Can Neon Tetras And Betta Fish Live Together?

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Neon tetras can live with betta fish in the same tank.

You wouldn’t expect these two species to co-exist in light of the aggression people associate with betta fish. Aquarists call them ‘Fighting Fish’ for a reason.

However, as the guide below will soon reveal, they can tolerate peaceful neighbors such as neon tetras if you maintain the appropriate conditions in their tank.

Can I Keep Neon Tetras And Betta Fish In The Same Tank?

A neon tetra’s ability to live with betta fish depends on the following factors:

  • Natural Behavior
  • Ideal Water Parameters
  • Ideal Water Conditions
  • Ideal Dietary Requirements
  • Tank Size Requirements

You can’t pair peaceful fish with aggressive neighbors. Aggressive fish will attack, bully, and possibly even eat their smaller, weaker, more peaceful counterparts.

Even if you purchase fish with gentle temperaments, the wrong parameters can lead to violence, particularly in environments with limited food.

Therefore, you should only pair species with similar temperaments, parameters, and dietary requirements.

That raises a question. How do betta fish and neon tetras compare to one another in these categories?

Also Read: 19 Great Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Neon Tetras vs. Betta Fish: Natural Behavior

Some newcomers expect fish to behave once you pair them with neighbors of the same size. After all, fish are opportunistic feeders.

They eat whatever fits in their mouths. As such, you don’t expect them to antagonize other species of the same or larger size.

But that is not always true. A fish’s behavior depends on its temperament. An aggressive fish won’t hesitate to bully larger neighbors.

This is why retailers encourage newcomers to pair fish with similar temperaments. Betta fish and neon tetras are tricky because bettas can become a menace in the wrong hands.

Neon Tetras: Natural Behavior

Neon tetras are not a concern. The creatures are schooling fish. In other words, they are peaceful and social. The fish welcome the presence of other species.

Yes, neon tetras are fin nippers. They may annoy neighbors with long, flowing fins. But people don’t associate them with unnecessary violence.

At the very least, you can trust them to leave the bettas alone.

Betta Fish: Natural Behavior

Betta fish are aggressive. They will ram, bite, nip, and wrestle each other. But that is to be expected.

Breeders in Thailand raise these creatures for the express purpose of pitting them against each other in fighting tournaments.

Why do you think retailers call them ‘Siamese Fighting Fish?’ But doesn’t that make them poor neighbors for neon tetras? Not necessarily.

While male bettas are violent, they typically lash out against other male bettas. Don’t expect trouble in an aquarium with one male betta fish and multiple neon tetras.

Female bettas are less of a hassle. They are not as aggressive as male bettas and can share an aquatic environment with other females.

Even when they fight, the violence fades once they establish a hierarchy.

Ideal Parameters For Neon Tetras And Betta Fish

Betta Fish76 to 82 (F)6.5 to 7.55 to 15 dGH
Neon Tetras72 to 76 (F)6.0 to 7.05 to 15 dGH

Neon Tetras: Ideal Parameters

Neon tetras are hardy fish capable of tolerating parameters higher or lower than the ideal. That includes temperatures above 80 degrees F and a pH below 6.0.

You can tweak the parameters to accommodate the bettas without harming the neon tetras.

Betta Fish: Ideal Parameters

Betta fish require similar parameters to the neon tetras.

The neon tetras can exist happily within a betta’s temperature (76 to 82 degrees F), pH (6.5 to 7.5), and hardness range (5 to 15dGH).

Neon Tetras And Betta Fish: Ideal Conditions

Betta FishNeon Tetras
NitrateLess than 40ppmLess than 20ppm
Tank Size20 gallonsMinimum 10 – 20 gallons

Neon Tetras: Ideal Water Conditions

Neon tetras live in relatively acidic environments in the wild because of the organic matter that decays in their water.

People rarely breed them in community aquariums because their eggs are small enough for other fish to eat.

Even though they can live in cooler water than their temperature range suggests, give them heaters to maintain the appropriate warmth and filters to remove waste.

