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Betta fish and goldfish are two of the most popular and well-known fish available in the aquarium hobby. Both these fish are considered beginner fish, with hardy immune systems and supposedly minimal care requirements. I get asked a lot – “Can Bettas And Goldfish Live Together?” The quick answer is no.
While bettas and goldfish are relatively easy to keep independently, the similarities stop there. As we’ll see, these are two very different types of fish that have their unique demands.
As a result of these differences, betta fish and goldfish cannot live in the same tank together. Don’t worry, though. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep both of them at the same time!
- Can betta fish live with goldfish? No, they can’t.
- Betta fish and goldfish are very popular fish that are sought after by beginner hobbyists who might not understand why these fish are incompatible.
- There are a few reasons why bettas can’t live with goldfish, including differences in behaviors, aquarium setups, and diets.
- The main differences between these fish are in water temperature and feeding habits.
Betta Fish Care
Before we jump into why betta fish and goldfish can’t be kept in the same tank, it’s important to understand the basic fishkeeping behind each species.
Betta fish, scientifically known as Betta splendens, is a domesticated species of fighting fish from Southeast Asia. These fish originate from shallow and often temporary pools of water throughout Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. They have been bred over centuries to exhibit the best colors and finnage, but also demonstrate heightened aggression to other fish.
In the aquarium hobby, betta fish can comfortably live in a heated 5 gallon aquarium. As these fish originate from a tropical climate, bettas need to be kept at a constant water temperature between 78 and 80° F. They are hardy to imperfect water conditions but may develop fin rot and other diseases if water parameters aren’t kept stable.
It should also be noted that betta fish enjoy tannin-stained waters with a lot of organic material. This creates a lot of shade and hiding spots for betta fish to live while also lowering pH to as low as 4.0. In the aquarium, most hobbyists keep their betta tank between 6.5 to 7.0.
Wild bettas are naturally carnivores that prefer catching small insects that land on top of the water. While these fish should still be given a varied diet in captivity, betta fish thrive with high-quality flake, pellet food, and frozen food.
At one point or another, everyone has a pet goldfish. These fish can be won as a prize from carnival games to guests with little to no fishkeeping experience. While some winners do their best to give their new fish the best life possible, goldfish can be difficult to care for. Because so many people own goldfish at one point or another, they’ve been deemed as beginner fish even though they are not the easiest fish to keep long-term.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are another type of domesticated fish derived from wild Prussian carp many centuries ago. Over many years, goldfish were selectively bred to exhibit sought-after features, which led to different breeds. While not all goldfish grow to extreme sizes1, some of the most common breeds can grow over a foot. Because of this, most hobbyists recommend keeping goldfish in either very large tanks or ponds.
On top of their large size, goldfish live a long time. Most goldfish can easily surpass 10 years of age. It’s believed that the oldest goldfish lived to be about 43 years old. In addition, goldfish are very messy fish and easily pollute water conditions. A large goldfish tank helps to disperse waste, but an oversized and efficient filtration system is necessary alongside frequent partial water changes.
Wild carp originated from Europe and Asia, similar to betta fish. However, they come from very different ecosystems with cool water temperatures. In fact, goldfish prefer temperatures between 65 and 72° F. They can survive much colder temperatures (they are considered coldwater fish) than this over the winter by hibernating in deeper sections of water.
Goldfish are very opportunistic feeders and will try to eat anything that fits inside their mouth. Though goldfish food is easy to find at a local pet store, it can be difficult to find a diet that is fulfilling for the fish, and that doesn’t make a mess.
Can Bettas And Goldfish Live Together?
No, betta fish cannot live with goldfish. Now that we have a good understanding of where these fish species originate from and some of their behaviors, we can see why they aren’t compatible with each other in the same aquarium. Here is a video from my YouTube Channel so you have a visual. This blog post goes into more detail, so check out both. If you like my content, be sure to subscribe!
