Given their alternative name of Siamese or Japanese “fighting fish”, bettas have a reputation for being aggressive.
Exactly how aggressive depends on the personality of the individual fish, but there is no doubt that bettas will sometimes fight other fish.
But do they eat other fish? And do they eat shrimp? Read on to find out…
Do betta fish eat other fish?
We should start by saying that betta fish are highly territorial. They will live quite happily on their own, and prefer to do so. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep other fish with bettas, but you do need to be careful.
If you keep a betta fish in a tank with other fish they aren’t going to suddenly devour every other fish in the tank, but they may do damage. If a fish dies from this damage, or another cause, then your betta fish may eat it.
Here are a few important things to remember when keeping betta fish with other fish:
- Never choose companion fish that are prone to nibble. This will not go down well with your betta.
- Always make sure fish have a place to escape to if they feel nervous.
- Keep other fish, such as neon tetras, in shoals of at least six.
- Make sure your tank is big enough. 10 to 15 gallons is a good size tank if you’re keeping other fish with your betta.
- Bottom dwelling fish such as plecs often make good tank mates for bettas.
If you remember all of these things then you should be able to keep other fish with your betta. However, you also have to remember that all bettas have different personalities. Some are more vicious than others.
If you’re keeping other fish with your betta just be aware that bettas do fight, and have been known to kill other fish: not for food, but for territory. Bettas will only eat other fish if they are already dead, but territorial fighting can often be the cause of that death.
Do better fish eat shrimp?
People often want to keep shrimp, such as ghost shrimp or cherry shrimp, in their fish tank. But is this a good idea if you have a betta fish? Will your betta fish eat shrimp?
The answer to this is, yes they often will!
This doesn’t mean that betta fish can’t live in the same tank as shrimp. It just means you have to be very careful. Here are a couple of points to think about.
- Know your betta and how aggressive it is. The more aggressive the betta, the more likely it is to want shrimp for dinner!
- Smaller shrimp are always more likely to get eaten.
- It may be worth having a hiding place in the tank that only the shrimp can access.
- Always try introducing just a few shrimp at first, in case your betta eats them.
Betta fish prefer being on their own, but you may want to brighten your tank by keeping other fish with your betta. You can do this successfully as long as you keep the right type of fish. If you don’t then your betta may injure or kill them. If a fish is already dead then a betta fish may eat it.
If you want to keep shrimp with your betta then be prepared for casualties. Bettas do eat shrimp, but that doesn’t mean they will. You can put them together and they may exist quite happily in the same tank. It’s a question of taking a chance and seeing how your individual betta responds.