Your betta fish may look lonely swimming around the perfect tank setup you’ve spent so much time on putting together for your fishy friend. Bettas have a pretty bad rep when it comes to being antisocial, so you may be wondering, “Can bettas live with shrimp?”
In this in-depth guide, we take a look at whether shrimp can live in harmony with bettas. We also include recommendations on what species of shrimp make ideal tank mates for your feisty fish.
Can bettas live with shrimp?
In most cases, bettas can live happily with shrimp. That said, some bettas are highly aggressive and very territorial. So a peaceful tank community is largely dependent on the temperament of the individual betta.
For bettas and shrimp to live together harmoniously, the tank setup must be right for both parties.
Now, let’s take a look at the most popular species of shrimp that are often chosen as tankmates for bettas.
Shrimp species that make good tankmates for betta fish
In this section, we take a brief look at the shrimp species that are commonly kept with bettas. Note that any shrimp should be kept in small groups to keep them happy.
Bumblebee Shrimp and Bettas
Bumblebee shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis) are so named because of their distinctive striped coloration that may be either red and white or black and white. Wild bumblebee shrimp are duller in color, so it’s generally the captive-bred hybrids hat you’ll see in your local aquarium store. Like most shrimp, these will be found scuttling around the substate, hunting for scraps to eat.
Bumblebee shrimp typically grow to measure around one and a half inches in length. This size makes them vulnerable to the attention of large fish. Unfortunately, your betta may also be drawn to the vibrant colors of these fascinating little shrimp.
Ideal tank conditions for bumblebee shrimp
Bumblebee shrimp are not the best species for the novice keeper. That’s largely because these little guys are particularly fussy when it comes to the tank conditions.
Bumblebee shrimp do best in cooler waters that do not exceed around 740 Fahrenheit. However, that’s thought to be because the oxygen saturation levels are generally better in cooler water. Oxygen dissolves much more readily in cool water, and the bumblebee shrimp needs well-oxygenated water in which to thrive.
That said, you can still keep bumblebee shrimp with bettas, as long as you provide an air-stone or air-operated filter system. And they will tolerate a water temperature of 780 Fahrenheit, which is what your betta needs.
Bumblebee shrimp also like the water to be on the soft, slightly acidic side, with a pH of around 6.5, so a pH of 7. Unlike the temperature, this matches up with your betta’s needs pretty well.
Like most freshwater shrimp, bumblebees are confirmed scavengers. So they spend much of their time foraging for scraps and eating algae growing on the tank surfaces. However, you should also supplement the shrimps’ diet with pellets to ensure that they get the nutrition that they need to thrive.
Bumblebee shrimp enjoy an environment that is well-planted and has plenty of hiding places where they can take shelter. Choose a gravel substrate that is small enough not to trap the shrimps’ legs or injure them.
Do bettas eat bumblebee shrimp?
Bumblebee shrimp are quite small and may be vulnerable to unwanted attention from your betta. Sometimes, fish will attack these brightly colored crustaceans. They may pull off the shrimp’s legs or harass them until the stress kills the shrimp.
Amano Shrimp and Bettas
The Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentate) is commonly known as the Yamato shrimp, Japonica shrimp, and algae-eating shrimp. These lively little crustaceans are named after the famous Japanese photographer and aquarist, Takashi Amano who brought the species into the limelight as a natural tank cleaning crew.
A small group of Amanos makes an ornamental and very useful addition to your betta tank. They help to keep the environment clean and tidy by scavenging leftover food and eating certain species of algae.
Amano shrimp are the largest and longest-lived species of ornamental shrimp. Given the right tank conditions, they can grow up to two inches in length and live for up to three years.
Amanos are usually a drab grey with stripes and dots running along their bodies. That’s good news for you if you’re looking for tank mates for your fish. An aggressive betta is more likely to be attracted to a brightly colored creature that he may see as a threat.
Although Amanos won’t bother your betta, the shrimps do tend to squabble amongst themselves at feeding times. They are bottom feeders, picking up scraps from the substrate and making a meal of any food that lands on plant leaves or across a sponge filter. Amanos create a distinct pecking order, and the alpha shrimp will attack any subordinates that get to the food first.
Bettas are surface feeders, so there won’t be a confrontation between the two species. However, a commotion caused by quarreling shrimp at mealtimes could stress your betta.
Ideal tank conditions for Amano shrimp
Bettas need a pH of 7 and a water temperature of 780 Fahrenheit. Amano shrimp share the same preferred water parameters as bettas. They need a pH of between 6 and 7, and a water temperature of between 700 and 800 Fahrenheit.
You’ll need to include plenty of lush planting in your tank, as Amanos shed their outer shell once a month. Immediately after shedding, the shrimp are vulnerable to attack by other fish. So they will want to hide away while their new shell hardens. So, lots of plants and other hiding places will keep the Amanos’ stress levels to a minimum, which is essential if they are to remain healthy.
Don’t worry though, your betta will likely also appreciate the extra decor. It gives them more places to rest and build their bubble nests.
Although the Amanos will happily graze on algae, you do need to provide them with other food sources too in the form of shrimp pellets and freeze-dried bloodworms, which will also be appreciated by your betta.
How many Amanos should you buy?
Amano is quite large, so avoid overstocking. Make sure that you only put one to two shrimp per two gallons of water into your tank.
