Betta Tank Mates for 5 Gallon Aquariums: A Comprehensive Guide

Estimated read time 9 min read

Choosing suitable tank mates for your betta fish in a 5-gallon aquarium can be challenging.

This guide aims to help you make informed decisions by providing comprehensive information on suitable species, tank requirements, and tips for maintaining a peaceful environment.

By keeping your betta fish’s needs in mind, you can create a thriving habitat for your aquatic pets.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Tank Mates 

When selecting tank mates for your betta fish, consider the following factors:

  1. Compatibility: Choose species compatible with bettas regarding temperament, size, and environmental needs.
  2. Tank size: Ensure your 5-gallon tank can accommodate the selected species without causing overcrowding.
  3. Water parameters: Maintain optimal water conditions for all species in the tank, such as temperature, pH, and water hardness.
  4. Diet: Ensure all species in the tank have compatible dietary requirements.

Suitable Tank Mates for Betta Fish in 5-Gallon Aquariums 

Here are some tank mates that can thrive with bettas in a 5-gallon aquarium:

Snails 

Nerite Snail on rock.

They are an excellent choice for a betta tank mate in a 5-gallon aquarium.

They have a low bioload, meaning they won’t contribute significantly to waste or water pollution. Some popular snail species for betta tanks include:

  • Nerite Snails
  • Mystery Snails
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Shrimp 

A molting cherry shrimp in an aquarium.
Molting-Shrimp

Shrimp are another suitable tank mate option for bettas in smaller tanks. They are peaceful, low maintenance, and help control algae growth.

Common shrimp species that can coexist with bettas include:

  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp

Discover the possibilities of keeping betta fish and shrimp together in our informative article, Betta Fish and Shrimp in the Same Tank: Pros and Cons. Learn about the compatibility of these species and the essential steps to create a harmonious environment. Click here to explore this unique combination!

Pygmy Corydoras 

Pygmy Corydoras are small, peaceful catfish that can coexist with bettas in a 5-gallon tank.

However, they prefer to live in small groups and are bottom dwellers, meaning they will occupy a different area of the tank than your betta.

It’s important to note that Pygmy Corydoras should be kept in groups of at least 4-6 individuals.

Here are five more suitable tank mates for betta fish in a 5-gallon aquarium.

Remember that space is limited, so it’s essential to avoid overcrowding and monitor the tank inhabitants closely.

African Dwarf Frogs 

African Dwarf Frog In Fish Tank
African Dwarf Frog In Fish Tank

African Dwarf Frogs are small, fully aquatic frogs that can coexist with bettas in a 5-gallon tank.

They are peaceful and spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank or hiding among plants.

However, be cautious when feeding, as African Dwarf Frogs have poor eyesight and may have difficulty competing for food with bettas.

Kuhli Loaches 

Pair of loaches in a fish tank
Pair of loaches in a fish tank

Kuhli Loaches are peaceful, eel-like bottom dwellers that can be suitable tank mates for bettas in a 5-gallon aquarium.

They prefer to be in small groups and are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night.

Provide hiding spots, such as caves or PVC pipes, for them to feel secure.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish
Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish, also known as “Otos” or “Dwarf Suckermouths,” are small, algae-eating catfish that can be suitable tank mates for bettas in a 5-gallon tank.

They are peaceful and can help control algae growth.

However, they should be kept in small groups for their well-being, so ensuring your tank is not overcrowded is crucial.

Endler’s Livebearers 

Endler’s Livebearers are small, colorful fish that can coexist with bettas in a 5-gallon tank.

They are active swimmers and require ample swimming space.

Keeping only male Endler’s Livebearers is essential to avoid overpopulation, as they breed rapidly.

Ember Tetras 

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon Amandae)
Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon Amandae)

Ember Tetras are tiny, schooling fish that can be suitable tank mates for bettas in a 5-gallon aquarium.

They are peaceful and have vibrant orange colors. These tetras should be kept in a small group of at least six individuals.

However, you must monitor the tank closely to avoid overcrowding.

Note: Remember, a 5-gallon aquarium has limited space, and adding too many tank mates may lead to stress and poor water quality. When introducing new tank mates, always observe your betta and other inhabitants closely to ensure compatibility and harmony in the tank.

Tank Mates To Avoid At All Costs!

Certainly! Here are three examples of fish that would not be suitable tank mates for betta fish and the reasons why:

Tiger Barbs 

Tiger Barb
Tiger Barb close to sexual maturity. Via Wikipedia

Tiger Barbs are not suitable tank mates for betta fish because they are notorious fin nippers.

Betta fish have long, flowing fins, making them easy targets for aggressive fish like Tiger Barbs.

Additionally, Tiger Barbs are schooling fish and must be in larger groups, which a 5-gallon tank cannot accommodate.

This combination could lead to increased aggression and stress for both species.

