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Can Pleco and Betta Fish Live Together in the Same Tank?

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By Lindsey Stanton

betta and pleco

Although some people think you can put any fish together in a tank and they’ll be fine, this is not true! Fish are like all other pets in that some get along while others will irritate, harm, or even kill one another. You should always research before deciding to put multiple fish in the same tank. This will help you ensure that your fish will coexist peacefully.

Bettas are one fish that has a reputation for being incompatible with others. While there are some fish that bettas won’t get along with, there are others that they can share a tank with. The plecostomus, or pleco, is one such fish. The pleco and betta can live together in the same tank without problems. Read on for more details on creating harmony in your tank.

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Why Do Plecos and Bettas Make Good Tank Mates?

Plecos are bottom feeders that survive mainly by eating the algae on the bottom of your fish tank. They’ll also eat some of the food that your other fish don’t when it lands on the bottom of the tank. The pleco is peaceful and shy. They try to keep to themselves and won’t generally bother other fish.

The betta is the opposite of the pleco. Instead of spending their time at the bottom of the tank, they like to move between the middle and top of the tank. They also get their food from the top of the tank. Because these fish inhabit and eat in different areas of the tank, they won’t be in each other’s space, nor will they be eating the same food.

Another reason the pleco and betta are a good choice for tank mates is the appearance of the pleco. Bettas tend to be more aggressive toward fish with brightly colored fins that they see as a threat in the competition for females. Plecos are typically not very brightly colored and don’t have flashy fins.

Bristlenose Plecos
Image Credit: TTONN, Shutterstock

What Other Fish Are Good Betta Tank Mates?

Plecos aren’t the only good tank mate for your betta. They can get along in a tank with bottom-dwelling fish and other species that won’t interfere with their space. Some of these include:

1. Kuhli Loaches

kuhli loache
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

These long, slender fish look like eels. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank and aren’t aggressive, so they won’t bother your betta.

2. Neon Tetras

neon tetra fish
Image Credit: Kristiana Berzina, Shutterstock

Although they are smaller than bettas, neon tetras are also much faster. Neon tetras like to be kept in groups of 6 or more, so they will stick together rather than bother your betta.

3. Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasbora
Image Credit: InsectWorld, Shutterstock

Like the neon tetra, the harlequin rasbora needs to be kept in a group of at least six. Interestingly, one of the reasons they are compatible with bettas is because they are commonly found together in their natural habitat and therefore are used to living together.

4. Ember Tetras

Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

Similar to the neon tetra, the Ember Tetra is a small schooling fish. They too will keep to their small group and are fast enough to swim away from an aggressive betta.

5. Corydora Catfish

Corydoras Catfish
Image Credit: Rethinktwice, Pixabay

These popular fish are very easy to care for. The corydora catfish are social fish and they do need a few others of the same species in the tank with them. They are bottom-dwellers so, like the pleco, they won’t interfere with the betta’s space or food.

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What Fish Shouldn’t Live With Bettas?

It’s important to keep in mind that not all fish are good tankmates for bettas. They do have an earned reputation for being aggressive. Some fish that should never be kept in the same tank as a betta include:


Goldfish in freshwater aquarium_
Image Credit: luckypic, Shutterstock

Goldfish and bettas don’t make good tank mates. Unlike some of the other species on this list, their incompatibility has more to do with habitat than aggression. Goldfish are messy and like cooler water. Bettas prefer warm water and need a pristine tank.


Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

The gouramis are actually related to the betta. Their similar temperaments mean they shouldn’t be housed together or you risk aggression between them.


cichlids in aquarium
Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

The many fish that make up the cichlid family are known to be aggressive toward other species, including bettas.

Tiger Barbs

Tiger barb
Image Credit: Grigoriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Tiger barbs are aggressive and attracted to the fins of the betta. This is not a good combination as they tend to destroy the betta’s fins anytime they are kept in the same tank.

Other Bettas

dumbo halfmoon betta
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

You should never keep two bettas in a tank together. They will attack one another and often kill each other in the process.

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Final Thoughts

While plecos are pretty easy-going tank mates for most fish, bettas can be tricker to house with others. Plecos are peaceful bottom dwellers that don’t want to bother the other fish in the tank. Bettas, on the other hand, will attack fish that it feels are competing with them for space, mates, and food. If you have a betta, make sure you are paring it with fish that won’t trigger its aggressive tendencies.

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