Can A Redtail Shark and Betta Fish Live Together? Maybe…

Owners of the magnificent betta fish know well that bettas are not the most sociable fish out there. The betta is very territorial, prefers its personal space, and does not allow intruders around – fellow bettas or other fish. Two males cannot cohabit unless there is enough space and hiding places for the weaker male. Females can, in a sorority, as long as it is clear which one is the dominant fish.

Naturally, most fish owners and hobbyists prefer to inhabit their tanks with several different fish. Owners of bettas always ask themselves this one question: Can I couple up my betta with at least one more fish? The answer is most often “no” but there are exceptions.

Redtail sharks are also a popular choice for aquatic enthusiasts. They are small and easy to take care of and stand out nicely amongst the fish crowd with their glowing red tails.

Bettas are very territorial, dominant and do not enjoy sharing their personal space with other fish. Luckily, however, the two fish naturally do not swim in the same areas. The betta’s territory usually would be at the top of the tank, while redtail sharks prefer to swim at the bottom. So, there is hope! The two fish could live together, if provided the proper conditions to do so. In order to make sure they can live together successfully, you have to provide them individual space in the tank.

Attitude of Bettas and Redtail Sharks

The Redtail Shark

The redtail shark’s temperament is very similar to the one of the betta. If other fish swim in their territory, they can get quite defensive and aggressive. An interesting fact is that redtail sharks can chase the intruder until the fish becomes exhausted and even malnourished.

However, they are very unlikely to bite or attack other fish. It is very rare that they get to a point where they inflict any physical injuries to another fish.

The Betta Fish

As mentioned above, bettas are aggressive. They would not hesitate to attack and bite other fish if they feel threatened or disturbed in any way. Two males cannot live together unless there is a divider between them or plenty of space and hiding places. Females might get along, but there is no guarantee there either.

What Can You Do to Make A Redtail Shark And A Betta Fish Get Along?

Creating a certain environment in the tank can make the cohabitation between a redtail shark and a betta fish get along. Let’s see what the conditions are:

Suitable Tank Size.

Your first consideration when placing the two fish together is the tank size. The bigger your tank is, the better the two fish are going to feel. Redtail sharks need a lot of room to swim around freely and undisturbed and without it, they feel stressed and may become aggressive, nervous, and anxious. That is why they need a big and spacious tank. Young redtail sharks need at least 29 gallons and adults need at least 55 gallons.

Not only is the size of the tank important but so is the shape. Redtail sharks are very active and energetic swimmers, so make sure you provide them with a long tank. The longer the tank is, the more room for horizontal swimming space your fish will have. Also, the betta and any other tank inhabitants will really enjoy the extra space!

Natural Habitat.

To keep your fish as happy and content as possible, you should provide them with the appropriate habitat. For the redtail shark, it is very important to re-create their natural environment as much as possible. They are found in the freshwaters of Thailand, which means you should supply them with driftwood, rocks, and plenty of live plants for decoration.

The same goes for the habitat of the betta. This fish also prefers to feel in its natural habitat. Make sure you place enough decorations that act as hiding places, for example, pipes and caves. Bettas like feeling secure and protected.

Arrange the decorations in ways so that the elements act as a natural divider of the tank. Thus, the two fish will have designated areas of habitation and control. At some point, they will decide which territory is theirs and as long as no other fish intrudes, they will not get aggressive and be in each other’s way.

Other Things to Consider.

Suitable tank size and natural habitat are the two main things to take care of when pairing a betta fish and a redtail shark together. Of course, do not forget that diet, water conditions and feeding habits are also very important and you need to make sure that there is a good balance between the needs of the two fish.

In the meantime, take a look at several other important points to take into consideration:

  • At first, introduce a juvenile redtail shark to the betta, not an adult. Thus, you will make sure the betta will quickly establish its dominance over the young one and the hierarchy in the tank will be organized without any problems.
  • It is worth repeating again – invest in a bigger tank. The more space you provide, the less likely they will fight.
  • Help create a clear territory between the two fish via the decorations, plants and, if enough space, even tank dividers.

Useful tips and tricks.

Keep an eye on your fish. If there will be aggression, it will occur early. In case of aggression starts happening and keeps persisting after a couple of weeks, then it would be best to remove one fish from the tank. Stress and anxiety may be very harmful to your fish if they suffer for a long time.

Cover the top of your tank completely as both fish are able to jump out!

Add only one redtail shark and one betta. If you introduce a second (or more) bettas and redtail sharks, conflicts and fights will begin straightaway.


These are some useful tips to apply if you decide to introduce a redtail shark and a betta to each other. It’s not impossible to keep them together but some conditions should be met, and some preparation beforehand should be conducted. Meeting these conditions is not a guarantee for a successful co-habitation but it increases the chances for a conflict-free relationship.

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