Gouramis 

Honey Gourami
Honey Gourami

Gouramis, particularly the larger species, are not ideal tank mates for betta fish due to their similar temperament and appearance.

Both bettas and gouramis are anabantids (labyrinth fish) and can be territorial, leading to clashes and aggressive behavior.

Additionally, gouramis typically require more space than a 5-gallon tank can provide, which could exacerbate territorial disputes and stress.

Cichlids 

Convict Cichlids
Convict Cichlids

Cichlids, such as African or South American cichlids, are generally not suitable tank mates for betta fish.

Cichlids are known for their territorial and aggressive behavior, which can lead to fights and injuries to the more delicate betta.

Moreover, most cichlids grow much larger than bettas and have different environmental requirements.

As a result, they often need larger tanks with specific water parameters, making them incompatible with betta fish in a 5-gallon aquarium.

Stocking Combinations For a 5-Gallon Betta Tank

Here are two stocking combinations for a 5-gallon aquarium with a betta fish as the centerpiece and two tank mate options.

Both combinations offer unique advantages, ensuring a prosperous and harmonious environment for all tank inhabitants.

Stocking Combination 1: Betta Fish, Nerite Snails, and Cherry Shrimp 

In this combination, the betta fish is accompanied by Nerite Snails and Cherry Shrimp as tank mates.

Unique advantages:

  • Low bioload: Nerite Snails and Cherry Shrimp have low bioloads, meaning they won’t contribute significantly to waste or water pollution. This helps maintain water quality in the small 5-gallon tank.
  • Algae control: Nerite Snails are excellent algae eaters, while Cherry Shrimp also help control algae growth. This natural cleanup crew will keep the tank clean and reduce the need for manual algae removal.
  • Minimal aggression risk: Nerite Snails and Cherry Shrimp are peaceful and do not threaten the betta fish. They are unlikely to provoke aggressive behavior from the betta, ensuring a more harmonious environment.

Stocking Combination 2: Betta Fish, African Dwarf Frogs, and Pygmy Corydoras 

In this combination, the betta fish shares the tank with African Dwarf Frogs and Pygmy Corydoras.

Unique advantages:

  • Different tank levels: African Dwarf Frogs and Pygmy Corydoras primarily occupy the bottom of the tank, while the betta fish swims at the middle and top stories. This distribution of tank inhabitants reduces the chances of territorial disputes and aggression.
  • Variety of species: This combination introduces a diverse range of aquatic creatures into the tank, creating a visually exciting and dynamic environment. It also provides an opportunity to observe unique behaviors and interactions between species.
  • Community-focused: Both African Dwarf Frogs and Pygmy Corydoras are social animals, which can lead to exciting interactions and a more engaging aquarium experience. Just be sure not to overcrowd the tank.

Monitor the tank closely and provide hiding spots, proper water parameters, and a balanced diet for all species to ensure a thriving, harmonious environment.

Creating a Harmonious Environment 

To maintain a peaceful environment in your 5-gallon betta tank, consider the following tips:

  1. Provide hiding spots Incorporate attractive betta fish tank ideas to create hiding spots and territories using plants, rocks, and decorations.
  2. Monitor water quality: Regularly test and maintain water parameters, such as the ideal betta fish tank temperature and water hardness.
  3. Clean the tank regularly: Learn how to clean a betta fish tank to prevent waste buildup and maintain water quality.
  4. Use dividers if necessary: In case of aggression or incompatibility, consider using betta fish tank dividers to separate aggressive fish from their tank mates.
  5. Monitor fish behavior: Monitor your betta and other tank inhabitants to ensure they are not exhibiting signs of stress or aggression. If you notice any issues, such as your betta fish not moving, take appropriate action to resolve the problem.
  6. Feed a balanced diet: Offer a varied diet to meet the nutritional needs of all tank inhabitants. Be aware of the specific dietary requirements of each species, and ensure your betta fish can eat the same tropical fish food as its tank mates.

Tank Setup and Maintenance Tips 

To ensure a healthy and harmonious environment for your betta and its tank mates, follow these tank setup and maintenance tips:

  1. Choose the right tank: Select a  5-gallon betta fish tank with adequate filtration and aeration.
  2. Add live plants: Incorporate live plants into the tank to provide natural hiding spots, oxygen, and filtration.
  3. Cycle the tank: Establish a nitrogen cycle before introducing your fish to create a stable environment.
  4. Perform regular water changes: Change approximately 25% of the water weekly to maintain water quality.
  5. Test water parameters: Use a reliable test kit to monitor water parameters, such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and adjust as needed.

Conclusion 

Choosing suitable tank mates for your betta fish in a 5-gallon aquarium can be a rewarding experience when done correctly.

By considering factors such as compatibility, tank size, and water parameters, you can create a thriving and harmonious environment for your aquatic pets.

Be sure to follow the tips and guidelines provided in this comprehensive guide to ensure the well-being of your betta and its tank mates.

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