Can Apistogramma and Betta Live Together? 7 Tips to Make It Possible is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Apistogramma (aka Dwarf Cichlids) and Bettas both have their own charms. Their natural beauty, compact size, and lively personalities can magically add life and interest to any aquarium.

While they serve as ideal pet fish individually, a common thing that Apistogramma and Betta owners wonder about is if these two creatures can live together peacefully. 

Keep reading for more insights about the coexistence of these two different species and what it takes to increase the chances of this combination working.

Can You Keep Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid with Betta Fish Together?

Apistogramma and Betta

Apistogramma dwarf cichlids with Bettas can coexist together in a community tank setup, but you will have to take certain measures to ensure that both species cannot physically attack or stress each other out at any point. 

Bettas sometimes get a bad reputation for being ornery and might be nipping the dorsal fin of the Apistos, particularly those with extended lappets like Apistogramma macmasteri or Apistogramma hongsloi.

Some Apistos may be docile and play nicely with Bettas until they are ready to spawn. They would very likely chase the betta around the tank during breeding in order to protect their eggs/fry, so it is important to prepare for this behavior ahead of time.

What Makes Apistogramma and Betta Potential Tank Mates?

Keeping two fishes together in harmony is a complex process of trial and error, and the success rate depends on several factors, such as the size, stocking levels, diet, water conditions, and behavior patterns of each fish.

They Swim at Different Levels

One of the guidelines often overlooked when mixing fish species is the difference in water levels that they prefer, which not only helps reduce tension when fish have to battle for territories but also provides adequate swimming space for each species.

No matter what species of Apistogramma you have, they are mainly bottom dwellers, so they will stay near the bottom and sometimes dig into the substrate to find food, like their larger Geophagus cousins. For this reason, we don’t recommend housing Apistos with Kribensisloaches, and rams unless the tank is spacious to accommodate everyone.

On the other hand, like Gouramis, Bettas are surface dwellers and swim around the upper third of your fish tank. In some cases, they might even hang around the middle and lower water levels, but this highly depends on the size of your aquarium.

Both Fish Love Floating Plants

Apistogrammas and Bettas both love floating plants in their tank, as they provide a great deal of comfort and a sense of security. Moreover, these two fish species will benefit greatly from the subdued light that floating plants provide.

Live plants can also be used as a sort of filter in the aquarium, reducing nitrates and improving water quality. In addition to this, they can provide a lot of covers, hiding places, and a block line of sights, not to mention creating an eye-pleasing aesthetic for the aquarium, which is always a good thing.

Both Fish Prefer Similar Water Conditions

Indeed, although Apistos and bettas originate from different regions of the world, they both come from slow-moving waters that are low in hardness and alkalinity. 

The desired temperature of bettas is slightly higher, with an ambient temperature of around 75-82°F (24-28°C), while most Apistos prefer to live in cooler water below 79°F (26°C). Higher temperatures will speed up their metabolism and can lead to a shorter lifespan. 

7 Tips For Pairing Betta With Apistogramma Cichlids 

betta fish tank

If you plan on owning betta fish and Apistogramma simultaneously, here are a few tips to help them coexist peacefully:

#1 Provide Ample Space

The best way to keep both fish species happy is to provide them with ample space and various hiding places. This means that you should choose a big tank with a large footprint.

For a single male betta with Apistogramma, the tank should be at least 20 gallons so that the betta has enough room to swim freely and the Apistos have plenty of territories and hiding spots. 

The bigger the aquarium, the better.

#2 Choose the Right Apistogramma Species

Choosing a suitable Apistogramma species is essential for the success of your pair. We recommend avoiding advanced, strictly polygamous Apistos that can be more territorial and aggressive when it comes to breeding and guarding their offspring, such as Agassizii, Macmasteri, and Cacatuoides.

Instead, opt for opportunistic polygamous species in the regani Group and steindachneri Group, like the A. borellii and A. steindachneri, which are the easiest Apistos to keep.

#3 Create a Safe Environment

Plenty of hiding places are essential for the coexistence of the two species. Aquascaping your aquarium with caves, driftwood, rocks, and plants can provide them someplace to escape to if necessary.

We recommend adding floating blankets of plants in the upper part of your tank so that the betta feels comfortable swimming around up there.

#4 Supervise All Interactions

You may never be able to trust a pair (or trio) of Apistogramma with a betta alone together, and that’s OK. It is necessary to supervise all interactions closely.

Some Apistos tend to be inquisitive and may try to interact with the betta, which could result in a fight. All it takes is one wrong move, and they can start chasing each other or become aggressive. Therefore, you should always be vigilant and ready to intervene if necessary.

#5 Remove Aggressive Fish

Having a backup tank on hand is not a bad idea, so you can remove aggressive fish (betta) if needed. You can also try installing a plastic divider in the middle of your aquarium that ensures the two species are safely separated in large tanks.

#6 Rearrange or Redecorate the Tank

When introducing either Apistogramma or betta fish to the same aquarium, they may fight and attempt to claim their own territory. If this occurs, rearranging or redecorating the tank with caves, plants, and other hiding spots can help create distinct territories and reduce aggression.

#7 Never Put More Than One Male Betta in a Tank.

Repeat it again: never put more than one male betta in a tank. Male bettas are highly territorial and will almost certainly battle each other if housed together. Keeping multiple female Betta fish together may be the safest option, but it’s still risky.

Final Thoughts

In general, it’s not a good idea to house two fish from different geographical origins in the same tank. 

However, a betta and Apistogramma can peacefully coexist in the same tank with the right setup. All it takes is careful planning, patience, and supervision.

For more recommend tank mates for Apistogramma, view our list here.

Was this article helpful?
Ivan Yeoh
Ivan Yeoh

I’ve been working with fish for the past 12 years, and I can honestly say that it has never been a dull day. In my time, I’ve worked at the largest fish farm in Singapore – so you could say I know a thing or two about keeping things running smoothly in watery environments.

Leave a Comment