The main reasons why betta fish can’t be kept in the same tank as goldfish are due to differences in behavior, tank setup, and diet.
Differences In Behavior
Betta fish are known as Siamese fighting fish. This is because male betta fish were domesticated for violent competition. Unfortunately, this aggression carried on through the generations, and now both male and even female betta fish can be openly aggressive in the aquarium.
In addition to their aggression, betta fish are actually pretty lazy fish. They are often found floating on plants and other surfaces near the top of the water. Because of their inactivity, some bettas even become overweight and constipated.
This is in stark contrast to goldfish, who are almost always moving around the aquarium looking for their next meal – which makes sense given they don’t have a stomach! Goldfish are very active fish that aren’t necessarily aggressive, but they’re not community friendly either. As mentioned before, goldfish are very opportunistic feeders that will try to eat anything they come across. In some cases, this means fin nipping or nibbling on another fish out of pure curiosity.
A betta’s laziness and aggression cause the fish to become helpless in a situation like this. Goldfish are too big and persistent to be compatible with a betta’s more laid back and defensive demeanor.
Tank Setup Differences
Regardless of compatibility, placing a betta fish in the same tank as a goldfish doesn’t make sense from an aquarium design standpoint. Betta fish love crowded ecosystems filled with plants, driftwood, and dried leaves. Goldfish need almost empty tanks as they will disrupt any plants or substrate placed alongside them. Goldfish also need a strong and flowing water current to keep waste moving, while bettas prefer near-stagnant conditions.
Betta fish might have long flowing fins, but they’re small fish compared to 1 foot long goldfish or an 8 inch bulky fancy goldfish. In general, goldfish need as big of a tank as possible, with a pond being a preferred setting for long term goldfish housing. In contrast, betta fish like to be alone in small, dark, and contained systems.
Betta fish need a 5 gallon tank, while some slim bodied goldfish breeds need at least 75 gallons or more; fancy goldfish breeds have been successfully kept in 40 gallon aquariums.
Remember that goldfish and betta fish should never be kept in a tiny bowl!
More important than setup and size, water temperatures ultimately make betta fish and goldfish incompatible tank mates.
Bettas are true tropical fish that need warmer temperatures all the time. They cannot tolerate water temperatures much below 72° F or above 84° F. This is in contrast to goldfish, who can tolerate water temperature values in the high 70s for short periods of time.
While this small overlap might seem like betta fish could live with goldfish, goldfish cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to incorrect water temperatures. Instead, they need steady values below 72° F. These cold water fish can tolerate nearly every temperature below this temperature as long as they have a deep space to hibernate. They cannot tolerate sudden swings in temperature, though.
Another water quality concern for both goldfish and betta fish is ammonia. Betta fish live in small tanks with minimal filtration. Even though they don’t create a lot of waste, ammonia can build up from leftover waste and other decaying organics. Similarly, goldfish are very messy eaters and create a lot of organic waste in return. Both these fish are highly susceptible to ammonia poisoning even though they are both relatively hardy fish species.
Keep in mind that many betta fish are kept in acidic fish tank conditions. This is in contrast to goldfish, which prefer a more neutral pH of around 7.0.
Lastly, dietary and feeding differences between goldfish and betta fish make them incompatible.
Betta fish are primarily carnivores that hunt for their food. In the aquarium, they need to be given a high-quality flake food or pellet along with live, frozen, and freeze-dried options like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and insect larvae. Unlike goldfish, bettas will not eat live plants in the aquarium but may nip at exposed roots.
Goldfish also need a high-quality flake or pellet of goldfish food and may be given algae wafers from time to time. These fish are omnivores and are very eager to try eating whatever they can, so they will also readily accept live, frozen, and freeze-dried options.
While there is some overlap in diet between goldfish and betta fish, their feeding habits are very different, which ultimately makes them incompatible as tank mates.
