In this post, we will talk about betta fish and shrimp whether they can live together, what are the necessary arrangements, and the best options for tank mates.
Can betta fish live with shrimps?
Yes, they can! Oftentimes, bettas and shrimp can peacefully share the same tank.
This mostly depends on the temperament of your betta and the tank parameters.
Betta fish overview
Betta fish (Betta splendens), is native to Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Their natural habitats comprise rice paddies, canals and floodways, and marshes. Betta fish are extremely territorial where males can attack each other if sharing the same tank.
Adult fighting fish grow to a length of 2.4 to 3.1 inches (6 to 8 cm). In nature, B. splendens are either green, brown, or grey with shorter fins. However, they have been selectively bred to enhance features such as colors and types of fins. They can live up to 5 years. However, they can be found in beautiful shades of yellow, red, turquoise, marble, copper, and even multicolor.
Overview of shrimp
Shrimp are characterized by a semi-transparent body flattened from side to side and a flexible abdomen terminating in a fanlike tail. The appendages are modified for swimming, and the antennae are long and whiplike. Shrimp occur in all oceans—in shallow and deep water—and in freshwater lakes and streams.
Betta fish diet
Fighting fish are carnivorous, feeding on zooplankton, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, shrimp, and raw fish pellets or fish flakes. Hence, they need high-quality protein for their diet. They are prone to overfeeding. This can lead to health issues such as bladder disease, constipation, obesity, not to mention poor quality of water. A good rule of thumb is to feed them once a day with a certain amount of food that they manage to eat within 3 to 5 minutes. It is best to keep your betta well fed so they don’t see shrimps as food.
Shrimps are scavengers. So, if your betta is properly fed your shrimps are fine. However, shrimps also have their own nutritional requirements. Hence, make sure your shrimp are getting a mixture of meat and plants.
The perfect tank arrangements for shrimps and bettas
The right tank arrangements are vital to keeping your shrimp alive and healthy. It will also increase the chances of your betta and shrimp coexisting peacefully. Initially, your tank must have a lot of hiding spots and be heavily planted.
Silk plants can also give both your betta and shrimp lots of places to hide in. But real plants can serve as food to your shrimp when they reach the substrate. They are also very keen on moss.
Another thing to keep in mind is to add other types of hiding spots as well. Ornaments, caves, wood logs are great alternatives. Just remember not to add anything that is hard or sharp as this can damage your betta’s fins.
The minimum volume to keep your betta and shrimps should be about 10 gallons (approx. 38 L), keeping in mind that the size of a tank must increase if female bettas are living in a sorority as well as with other species. The bigger the tank the lower the chances of your betta attacking your shrimps.
Betta fish are used to calm waters so, flow is not a must. On the other hand, a filter is necessary to keep the water clean. These fish thrive in temperatures ranging from 75 to 80 F (23.8 to 26.7 °C). The ideal pH should be between 6 to 8. The good news is that most shrimps share similar water parameters which makes it easier for them to be tank mates.
The 3 best shrimps to live with your betta
Now that you know that betta fish and shrimps can be tank mates, we must choose the best option to go with our betta. These are good species of shrimp that can share the same aquarium as your betta:
- Ghost shrimp;
- Cherry shrimp;
- Amano shrimp;
Ghost shrimps are easy to care for and very low profile. They are great at hiding from predators, so you don’t have to worry about them getting eaten, despite their small size of 1.5 inches (3.81 cm).
An additional thing that makes them an excellent tank mate to bettas is their similar tank setup. The water must be at a pH between 7.0 to 8.0 and a temperature between 72 to 82 F (22.2 to 27.8 ºC). They can also help to keep your tank clean as they also eat some algae built up from your tank as well as leftover food.
However, you must be attentive to their breeding. Ghost shrimps can breed quite easily. So, when adding ghost shrimp to your tank keep the number of shrimps between 2 and 4. Also, have a plan for the fry in case you don’t want them.
Ghost shrimps can live for up to a year and a half, especially when they have a lot of hiding spots for them in the tank. Their minimum tank requirement would be a 10-gallon tank or a larger one containing two or more ghost shrimps.
Cherry shrimps are smaller than ghost shrimps. The females measure about 1 inch, while males can be much smaller. This can be tricky since your betta will see them as a snack.
