The Siamese fighting fish sometimes gets a bad rap for being overly aggressive with other fish species.
Honestly, betta fish have all different personalities (just like you and me!) and are a great choice for some community tanks.
We do need to be careful with some species, though.
For example, Betta and shrimp can make a wonderful or terrible combo!
Betta and shrimp can live together peacefully if you pick your pets wisely. Certain shrimp species need a different water temperature or water pH level. Others are simply too small to live with a betta. To avoid problems, choose a non-aggressive betta and make safe spaces for your shrimp.
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Benefits of Keeping Shrimp with Betta Fish
You’re probably wondering if keeping your betta and shrimp together is worth the trouble.
The truth is, betta and shrimp make great tank mates once they get used to one another.
They both like many plants, and many shrimp species need the same water conditions as betta fish.
Not everyone likes to keep community tanks. But if you do, shrimp and betta look great together.
Another bonus is some shrimp like to eat algae, which is great because bettas like their environment clean!
While it might seem like there’s too much work going into this, it isn’t so bad.
In reality, you just need to take a few precautions to get started. After the initial adjustment period, things will smooth out pretty quickly.
Our Guides on Specific Shrimp
Risks of Keeping Shrimp with Betta Fish
When you pair these two, the biggest risk is your betta eating or otherwise bullying your shrimp.
You have to remember hungry betta naturally wants to eat crustaceans. It’s a common part of their diet, found in many of their food options.
But obviously, you don’t want them eating the other creatures in your tank.
This is an especially big risk for the babies of your shrimp colony because they’re so small and easy for your betta to fit in their mouth.
Even if you don’t have problems with this, you may see a lot of nipping, chasing, and other bullyings.
Do Shrimp Clean Tanks?
Shrimp often like to eat algae, which is a big help in keeping the tank clean.
Red cherry shrimp are a good species for this purpose if you’re specifically looking for a helpful tank cleaner.
To keep the correct environment, you’ll still have to do plenty of cleaning yourself.
This is especially true when you keep betta and shrimp together.
Sometimes shrimp learn to start hiding from the betta by sticking to the bottom of the tank. They don’t have access to a lot of the algae from there.
Get some snails if you want to ensure you have plenty of algae-eaters in the tank.
They’ll aid in clean-up, and your betta fish won’t bother them.
Any tank with bettas also needs water changes of at least 20% every week.
Tips for Pairing Shrimp with Your Betta Fish
Before setting up your freshwater aquarium, remember that this might not work out.
Even if you take all the right precautions, the results will depend largely on your individual fish.
Bettas are known for having different personalities. Sometimes they’re hard to predict.
If you give it a shot and it doesn’t work, make a game plan for what you’ll do.
Rehoming, keeping two separate tanks, and testing it out with a new fish, later on, are all appealing options.
With these things in mind, here are our tips for keeping betta and shrimp together.
Protecting the Shrimp
It’s crucial you give your shrimp plenty of cover in the form of caves in case you have an attack betta.
Using artificial caves in the bottom of the tank is a great start, but we have some more tips for you.
You want their hiding grounds to be nice and secure, so add moss and guppy grass on top of the caves.
As you organize the tank, don’t be shy with the plants!
Betta and shrimp both like many live plants, but these will also provide more cover for your shrimp.
Some species of shrimp will instinctually hide in the aquarium substrate.
But giving them ground cover your betta fish can’t get to is a good way to protect them.
Your betta fish needs water with these parameters:
- Temperature: 75-80° degrees Fahrenheit (24-27° C)
- pH Level: 6.5-7.5
- Ammonia & Nitrate: 0 ppm
- General Hardness (gH): 3-4 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (kH): 3-5 dKH
Depending on which shrimp species you get, they may need you to keep the water on a different end of the betta’s spectrum.
One thing to note, though, is a betta is more likely to attempt to mate when the water is hotter.
I mention this because a betta who wants to mate will be more aggressive and territorial.
