Betta fish, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are notoriously aggressive, and for this reason, they are often kept in tanks alone. While it is true that they will attack other male Bettas occasionally, there are suitable tank mates for Betta fish. Otocinclus Catfish, better known as “Otos,” are popular choices for community aquariums because they can help clean up excess algae, but can they live peacefully with Bettas?
While it may be possible in certain cases, it’s complicated, and in general, Otos do not make great tank mates for Bettas for various reasons. If you are wondering whether Oto Catfish and Bettas can live together, read on to find out when it may be possible and why they probably shouldn’t.
Oto Catfish and Bettas have fairly different environmental needs in their tanks, even though Bettas are fairly adaptable. Otos are notoriously sensitive fish, and even the smallest change in water quality can be fatal to them.
Otocinclus Catfish are native to South America and thrive in well-oxygenated, moderately flowing waters. These fish live in schools of often thousands of fish and prefer a sandy substrate covered in plants and rocks where they can feed on algae. In captivity, they need a pH of 6–7.5 and a water temperature between 72–82 degrees Fahrenheit. They also need a fairly large tank. While they can be housed alone, they will be far happier in small schools, so a tank of at least 30 gallons is recommended. They also need a fairly strong current flowing through their tank to replicate their natural environment.
Betta Fish are native to Asia, where they inhabit the shallow, still waters of small ponds, marshes, and occasionally slow-moving streams. Betta fish need a tank of atleast 3 gallons per fish, with temperatures of between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
While their temperature requirements are similar, Bettas cannot handle the water flow required for Oto fish, as they will be pushed around by the strong current.
Bettas are not the friendliest fish around and are known to attack other Betta males and will often fight each other to the death. Males can be housed with females, provided that there are enough females, and females can generally live happily with many other fish. Males will attack any other fish with bright colors or elaborate fins, though, so it’s best to find tank mates without those attributes or that will stay far away from Bettas.
Oto fish are bottom feeders, which means they will most likely stay away from your Betta because Bettas prefer the top of the tank. Otos also love to hide, and if you give them enough plants, they can easily hide away from Bettas among the leaves. That said, in the wild, Otos do enjoy the upper columns of water and can even breathe air, which makes it possible that they may come into contact with Bettas.
Bettas will often attack fish bigger than them and will certainly attack smaller fish. Oto Catfish typically reach 1.5–2 inches as adults, whereas Bettas can reach 2.5 inches or more in length. While Otos are experts at hiding, they will likely be vulnerable should they come into contact with a Betta.
Otocinclus Catfish Tankmates
With the right tank conditions and a bit of luck, it may be possible for Oto Catfish and Bettas to live peacefully together in the same tank, but there are better options. Otos are peaceful, non-aggressive fish and will do well with fish of a similar temperament. Here are better-suited tank mates for Oto Catfish:
- Cory Catfish
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Neon Tetras
Although Bettas are notoriously aggressive and have a far more limited choice of tank mates than Oto fish, they can be housed successfully with the following:
- Cory Catfish
- Neon Tetras
- Kuhli Loaches
- Ghost Shrimp
While some aquarium keepers have successfully kept Oto Catfish and Bettas together, Otos will most likely do better housed with other peaceful fish. They also have differing aquarium requirements, with Oto fish preferring fairly strong moving water, and they may be seen as a threat by Bettas, leading to fighting and possibly even fatal injuries.
If you have successfully housed Oto Catfish and Bettas in the same tank, please let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: PRAPHAKORN LIMRAT, Shutterstock