Plants and decorations are vital to their physical and mental well-being in an aquatic space that includes betta fish, which have violent tendencies.

They need as much cover as you can give them.

Betta Fish: Ideal Water Conditions

Place a lid over their tank. Otherwise, the bettas may jump out.

You should also leave a few inches at the top. Don’t fill the tank to the brim. The betta has a labyrinth organ that extracts oxygen from the air.

This explains the betta’s ability to survive in environments with low oxygen content.

For the sake of the neon tetras, you should install filters and air stones to prevent oxygen deficiencies. Like the neon tetras, the bettas need plants and decorations.

They will appreciate the hiding spaces. Monitor the toxins by testing the water routinely and performing regular water changes.

Any tank that sustains neon tetras will accommodate the bettas. You don’t have to alter a neon tetra tank before adding betta fish.

Also Read: Can Neon Tetras And Guppies Live Together?

The Dietary Requirements Of Neon Tetras And Betta Fish

FoodBetta FishNeon TetraQuantitySchedule
Fish Pellets and FlakesYesYesSmall Pinch7 Days
Tubifex WormsYesYesSmall Pinch or Less2-3 Times Weekly
BloodwormsYesYesSmall Pinch or Less2-3 Times Weekly
Brine ShrimpYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
VegetablesNoYesSmall PinchTwice Daily
DaphniaYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
Mysis ShrimpYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
MaggotsYesYesFish can eat their weight in maggots2- 3 Times Weekly

Neon Tetras: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Neon tetras are omnivores. They can’t survive on a betta’s diet. You should give them a mixture of animal and plant matter.

That includes zucchini, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and lettuce. Feed them once or twice a day in quantities they can finish in five minutes or less.

Betta Fish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Betta fish are carnivores. But that doesn’t mean you should saturate their aquarium with bloodworms.

Experiment with a variety of meat-based food items. They will eat live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods.

Apply some caution with nutrient-rich items such as mysis shrimp. The bettas should eat them once or twice a month.

Otherwise, bloating and constipation will afflict them. It is worth noting that bettas can eat vegetables, but not as a primary meal. Vegetables have no nutritional value for bettas.

Ideal Tank Size For Keeping Neon Tetras And Betta Fish Together

You can keep one betta fish in 5 gallons. It isn’t ideal, but the creature can survive because bettas don’t mind living alone. Neon tetras, on the other hand, live in groups of six or more.

Therefore, you should aim for at least 20 gallons. This allows you to increase the number of neon tetras.

Neon tetras in large groups can tolerate an aggressive betta fish. Add the neon tetras first. This will enable them to secure their territory before the betta enters the picture.

Bettas are easier to maintain in a neon tetra aquarium if they grew up in a community tank with other creatures.

Newcomers should prioritize female bettas because they are less aggressive. You can raise multiple female bettas together. But with male bettas, you should only keep one.

Best Neon Tetras And Betta Fish Tank Mates

If you own a relatively large tank (of at least 20 gallons), you can probably mix other fish alongside your betta fish and neon tetras:

  • Tiger barbs
  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Cory Catfish
  • Ember Tetras
  • Platys
  • Mollies
  • Gouramis

Also Read: Can Neon Tetras And Gourami Fish Live Together?


If you are in a rush, here is a brief summary of what I discussed earlier:

  • Neon tetras and betta fish can coexist in the same tank if appropriate conditions are maintained.
  • Neon tetras have peaceful behavior and can tolerate the presence of betta fish, while bettas can be more aggressive, especially towards other male bettas.
  • Both neon tetras and betta fish require similar water parameters and conditions, including temperature, pH, filtration, and adequate hiding spaces.
  • Neon tetras are omnivores and should be fed a mix of animal and plant matter, while betta fish are carnivores and need a variety of meat-based foods.
  • A tank size of at least 20 gallons is recommended to accommodate neon tetras in a group and provide enough space for the betta fish. Female bettas are generally more compatible with tankmates than males.