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Adding Betta Fish to Community Tank

The subject on whether it is fine or safe to add betta fish to an existing community tank can become quite an interesting topic of discussion. Often, the whole debate will be filled with contentions and disagreements resulting from different opinions submitted by individual hobbyists with each of them having their own valid points to support their views. Most of the time, there is no final consensus on who is right or who is wrong here because under different circumstances, it will always lead to multiple outcome. The article here is to focus and delve deeper into this subject and the main purpose to dispel the notion that adding betta to community tank is not possible. And as always, the most important thing is to point out the right direction on what should and what should not be done so that you will avoid making mistakes that will be costly or harm your pets.
Betta fish (farthest left) swimming happily in the community setup
Generally what is agreed is that putting betta fish to a mixed species community aquarium should not pose any issue or unwanted problem provided that all the fish living in it are not those aggressive types that can harm each other. Most important, the whole tank space must not be too cramped or limited and lead to overcrowding. Although betta are known to be excellent specimen used in fighting fish competitions, but when they are added with other freshwater species, surprisingly they adapt quite well and will co-exist with their new tank mates without hurting them. Some of the fish species that I’ve seen living together with the betta are well-known community regulars like gourami, platy, bristlenose catfish (suckermouth) including also the timid types like the neon tetra or even rasbora,  so long as they are all tropical specimens, sharing the same environmental needs and condition. In a well-planted setup, most of the time you will find them hiding among the plants and stay away from the attention of the other fish but once they get themselves acclimatized to their new aquarium home, betta fish will generally mix well with their friends and will even come out in the open.

However, this condition does not always hold true as there is one tricky aspect that you will come across if you decide to breed your betta fish in an open community tank. Usually under this condition, your pet will adopt a totally different personality which will bring out their aggressive natural behavior to establish their own territory so that they can build their nest to care for their young. Attention also needs to be given, if let’s say when you try to mix two or more male betta fish into the same community tank because in this scenario, they will also try to draw a borderline with a territory to call their own and encroachment to each other’ den naturally means provocation and will result in a fight. However, this statement is only holds 50% true because under different conditions, I’ve seen before two or more male betta that can coexist with each other and main reason, why this is possible is because the tank is large enough to accommodate all of them and allow the fish to live far away apart from each other. Anyway, if you decide to try out, make sure that you are willing to spend more time and put on more effort to place close observations, because in the end you cannot predict or expect what will happen. Also if you decide to breed your pets, it would be worthwhile to move them to another tank because definitely, adding a breeding pair to a community tank is not a good idea at all.

Sometimes despite all the precautions taken without any breeding activity taking place with only one solitary fish added to the community, things can still go horribly wrong when your betta fish start to turn aggressive especially towards their smaller tank mates. If this happens, the only thing left to do is to take them out or just in case you don’t have the luxury of having additional aquarium, you can just use a tank separator or divider instead. In this scenario, you might be wondering and kept asking yourself on what went wrong that can induce the betta fish to act aggressively even though it is not in the breeding mood. Although there is no general consensus on what leads to this provocative nature, the most logical explanation is that the fish you are adding has already been subjected to solitary confinement, teased, or have been induced and prepared for fighting. What this means is that the fish has been kept in small bottles living under harsh condition or forcefully put on closeup view facing their potential fighting partner. Thus when the same fish that has been exposed to this undesirable condition are put into community aquariums, they will exhibit the same aggressive behavior and will lead them to attack their tank mates. For those young betta fish raised from small fry to reach adulthood and spending most of their time with their siblings, this type of betta will end up generally friendlier and is rather unlikely that they will turn hostile or hurt their tank partner. Well I think that is about all on this topic and hopefully the bits and pieces of information here and there will help to equip yourself and be more prepared should you decide to go ahead and mix your betta to your community aquarium. All in all, always remember, if things don’t turn out the way you intended, just take them out and remove them to another aquarium.

Also, if you decide to inject more fun to your fishkeeping hobby, you might want to check out these articles on betta fish breeding and learn all about another betta fish cousin, the peaceful betta imbellis



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About Me

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My fascination and interest towards aquarium fish has led me to devote my time towards caring and learning about this wonderful pet.

Aquarium fish keeping is a very challenging and exciting hobby. When I first started, I never knew much or have the necessary guidance back then because none of my family members were actually a keen hobbyist. And because of that, I’ve encountered numerous failures and the worst part is having to deal with dead fish every time when you started to grow fond and getting attached to my pets. However, I persevered and took steps to find out and search for information from other hobbyist, apart from the knowledge gained and learned from my own experience and research. The blog that I’ve created here is meant to share useful information and tips about aquarium fish keeping so that new hobbyist will not make the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past."

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