Betta fish and guppies: are they a match?

Guppies and bettas are beautiful and colorful fish. However, they have different temperaments. Guppies are peaceful community fish, while bettas can be semi-aggressive and quite territorial. In this post, we will talk about the possibility of guppies and bettas being tankmates.

Can guppies live with bettas?

Yes, guppies can live with bettas. Guppies are native to South America and are found in rivers and lakes, whereas bettas are found in rice paddies and streams in South East Asia. Surprisingly, they share similar water parameters, but their dietary needs slightly differ from one another. So, almost no competition there. But it is recommended that you keep an eye on them to prevent an unforeseen betta fish attack.

Betta appearance

Bettas present a variety of colors and fin types. Males bettas come in vibrant colors than female bettas. The most common colors are green, red, orange, yellow, blue, turquoise, black, white, and multi-colored. Bettas come in different patterns too. Among the different patterns are solid, bi-color, marble, dragon, koi, and multicolor.

Since some bettas are hybrids, they can also present different types of tails. Common types of tails are veiltail, halfmoon, super Delta tail, rosetail, crowntail, plakat, halfmoon plakat, full moon, among others.

Guppy appearance

The average length of fully-grown guppies is two inches long. Female guppies are usually twice the size of male guppies. Males grow are about 1 ⅛ inches long, while females grow up to 2 ⅛ inches in length. Guppies can live up to two years.

Guppies come in a variety of colors and patterns. They can come in two or three tones, including black, blue, green, red, orange, yellow, purple, pink, and silver. Spots and stripes are also common and they are usually found on their body, fins, and tail.

These fish can be categorized according to tail type (i.e., long, flowing, short and flat), body, and eye color. Common types of guppy tails are veil tails, round tails, fantails, spire tails, flag tails, and round tails.  Male guppies are more colorful and slender than females. Interestingly, they can become pale in color when they are stressed.

Guppy and betta water parameters and tank setup

Guppies can adjust to water temperatures between 75 and 82 F, whereas bettas thrive at 78 F. They also share similar pH needs where the ideal pH for guppies is 7.0 to 7.2. Bettas need the water to be at pH 7.0.

Despite the fact that betta fish prefer soft water, they can adjust to hard water once acclimated to it. Soft water is unsuitable for guppies. Both fish are sensitive to ammonia levels, so you’ll need a filtering system and also to monitor the water quality regularly.

Guppies stay in the middle part of the water column, whereas betta usually stays in the upper of the aquarium. But they also go up and down the water column. So, plenty of space and hiding spots can part significantly reduce the chances of fights.

Live plants such as betta bulb, water sprite, Amazon swords, Guppy grass, Java moss, hornworts, and Java ferns provide plenty of hiding spots for both guppies and betta. Breaking the line of sight in the tank by using live plants can distract the betta from a guppy fish and consequently, avoid fights. Besides, betta also likes to hide between live plants. So, it is a win-win for both fish!

If you want to keep bettas and guppies together, you will need at least a 10-gallons (40 L) tank. you can add 4-5 guppies and a betta fish without problems. If you have a larger tank, you can add more guppies to it. But as I wrote before, you should add only a single betta fish.

Guppy and betta behavior

Guppies are calm and like to interact with other fish. They are fast, active group swimmers. Guppies like to explore their environment and chase one another. These fish are not known to be aggressive. However, they can bully and fight other fish to assert their dominance if the tank is small or during feeding time.

Bettas are territorial and semi-aggressive. They can attack if threatened. When bettas and guppies are together, there might be some problems depending on the sex of both fish.

When both betta and guppy are males you might have a problem as male guppies have vibrant colors and flowing tails. There is a great chance that your betta will feel threatened and fight with the guppy to claim its territory. It can even result in the death of your guppy.

Female guppies usually display muted tones than male ones. So, the chances of them being tankmate to male bettas are slightly higher unless you get a colorful one. Either way, caution is still advised. If you choose to keep a female guppy and a male betta together, try instead to have several guppies with one male betta fish reducing then the chances of an attack.

One might think that housing a female betta and a male guppy would be a good option as they are less aggressive than male bettas. However, this should be avoided. Male guppies can easily mistake female bettas for guppies and try to breed with them. This is most likely to cause your female betta to attack the male guppy.

