Betta fish and goldfish are the favorite choice of pet fish for many aquarists, especially kids. So, you might be thinking about how cool it would be to have both species living together in your home tank.

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But can bettas live with goldfish? Betta fish have a pretty fierce reputation, whereas goldies are super-chilled out. So, would an arrangement for the two to live as tankmates be a marriage made in heaven or a recipe for disaster?

In this guide, we answer those questions and explain why goldfish and bettas might not be the happiest of bedfellows after all.

Goldfish and betta fishes

The iconic goldfish has arguably been the favorite choice of kids’ pet for decades, joined more recently by the betta fish. Both fishes are beautiful to look at and are relatively easy to care for, certainly more so than a cat or a dog. However, these are two totally different species with different requirements when it comes to their care.

Let’s take a closer look at bettas and goldfish to find out why they are so different.

Goldfish

All varieties of goldfish are distantly related to a species of Prussian carp, which are found primarily in Central Asia. It’s thought that there are approximately 125 goldfish varieties, which have all been created by crossbreeding and captive hybridization. There are no wild species of goldfish, unlike Placat betta fish, which are still found living in nature.

Wild carp inhabit slow-moving waters in ponds, rivers, lakes, and ditches, just like betta fish in nature. Also, pet goldfishes often find themselves confined to a small bowl or nano aquarium, which is an unsuitable habitat for these potentially large and dirty fish. Goldfish need a spacious tank with a very efficient filtration system to remove the vast amounts of waste that the fish produce. Also, all varieties of goldfish can grow to a fairly large size, and that cute two-inch Oranda you bought home will quickly morph into a six-inch stunner with gorgeous flowing fins.

Unfortunately, you’ll often see betta fish in a tank that is very small and has no filter system. However, wild bettas do like to establish territories of several feet square, so you can see that a tiny bowl is not suitable for them at all.

Betta Fish

Unlike the artificially raised goldfish, bettas do exist in the wild, although not in the fancy, long-finned varieties that are so popular with hobbyists and that you see for sale in fish and pet stores.

Bettas belong to the Osphronemidae tropical fish family that originates from southeast Asia and also includes another popular aquarium fish species, gouramis. There are an incredible 73 varieties of bettas, the majority being bred in captivity and heavily crossbred to produce the glamorous finnage and beautiful colors that are so coveted by enthusiasts.

Wild bettas live in small populations centered around the Chao Phraya and Mekong river basins in Thailand. Here, the fish live in slow-moving, shallow bodies of water, rice paddies, marshes, and ditches.

All bettas are termed “labyrinth breathers.” That means that the fish have a specially evolved labyrinth breathing organ that allows the betta to gulp air at the water surface. Much of the betta’s habitat is low in dissolved oxygen, and the labyrinth organ allows the fish to survive when water conditions are poor, typically during the dry season. Unfortunately, that has led people to believe that bettas are happy in tiny bowls without any filtration, which is not the case at all.

In fact, according to research that was undertaken by Adelphi University, the betta fish requires at least a two-gallon aquarium with a good filter system, heating, and lighting to remain healthy and thrive. Like goldfish aquariums, betta fish tanks must be cleaned regularly to maintain the optimum water conditions that these fish need to be happy.

Are betta fish aggressive?

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At the end of the day, bettas and goldfish simply don’t mix. They don’t share the same requirements for water conditions, tank size, and tank setup.

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So, can betta fish live with goldfish? The answer to that question has to be no. Sadly, although these two species would look great together, there are just too many things that goldfish prefer, and bettas hate for the two to get along as permanent tankmates. In theory, you could perhaps have a betta fish live with a fancy goldfish for a day or so, but that would have to be a very temporary arrangement.