Can Neon Tetra And Betta Fish Be Tank Mates? (A Guide To Keeping Them Together)

Estimated read time 7 min read

A reader of mine has a 15-gallon tank with about 8 Neon tetras in it and a few other small bottom feeders.

Recently their daughter has decided they want a beautiful red Betta Fish, so they sent me the following question;

Can Neon Tetras Live With Bettas? And is 15 gallons big enough?

So let’s answer those crucial questions right away before we get into the rest of the article.

The Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) and Bettas live and thrive in similar water conditions, soft/moderate with a pH range between 6.0-7.5 and a temperature of about 75-80 °F. The Neon Tetra is a peaceful fish often found in the mid-bottom tank area keeping away from the top dwelling Betta Fish making them excellent tank mates.

Let’s get into a bit more detail.


Neon Tetra and Betta Water parameters

Fish Tank Water Temperature:

The ideal water temperature for a Betta is between 78° and 80° F (25.5° to 26.5° C). To keep your Fish healthy, the temperature should never go below 74° F (23° C) or above 84° F (29° C).

Neon Tetras prefer something in the range of 69 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ideally, if you were keeping Bettas and Neon’s in the same tank the ideal temperature for both Fish would be 78° and 80° F

PH Range:

The next thing to consider is the pH level in your tank.

Bettas prefer a neutral pH with an ideal range between 6.5 and 7.5. and Neon’s can live happily with a pH range of 5 to 7.5.

The ideal range for the Neon Tetras and Betta fish would likely be between 6.5 and 7.5.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the discussion in more detail.

Neon’s And Bettas – Are They Even Compatible?

Neon Tetras Are Schooling Fish – Bettas Are Not

So what does this mean?

Fish that school like to swim together in a coordinated effort and a group Neon’s crave being in a school, and their beauty is in their schooling.

The Betta, on the other hand, prefer to be left alone in their fortress of solitude.

In the same tank, your Neons will school, and your Betta will travel alone, keeping his distance from the quick-moving tetras.

What About Female Bettas

A Female Betta will do just fine with Neon’s, and while they don’t school, you can keep more than one female in the same tank, which is known as a sorority.

Male Betta Fish Have A Temper

Since it’s obvious that the male Betta is known for fin nipping and has major anger management issues! If you are unsure about keeping Neon Tetras with a Betta, try to add a Betta that has already lived with other Fish.

This might make the transition to your community tank a little easier.

You can also add lots of hiding places or live plants so your Betta has time to cool down if his temper gets the best of him.

What Size Tank Is Best If You Plan On Keeping Neon Tetras With A Betta?

When it comes to tank size, get a tank ready that is at least a 15 gallon tank but 20 Gallons would be best to keep both Neon Tetras and Betta happy together for a few reasons.

First, as we mentioned above, Neon Tetras like to school, and you’ll want at least 6-8 of them so you would need 10 gallons just for them.

You’re Betta would ideally want at least 5 gallons of their own to roam comfortably.

Here’s what we think about tank size;

20 gallon: Great size for these fish to live together, Neon tetras need room for swimming around and Bettas need their space.

15 Gallon Tank: This is likely the smallest tank size I would recommend for these fish to live together.

10 Gallon Tank: Not a great choice.

5 Gallon Tank – A small tank like this is not recommended at all for these fish and they will not get along and possibly kill each other.

Let’s get into a few more tank requirements.

Places To Hide & Room To Swim

In the same tank, you’ll need to provide enough plants, decor, and plenty of hiding spots for your Betta, but you’ll also need some room to swim for your Neon Tetras to swim back and forth.

A 15 gallon tank or bigger will allow you enough room to provide what both Fish need.

The Tank Set-Up:

Your Neon tetras love to live in relatively darker waters similar to their natural habitat in the Amazon. Try not to make the aquarium light too bright for them.

Bettas luckily also like darker waters similar to their natural environment, the marshes, rice paddies and streams, and Southeast Asia, which are filled with vegetation and places to hide.

A dark water aquarium or an Amazonian Biotope aquarium would likely work for both of these Fish.

Diet – Can Neon Tetras Eat Betta Food?

The Neon Tetra is are an omnivorous fish that is not fussy about what they eat. So you can expect they will eat your Bettas food. Your Neon Tetras will be happy, whether you are feeding them high-quality pellets, flakes, frozen food, or live food.

Bettas are carnivorous and very picky, they require a very protein-rich diet, with variety as well as their staple pellets. Here are a few things they love to eat;

  • Blood Worm
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Tubifex

Your Neons will have no issue eating some of your Betta’s live food’s listed above and will more than benefit from regular protein in their diet.

So Are Neon Tetras Good With Bettas?

While Bettas are generally solitary and can become aggressive around other Fish, they can coexist peacefully with Neon Tetras in a community tank.

When deciding to introduce companions into your Betta’s life, first, make sure that your tank follows the fundamentals of the ideal Betta tank outlined here.

  • Your tank should be at least 15 gallons,
  • Have plenty of vegetation and places to hide.
  • Avoid Fish that are brightly colored have long, flowy fins, or that have a reputation for nibbling on the fins of other Fish.
  • Two male Bettas should never be put in the same tank together.

Lastly, if you’re looking for more options, some of the best Betta tank mates aren’t even fish. Freshwater snails and ghost shrimp, for example, won’t raise the ire of your Betta, and they’ll also do double duty by keeping the tank clean.

Check out this video to see more fish that can live with bettas. You’ll see ideas like the neon tetra as well as other tank mates and schooling like the ember tetras.


Can you keep neon tetras with betta fish?

Neon Tetras and Bettas can be kept together provided the tank is large enough and plenty of hiding places are available along with lots of room for your tetras to swim and school.

Can betta fish kill neon tetras?

Betta fish can kill Neon Tetras, however, it isn’t all that common. The neon tetras are far too fast for the Betta fish to catch them. Injured or sick Neons could fall victim, however.

What other kinds of fish can live with a betta?

The Betta fish can live with many other fish species. For a full guide check out our Betta fish tanks mates guide. Or, watch our video below.

How many neon tetras can you put in a 5-gallon tank with a betta?

You should not keep neon tetras with a betta fish in a 5 gallon tank. There isn’t enough room for the fish to live peacefully.

How many neon tetras can you put in a 10-gallon tank with a betta?

You should not keep neon tetras with a betta fish in a 10 gallon tank. There isn’t enough room for the fish to live peacefully.

Learn More About Neon Tetras and Bettas

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