Will Bettas Eat Shrimp? The Complete Answer

In my previous article, I shared the best tank mates for the betta fish, and many novice betta keepers wondered, “Will Bettas eat shrimp?” And so, in this article, I will answer this question.

Read on.

Betta fish or the Siamese fighting fish is a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish that are famous for its ethereal fins and flamboyant colors. However, anyone that owns a betta fish, knows that they are quite aggressive towards other fish species. That’s the main reason, betta fish is popularly used for fish fights. But, their aggressive nature has made aquarists think, “Can betta fish live with shrimp?”

The answer is a yes and a no, both.

Betta Fish Behavior

Bettas are voracious eaters that are also carnivorous. It means betta fish is fond of live food, whatever is available to them. Betta fish won’t even spare their sick or injured tank mates. Therefore, adding shrimp and bettas in the same tank might seem way too adventurous.

Therefore, in this article, I’ll list all the compatible shrimps for your betta fish in the same tank.

Best Companion shrimp for your Betta fish

Bettas are known to prey on most freshwater shrimp such as cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp, crystal red shrimp, bumblebee shrimp, and other baby shrimp that are an easy catch for your betta fish.

Therefore, not every shrimp is compatible with your betta fish. When choosing a perfect shrimp for your betta tank, always notice the size of your shrimp. Smaller shrimp tend to be the favorite prey for your betta fish. Thus, choose a shrimp that is exactly the same size as your betta fish, if not bigger.

Cherry Shrimp And Bettas

The riskiest type of shrimp in your betta tank would be cherry shrimp. That’s because they are small in size with the female cherry shrimp growing about only a foot in length while males tend to grow a bit larger. Either way, the chances of your cherry shrimp being eaten by your betta fish are always very high.

Female Cherry Shrimp

But what if, even after all these warnings, you want to keep your betta fish and red shrimp together? Well, fortunately, you can. And if you think your bettas will get along with the cherry shrimp, the first thing you should do is introduce them to the tank.

Here are some tips to get your bettas and cherry shrimp to live together.

Make sure your betta is already living with the shrimp

If your betta fish has never been introduced to a shrimp, chances are they will attack them right away.

Thus, in order to keep them in harmony, I suggest getting a betta fish that already lives with shrimp and other small fish. This way it will act less territorial and aggressive towards the poor shrimp and make great tank mates for your shrimp.

Provide your betta and shrimp with lots of hiding places

The most important thing you should do to kill the territorial behavior of your betta fish is to provide it with ample hiding places. Make use of driftwood, caves, and java moss, where your bettas can feel secure and be less aggressive.

Get a big fish tank for your betta and cherry shrimp

Keep your cherry shrimp out of your bettas sight by providing a tank big enough for them to swim freely. If you intend to keep your cherry shrimp and bettas together, I suggest getting a tank no smaller than 20 gallons.

Introduce the cherry shrimp first in the fish tank

When you put another creature in a betta tank, it’s natural for them to feel like their territory has been invaded. And as a response, they might brutally attack your cherry shrimp.

To administer this, I suggest introducing the cherry shrimp first in your betta tank.

Amano Shrimp And Bettas

Amano shrimp can make excellent tank mates for betta because they can reach a length of over 1 inch with an average lifespan of two to three years, unlike cherry shrimp. Amano shrimp also showcase dull colors that don’t pique your bettas to attack them aggressively.

Amano Shrimp Female

However, consider the following points before adding Amano shrimps to your betta tank.

The temperament of your bettas

If your betta fish has shown aggressive and territorial behavior (like the video below) in the past few days, it’s highly likely that it will attack the Amano shrimp as well. Thus, if your betta has never lived with a tank mate before, refrain from adding Amano shrimps as they are quite costly. If you must, adding ghost shrimp is a great option because they are reasonable and used as a feeder shrimp anyway.

The size of Amano shrimp

Shrimp species are naturally smaller in size than the betta fish. So, it’s natural for a betta to attack smaller shrimp. Not because they are territorial, but shrimp serves as food for your bettas.

To cater to this problem, consider the size of your shrimp before adding it to your tank. In this regard, Amano shrimp species are an excellent choice as they are large and dull in color.

