Ember Tetra With Betta Fish – Can They Live Together?

ember tetras with betta

Ember Tetra With Betta Fish – Can They Live Together?7 mins read

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Tal Halperin
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Ember tetra with betta fish | can they live together?
Image from Flickr

Can you keep ember tetra with betta fish? there are many small tetras you may want to keep with your betta. However, when looking for Betta Fish tankmates it’s essential that they are compatible.

As a result, many people play it safe and go for foolproof options like Cory Catfish, and Cardinal or Neon Tetras. However, if you want to break out of the mold, you may wonder if ember tetra and betta fish can get along.

The Ember tetra is a less popular tetra that may catch your eye due to its distinctive soft coral-red color and translucent body. Fortunately, you can keep ember tetras with betta fish quite easily, depending on how you set up your tank. Read on to find out more, plus the ember tetra with betta 5 gallon tank myth, and what these fish REALLY need.

Can Ember Tetra Live With Betta Fish?

Ultimately, the answer to this question is yes. But, before we go into it in further detail, remember that very few fish species will get on if they are in dirty and overcrowded conditions. Ensure you have a high-quality environment for your fish before mixing any species – or even getting a fish in the first place.

That being said, there are specific considerations that you need to know. There is also a common ember tetra with betta 5 gallon tank misconception, which is never good for any fish.

What Makes A Good Betta Fish Tankmate?

A good Betta Fish tankmate is non-fin nipping and generally peaceful. However, they are not so small that they will trigger the Betta Fish’s predatory instinct (as can happen with shrimps occasionally). They must also be dull or at least uniformly colored because otherwise, the male Betta will see them as a threat.

Luckily the Ember tetra fits all these criteria and also requires similar conditions to the Betta Fish. Thus, read on to find out more about the individual needs of the species. We’ll also show you how you can meet them to ensure compatibility when keeping ember tetras with betta fish.

Ember Fish Profile

Ember fish profile
Ember Tetras come from the Araguaia river basin in Brazil, where they were discovered as recently as the 80s. Image from Flickr

Ember Tetras come from the Araguaia river basin in Brazil, where scientists discovered them as recently as the 80s. The Araguaia River is a relatively soft, slow-moving, and acidic environment, meaning these fish can tolerate a pH as low as 5.5. However, you can still keep ember tetras with betta fish at a higher pH.

Ember fish are a brick-red color that is slightly translucent. One unique feature is that you can see their skeletal structure within their body, giving them a jewel-like appearance.


Ember Tetras swim in a school and they need a minimum group size of 5 or 6 to thrive. However, they really do best in slightly larger groups of 8-9 so that they can fully express their schooling behavior.

Schooling is a mechanism fish use to stay safe from predators. The safety in numbers makes it harder for a predator to pick off any individual fish.

However, if you do keep a school of Ember Tetras this large, make sure you account for the extra water needed. A good rule of thumb is about 1 extra gallon per extra fish.


Temperature76-80 F (23-27 C)
Tank sizeMinimum 10-20 gallons (38-76 liters)

There are some myths about tank size for both ember tetra and bettas, let alone together. For example, ember tetra with betta 5-gallon tanks are often popular, but in reality, they are too small. We go further into tank size later on in the article.

Betta Fish Profile

Betta fish profile
Betta Fish come from the opposite side of the world to Ember Tetras – the rice paddies of Southeast Asia in countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Did you know that Betta Fish come from the opposite side of the world to Ember Tetras – the rice paddies of Southeast Asia in countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Breeders have selected traits in them so they have vividly colored, long fins. This makes them one of the most popular aquarium fish, and they are great for beginners. Despite their delicate appearance they are relatively simple to take care of.


Two major things make Betta Fish behavior stand out. The first is the tendency of the males to fight each other, sometimes to the death. This is why you should always keep Betta Fish in separate tanks if male. A female sorority tank is a different matter and setting this up is a project in its own right.

For the purpose of this article, we are mainly talking about ember tetras with betta fish males. However, you can keep ember tetras with betta fish so long as the bettas are in a female sorority. Just ensure to account for the extra space they will need.

It’s good to note that increased acidity can cause Betta Fish to be more aggressive. This is because acid water tends to be a sign that other Bettas have already fought in it. Don’t let the pH drop below 7!

The other thing that stands out about Betta behavior is that they are labyrinth breathers. This means they have a special labyrinth organ that they use to breathe air from the water’s surface.

Author’s Note: For Betta Fish, the labyrinth organ is a clever adaptation that allows these fish to always get enough oxygen in low-oxygen rice paddies. It also means Betta Fish love hanging out near the top of the tank.