On the other hand, combining female bettas and female guppies is the best combination you can possibly have in your tank. Female guppies are calm and less likely to bother female bettas. However, bettas can mistake a female guppy as one of their own. So, since they live in a sorority, female bettas can bully your guppy to establish hierarchy.

Fortunately, not all bettas are aggressive. Do not assume that you can house your guppies with any breed of betta fish, as they might not be compatible is compatible with your guppy fish.

Choose from less aggressive betta varieties, and your guppies will be better off. Halfmoon bettas and Delta bettas are not as aggressive as other bettas. They will not cause much trouble to guppies. Female bettas are generally more docile than males. So, choose a female betta if you wish to maintain harmony in the tank.

Guppies and bettas diet

Betta fish are carnivores. In their natural habitat, they normally eat insects, worms, and smaller fish. Hence, you must feed your fish with a meat-based diet to keep your betta healthy.

Betta fish need a rich diet to survive. You can feed them fish flakes, pellets, mosquito larvae, brine shrimps, bloodworms, and black worms. You can give them freeze-dried food or in natura. But make sure you know that these foods come from serious producers so there is no chance of food contamination.

On the other hand, guppies are omnivores. Technically, they can survive on betta food. However, a strictly protein-based diet is not good for them. They must also eat their veggies. You can feed them veggie pellets, flakes, blanched vegetables like zucchini and carrots, mosquito larvae, brine shrimps, bloodworms, and black worms.

Guppies can also eat their fry. So, when breeding guppies separate the fry until they are big enough to be allocated back in the tank. Besides, guppies can also eat betta fry, which will lead to your betta attacking your guppy. The other way around is also possible: bettas can eat guppy’s fry as they are small. Make sure you have a separate breeding tank and a plan for the fry.

How to avoid conflict when feeding your bettas and guppies?

The first thing to keep in mind is to get the feeding schedule right. It is recommended to feed your guppies first. The reason behind it is that betta will not be interested in the veggie pellets, blanched vegetables, or flakes. Once your guppies are full, spot feed your bettas.

You can spot feed your betta by directing it to a corner of the tank and making use of a pipette or a pincettes to mount feed your betta fish. This way, your betta fish will eat the special food, and your guppies will not eat your betta’s food.

Make sure to not overfeed your fish. Overfeeding can lead to your fish getting sick. Hence, do not feed them a lot, as both of them are gluttons. You can feed them small portions twice a day.

Conclusion

Guppies and betta fish can live in the same tank as long as some precautions are taken. They both have similar tank requirements. They also have similar diets. Since guppies are omnivores, they can also eat betta’s food. Therefore, it is advised that feeding is separate. Guppies should be fed first and then bettas can be spot fed.

Although guppies are laid-back, bettas are known to be semi-aggressive fish. So, the decisive factor to whether guppies and bettas can live in the same tank is your betta’s temperament. Regardless of your betta being male or female, if it has a good temperament then the chances of a peaceful coexistence increase.

Halfmoon and Delta bettas are breeds known to be less aggressive. Hence, they will be the best choice to keep with guppies. But keep in mind that male bettas might mistake male guppies as other bettas. Also, male guppies can mistake female bettas for female guppies. These specific cases can lead to bettas attacking guppies. A safer choice is to house female bettas with female guppies.

Additionally, both fishes need a big, heavily planted tank with loads of hiding spots to decrease the chances of a fight. You should also house them in a tank of at least 10-gallons in volume, usually having one betta to every 4 guppies. In case you want an even bigger tank, you should allocate an extra 5-gallons for every 3 guppies.

Guppies are known to eat their fry. They can also eat betta’s fry, which can lead to a fight. Breed both bettas and guppies in a separate tank and in the case of guppies, do not put small guppies back in the tank. They can also become a betta snack. Hence, have a plan for the fry.

When you are aware of what entails housing guppies and bettas, you can be more prepared for any casuality. Bettas and guppies can live together in peace, as long as they have enough space, separated feeding time, and the right betta breeds are chosen. Then you will have the chance to appreciate the beauty of both species in your tank.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have guppies and bettas sharing the same tank in harmony? Or are you thinking of housing guppies and bettas together? Tell us your story or leave a comment below. Feel free to ask questions about this topic or give us suggestions. It is always great to hear from you!

Reference

James, W. (2019). Betta fish: The simple guide to caring for your magical betta. N.A., 94 p.

Gore, N. T. (2013). Guppy care & breeding for beginners. N. A., 44 p.

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