Even a betta you know is usually very calm and friendly can start acting up when those hormones come into play.
Clearly, this would not be good for your shrimp.
Keep the temperature in the aquarium closer to 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C) rather than 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27°C).
The process of actually putting your pets in the aquarium is different than you might expect.
- Set up the tank with plants and caves
- Shrimp go in first
- Choose a betta with a calm personality
- Betta goes in with a floating breeding box
- Release the betta and watch
Tank size is key here.
When you’re keeping an individual betta or just a couple of betta fish, the minimum size is 5 gallons.
But to minimize aggression and territorial behavior, the correct size for betta and shrimp will be at least 10 gallons.
A fine gravel substrate is great for setting up your aquarium.
You want it to be a balanced environment, ready for the betta and the shrimp.
Put in plenty of plants and hiding spots, but don’t crowd the aquarium up too much.
Make sure the water meets all the requirements.
Put the shrimp into the tank first so the betta knows them as part of the environment.
While eating baby shrimp is often a natural feeding instinct, other aggression in betta fish often comes down to territory.
By putting the shrimp into the tank before the betta, you’re telling the betta this tank isn’t only theirs.
It’s easier for your fish to accept they’re moving in with someone than to accept someone encroaching on their territory.
Choosing Your Betta
Most pet stores and breeders have plenty of betta splendens for you to pick from.
Before you actually buy one, take some time to watch all the fish swim around.
Ideally, your shrimp won’t feel threatened by their betta tank mates and won’t have to use their hiding spots too often.
So, look for fish that don’t flare very much. They aren’t a good fit if they’re chasing other fish or nipping.
If you see a betta who seems timider and would rather run from other fish than fight, they’ll make ideal tank mates to shrimp.
The simple truth is you’re not going to know for sure who the fish is before you get it home.
But observing before you commit makes you more likely to find a calmer pet.
Adding the Betta
The safest move is to add your fish in slowly.
Do this when you have time to sit and keep an eye on things for a while.
We recommend starting with a floating breeding box. This box has clear sides you’ll put at the top of your tank.
When you stick your betta in it, they’ll be able to see the shrimp.
A fish that is likely to harm or eat your shrimp will start behaving this way in the breeding box.
If you see a lot of flaring, rushing at the shrimp, or other aggressive behavior, don’t release the betta into the tank.
A little bit of flaring is normal and okay!
Assuming this process goes well, release the betta into the tank with your shrimp.
Don’t be surprised when the betta nips at them a couple of times. This is totally normal when your pets are adjusting to each other.
So is chasing and some flaring. It’s even normal to lose a couple of baby shrimp.
Don’t pull them out unless they attempt to eat a shrimp or keep chasing and nipping for a long time.
Your shrimp will probably hide in the aquarium substrate or other hiding spots you’ve made for them.
This is normal shrimp behavior when they’re adjusting too!
Later on, your shrimp should stop hiding so much.
If they’re constantly in their caves or the gravel substrate, they’re still scared.
It’s not good for your pets to live in fear all the time.
Think about how it would feel to live with a bully 24/7.
Not knowing when it’s safe to poke your head out is stressful and really wears on your health over time. It’s the same way for freshwater shrimp.
The Best Shrimp for Betta Fish Tanks
Now, we’ve established betta and shrimp can live together peacefully.
But not all kinds of shrimp make good tank mates to a betta fish.
Some require different water temperatures or pH levels, some are too small, and some are even too brightly colored.
We have a list of 5 species of shrimp you might put in your betta tank, though.
Cherry shrimp are probably the number one freshwater shrimp common in betta tanks.
They tolerate a huge range of water conditions, including those your fish needs.
Like the ghost shrimp, cherry shrimp hide from other fish naturally. This means they’re well-equipped to defend themselves against a betta.
They feel much more secure and happy when in a large group. So, get at least 5 or 6 of them and consider going as high as 10.