Temperature76-80 F (24-27 C)
Tank size20 – 30 gallons (76 -114 liters)

Ember Tetra With Betta – The Similarities

Ember tetra with betta - the similarities
One thing that unites Ember Tetras (pictured) and Betta Fish is their ability to live in slow-moving bodies of water. Image from Flickr

Water Conditions

One thing that unites ember tetra with betta fish is their ability to live in slow-moving bodies of water. That means you won’t need to install a filter that is too strong for them.

They also both enjoy leafy environments with lots of organic matter, so make sure you have a well-planted tank.


When it comes to coexistence, it’s fortunate that ember tetra and betta fish live at different parts of the tank. As schooling fish, Ember Tetras enjoy hanging out in midwater where they have room to swim. So a tank that houses ember tetra with betta fish should account for both of these habitats.

Betta fish, on the other hand, spend their time at the top of the tank. This is where they may even build a bubble nest if they are exceptionally happy and healthy. So, keeping ember tetras with betta fish is not hard as they won’t cross territories much.

Ember Tetras With Betta Fish – Possible Difficulties

Ember tetras with betta fish - possible difficulties
Betta Fish are often kept in small tanks like this one pictured, whereas a school of Ember Tetras can require a surprising amount of space to move. Image from Flickr

Water Conditions

Are you very fussy about mimicking the exact conditions your fish live in in the environment? If so, you will find the habitat of the Ember Tetras is too soft and acidic for the Betta Fish. However, Ember Tetras are relatively hardy and you can indeed keep them at higher pHs if you want.

You may want to ensure you have some driftwood in your tank. This can make the water softer and slightly more acidic. This will mimic the Ember Fish environment without compromising the needs of your Betta too much.


People often keep Betta Fish in small tanks, whereas a school of Ember Tetras can require a surprising amount of space to move. Yet ideally, keeping ember tetra with betta fish should reveal the true amount of habitat and stimulation any fish species needs.

So, if keeping ember tetras with betta fish, you can solve this by having a tank that is longer than it is tall. This mimics the rice paddy shape that the Betta’s ancestors once lived in. It also gives your Ember Tetras enough space to swim.

Considerations For Keeping Ember Fish And Bettas Together

Ember Tetra With Betta Five Gallon Tank Myth

Unfortunately, there are lots of myths about the correct tank size for fish. There many misconceptions about betta fish needs, but the ember tetra with betta 5 gallon tank myth is one of the worst. Both these fish are sadly subject to lots of misconceptions as they are small!

Sadly, both ember tetras and betta fish often have to live in very small containers before sale. For bettas, this is a process known as jarring.

In reality, if you go by the metric that one gallon is fish is needed per tetra, then with a five-gallon (19 liter) tank you could only keep about five Ember Tetras. It definitely can’t keep a school of Ember Fish AND a Betta on top of that.

Minimum Recommended Tank Size

In fact, this is confirmed by the minimum recommended tank size from professional aquarists for Betta Fish – 10 gallons (38 liters). However, many fishkeepers believe that a Betta will thrive better in a 20 (76 liters) or even 30-gallon (114 liter) tank. There are other myths about Betta Fish, such as that they can survive without a filter, unfortunately. In truth, a proper tank setup is always best. An ember tetra with betta 5 gallon tank simply is not an environment for either fish to survive.

The idea of a nano tank may be attractive – but it’s ultimately not viable or healthy for your fish.

How To Set Up A Community Tank

Luckily, it’s easy to set up a proper community tank. Pick one that is big enough and longer than it is tall. For a tank that has ember tetra with betta fish, a 20-gallon (76 Liter) tank is a good idea. Then, plant it heavily so your fish have plenty of species to hide. Next, you can add a weak filter such as a HOB or sponge filter that filters around an average of 4x your tank capacity per hour.

Other Things To Think About

ember tetra with betta 5 gallon
Feed your Ember Tetras a basic tropical fish food. Image from Flickr

Once you’ve got your tank up and running, you may think that’s it. However, although fish are indeed low maintenance and can be left to their own devices, there is a bit more to it. Here are a few things you should otherwise consider:


One thing to consider is if you want to breed either of these species, you won’t be able to do it in the same tank.

Despite their peaceful coexistence, when breeding, all the same rules fly out of the window. Betta fish may eat the eggs that your Ember Tetras lay. This will then leave you to try and figure out where they have gone or how to get your Ember Fish to spawn again (something which is occasionally luck for beginner aquarists.

Many fish can be more aggressive when mating, too. This also means your Betta Fish may attack your Ember Fish if they go between him and a potential mate. Or, your Ember Fish may start fin nipping, although they are not normally a species that does this.