Bettas can chase them and only the shrimplets that are able to find a good hiding spot will survive. The same can happen with adult cherry shrimps. Depending on the temperament of your betta, they can coexist just fine, or in the worst-case scenario, your shrimp will be killed in no time.
Most tanks have only female shrimps given their bright red coloring because male cherry shrimp are bland compared to them. But the fact that tanks are composed of mostly female cherry shrimps does not mean that you won’t get any baby shrimps in your tank. They are usually carrying eggs with them.
Cherry shrimp need a pH between 6.5 and 8.0 and a water temperature of 57 to 84 F (13.9 to 28.9 ºC). These shrimps can fit a smaller tank depending on the number of shrimps you decide to put in your tank. A 5-gallon tank can easily accommodate 10 cherry shrimps together with your betta.
Their tank should be heavily planted with a gravel substrate. Cherry shrimps are great tank cleaners, eating the algae in your tank. Having said that, they also need a good diet composed of blanched vegetables, specific shrimp food, and algae tablets.
If you don’t want to have your cherry shrimps becoming a snack to your betta, make sure your fish is well fed and that you have lots of hiding spots for them. Only place them together if your betta has a good temperament!
Amano shrimp are a bit bigger, growing over 2 inches in length. They are normally grey with dots and stripes on their sides. These shrimps can live up to 2 to 3 years.
They are very calm but can get a bit aggressive towards each other when it comes to food. This could stress your betta, so be attentive to this situation. Amano shrimp also eat algae but they should also be fed sinking pellets and meat that will sink to the bottom.
Amano shrimps water parameters are similar to bettas. They need a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and a water temperature between 70 to 80 F (21.1 to 26.7 ºC). Their tank should be as planted as possible since they shed monthly and can use the extra protection to hide. Amano shrimp must be in a tank with at least 10 gallons volume. You can put 1 to 2 shrimps per 2 gallons.
How about other shrimps?
Well, there are other shrimps that could live with betta fish. However, you might pay close attention to their tank requirements as well as their size. Dwarf shrimps are easy targets for bettas. Some other shrimps are:
- Crystal Red Shrimp;
- River Shrimp.
We will also comment on Bamboo shrimp and why they might not be the best tank mate to bettas.
Crystal Red Shrimp
The Crystal red shrimp display similar conditions as cherry shrimps. As a dwarf shrimp species, their small size can make them a target to a betta. Hence, they will only manage to coexist peacefully if the layout of your tank presents various hiding spots to your shrimps, are big enough for both species, and most importantly if your betta has a calm behavior.
Bamboo shrimp could be a great match to a betta shrimp if not for their different living requirements. They are bigger than other species and bettas don’t really bother them. Although the bamboo shrimp and the betta fish share an overlapping temperature range and possibly a similar pH range, bamboo shrimp prefers a strong flow in the aquarium so they can have easier access to the food it needs. Unlike bettas, which need a very low flow.
River shrimp are a good option as a betta fish tank mate. But firstly, they will have to take care of letting them adjust to the betta tank conditions. This species may be found on the Atlantic coast of North America, and further westward. They can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm).
Number of shrimps to share a tank with a betta
In the table below, you can find an estimative of the number of each species of shrimp that could live with a betta fish, according to the volume of the tank.
|Species||Number of specimens per volume of the tank|
Bettas are known to have an aggressive temperament. Hence, the first thing to do is to make sure that your betta has a calm temperament. Secondly, make sure you choose shrimp species that are not tiny and will not be seen as food for betta when they are sharing the same tank. So, make sure your betta is properly fed and that your tank is large, heavily planted, and has plenty of hiding spots for your shrimps.
Good tankmates to bettas are Ghost shrimp, Amano shrimp, and Cherry shrimp. Crystal shrimps and River shrimps can also work. Beware of shrimp reproduction and have a plan for the shrimplets. An overcrowded tank can really distress your betta and it can consequently, attack your shrimps.
This post talked about whether bettas and shrimp can live together. If you have any questions, please leave us a message. We will love to hear from you.
Hargreaves, V. (2007). The Complete Book of the Freshwater Aquarium: A Comprehensive Reference Guide to More Than 600 Freshwater Fish and Plants. Thunder Bay Press. 304 p.
Vin, S. (2020). Freshwater aquarium shrimps: Discover the complete guides on everything you need to know about freshwater aquarium shrimps. Independently published, 36 p.