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.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tank size recommendation: 15-gallon minimum, preferably 20 gallons for keeping neon tetras and bettas together.
  • Tank setup: Heavily planted with mid-height and floating plants, providing open space and hiding places for both species.
  • Backup plan: Have a cycled 5-gallon tank or tank dividers in case of aggression between neon tetras and bettas.
  • Compatibility strategies: Introduce tetras before bettas, consider female bettas, select non-aggressive bettas, provide hiding places, and keep tetras in a school of at least 6.
  • Neon tetra tank requirements: Tank of at least 15 gallons, live plants, decorations, dim lighting, and mature tanks for stable water conditions.

Can Neon Tetras And Bettas Live Together?

You can keep neon tetras and bettas in a tank that’s at least 15 gallons, but preferably 20 gallons in size. Keeping the tank heavily planted with mid-height aquarium plants and floating plants will give you the best 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. Besides, this combination of neon tetras and bettas looks amazing!

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.

Some people recommend a 10-gallon tank for neon tetras, and while it’s true they can live in this. When there is a betta fish in the tank you definitely want to go bigger. Even a 20-gallon tank will be well suited!

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

Both Neon Tetras and Bettas 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.

A 15 Gallon Tank Or Bigger Is Best

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.

Make Sure To Add Lots Of Plants

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.

Add Lots Of Other Decorations

You don’t have to stick to plant life though. You can also add driftwood, Indian almond leaves, caves and man-made ornaments to your tank. As long as they create lots of hiding spots 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.

Add Neon Tetras To A Mature Tank

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 behaviors, 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.

Diet

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!

betta care facebook group

How To Introduce Neon Tetras And Bettas

Introducing neon tetras and bettas together doesn’t have to be hard, however, you do need to take your time with the process.

In an ideal world, you’ll add a tank divider to your tank and keep them separated until they’re used to each other. However, this can’t always be done. When it can’t be done, you should try the following:

  1. If possible, add your betta to a tank with neon tetras already in it. This way he will feel like his territory isn’t being encroached upon and he will be less likely to be aggressive.
  2. In cases where your betta is already in the tank, then float the tetras in their bag in the tank.
  3. Acclimate them normally by slowly introducing water from the tank into their bag for about 30 minutes. During this time your betta will be able to see them, and you’ll get some idea as to how he will react.
  4. If he reacts poorly you’re going to need to put them in another tank. However, if he doesn’t, then you can proceed.
  5. After 30 minutes, put your neon tetras into the tank and turn the lights off. This will make every fish in the tank feel more safe.
  6. If you’re introducing the betta, just do the same thing but the other way round.

When you’re doing this watch your betta for signs of aggression like flaring, chasing, posturing, and fin nipping. If you notice this lasting for a couple of days, you’ll need to move him to another tank.

And lastly, remember male bettas are going to be a lot more aggressive than female bettas, so keeping females in the tank may give you greater results.

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.

Can You Keep Neon And Ember Tetras With Bettas?

It’s entirely possible to keep neon and ember tetras with bettas. One thing to note is that you may need to keep two distinct schools if the neon and embers don’t want to school together. However, this isn’t always the case so you’ll have to see what happens specifically to your tank.

Can Neon Tetras Eat Betta Food?

Neon tetras can eat betta food, however, bettas can’t eat neon tetra food. And remember that even when you’re keeping neon tetras, they should not live solely off betta food as it won’t give them all the nutrients they need.

How Many Neon Tetras Can You Keep With A Betta In A 5 Gallon Tank?

You can’t keep any tetras in a 5 gallon tank with a betta, as this is just to small for neon tetras in general. On top of this in a 5 gallon tank, tetras will definitely aggravate your betta, and he’ll most likely end up attacking them.

Other Betta Tank Mates

Some other great tank mates for your betta include:

(Check out the all time best tank mates for betta fish!)

Sand Vs Gravel For Neon Tetras And Bettas

Neon tetras and bettas will both enjoy sand and gravel, so it’s a personal choice. However, it’s important to remember that gravel tends to be easier to clean, and it’s definitely the substrate I’d go for.

How Many Tetras Should You Put With Your Betta?

You should aim to have at least 6 or more neon tetras in the tank with your betta. This way they will feel safe in their group, and it’s much less likely they’ll end up nipping your bettas fins.

FAQ

Why is my Betta Chasing my Neon Tetras?

Your Betta fish is asserting dominance in the area and chasing the tetras, but it’s okay as long as he’s not harming them. Consider adding some plants for them to swim around and hide in.

Recap

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!

Sources:

About the author

Hey! I'm Antonio!

Betta fish keeper for over 6 years now! Since owning a betta I've also housed all kinds of tropical fish, and have seen all manner of problems and how to look after them!

If you need any advice you can always message me or better yet join the Facebook group where a community can answer your questions!

2 thoughts on “Neon Tetras And Bettas (A Guide To Keeping Them Together)”

    • Hey!

      The best way to introduce a school of tetras is to first leave them in the bag so that the betta can get used to them a bit. Once they’ve acclimated to the tank, you can then let them out into the tank. Make sure you keep the lights off to reduce the stress of all your fish. And remember, you’ll have a lot more success if the tank tank is heavily planted with plenty of hiding spots!

      Reply

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