Either way, it’s best to keep them separate. Always invest in a proper breeding tank if you wish to breed any of your fish! If you do wish to breed Bettas, some scientists have found adding Indian almond leaf extract can promote bubble nest creation. However, it is unknown what effects this has on Ember tetras.

Author’s Note: Regardless of the species, it’s often best to separate a breeding pair from the rest of the tankmates. This is because breeding is a time of high stress for fish and therefore they generally need as much space as possible. If you are short on space you can use a tank divider to keep other fish away from your breeding pair.


Feeding ember tetras and betta fish isn’t a problem, as generally, they need different diets. This can have its pros and cons. On the plus side, it means there is less likelihood to be competition over food. If you feed your Ember Tetras a basic tropical fish food, you may find your Betta Fish doesn’t touch it due to the fact they prefer protein.

In fact, this is not just a treat but a healthy and nutritious food. Artemia, or brine shrimps, were found to stimulate growth in Betta Fish fry. Breaking up some frozen protein can also create two separate spots for feeding. In this way you can allow your Betta and Ember Fish to both have a taste of daphnia, brine shrimps, and tubifex worms whilst staying out of each others’ way.

Other Tankmates

Other Tankmates
The best tankmates are other schooling fish that get on with the Ember tetra and Betta, such as non-fin-nipping Tetras, or bottom dwellers like pleco fish (pictured back) and cory catfish. Image from Flickr

If you do want a varied community tank with ember tetra and betta fish, it’s best to add other tankmates according to their habit. The best tankmates are other schooling fish that get on with the Ember tetra and Betta. These are ones such as non-fin-nipping Tetras, or bottom dwellers like pleco fish and cory catfish.

It’s a good idea to avoid most barbs, as they can be aggressive. Also avoid any other labyrinth fish like gouramis. These will share space with your Betta at the top, and could come into conflict. Likewise, avoid cichlids and semi-hierarchal fish like angelfish or larger Amazonian species like the discus. These fish will inevitably trigger your Betta’s fighting instinct.

Lastly, when adding any tankmates, it’s best to figure out their ideal minimum tank capacity. You can then add this to the volume of your total aquarium calculation.

Author’s Note: With minimal space, you can avoid fish fighting by choosing species that occupy different parts of the tank. This is why how you set up the tank can be as important as how big it is. For example, if you have two species that like hanging out near the surface, like a Betta and a school of small rasboras, having a tank that is wider than it is tall, with a large surface area, can give them both plenty of space to establish territories.

Bottom Line

Ember Tetras are a great lesser known tetra and ember tetra and betta fish tanks can be surprisingly successful. The fact that they get on so well with Bettas shows the surprising variety of fish that these elegant paddy dwellers can actually coexist with.

Betta fish may have a reputation as sensitive or aggressive – especially due to their other name, Siamese fighting fish – and this is indeed grounded in reality. But it doesn’t apply to all species, and if you set up your tank correctly, you will find that your ember tetra and betta get along swimmingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Tetras are fin-nipping fish?
Due to your Betta Fish’s impressive fins, it’s important to choose tankmates that don’t nip fins as a general rule. Therefore, the following tetra species are best to avoid at all costs: Neon Tetras Emperor Tetras Serpae Tetras Rosy Tetras Black Skirt Tetras White Skirt Tetras Diamond Tetras
Will Betta Fish ever attack tankmates of a different species?
Betta fish will attack tankmates of a different species if they pose a threat, generally in terms of competition for mates. This tends to happen to fish that look similar to a Betta. This means fish with flamboyant and colorful finnage. However, it can happen within dirty water conditions and if the tank is too small. As a fish that is more sensitive and aggressive in general, in poor conditions, the Betta Fish is most likely to react. However, in good conditions, your Betta won’t attack your Ember Fish.
How do I know my Fish have settled in?
Acclimatizing fish to a new tank is always a gradual process. Your fish may be a bit reluctant to feed over the first few days and may be wary of each other, especially if they didn’t share a tank before. Your Betta may spend time hanging out amongst plants. You can tell when fish have settled in as your Ember Tetras will be confidently swimming midwater and your Betta will explore all parts of the tank. Likewise, all your fish will eat when fed, and generally seem happy and healthy, with no trouble balancing and with clear scales and bright eyes.
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Sydney Perry

Sydney Perry has loved fish since she was a child and has enjoyed keeping many varieties over the years, ranging from black moors and shubunkins to betta fish. As a lover of nature and of Japanese culture, her dream tank is an Iwagumi aquascape, combining fish with carefully crafted aquatic landscapes in miniature.