Can Neon Tetra and Betta Live Together? (A Complete Guide) is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Where it concerns the subject of good tank mates for betta fish, you want to understand that this is never going to be an exact science. This means that even though neon tetras are considered to be exceptional as one of the breeds that can live with bettas, we can’t guarantee that you won’t have any problems with neon tetra and betta in same tank.

Some bettas have strong personalities around some of their less-desirable traits, such as being territorial, or overly aggressive with other species of fish.

Can Neon Tetra and Betta Really Get Along?

We aren’t out to ruin your fun. When it comes to fish that get along with bettas, neon tetras have an exceptional track record. The odds that everyone will get along just fine are pretty good.

Nonetheless, having said that, a lot of your success is going to depend on making sure you take the right steps.

You might be skeptical that these two can get along in the first place. After all, bettas are pretty feisty, but the neon tetra is no slouch in this department either. Neon tetras can in fact be quite the little biters in their own right. It is difficult to imagine they are going to be very compatible at all.

Yet they are. However, beginning with making sure you buy the right tank, there are several ways to ensure you are successful in co-habitation.

Buying The Perfect Tank For Neon Tetras and Betta

One of the nicest things about bringing neon tetra and betta together is that you don’t have to do anything significant for one or the other, in terms of setting up ideal tank conditions for both. The same basic setup you would create for bettas will basically work for neon tetras, as well.

What matters most with the tank is that it’s the right size for both. We linked to some 20-gallon tanks above. While you can probably get away with 15 gallons well enough, most experts would call this a bad idea. As is the case for both fish, bigger is always going to be better. Our advice is to start with AT LEAST a 20-gallon tank. Anything less is quite frankly a waste of time.

Not only a waste of time, but also dangerous for the fish. At best, they’re going to be unhappy. At worst, they will become increasingly aggressive with one another. This creates the very real possibility that one or more fish will die. No one wants that!

One of the biggest differences between these two types of fish is the fact that neon tetras generally prefer to swim along the top of the tank, whereas bettas probably won’t. To that end, you want to make sure you are giving them a tank that is going to have a good height to it, as well.

You also want to give them a good variety of plants. Live is always the best way to go, and there are some great options for both neon tetras and betta fish. However, silk plants can work virtually just as well. 

Anything in the tank is going to be fine for accessories and playthings, as well as good hiding spots. However, make sure you aren’t buying anything with jagged surfaces or sharp edges. Either type of fish could hurt themselves.

You’ve got the right tank at this point. The next step is going to be to make sure you’re going to be giving the bettas and neon tetras the best possible environment. This will prove to be fairly straightforward, but there are still a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind.

You might also be interested in: 50+ Betta Fish Tank Mates

Tank Conditions For Neon Tetra and Betta

We’ve covered the types of plants you’re going to want to put in the tank, as well as which décor items to avoid. As long as you make sure they have lots to do and play with, your bettas and neon tetras should be quite content on this front.

Lighting is also important. One of the reasons why bettas and neon tetras get along is because they both like dimmer lighting setups for entirely different reasons. Bettas are okay with a well-lit tank. However, a little dimmer is preferred because it gives them greater hiding abilities. Neon tetras like dim lighting because it resembles their natural environment.

While more sensitive to dramatic changes in the water conditions than bettas, neon tetras by and large are generally hardier as a species. They can handle a pH setting somewhere between 5 and 7.5. By comparison, bettas need to be around a 7. Temperature-wise, neon tetras can handle conditions that are anywhere between 68- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. The sweet spot for bettas is around 78F, but they can be okay anywhere between 76 and 82.

It will be up to you to strike the right balance that will make everyone happy. This is also something that can be applied to the food you feed them.

What Is The Best Way To Feed Neon Tetra and Betta

This is one of the areas in which it is definitely a good idea to observe and respect the differences between betta fish. Why? Because bettas are carnivores, whereas neon tetras are omnivores. That means that while your neon tetras can eat anything bettas eat, the same does not hold true for bettas and whatever you may feed your neon tetras.

It really is a good idea to just keep them on their own unique respective diets. This is not particularly expensive or difficult to do:

Bettas have to eat something that came from a live animal. This is what needs to drive your decision to buy the best food for betta fish. Live is best, and there are options to that end such as bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Keeping up a good variety, while avoiding cheap food filled with water and useless additives, will keep them healthy and happy. Daphnia is another good live food option. Pellet foods are okay, too, but you need to make sure they come from the highest possible quality.

While your neon tetra can indeed eat something that was meant for bettas, you should still try to give them something that is particular to the species. Flakes of exceptional quality are considered to be the wisest choice for neon tetras.

All of the live options we mentioned for betta fish will be fine for these guys, too. Mosquito larvae would be another good example of something both will eat.

If you give them bloodworms, do this sparingly. If they eat too many of these, they can become constipated. If you want to know about bloodworms for betta fish then click here.

How To Bring The Neon Tetra and Betta Together

We’ve got a few more tips and suggestions for you. Let’s start with the actual process of adding the neon tetras to the tank. Or should you add the betta fish first? Which one is best?

The rule of thumb here is almost always that neon tetras should be added to a space first. By and large, the neon tetra is a fairly peaceful fish. This is particularly true when you compare them to the betta fish. They just aren’t as territorial as bettas.

In other words, if you add neon tetras to a tank with bettas already in place, you are probably going to have some problems. The betta has already established the entire aquarium as their territory. Yes, you read that correctly. Adding any other fish to the proceedings can create problems at that point. By comparison, if you put your bettas in the tank after the neon tetras, the betta will make do with a much smaller parcel of space for themselves.

This will not be so little space as to make them miserable. This is why we really want to drive home the value of making sure everyone has plenty of room to play in the tank. Your betta will adjust without any significant issues, as long as they have enough room. You should still keep an eye on them though, particularly in the beginning

Before we wrap things up, we have a few more suggestions you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Consider female bettas: As a rule, male bettas tend to be much more aggressive than the females. If you want to hedge your bets for a harmonious tank, consider adding only females. Their fins aren’t as flashy either, so the odds of fin-nipping from your neon tetras are pretty low.
  • A well-adjusted betta: You can also try to choose a betta which already has experience living among other fish.

More tetras than bettas: We would also suggest having a full school of neon tetras to your 1-2 bettas. You really don’t want to have a bunch of bettas. One or two is best. A large group of neon tetras can ensure no one gets too stressed out. Neon tetras are a good deal more social than bettas, so it makes sense to give them as much companionship as possible.

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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