Betta fish are very relaxed eaters who will take their time to investigate what they’re about to eat. Most often, these fish enjoy eating at the surface of the water in small portions at a time. Unlike bettas, goldfish will eat anything, anywhere, at any time – including your Betta Fish! Yes, that’s right, it is possible for your goldfish to eat your betta fish over time as the size differences are that significant!
All in all, goldfish are overly active feeders that would not allow a betta fish to eat. They will outcompete your betta and may eventually see your Betta as a food source.
The simple solution to having betta fish and goldfish living together is by having two separate tanks. Unfortunately, these two fish species will never be able to live together in the same aquarium. Instead of focusing on how one aquarium looks by itself, imagine how these two tanks could look side by side. Plan for an overall theme between the two tanks that connects them without sharing tank water.
The best alternative to keeping these popular fish together is keeping them separate! You can also consider other tankmates for each fish. We have posts you can view that talks about tankmates about both fish.
Why can’t betta fish live with goldfish?
There are several reasons why bettas don’t make good tank mates with goldfish. These reasons include differences in behavior, tank setup, tank size, water parameters, and diet. The biggest factors that prevent this tank mate pairing are differences in temperature and size differences.
Betta fish are tropical fish that need warm water temperatures, while goldfish need much cooler conditions. Goldfish are overly active feeders, and betta fish would be outcompeted during feeding times. The goldfish is also gets so large that it may consider the Betta as food!
Are goldfish easier to keep than bettas?
For the average hobbyist, betta fish are easier to keep than goldfish. Some can argue that goldfish are just as easy to keep as bettas, but their bare minimum requirements make them a little more challenging than other fish.
The simple truth is that goldfish need huge tanks with regular aquarium maintenance. Most goldfish tank setups start at 55 gallons, which is a big commitment for a beginner. This is in contrast to a 5 gallon betta tank setup that can eventually maintain itself.
Which fish can be kept with a betta?
Just because betta fish can’t live with goldfish doesn’t mean that they have to be kept by themselves. Betta fish tank mates depend largely on the behavior of the independent betta. If you have an especially aggressive betta, then options may be limited. However, if your betta is calm and friendly, then certain tetra and rasbora species may be a possibility.
Can betta fish eat goldfish pellets?
Many pet fish foods include the same ingredients. The only thing that changes from one to another is quality. For instance, some cheaper options have mixed fillers and types of meals that don’t provide the fish with any sustenance. Unfortunately, this is most true for goldfish foods, as many first-time owners are unaware of premium products.
In short, betta fish can eat high-quality goldfish food in a hurry, but a specific betta fish food is encouraged.
What fish cannot be with a betta?
Betta fish should not be kept with goldfish. In addition, betta fish should not be kept with other betta fish, especially multiple male bettas. They also should not be kept with similar-looking fish.
Can koi live with betta?
No, koi fish are much bigger and relatively more active than goldfish. If goldfish can’t be in the same tank as bettas, then koi fish definitely can’t!
Are betta fish easier to take care of than goldfish?
Betta fish are generally easier to keep than goldfish. Once established, betta fish will adapt to their surroundings. This doesn’t mean that they can live in poor water quality, though!
Can goldfish eat betta fish food?
Likewise, goldfish can also eat betta fish food in an emergency. This is not ideal as betta fish food is more protein based as they are carnivores, but feeding every once in a while will not hurt a goldfish.
Betta fish and goldfish are two fish that many fish keepers own at one point or another. These fish are so popular that some hobbyists might think that they’re able to live together in the same tank. However, due to differences in behaviors, aquarium setups, and diets, goldfish and betta fish cannot live together.
Instead, set up a small separate tank for your betta right next to your large goldfish only setup!
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I’m thrilled that you found Aquarium Store Depot! Here you’ll find information on fish, aquariums, and all things aquatics related. I’m a hobbyist (being doing this since I was 11) and here to help other hobbyists thrive with their aquariums! I adhere to a high quality Editorial Process and Review products with real life field usage and practical analysis.