Can Betta & Ember Tetras Live in the Same Tank?

Betta fish are commonly kept in an aquarium by themselves, and it’s common knowledge male betta can’t be kept together, but can you keep betta with ember tetras?

You can keep 8-10 Ember Tetras in an aquarium with a short-finned betta as long as the aquarium is at least 10 gallons in size and longer than it is tall. This depends on the betta having a laid back personality.  Ember Tetras are known for fin nipping, however, so it’s not guaranteed to work out.

Let’s discuss what you’re going to need to know if you want to keep these two species together.

My Betta in Front of My Ottos | Source: Tiny Underwater | License: CC-BY-4.0

Can you have Betta fish and Ember Tetras in the Same Tank?

Many people believe that you cannot have Betta fish and Ember Tetras in the same tank. This is not true as long as you give them the right care.

Betta fish are a tropical fish that come from Thailand, while Ember Tetras are a livebearer species that come from South America. But when they are together, they may fight each other for dominance.

In a lively discussion here, the comment is made that care should be taken when placing both species in a tank together, because even if the Betta is well-behaved, the Tetras may nip or even chase a Betta, especially if they are in a group and the Betta is on its own. Another experienced fish owner describes how his Betta attacks Embers, claiming it attacks the smallest of the Ember Tetras and is one nasty fish!

Ember Tetra | Source: Deposit Photos

Tetras swim very fast and therefore can bother Bettas with nipping of their fins and then escaping quickly before the Betta can react.  This can be reduced, of course, if you have a shorter finned variety of betta.

And it’s not all bad, of course.  I’ve heard from quite a few fish keepers that keep bettas and ember tetras together with no issue.  In fact, in one poll, more than 40% of respondents thought ember tetras were the best schooling fish for a betta tank (out of 5 options, beating neon tetras and harlequin rasbora both).

The personality and behaviour of an individual Betta seems to come into play when deciding whether to put it in the same tank as Ember Tetras. There are several people who have said that their betta was happy to coexist with Ember Tetras because of its laid back attitude. 

Betta fish, siamese fighting fish, betta splendens | Source: Deposit Photos

So, if you are thinking of putting a Betta in a tank with your Tetras, one great peice of advice is to know the personality and behaviour of your Betta before doing so.

Do Bettas and Ember Tetras Like The Same Water Conditions?

Ember tetras like water with a pH 6-7, soft acidic water, and water with a temperature of 74-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Ember Tetra is a hardy fish that can live in a variety of water conditions. They need a tank with plenty of plants and rocks for hiding places. In their natural habitat. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions in the aquarium enabling them to share a tank with other types of freshwater fish.

Betta fish prefer water with a PH of 6.8-7.5 with a temperature of 75-80F.

Ember Tetra | Source: Deposit Photos

Temperature-wise, the Ember Tetra and Betta prefer very similar water conditions.  There is less of an overlap when it comes to PH, but both will happily live in a PH of 6.8-7.

Another important thing to remember is that most fish will live outside of their ideal water parameters as long as you provide them with stable water conditions and acclimate them properly when adding them to the aquarium.

Can Bettas and Ember Tetras Eat The Same Food?

Ember tetras and bettas have different dietary needs and should each be fed their own food.  Bettas are carnivorous, meaning they only eat meat.  Ember Tetras are omnivorous, meaning they can eat a lot of what the betta can but should have less meat and more plant matter in their diet.

Ember Tetra | Source: Deposit Photos

Ember Tetras are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. A typical Ember Tetra diet will consist of vegetables, shrimp pellets, blood worms, and other frozen meaty foods. Tropical flakes are a good food source for Ember Tetras.

Bettas, on the other hand, are carnivores.  They should only be fed meat based foods, not vegetables or other plants.  Mysis shrimp, blood worms, occasional daphnia, and food specifically formulated for bettas are what they should primarily be fed on.

Increasing the Odds Your Betta and Ember Tetras Get Along

As we’ve discussed earlier, there is no guarantee your fish will get along, even though they can certainly be compatible with each other.

If you want to increase the odds of successfully keeping the two in the same tank, here are some things you can do.

Wild Betta Alien Female or Plakat | Source: Deposit Photos

First, you’ll want to make sure the tank is well planted out – either with real or fake plants.  You want to break up the line of sight as much as possible to reduce potential confrontations between the betta and tetras.

The less they see each other, the less likely they are to pester one another.  Because of this, having a lot of decorations available that they can hide in will help a lot.

While I have no proof that the following makes any difference, I would make sure they are well fed (but not overfed).  I’d have to imagine that feeling like they have to compete for limited resources can’t help things.

Conclusion

Betta and Ember Tetras can definitely get along, but not every group of embers will get along with every betta.

Because Ember Tetras can be fin nippers, going with a plakat or female betta may reduce the likelihood that your embers will pester your Betta too badly.  You’ll also want to use a betta with a laid back personality if at all possible.

And lastly, a larger aquarium with plenty of hiding spots will be much more likely to breed a positive relationship than a small, open, and cramped aquarium.

Good luck with your aquarium!