The Challenge of Keeping Betta Fish with Goldfish 

Betta fish and goldfish are two species that are always flying off the shelves at pet stores.

But betta fish are famous for needing to swim solo in their own aquarium.

So, is there any way to raise a betta fish and a goldfish in the same tank?

Goldfish and betta fish are challenging to keep in one tank. They need different water temperatures and types of food. Furthermore, they both enjoy nipping fins, which means possible injury. By creating barriers in the tank and choosing your fish carefully, you avoid some of these problems.

Can Betta Fish and Goldfish Coexist Peacefully?

Betta Behavior

Peace is a dangerous word to use when discussing betta fish. (I say this lovingly.)

Betta fish are notoriously territorial. They take control of their own space and do not appreciate it when other fish encroach upon it!

When they feel their territory has been invaded, they might flare at the threat.

But some betta fish will be more aggressive.

You may see nipping, chasing, and other violent behavior from an especially angry betta.

Betta fish are also loved for their range of individual personalities, though.

You may be lucky enough to find one who doesn’t so much as flare and prefers to hide from other fish.

Goldfish Behavior

Goldfish are generally very social and sometimes exhibit schooling behavior.

This is why you will often find them swimming actively around the tank. They even interact with their own reflection.

They do very well with other fish, especially other social species to whom they relate.

Size is a very important factor for goldfish tank mates, though.

Goldfish eat those who are smaller than them. While betta fish do the same thing, this does not pose a severe threat to your goldfish.

It does threaten your betta if your goldfish is larger than them.

Finally, goldfish are omnivores, while betta fish are carnivores.

They do enjoy meaty protein foods sometimes. But they need supplements with different levels of protein. 

Next on Mythbusters: Betta and Goldfish

It takes a lot of compromises, but betta fish and goldfish can coexist.

Betta fish don’t like tank mates, to speak generally. Goldfish want to be social.

This is just the first of many compromises. Still, it is possible to keep the two fish together without either getting hurt.

You need to take proper care and make sure the tank is well suited to keep both fish safe from one another, though.

One common misconception we see is people believing betta fish must live in a solitary tank at all times.

This is not true.

Betta fish do well with other aquatic species if well introduced and cared for.

For example, they can live with certain varieties of shrimp and snails without issue.

But you need to have a solid understanding of betta fish in general. And you need to know your individual betta!

Preventing aggression starts with controlling your betta’s environment.

Is Betta Care Compatible with Goldfish Care?

The table below shows some key aspects of fish care for both betta fish and goldfish.

Looking at these requirements, we can see some significant differences. Yet many of these are not hard to overcome.

For example, get a 20-gallon tank or more significant to keep both fish comfortable.

Their preferred pH ranges overlap, so keep the tank’s pH around 7.

Some of these issues are more complicated, though.

Addressing Dietary Needs and Water Parameters

Betta fish have different nutritional needs compared with goldfish.

While your betta and goldfish will gladly eat brine shrimp and bloodworms, other foods will not please your betta.

For example, scalded peas would be rejected by a betta fish the second they hit the water. 

Feeding your fish separately will help immensely with their differing diets.

You also have to clean up any uneaten food as quickly as possible.

Accommodating the temperature preferences of both your fish is even trickier.

Betta fish need their water hot, between 78-80° degrees F (27° C). They can tolerate temperatures slightly outside of this range. But it is terrible for their health.

Goldfish are a bit more flexible but don’t stray too far from their preferred range.

Betta fish tanks need a heater to stay up to temperature, while goldfish owners often don’t use one.

This shines a light on just how different their needs are. The truth is, you won’t be able to optimize the temperature for both of them.


Goldfish need a powerful filter in their tank for two reasons:

  1. Resembles natural habitat
  2. Cleaning excess waste

On the other hand, betta fish have difficulty swimming in a strong current and often do best with a gentle sponge filter.

A compromise is to use a bubbling sponge filter. This will help keep the water oxygenated, but it isn’t ideal.

Your goldfish won’t be as happy with this as they would be with a strong filter.

Furthermore, sponge filters don’t cycle the tank in the same way as more powerful filters are recommended for goldfish.

Goldfish produce copious amounts of waste, which is why they are considered “dirty fish.” 

You’ll need frequent partial water changes to keep your tank clean.

Ammonia spikes are extremely dangerous to betta fish and may become deadly before long.

Best Tank Set-Up for a Betta and a Goldfish

To make sure your fish are both comfortable, give them lots of space. The tank you use must be at least 20 gallons in size.

With extra space available, you have room to plant the tank densely. This is crucial to helping your fish live in harmony.

The more hiding places they both have, the better.

The less they see each other, the less likely they are to show aggressive behavior.

This is especially true of a territorial betta fish!

Choose your filter wisely. Your betta needs slow-moving waters to swim, but your goldfish produces lots of waste.

To oxygenate the water, don’t be afraid to add a separate aerator to the aquarium.

To meet the dietary requirements of both your pets, feed a combination of live, frozen, and dry foods.

Commercial goldfish foods often do not have enough marine protein for betta splendens.

Conversely, betta fish foods do not contain plant matter or vegetables, which your goldfish enjoys.

Feed a combination of all these foods, and get your fish to eat in separate areas if possible.

Perform consistent, frequent partial water changes.

Test the water often and keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn’t fluctuate much.

Is It Safe to Keep Betta Fish with Goldfish?

One of the most notable reasons betta fish are often kept alone is temperament.

Their territorial nature is often a recipe for injury to their tank mates unless your betta is an especially calm individual.

On the flip side, goldfish may eat a betta fish that is significantly smaller than they are.

To avoid either of these issues, we have two tips:

  1. Choose your fish carefully
  2. Provide tons of visual barriers

If you don’t already have both fish you want to keep in one tank, the solution starts before you buy them.

Betta fish tend to have distinctive personalities.

Look for a betta in the pet store who flares very little and doesn’t rush at passersby or other fish in their eye line.

When you pick a goldfish, ask questions about how big it will get and opt for a smaller one.

Look for signs of a calmer fish here too.

These precautions help prevent nipping, eating, and other aggression and fear in your fish.

Keeping a densely planted tank with caves and other hiding places is also vital!

Visual barriers stop your fish from constantly feeling threatened or annoyed.

If you notice your betta flaring at your goldfish a lot, rearrange some decor. This makes a huge difference.

How to Introduce a Goldfish to Your Betta

Betta fish feel immense stress when a new fish is plopped into their environment with no warning.

The lack of a perfect environment does not help this. Cooler waters than they like cause stress and may also dull bright colors in your betta.

Your goldfish is more likely to feel stressed if your betta is. This is partly because your betta may act aggressively toward them.

The most crucial step in introducing your betta to your goldfish is letting them see each other.

You might use a floating breeding box or clear tank divider for this.

This allows you to observe how your fish handle living near one another.

Each of your fish may show signs of stress or aggression toward each other.

When extra hiding spots and decor don’t help, this means your fish are not safe together.

Is It Worth Raising a Betta with a Goldfish?

You risk dangerous ammonia build-up, temperature shock, and related health issues in both fish when you keep them in the same tank.

In truth, betta fish and goldfish make bad tank mates, as appealing as the initial idea sounds.

Even in a larger tank with bushy plants and frequent water changes, neither of your fish can live their best life.

It is possible to keep them together without fighting or injury. But this is difficult and often unnecessary.

For more tank mates for betta fish (good and bad like this one), check out our article at the link.

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Jacinta was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont where they worked extensively with cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and other animals. They have a background in writing both creatively and professionally.

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