The more shrimp you raise, the more likely your colony is to keep growing if the betta manages to eat a couple of baby shrimp.
Amanos are another very adaptable freshwater shrimp species.
They like their water nice and warm, just like betta fish. The only water parameter of concern is general hardness.
Amano shrimp like their water with a gH of 4-14 dGH, whereas bettas like 3-4 dGH.
Keep this in mind and aim to hit the sweet spot of 4 dGH in the tank your amano shrimp and betta share.
These guys are one of the gentler shrimp available. They do great with other species, like the cherry shrimp, too.
If you want to, there’s no reason not to raise both with your betta.
Bamboo shrimp are compatible with betta fish thanks to their tolerance for the same water conditions.
They tend to like their space, unlike some of the species we listed here.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t good tank mates for your betta. But we do recommend you get a larger tank to accommodate them.
20 gallons of water is deep enough for them to get along okay.
I put bumblebee shrimp here because they technically can live with betta fish.
They need similar water parameters, which makes them a good candidate.
However, bumblebee shrimp also have very bright striped coloration. This makes them an easier-to-identify and more tempting target for betta fish.
It would be much more difficult to find a betta who doesn’t come after your bumblebee shrimp.
They would, in theory, make a good tank mate to a docile betta fish, though.
One of the most popular choices for betta tanks is the ghost shrimp, also called a glass shrimp.
These guys are absolutely beautiful with their transparent bodies.
They eat a wide range of food but are algae eaters, so they’ll help keep the fish tank clean.
Above all, ghost shrimp easily hide from your siamese fighting fish because they’re transparent and spend so much time in the substrate anyway.
In the wild, they like to burrow in the sea floor, so this is natural for them.
They’re pretty easy to find at pet stores and breeders too.
Warning: Ghost shrimp start to have health issues above 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C), so keep the tank temperature right around there.
Your betta will also be okay if the temperature is about a degree cooler.
FAQ for Keeping Shrimp with Betta Fish
How do I get my betta fish to stop eating shrimp?
If your betta is intent on eating your shrimp, you might be unable to stop this behavior. It’s natural for them to eat crustaceans, and those kinds of instincts can’t be trained out of them.
However, here are some measures to take before giving up:
1) Get a bigger tank
2) Add more plants
3) Adjust temperature slightly
The bigger the tank, the more peaceful the community of fish inside. Shrimp are small, but they like their space. Not all of them will stick to the bottom of the tank and hide away.
In your big tank, live plants and other forms of cover will save your shrimp’s lives. Don’t be afraid to add more of them. Small temperature changes make a big difference with fish. Higher temperatures cause more aggression in betta fish and worsen eating and nipping problems.
Do snails or shrimp clean tanks better?
Snails and shrimp are complimentary. Snails do a good job cleaning algae and different kinds of waste, but they also produce ammonia which is harmful to some fish and shrimp.
Shrimp mostly eat algae and plant waste, but they are good cleaners too.
They’ll eat snail waste as well, which is why these two complement each other. Amano shrimp, in particular, are notorious for being great tank cleaners.
Will shrimp eat dead snails?
Shrimp eat dead snails, but they don’t bother living ones. This is because they are scavengers and omnivores. But they aren’t aggressive predators like some betta fish are.
They will eat a dead snail in the bottom of the tank, but they won’t attack one who’s minding his business.
On a related note, betta fish sometimes attack and eat snails like shrimp. If you want to get some snails for your betta and shrimp aquarium, wait and see how your betta does with the shrimp first.
Remember, whether or not you’re successful at housing shrimp with your betta will depend largely on the individual betta’s personality.
It is important to set your tank up right, give your shrimp some hiding spots, and introduce both species to each other carefully.
But above all, you must pick the right betta and shrimp species and be ready to separate them if things get unsafe.
If you liked this article, be sure to share our advice with your aquarist friends. At the very least, they’ll enjoy reading about all those adorable shrimp species.
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