Can bettas eat Amano shrimp?
It’s highly unlikely that your betta will attempt to tackle a fully-grown Amano. However, you should always keep a close eye on all the occupants of your tank and be prepared to remove the betta temporarily to a quarantine tank if you spot any signs of trouble.
Ghost Shrimp and Bettas
Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) are also commonly known as glass shrimp.
This species is the most popular aquarium shrimp, especially with novice aquarists. These fascinating little creatures are almost transparent, hence their common name of ghost/glass shrimp.
These are quite sizeable shrimp, reaching around one and a half inches in length when they’re fully mature. That makes these transparent crustaceans too big to be tackled by most other aquarium fish, including bettas.
Ghost shrimp tend to prefer the company of their own species. As a result, they tend to not hassle any fish in your tank, including your betta. That makes it highly unlikely that your betta will attack the shrimp. It also helps to keep stress levels among the residents of the habitat to a minimum.
Ideal tank conditions for ghost shrimp
Ghost shrimp enjoy similar water conditions to bettas. They thrive with a pH level of between 7 and 8 and a water temperature of between 720 and 820 Fahrenheit. As previously mentioned, bettas need a pH of 7 and a water temperature of 780 Fahrenheit, so the two species are compatible in that regard.
How many ghost shrimp do you need?
Ghost shrimp need the companionship of other ghost shrimp to keep them happy and healthy. The ideal number of ghost shrimp in a betta tank is two to four.
Adult ghost shrimp tend to breed very easily, and you don’t want a population explosion, which could easily happen if you overstock your tank with shrimp. That said, its most likely that other fish, including your betta, will eat many of the baby shrimp.
Ghost shrimp live for up to a year and a half. If you provide your shrimp with the right tank conditions and plenty of cover, you might only need to buy one group, as they will keep on reproducing to keep your tank well-stocked.
Do bettas eat ghost shrimp?
Adult ghost shrimp are too big for your betta or other small fish in your tank to bother with, so you shouldn’t have a problem. However, if the shrimp breed, the babies could be at risk of becoming lunch!
Cherry Shrimp and Bettas
Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) are the brightest and most attractive of the three shrimp species that we’re featuring here.
Their eye-catching pink color gives the cherry shrimp its common name, although the species can also be found in orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, red, and black. It’s worth noting that it’s the female shrimp who are brightly colored. The males are generally quite drab in comparison. For that reason, when you buy a group of cherry shrimp for your tank, you’re probably getting a sorority of females.
Cherry shrimp are very small when compared with glass and Amano shrimp. The females of the species are the largest, growing to just one inch in length, whereas the males are much smaller than that. For that reason, very small cherry shrimp can be vulnerable to attacks by fish, including aggressive bettas.
That said, if you do manage to get a mixed-sex group of cherry shrimp, they will breed readily if the tank conditions are right. Female cherry shrimp are usually carrying eggs, and you will undoubtedly find baby shrimp flitting around the sheltered areas of your tank within no time!
Ideal tank conditions for Cherry shrimp
The perfect tank conditions for cherry shrimp are a pH of 6.5 to 8 and a water temperature of 570 to 840. Again, you can see that these parameters fall neatly into the preferred range for bettas too.
Like other shrimp species, cherry shrimp do best in a well-planted tank with lots of hiding places. Like Amano shrimp, cherry shrimp make great tank cleaners, vacuuming up dropped fragments of food in the substrate and eating algae. Remember to supplement your cherry shrimps’ diet by including shrimp pellets and algae wafers too.
Do bettas eat cherry shrimp?
As cherry shrimp are very small in comparison to the other species we’ve mentioned, there is a good chance that larger fish in your tank could try to eat them. Unfortunately, the cherry shrimps’ flashy colors can attract your betta’s attention, which could provoke an attack.
How your betta will react to the introduction of cherry shrimp into his tank depends on your fishy friend’s temperament. Watch the new arrivals carefully and be prepared to remove the betta to a quarantine tank if necessary.
When it comes to keeping freshwater shrimp, water quality should be your main concern. Shrimp are extremely sensitive to changes in water parameters, so you need to keep the tank conditions as stable as possible.
Freshwater shrimp feed on some waste matter, such as leftover food, discarded shrimp shells, plant matter, and the like. However, excess organic waste will break down, producing ammonia, nitrates, and nitrates, all of which will eventually kill all your tank occupants. So, you will need to include a fully-established biological filtration system in your tank, and you’ll also need to carry out 25% water changes each week to keep the water in pristine condition.
As you can see, there are several species of freshwater shrimp that can be compatible with betta fish.
The shrimp species we’ve mentioned in this guide all need very similar water conditions to those preferred by your betta, although you must ensure that the tank water is kept clean and levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are controlled.
Of the shrimp types we’ve featured here, we recommend that you choose Amano shrimp as companions for your betta. Amanos are peaceful creatures who will not hassle your betta. Also, they are too big to be viewed as food by your betta, who will most likely simply ignore the shrimp.
Amano shrimp are scavengers and will do a good job of keeping the tank environment tidy by eating scraps of discarded food, plant matter, and general detritus.
However, the Amano’s main claim to fame is as keen algae eaters, and adding a few of these critters to your collection can not only provide you with entertainment, they will also keep your tank surfaces clear of certain types of algae.