As I started my female betta fish tank, I was warned by others that females do not get along with shrimp. “Don’t put shrimp in her tank,” the warnings continued, “or she’ll attack them.” Over the years, I gained some experience in keeping both species together. In fact, if doing it right, the process can be pretty straightforward.
Female bettas can live with most shrimp, including Cherry, Ghost, and Amano shrimp. These are docile species that share similar water requirements to bettas. In order to keep a peaceful environment, it is best to introduce five female bettas in a tank of at least 20 gallons.
As we move forward, I will take you step-by-step on how to set up a tank and contain your bettas in a peaceful environment with shrimp. I will also show you what shrimp are considered aggressive and should be avoided.
Female Bettas And Shrimp: Can They Live Together?
Betta fish are a source of concern for anyone that wants to add shrimp to the aquarium because they are highly territorial. There’s a reason why people call them fighting fish. They are more than capable of fighting to the death in a tank.
But female bettas are not as violent as their male counterparts. They have an aggressive streak, although you will have an easier time housing them with shrimp than you would male bettas.
It should be noted that female bettas are smaller than male bettas. In an aquarium, size matters. Larger creatures tend to eat their smaller tankmates. Therefore, the smaller the size difference, the smaller the chances of one species eating another.
Ultimately, the relationship between the female bettas and their shrimp neighbors will depend on two primary factors:
1. The Female Bettas’ Temperament
Fish are like people. They have different personalities. Technically speaking, female bettas can live with shrimp. However, if you have a particularly aggressive female betta, it will keep attacking and eating your shrimp until they are all gone.
Some fish can be trained to behave. For instance, by placing them in a breeding tank inside the main aquarium where they can see the shrimp but cannot attack them, you can force violent bettas to grow accustomed to their shrimp tankmates.
But some bettas cannot be changed. Once they get a taste of your shrimp, you cannot stop them from attacking and eating the creatures.
The only way to determine whether or not your female bettas will behave is to observe them. Add the shrimp and see how the bettas react. If the bettas are continuously aggressive, you should consider removing them.
2. Your Aquarium Conditions
Even though female bettas have an aggressive streak, they are more likely to behave in a clean tank with the right conditions. The wrong tank conditions induce stress in bettas, triggering their violent tendencies. This may also drive them to attack their neighbors.
Interestingly enough, some aquarists want their bettas to eat the shrimp in their tank. For instance, cherry shrimp breed so quickly that sometimes, aquarists are forced to sell the excess shrimp back to their local fish store.
But if you have female bettas, you can use your excess stock of cherry shrimp to keep them fed. That also applies to other types of fish, cichlids in particular.
What Shrimp Can Live With Female Bettas?
If you want to experiment with female bettas and shrimp, but you don’t know which shrimp species to select, consider the following:
1. Ghost Shrimp
Ghost shrimp and bettas can live peacefully with one another, especially if the bettas are female. The species have similar temperature and pH requirements, which tells you that they can inhabit the same water.
Ghost shrimp are not fussy. They tend to mind their own business. They do not have a reputation for pestering fish. Admittedly, they breed very rapidly. But that isn’t a problem because the female bettas will most likely eat the ghost shrimp fry.
Ghost shrimp and bettas can coexist because their sizes are similar. Ghost shrimp are roughly 1.5 inches. Female bettas, on the other hand, have an average size of 2 inches. Therefore, ghost shrimp are not obvious prey for female bettas.
2. Cherry Shrimp
Cherry shrimp and female bettas have similar water requirements, which means they can survive and thrive in the same tank. Cherry shrimp are also peaceful, so they do not pose a threat to bettas. Additionally, because they are scavengers, ghost shrimp are less likely to with bettas over food.
The fact that cherry shrimp have an average size of 1.5 inches means that a female betta is less likely to confuse them for food. But the same cannot be said about cherry shrimp fry, which are pretty tiny and can be quickly eaten by the female betta fish.
3. Amano Shrimp
Amano shrimp have nothing to fear from female bettas. A female betta can still kill an Amano shrimp. But the creatures can grow to a size of 2 inches or more, which means that they cannot fit in a female betta’s mouth.
This won’t matter if your female betta is particularly aggressive. But Amano shrimp are less of a concern than other types of shrimp. Like most shrimp, they tend to mind their own business.
4. Crystal Red Shrimp
Crystal red shrimp are not as large as Amano, Cherry, or Ghost shrimp. The adults have an average size of 1 to 1.5 inches. But the size difference is not so significant that the female bettas will automatically confuse them for food.
Again, the size won’t matter if your female bettas are especially aggressive. But for the most part, crystal red shrimp can coexist with ordinary female bettas.
5. Bamboo Shrimp
Bamboo shrimp can live in an aquarium filled with female bettas. They have an average size of 2 to 3 inches. In other words, on occasion, they are larger than female bettas.
Female bettas, on the other hand, are two inches or smaller. If you can create an environment in the aquarium that suits both creatures, they will coexist peacefully.
What Shrimp Can’t Live with Female Bettas?
You cannot keep female bettas with any random shrimp you encounter in a fish store. Some shrimp have attributes that make them a poor match for female bettas. You have to keep two primary factors in mind:
1. Naturally Aggressive Shrimp
As with female bettas, the temperament of the shrimp species you want to add to the aquarium matters. Most shrimp can coexist with female bettas because they are peaceful. However, believe it or not, some shrimp have aggressive tendencies.
The most prominent example is the Indian Whisker shrimp. Whisker shrimp grow to a size of 2 inches. They are so violent that they are more than capable of attacking and killing fish, even if those fish are larger. You shouldn’t add Indian Whisker shrimp to a tank filled with female bettas.
