When choosing tank mates for betta fish, you have to consider a lot of factors.
The betta, also known as Siamese fighting fish, prefers to have the whole tank to itself. Plus, betta fish are very aggressive, so you need to ensure any tank mates you add into the tank are docile and non-aggressive, otherwise, they’ll spar and fight.
Shrimp and bettas are one of the common pairs aquarists think of. There are different varieties of shrimps like cherry shrimps, amano shrimps, and ghost shrimps. Cherry shrimps are docile animals, so they won’t intrude on betta’s space, making them a great tank mate for the betta!
Adding cherry shrimp to your betta’s tank
Here’s the truth: there’s a high chance your betta might try to eat the cherry shrimp you add to its tank.
After all, betta fish are carnivorous fish who enjoy eating treats like brine shrimp and bloodworms. If you don’t create a proper tank environment, your betta might think you’re giving them a tasty treat rather than a friendly tank mate.
Here’s how you can ensure your betta fish stays away from your cherry shrimp so they can live together in harmony.
Get your tank ready
Invest in a big tank
Getting a big tank is non-negotiable if you want to keep cherry shrimp and betta fish together.
A large tank will help you keep the shrimp away from betta’s sight. Get at least a 10 gallon tank so that both your betta fish and cherry shrimp get enough space for themselves.
Bettas are tropical fish that prefer a heavily planted low-light tank. Use lots of live plants and java moss around the tank to imitate betta’s natural habitat. A densely covered tank will also prevent the betta from noticing the cherry shrimps, which is another good thing.
You should not keep any open spaces at the tank bottom as it makes the cherry shrimp more vulnerable in the betta eye. Cherry shrimp can use the hiding places at the tank bottom whenever it sees the betta fish nearing.
Include hiding places by making small caves, and live plants so that the shrimps can escape from the betta easily. Bettas also prefer hiding spaces for bubble nesting and eggs laying.
Use other aquarium decors like gravel substrate. Don’t keep very sharp objects in your tank which can rip your betta fins and harm your shrimp.
The next important thing for the tank is using an appropriate filter. Bettas prefer slow to moderate water currents; hence a sponge filter is the best option. If there are multiple cherry shrimps in the tank, you’ll need to add an air stone since shrimp need oxygenated water.
Betta fish need pH levels around between 6.8 and 7.5 to stay healthy and comfortable. As far as the water temperature is concerned, both species have similar requirements.
Betta fish need a water temperature between 75 to 80 degrees F, and cherry shrimp need between 77 to 81 degrees. So keeping the tank temperature between 78 to 80 will be ideal for the betta and shrimp.
Use a water heater to keep the water conditions stable. Frequent changes in the water parameters will stress out the betta leading to disease and infections.
Remove the betta fish
Bettas are very territorial, and they are less willing to share space. If you put the betta fish first, it may immediately become territorial and start attacking the cherry shrimp. If you put the cherry shrimp first and then add the betta, it won’t consider the cherry shrimp as an invader.
If you plan to add cherry shrimp to your betta tank, consider removing your betta and placing them into a smaller tank for a short period of time, and adding the shrimp into the tank while they’re out.
After the shrimp become acclimated, add your betta fish back in. That way, they won’t feel like the shrimp are imposing on their territory.
Feeding the betta and shrimp
Betta’s diet mainly consists of meat food which includes floating pellets, live food, and frozen food.
Shrimps eat whatever they see at the tank bottom, including algae, shells, and fish food. They make great tank cleaners that get rid of all tank dirt. But there isn’t always enough algae in the fish tank to feed a group of cherry shrimp.
Therefore, consider adding sinking pellets and algae wafers to the tank. Feeding time can be the same for both species. Cherry shrimp won’t try to snatch betta’s food, so feeding them at the same time isn’t an issue.
Two or four pellets a day are enough food for the betta fish, so don’t overfeed them. Ideally, you should feed the betta fish once or twice daily.
How many cherry shrimps to add in a betta tank
The number will vary based on the tank size. If you have a 10-gallon tank, you can add at least ten shrimps to the tank. If the lank size is smaller than that, you have to decrease the number of shrimps as well.
But always try to get a 10-gallon or bigger tank since a betta fish alone needs at least a 5-gallon tank.
Shrimps don’t need lots of care, but you must provide enough ground coverage for them to stay comfortable. Cherry shrimps are vulnerable creatures compared to aggressive betta, but the shrimps know how to keep themselves protected from such a scenario.
The cherry shrimp live hidden most of the time, so there are fewer chances of the betta fish catching them easily, making it better than other shrimp species.
Will betta fish eat the cherry shrimp?
As we have mentioned earlier as well, betta fish don’t like sharing tanks. Both the male betta fish and female betta fish are equally aggressive towards other species, so there are chances of them eating the shrimp.
Against the general assumption of males being more aggressive, females are more prone to attack the shrimps.
Other shrimp species that are excellent tank mates for betta fish
Apart from cherry shrimp, a few other shrimp species make good betta mates. The other two species of shrimp that you can keep with your betta are ghost shrimp and amano shrimp.
Ghost shrimp require the same water conditions as betta fish, so there shouldn’t be must hassle keeping them together. Ghost shrimp also grow up to one and a half inches, which is not too small to get eaten easily by the betta.
In a tank of ten to fifteen gallons, you can keep up to 20 ghost shrimps. But remove ghost shrimp babies soon after breeding since they can become easy prey to the betta fish.
This freshwater shrimp is the biggest shrimp of all the three varieties and grow up to two inches. Amano shrimps also live longer than other shrimp species. Ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp have a life expectancy of up to a year, but amano shrimp can live for two to three years.
The only issue you may face is that amano shrimp get pretty aggressive during the feeding time and may snatch betta fish’s food.
Cherry shrimp and bettas are better tank companions than other fish or other aquatic species. A few conditions you have to take care of are water quality, tank environment, and ensure each species is getting the right amount of food.
Following proper care will ensure both the species don’t consider each other as threats and maintain a peaceful tank environment!
Yes, betta will eat cherry shrimp if the shrimp don’t have enough places to hide, if the tank is too small, or if the betta is hungry.
Yes, betta will eat ghost shrimp if they aren’t living in adequate tank conditions. Make sure to give them a large enough tank and plenty of hiding spaces so the shrimp can escape the betta if needed.
Yes, betta will eat amano shrimp. To prevent this, keep them housed in a large enough tank and ensure your betta is fed enough so they don’t feel hungry between feedings.