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A recent 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;

Q: Do Neon Tetras and Bettas make good tank mates? And is a 15 gallon tank big enough?

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

A: In general, Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) can make excellent Betta tank mates provided you have a few things in place. Luckily both Fish require very similar water conditions. Both Fish can thrive in soft/moderate with a pH Range between 6.0-7.5 and a temperature of about 75-80 °F.

Let’s get into a bit more detail.

Water Temperature:

The ideal water temperature for Betta Fish 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 degree Fahrenheit.

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

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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 Tetra and the Betta 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 Tetras And Bettas – Are They Even Compatible?

Neon Tetras Are Schooling Fish – Betta Fish 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.

Betta Fish, 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 fish will travel alone, keeping his distance from the quick-moving tetras.

What About Female Bettas

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

Male Bettas Have A Temper

Since it’s obvious that the Male Betta Fish have anger management issues, if you are unsure about keeping Neon Tetras with a Betta fish, try to find a Betta that has already lived with other Fish.

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

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

When it comes to tank size, you’ll need at least a 15 gallon tank to keep both Neon Tetras and Betta Fish 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 Fish would ideally want at least 5 gallons of their own to roam comfortably.

Hiding Places & Room To Swim

In the same tank, you’ll need to provide enough plants and hiding places for your Betta Fish, 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.

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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.

Betta fish 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 fish 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 tank companions for Betta fish 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.

Learn More About Neon Tetras and Betta Fish


Neon Tetras And Betta Fish - Can They Live Together