Can Guppy Fish and Betta Fish Live Together?
I realize that most fish owners want to make their aquariums as colorful and vivid as possible. This includes getting as many fish as the tank can support from as many species as reasonably possible. But this comes with many problems along the way.
Today’s topic is whether guppies and bettas can live together in the same tank. The reason why this is a question in the first place is that bettas tend to be more aggressive and territorial than guppies. And, generally speaking, mixing any fish species can inevitably lead to confrontation, attacks, and even all-out wars.
Some species are more adaptable to the environment and more inclusive of other species, while others aren’t. Where does that leave us regarding guppies and bettas?
Can You Keep Guppies and Bettas in the Same Tank?
The answer is “yes, but.” And the “but” part is very important since understanding it can make or break your fish population, along with your entire experience as a fish owner. The key aspect to remember is that guppies are peaceful in nature, while bettas – not so much. They aren’t really aggressive like other fish species out there, but they’re not on their path to achieve Buddhist enlightenment either.
Male bettas, in particular, tend to become territorial and even grow aggressive near other aggressive fish species. This means that they do great when living with more peaceful creatures that don’t question their dominance. Like guppies.
This doesn’t mean that these two species will naturally cohabitate in peace without any effort on your part. You also need to put in some work to ensure a non-eventful environment in your aquarium over the years. This includes:
– Know Your Betta Fish
Point one – there are several breeds of betta fish, not just one. Generally speaking, betta fish rank as a semi-aggressive species with breeds that will vary in hostility. Two of these breeds are Delta bettas and Halfmoon bettas. These are generally more peaceful overall, allowing them to cohabitate with other peaceful fish species in the same environment.
These two breeds are perfect for your guppy population since they won’t pose an immediate threat to their existence. I recommend only looking for one of these breeds if you look to provide your guppies with trustworthy aquarium mates.
– Keep the Betta Population Under Control
There are several points to take from this section:
- Female bettas are generally less aggressive than male bettas
- Having multiple bettas can lead to increased tensions between them
- Having multiple bettas will increase the risk that your guppies will get hunted down
These points can only lead to several common-sense conclusions. One of these would be to prefer female bettas over males due to their naturally low aggressive behavior. You should also only keep as few bettas in one tank, preferably one or two at most. This will reduce the risk of multiple bettas organizing hunts against your prized guppies.
– Use Plants to Enrich your Aquarium’s Environment
Both bettas and guppies like to hide in the lush aquatic vegetation. This makes them feel safe and protected from potential predators lurking around, allowing them to relax and rest at the same time. I advise having several plants in your tank, including java moss, amazon swords, hornworts, guppy grass, or water sprite.
These will provide guppies with plenty of hiding spots to break the line of sight with the more ominous bettas.
– Focus on Smaller Betta Breeds
Like I’ve mentioned previously, not all betta breeds are created equal. Some are more aggressive than others, larger in size, or with a more well-developed hunting instinct. Out of all these specifics, the bettas’ size is probably the most underrated threat, despite being blatantly self-explanatory.
The larger the fish, the more potential it has to consume larger prey. And this equation doesn’t look good for your guppies. In short, you should look to get smaller breeds of bettas into your tank to minimize the risks of them attacking and devouring your guppies.
Your guppies may wrestle their way out of a matching-size predator, but they have low chances of survival against a heavy-weight-division specimen torpedoing their habitat. Just get a smaller betta, matching the size of your regular guppy, and the threat will be minimum.
– Consider Your Tank’s Size
The larger the tank and the lower the fish population, the higher the chances of survival for the cohabitants. A larger environment will allow your guppies to have more playground at their disposal to put the bettas to work. Even more aggressive bettas will calm down if they break line of sight with their prey, have regular food to tamper their desire to hunt, or deal with prey similar in size.
You should consider all these aspects when setting your tank, including the aquarium’s size. A 10-gallon tank will allow you to have around 5-7 guppies, one betta, and plenty of rich vegetation filling the environment. Achieving this balance is ideal for protecting your guppy population and allowing the diversity of more than one species of fish swimming around your aquarium.
Take Care of the Guppy Fry
Guppy fry need special protection in their first weeks of life. Due to their small size, protein-rich content, and incapability to defend themselves, everything can threaten their lives. Including their parents, since guppies tend to eat their offspring shortly after birth.
Generally speaking, 2-3 weeks old fry can handle their way in a guppy tank among the general guppy population. The situation will change, however, when you throw bettas into the mix. Even one betta is enough to bring down multiple guppy fry up to a month old. And by multiple, I mean multiple per day.
You can avoid some of these core issues by breeding the guppies in a separate tank. Keep your fry secluded from the main population to allow them to grow and strengthen, and then you can introduce them to the main tank.
Feeding & Diet Requirements
There is one core difference between guppies and bettas, feeding-wise. Guppies are omnivores, and they will consume both living food and plants. Bettas are exclusively carnivores and will only consume live food, like insects, blood worms, black worms, guppies, etc.
Just like guppies, however, they also benefit from food diversity, providing them with a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The problem arrives when attempting to feed two fish species sharing the same tank. The betta may come to feed on guppy food, which can sometimes lead to altercations. To prevent that, feed the guppies first with veggie pallets and flakes. The bettas will naturally avoid those.
Only after your guppies are full can you then feed the betta with specific live food. You can use a pipette to pour the food around your betta and minimize the chances of your guppies stealing it.
You should also strive to avoid overfeeding as it can cause both guppies and bettas a lot of health issues. A once-a-day meal should suffice in most cases.
The conclusion is that, yes, guppies and bettas can live together, given some specific conditions. These include limiting the number of bettas in the tank (preferably no more than one individual per tank), choosing a less aggressive and smaller breed, and feeding them separately.
This will allow for a more eclectic aquarium without risking your guppies’ lives in the process.