2. Shrimp That Are Too Small
Fish will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. This is why crystal red shrimp are so tricky. Some of them grow to a size of just 0.5 inches, which means that female bettas are going to confuse them for food.
This is also the reason why dwarf shrimp make poor tankmates for female bettas. Their size typically ranges from 0.5 to 1.5 inches. They can fit in a betta’s mouth, and that is a bad thing.
You have to pay close attention to the size. Species like the Bee Shrimp (1 inch), Red Rili Shrimp (1 inch), Pinto Shrimp (0.75 inches), and Blue Bolt Shrimp (1 inch) are more likely to get eaten.
Do Female Bettas Eat Shrimp Eggs?
Female bettas can eat shrimp eggs. Like most fish, they eat whatever fits in their mouths, including shrimp eggs and fry. However, bettas are not likely to eat rotten eggs that are not viable since they do not serve an additional nutritional value.
To prevent bettas from eating shrimp eggs, I suggest that you keep them in a separate tank. You can use an aquarium that is similar to the one in which you keep female bettas. It should have the same temperature and pH range.
As for filtration, you need to reduce filtration in the shrimp tank because shrimp do not like strong water currents. Bettas like current as well, but since they are larger creatures, a strong current isn’t as harmful to them as it is to shrimp.
How To Successfully Grow Female Bettas with Shrimp?
Because female bettas have aggressive tendencies, you should take the following steps to reduce the chances of the female bettas attacking their shrimp neighbors:
1. Get The Largest Tank Possible
I highly suggest that you get a large tank. A small tank will frustrate the female bettas, encouraging them to attack their smaller, weaker tankmates. A large tank will prevent the female bettas and shrimp from continuously running into one another.
Start with 20 gallons. The more bettas and shrimp you add, the more space you need. I’ve dedicated an entire article to explain how many bettas should be kept together, depending on your tank’s size. I also distinguished between male and female betta fish, which have different requirements.
Female bettas are not as territorial as male bettas. However, they are still territorial to an extent. Please do not put them in a position where they must fight for the little space in a small aquarium.
What I eventually chose was the Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit (link to Amazon). I love that kit because it comes with everything you need, including LED lighting and decorations. I also reviewed it here.
2. Fill Your Tank With Plants
A tank with only female bettas requires plants and decorations. The presence of hiding places relieves stress in bettas. Those hiding places are even more important in a tank with shrimp.
Because they are vulnerable, the shrimp can use the hiding places to escape the attention of violent female bettas. A shrimp can survive in a tank with aggressive fish if it has places to hide.
3. Pick The Right Number Of Female Bettas
You cannot keep male bettas with one another. They will fight to the death. Luckily, female bettas do not have this problem. You can keep them in groups. For the best results, you should keep them in groups of five or more.
A large group will dilute the aggression among the female bettas. If your female bettas have started attacking their shrimp neighbors, you can control their aggression by adding more bettas, but only if you have the space.
For your convenience, here is an article where I discussed whether female bettas could live peacefully together. Generally, the answer is yes. However, I made sure to list some useful tricks to prevent unnecessary confrontations.
4. Feed Your Bettas Properly
Starving the female bettas will force them to eat the shrimp. Shrimp are scavengers. They can survive on the algae and leftovers in an aquarium, at least for a little while. Yet, bettas do not have this advantage.
That is why I recommend maintaining a regular feeding schedule. Otherwise, if the bettas conclude that they cannot rely on you to feed them, they will turn their attention to the shrimp.
It is best to feed betta fish two to four pellets, once or twice a day. But if you’re keeping more than one betta, you’ll need more food. Merely multiply the number of pellets by the number of female bettas.
5. Eliminate Preexisting Territories
Many aquarists will quell the violent tendencies in territorial fish by removing them from a tank, rearranging the environment in the tank, and then putting the fish back.
You can do something similar with female bettas. Another option is to add the shrimp first. If you add the female bettas first, they may claim the entire tank as their territory.
6. Adjust The Water Conditions
Shrimp are generally sturdier than bettas, which is why you should adjust the water requirements to the female bettas. As a rule of thumb, these are the water parameters you should aim for:
- Temperature: 76°-85° F
- pH: 6.8-7.5
- Ammonia and Nitrites: 0 ppm
- Nitrates: <20 ppm
- GH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)
- KH: 3-5 dKH (53.6- 89.4 ppm)
To measure the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, I use the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT (link to Amazon). This is my favorite since it is highly accurate and lasts for hundreds of measures. You can’t go wrong with it.
To monitor the GH and KH, I use this API TEST KIT (link to Amazon). It is pretty cheap and easy to use. I especially recommend using it when conducting a water change. Tap water tends to be too hard in some areas.
If you found this article helpful, these may also interest you:
- What Fish Can Live With Ghost Shrimp? (With 5 Examples)
- Cherry Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp: Can They Live Together?
- Do Bettas Prefer Long Or Tall Tanks? (With Recommendations)
- Why Is My Betta Gasping For Air? (With 4 Practical Solutions)
- Is My Betta Fish Dying? (Typical Signs & Solutions)
This guide has taken you through the entire process of setting up a shrimp tank with female bettas. It is obvious that they are not the best tankmates. Female bettas are territorial creatures. Shrimp are not.
That said, there are ways to reduce the chances of aggressive female bettas attacking their shrimp neighbors.
A large tank with plants, hiding spaces for the shrimp, and regular feeding is enough to keep your female bettas happy even if they have to share their home with shrimp. The key lies in controlling your female bettas’ aggression.