull.
  • There should be no damage or signs of disease on their bodies.
  • If you notice any dead or sick fish in the tank then you should avoid purchasing from that tank.


If you follow everything you’ve read above then you should have no problem keeping bettas and neon tetras together. However, if you know you have an aggressive betta then it will still be best to avoid keeping them with tetras.

There’s a lot to take in from this article so here are the main points you should remember.

  • Neon Tetras are known to be fin nippers and bettas are known to be aggressive. Before adding the two together, you should have a backup plan ready in case something goes wrong.
  • If possible, add your tetras before your betta.
  • You should also consider a female betta with tetras.
  • When picking a betta, pick one which has already been living with other fish.
  • Provide plenty of hiding places and keep your tetras in a school of 6 or more.
  • Make sure you’re keeping them in a tank which is 15 gallons or bigger.
  • Your tank should have areas which are dense with plant life, and other areas of open swimming space.
  • Also, the water conditions shouldn’t fluctuate a lot in your tank, and you should only add neon tetras to a mature tank.
  • Neon tetras are omnivores and bettas are carnivores. Make sure you’re adding live food for both, but also ensure that your neon tetras are getting a balanced diet.

If you do all this then your betta and neon tetras will live long lives!

And if you’re interested to know more about tank mates that can live with bettas then you have to check out the Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide. You’ll learn about 68 different tank mates that can live with your betta, as well as fish to avoid. You’ll also learn how to create the perfect environment for mates, how to introduce tank mates and much more! So check it out!

If you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! And if you have any more questions you can ask them in the Q&A Section!

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