Betta is a type of fish whose reputation generally proceeds them.
You probably know that they have a reputation for being aggressive and attacking certain tank mates for no particular reason.
But does that behavior extend to shrimp?
It depends on the personality of the betta. A lot of them will attack shrimp, but a few of them can be kept with shrimp without any issue.
Do Bettas Eat Shrimp?
Bettas absolutely eat shrimp – regardless of how big or small they are. Anything from a newly hatched baby up to an adult ghost, cherry, or bee shrimp is at risk of being eaten by a betta.
In terms of their normal diet, it’s normal to feed betta either brine shrimp or mysis shrimp (living or freeze dried). When feeding shrimp, it’s best to swap out and feed bloodworms and flakes as well to make sure your betta gets all of the nutrition it needs.
Can Betta and Shrimp Live Together?
Generally speaking, betta and shrimp should never be kept together. While some betta will be perfectly fine living with shrimp, most betta will attack your shrimp any chance they get.
For every story I’ve heard about a betta living peacefully with shrimp, I’ve probably heard five about betta making a pastime out of scouring the floor of their aquarium looking for shrimp to turn into a meal.
And it doesn’t just end at baby shrimp either, even the larger juvenile shrimp are at risk. I’ve even heard of bettas hunting down and eating adult cherry shrimp.
They don’t even necessarily do it because they’re hungry (though they will eventually eat the shrimp). They just do it for fun.
Because of this, I would definitely avoid keeping bettas with shrimp of any kind.
However, since there are some betta that have lived with shrimp without killing them, I’ll talk about what you should do if you want to give it a try yourself.
How Do You Introduce Betta and Shrimp in the Same Tank?
If you want to try it out to see if your betta has the right temperament to live with shrimp, the best thing you can do is to start off by buying a few (5 – 10) ghost shrimp from your local fish store.
These are generally very cheap and such poor quality that they mostly die off over a few months anyway regardless of what you do. (A lot of them are caught from brackish water and aren’t well suited to living in freshwater aquariums.)
What they can do, however, is give you a chance to see how your betta reacts to shrimp without risking several dollars per shrimp.
Your tank should be heavily planted (with either real or fake plants) and have other hiding places, preferably at least some with entrances that are too small for betta to get into.
Ideally, you will want to introduce the shrimp at night, as shrimp are nocturnal creatures (so they’ll be awake) and betta are diurnal creatures (so they’ll be asleep).
This will give them the best chance at survival.
Here are a few additional tips:
- Make sure the water parameters are suitable.
- Acclimatize the shrimp to the water first by adding tank water into their transportation bag or bucket until they have adjusted. Then you can add the shrimp in to the tank.
- The shrimp may hide away for the first few days or weeks as they get used to their new home. With the betta lurking around, they may only come out an night.
What Tank Conditions Are Needed for Betta and Shrimp Together?
Water parameters – It is best to add shrimp to a betta tank who can live in the same water parameters. Betta require a water temperature of 78- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit and a pH level of 6.5 – 7.5.
Tank size – A larger aquarium is needed to house betta and shrimps. A minimum of 10 gallons is required to give them enough space to explore individually and give the shrimp a chance of hiding from your betta.
Plants and decorations – The tank will need plenty of plants, decorations, and caves for hiding places. This will give your shrimp somewhere to hide away when they feel threatened. Plants such as java fern, java moss, and driftwood, are ideal. Java moss is very good, as it provides a very thick cover when it is mature.
Food – Ensure your betta are well-fed so that they are not tempted to eat the shrimp as a snack.
Type of betta – Female betta fish are smaller than males. They are also aggressive, but they may be less likely to attack other things in your tank due to their smaller size.Temperament can also vary between betta, so it is best to pick one that shows less aggression or has experience living with shrimp or other species in a tank.
Type of shrimp – Ensure the type of shrimp are suitable to living with betta – those that are larger, less brightly colored, and can thrive in the same water parameters.
What Kinds of Shrimp Can Live with Betta?
Ghost shrimp: Grow to around 2 inches. They have a transparent body which helps them avoid being spotted in the tank.
Amano shrimp: Grow to around 2.5 inches. They have a transparent grey body which means they can easily hide.
Malawa shrimp: Grow to around 2 inches. They are semi-transparent and have light colors of red, brown, or blue.
Bumblebee shrimp: They grow to less than 2 inches and have vibrant red, white, and black stripes. This could attract betta to them and they need hiding places.
Red cherry shrimp: Their small size, up to 1.5 inches, and bright red coloring could make them a target for betta without an appropriate hiding place.
Avoid bee shrimp, as they require water that is a bit more acidic than what betta typically like. Keep in mind that all of these shrimp are still going to be vulnerable to being killed by your betta if it’s prone to attacking shrimp (like most are).
This is why I’d recommend starting with ghost shrimp just to gauge how your betta will react to them.
Generally speaking, I would avoid keeping shrimp in your betta tank if you care about the shrimp.
More often than not, a betta will pick shrimp off any time it gets the chance to. This means you’re likely to end up losing shrimp if they go into your betta tank.
There are some betta who are just completely chill and can live with shrimp without any issue, but those are not the norm.