When looking for an Amano shrimp from the store, I suggest asking the clerk about the largest Amano shrimp possible to add to your betta tank.

Author Note: Look out for the female Amano shrimp as they are larger than the male shrimps

Ghost Shrimp And Bettas

If you’re planning to introduce shrimp species in your betta tank for the first time, then ghost shrimp is your best bet. Because:

  1. Betta fish is smaller than ghost shrimp
  2. Ghost shrimp is used as a feeder shrimp anyway.
  3. They are cheap and easily available everywhere
  4. Ghost shrimp pose no potential threat to your bettas
Ghost Shrimp

Therefore, shrimp can live with bettas comfortably. However, there are chances that your betta will eat ghost shrimp. Thus, if you’re planning to introduce shrimp as tank mates for your betta, do this:

Add plenty of hiding places in your tank

Ghost shrimp, by nature, is very skittish. Therefore, in order to provide them with a safe place, add lots of aquatic plants, driftwoods, rocks, caves, and other aquatic ornaments.

The safer your ghost shrimp feel, the more it will explore the tank and come out.

Invest in a bigger betta tank

At least a 10-gallon tank would suffice the requirements of your ghost shrimp and betta together. Because betta eats ghost shrimp when it’s frustrating seeing your shrimp everywhere. The more space they have, the less interaction they make. And it results in an overall peaceful, friendly tank environment.

Also, a bigger tank provides more space for your ghost shrimp, in case it wants to escape the betta aggression.

Keep your betta well-fed

I’ve observed that betta and ghost shrimp live together in harmony, but there are cases when your betta will end up eating the ghost shrimp. Therefore, adding shrimp as a tank mate for your betta is quite risky. But you can do little effort to avoid the casualties.

Before introducing ghost shrimp in your betta tank, I suggest feeding your betta beforehand. That’s because betta eats ghost shrimps when they are hungry.

How many ghost shrimp should be kept in a tank?

Ghost shrimps are known to be happy around other shrimps. Therefore, to keep them happy and healthy, it is recommended to add at least two to four shrimp to a tank.

When you’re adding shrimp, avoid ghost shrimp babies as they are more likely to be attacked by your bettas.

The Best Shrimp For Your Betta Fish

I’ve discussed almost all types of shrimp species compatible with your Siamese fighting fish. However, there are one species that ticks all the boxes for the best shrimp and betta tank mate.

Bamboo Shrimp or the Wood Shrimp

Bamboo or wood shrimp is a freshwater shrimp species that are native to Southeast Asia. These shrimp species make excellent tank mates for your bettas fish. Since they are docile, healthy, active, and of different sizes, they are really fun to keep as betta tank mates.

Bamboo Shrimp on Driftwood

Bamboo shrimp can come in small, medium, and large sizes, depending on your needs. The best thing about these shrimp is you can get them at any store, either your local store or chain stores. However, before buying, inspect the shrimp thoroughly—the legs, antennae, and eyes should be healthy.

The other reason bamboo shrimp is great for your betta is that they have soft exoskeletons that break down easily, in case your bettas eat any of them.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind before adding bamboo shrimp to your tank.

Adding lots of live plants

Bamboo shrimp appreciates enough live aquarium plants to provide them with places to climb on and hide under. Also, they admire other hiding places such as rocks and driftwoods.

The bigger the tank size, the better

The bamboo shrimp is a filter-feeding shrimp. It means that it pulls food from the water column. Therefore, to increase water volume, the size of the tank should be enough to support bamboo shrimp’s food needs.

I recommend getting a tank of 20 gallons or more to suffice the needs of your bamboo shrimp.

Betta and Shrimp Food: Feeding Betta and Shrimp

When it comes to feeding betta fish and shrimp, all you need to think about is betta foodBecause shrimp is a scavenger for food. It will eat everything provided to it. Thus, when you provide your betta with high-quality nutritious food, know that your shrimp is well-fed with whatever you feed your bettas, either vegetables or meat. Bettas are carnivores and voracious eaters, so they need a high-protein diet that includes live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods, and sinking pellets.

