Finding an acceptable tank mate for a betta fish is like finding a playmate for the schoolyard bully. It has to be one that's unfazed by aggressive behavior and willing to give a wide berth when flareups occur. Fortunately for fish enthusiasts wanting a friend for their betta, there are options.
These encased critters mind their own business in the tank. They go about their scavenger activities, making them efficient eaters of algae. Their hard shells protect them from any attacks a betta may make on them. The apple snail is a popular choice to hang out with a betta in larger tank settings. This is because the apple snail can get as large as a softball, thus taking up too much space in a smaller setting. The nerile snail is a handy choice for a tank mate in less spacious confines, as its maximum length is approximately an inch.
This member of the catfish family won't fight with a betta. That's because everything the pleco, as it is affectionately called by fish enthusiasts, finds enticing in terms of food interests are exactly opposite of the betta. The pleco is a voracious algae- and waste-eater, hugging the sides of the tank far away from the middle and top swimming zones the betta occupies. Plecos also enjoy the cellulose from the bark of submerged wood, as it helps their digestive process. Bettas are completely uninterested in what plecos like to eat, so the two species have nothing to fight about. One word of caution: Don't get a common plecostomus, as they grow fairly large in size. Preferred pleco species include the clown, bristlenose, pit bull and rubber lipped -- all of which grow to smaller sizes.
The lazy, sedentary attitude of this bottom-dwelling fish provides little reason for a betta to attack. Banjo catfish are extremely hardy, adjusting well to the very specific water temperature requirements bettas demand. Banjo catfish have another habit that abides well with bettas: Banjo like to feed at night when bettas are resting and not paying a great deal of attention to the activity around them.
Better known as "cories," these 2- to 3-inch-long fish prefer the bottom of the tank. They don't infringe on the betta's preferred territory in the middle and top sections of the tank, leaving little room for interaction. When and if a betta does attack, the bonelike armored structures on the outside of the cories' bodies provide ample protection. Cories also enjoy tropical water temperatures, just as does the betta.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.