Betta fish can get along with few tank mates. They are an aggressive-territorial species and will attempt to chase just about anything away that they feel is “too close.” This likely stems from the male’s instinct to protect and care for his young. He can’t exactly keep them safe if he lets fish swim close by.
However, when they are in a tank, the other fish doesn’t have anywhere to go. This can lead to a great deal of aggression and injuries. If you are not careful, the Betta will kill just about anything you put in their tank with them. They often fight without thoughts of self-preservation, so they can get injured as well.
There are a few tank mates that are sometimes successful at housing with Bettas, including Cherry Shrimp. It is important to emphasize the “sometimes” here, however. Some Bettas are simply too territorial and vigilant for Cherry Shrimp to survive in a tank with them.
If you’re looking at keeping Cherry Shrimp with Betta fish, you’ve come to the right article. We take a look at everything that you need to know about keeping these two species together.
Table of contents
- Ensuring the Survival of Your Cherry Shrimp
- Setting Up a Tank for Bettas and Cherry Shrimp
- Water Parameters for Cherry Shrimp and Betta Fish
- What Size Tank Do Betta Fish and Cherry Shrimp Need?
- Will Female Betta Fish Eat Shrimp?
- How Do You Feed Betta Fish and Shrimp?
- How Many Shrimp Can Be in a Betta Tank?
- Betta Fish and Cherry Shrimp: Unlikely Friends?
Ensuring the Survival of Your Cherry Shrimp
While there is no way to guarantee that the Shrimp will survive, there are a few things that you can do to help.
We recommend introducing the Shrimp to the tank first. This allows them to figure out what’s going on and find a place to hide. It also makes them part of the environment that was always there as far as your Betta is concerned, not a new invader.
You should provide them with plenty of hiding places, as this will be their main advantage over the Betta. Carpeting plants and small caves are recommended. If you basically cover the whole bottom, then your Betta likely won’t find the Shrimp. Your Betta may use these hiding places as well, though they will likely spend most of their time at the top of the tank.
Aim to purchase a bigger tank if you’re expecting the Betta and Shrimp to get along. You don’t want your Betta to notice the Shrimp, and the easiest way to prevent this is to give the Shrimp more room to roam. 10 gallons is the absolute minimum, though we recommend looking into a 15-gallon for the easiest time.
Setting Up a Tank for Bettas and Cherry Shrimp
When it comes to setting up a tank that works for both these species, cover is your main priority. Use either real or silk plants to provide cover on all levels of the aquarium. While the bottom layer is the most important, you also want to ensure that there are plenty of tall plants for your Betta to hang out in as well.
If your Betta feels safe and protected at the top, they likely won’t travel to the bottom. This will prevent them from noticing the Shrimp and therefore, increasing the latter’s odds of survival.
Both your Betta and your Shrimp will enjoy heavy cover, so we recommend adding as much as you can possibly fit. Of course, you still want to see your fish, so there should be enough room for them to move around. However, there shouldn’t be that much open space, especially at the bottom of the aquarium.
Be sure to use an appropriate substrate for Shrimp. It should be large enough to avoid being too heavy with many gaps. This can cause the Shrimp to get their legs caught, which is obviously not good for them.
The filter is also important because many Shrimp are small enough to get sucked into the intake. Betta fish can’t stand a heavy water current, anyway, so you’ll likely be using something like a sponge filter already. Consider adding an air stone if you’re adding multiple Shrimp to your tank. Bettas don’t need oxygenated water, but Shrimp do.
Water Parameters for Cherry Shrimp and Betta Fish
These species don’t have exactly the same needs as far as water parameters go. However, they are close enough that you can finesse your way into getting the perfect parameters for both species.
Betta fish prefer a temperature between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cherry Shrimp prefer a temperature somewhere between 77-81 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you’ll probably want the water somewhere between 77-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher end is often better because it provides Cherry Shrimp with optimal breeding conditions.
The water pH should be as close to 7 as possible to make both species happy. Cherry Shrimp are a bit less finicky about the water pH, but Betta fish need it to be a 7.
What Size Tank Do Betta Fish and Cherry Shrimp Need?
Generally, we recommend at least a 10-gallon tank. This is the minimum for keeping a Betta the happiest. Otherwise, their waste will build up far too fast. It is also difficult to find heaters for anything under 10 gallons, which makes keeping the water at 80 degrees difficult.
However, a 15-gallon tank is likely best. This will enable the Shrimp to hide better and prevent the Betta from feeling quite as nervous about trespassers. Bigger is always better.
Will Female Betta Fish Eat Shrimp?
Yes, males are not necessarily more aggressive than females, though they are sometimes marketed as such. Male Betta fish tend to be more aggressive toward other male Betta fish. However, both males and females are equally aggressive toward other species, including Shrimp.
Females will hunt and attack Shrimp just like a male would. In fact, females may be a bit better at attacking Shrimp, as their lack of a long tail makes them better swimmers.
How Do You Feed Betta Fish and Shrimp?
You should continue to feed your Betta fish high-quality floating pellets. These should include mostly meat ingredients, as Betta fish are carnivores. Your Shrimp will likely enjoy these too if a few happen to fall to the bottom. However, you shouldn’t overfeed your Betta fish in the hope that your Shrimp might enjoy a few of the pellets.
In many cases, the Shrimp will eat whatever they happen to find on the bottom of the tank. This includes algae and the shells that other Shrimp have shed. They work as your clean-up crew, basically.
However, most tanks aren’t dirty enough to sustain a bunch of Shrimp. You’ll probably need to supplement their diet with a sinking algae wafer. You can drop this at the same time that you’re feeding your Betta fish — just do it in a different spot.
Feeding these two species at the same time isn’t difficult, fortunately.
How Many Shrimp Can Be in a Betta Tank?
You can keep about 10 Shrimp in a 10-gallon tank with a Betta fish. This assumes that you’re taking care of the tank and using a filter and an air stone. It is big enough for them to hide from the Betta and generally survive as long as they are fed appropriately. Shrimp shouldn’t need much extra care. However, they will need to have their food supplemented. 10 gallons is not enough for them to find their own food naturally, especially with just a Betta fish in the tank.
If you plan on keeping this many Shrimp, you should also plan on adding plenty of ground coverage. Ten Shrimp will be fairly obvious to a Betta fish in a tank this size. It is vital that they have the proper cover, or they will be found out quickly.
If you take these few extra steps to care for your Shrimp, then you should have no problem keeping 10 in a 10-gallon tank.
Betta Fish and Cherry Shrimp: Unlikely Friends?
You wouldn’t imagine that Betta fish can be kept with Cherry Shrimp. After all, Cherry Shrimp are prey animals, and Betta fish are aggressive carnivores. They wouldn’t seem like the best tank mates.
However, Cherry Shrimp are good at preventing themselves from getting eaten. If you provide them with enough cover and caves to hide in, they will stay out of the Betta fish’s way. Plus, Betta fish spend all their time at the top of the tank, while Cherry Shrimp will stay near the bottom. They won’t see each other that often, which prevents predatory behavior.
Both are fairly easy to care for when together. Feeding them is not needlessly complicated because a Betta fish is not going to attack an algae wafer. They require similar water parameters.
In the end, Cherry Shrimp is likely one of the better tank mates for a Betta fish. Just be sure to take care of their needs because they’ll be spending much of their time hiding from the Betta fish. If you don’t provide them with enough cover, they can quickly find themselves the Betta fish’s target.
Featured Image Credit: Alex DeG, Shutterstock