However, this doesn’t imply that you completely ignore your shrimp in terms of food. Because as compared to a hungry betta, shrimp are slow eaters and may be left behind. So, I suggest feeding your shrimp a varied diet from time to time.

Difference Between Male Betta fish and Female Betta Fish When It Comes To Shrimp

When it comes to shrimp, there is no difference between a male and female betta as they both can get aggressive around small shrimp. However, the biggest shrimp is out of the league of your bettas because it cannot fit in their mouth. For this reason, dwarf shrimp species such as African dwarf are not suitable to keep with your bettas.

When judging the size of your bettas, the male betta is larger than the females. Therefore, consider a female betta to be a more compatible tank mate for your bettas.

FAQs

Can bettas live with shrimp?

Yes, bettas live with shrimp in a freshwater aquarium tank. However, it’s no news that betta fish will mostly prey on your shrimp. That’s because the size of most shrimp is smaller than the betta fish. In most cases, betta fish considers your shrimp as their regular food since shrimp can easily fit in your bettas’ mouth. Therefore, it is recommended to add the biggest shrimp possible to your tank to avoid casualties.

Why is my betta eating my shrimp?

Your betta is eating your shrimp because it is meant to. Bettas are voraciously carnivorous creatures and it’s a no-brainer that they will eat everything that fits in their mouth. Unfortunately, most shrimp would fit in your betta’s mouth. Also, they make such delicious treats for your Siamese fighting fish.

To avoid this problem, please go for shrimps that are bigger in size and are compatible with your betta fish. One other reason your betta might be eating your shrimp is that they have never lived with a tank mate.

Bettas are very aggressive and territorial fish that attack other small fish and shrimp in no time. This is the reason I always recommend introducing your shrimp to your tank first. Also, it is advisable to get the betta fish that has been living with other tank mates for quite some time.

Why did my betta eat my shrimp?

It may be because your shrimp was too small to fit in the mouth of your betta fish or you provided fewer hiding places for your shrimp so your betta ended up eating it.

Do bettas eat cherry shrimp?

Cherry shrimps are very small aquatic animals that can end up as a snack for your betta fish. They are not the best choice for a Betta. While they can live successfully in an aquarium with a Betta, you will need a larger tank or a heavily planted tank so they have places to hide.

If your betta eats cherry shrimp, it can cause digestive issues because of the hard exoskeleton that is hard to break.

Do bettas eat Amano shrimp?

Amano shrimp is a great tank mate for your betta as long as it’s of the right size. Amano shrimp comes in various sizes. Thus, to keep them with bettas, ask the breeder or storekeeper to get the biggest possible shrimp that is difficult to fit in your betta’s mouth.

Can I keep cherry shrimp with a betta?

Yes, you can. In fact, betta fish and cherry shrimp comfortably live with each other. However, you should do the following to keep them happy together:

1. Add lots and lots of hiding places
2. Get a tank big enough to accommodate betta and shrimp with hiding places and ornaments
3. Introduce cherry shrimp to your tank first
4. Make sure your betta is comfortable living with the tank mates

What kind of environment do betta fish and shrimp require

The best part about keeping betta fish and shrimp as tank mates is that they both share the same tank preferences. And maintaining a healthy ecosystem starts from maintaining the right type of environment for the tank mates.

For your betta and shrimp tank you should:

– Add real plants. For example, java fern and java moss. Low light plants and high light plants.
– Get a big fish tank. No less than 10 gallons
– Invest in some aquarium ornaments and add lots of hiding places. For example driftwoods, caves, rocks, etc.

Will Bettas Eat Shrimp? (Final Thoughts)

Betta fish is a beautiful creation of nature that is a treat to watch in your freshwater aquariums. However, it’s no wonder they can be super aggressive and territorial, and being voracious eaters, they eat everything that looks like food to them.

Therefore, experts don’t recommend keeping them with other small fish or shrimp species. A betta will eat and attack your shrimp if it feels threatened by it or is extremely hungry. Many fish keepers I know reported their betta fish suddenly attacked their shrimps without any reason or provocation.

Therefore, whether betta fish will eat your shrimp or not is a highly debatable topic with no one answer.

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

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