Q: Dear Faith,
I just got 3 gold fishes and added them to the fish tank that my betta Zeus was in. When ever the gold fishes are in his way he nips at them. When he gets used to them will he stop doing that? He also flares at them. Thanks

above question submitted by Claudia, Carman Manitoba, Canada

Hello kids! Mamma Faith is back :). As always taking a (ever so short) vacation when you have a zillion bettas was HELL, but I (once again) pulled it off hehehehe... Of course I came back all relaxed from not having stared at a computer screen for 5 days :). But the PC got his revenge, as I found a HUGE pile of emails/betta orders/etc cluttering my cyber space :(( and had to spend hours and hours  cleaning it all up. Figures. So a day after my return I was right back to a stress level of 396740000 kilostress, which is just about where I was at before leaving ;). Wish they had a small bottle of "Stress Down" to bring back the stress level to neutral :P. I tried to pour "Stress Coat" on me, but it did not work :(, guess no matter what the USPO employees say, I am not (after all) a "FishLady". 

Uh? Why do they call me the fish lady you ask? Well, it is because (WHAAAAT? Who just said it is because I smell >8[]  GRRRRRR  ;P!! Step outside so we can have a man to man talk!) OK, so NO, it is because these guys have been watching me walk into the Post Office with boxes and boxes (and more boxes) of bettas being shipped for years and years now. So I have come to be known as the "fish Lady" (Lady who ships fish). On occasion I get called the "Mermaid" (sounds nicer). Either way they got it all wrong because the Stress Coat bath test failed, so I guess I am only human after all... (boohoooo).

Which brings me to the next topic. My being only human after all means that, despite above "All you ever wanted to know" claims, I do not have the answers to all betta mysteries :)... Only to 99.99 of them hehe. And when it comes to goldfish, well, I just plain don't speak their language so what is going through their little red heads beats the heck out of me :))).

A few things I do know about bettas, and goldfish in general:

  • to each fish his own: each betta has a different personality. Some are smart and some... Well, you know... Some are lively and some are lazy. Some are aggressive and some are gentle. Some get along and some are quite antisocial. Some may like goldfish and some belong to the "Death to Goldie" club. So although it is possible that some goldfish and some bettas might be able to coexist, I would not count on it and each community tank has to be assessed depending on the specific individuals that live in it. In your case, a grouchy betta (who feels his space has been invaded) and a few wimpy goldfish LOL !

  • Water needs: Bettas and goldfish do not exactly have the same water needs. Yes, both can survive without the help of expensive filters and air pumps. However, Goldfish are cold water fish while bettas are tropical fish. Goldfish can live in icy water, while bettas will die in about 3 to 15 seconds in icy water. Bettas, however, can do very well at high temperatures up to 86F, and I do not believe this to be the case with Goldfish (but as I said I am no Goldfish expert and if I was, then this site would be called GoldfishTalk, and not Bettatalk - duh!). Because of these different water needs, putting the two fish together is kind of a mismatch. Yes, it can be done, but as my mother always says: "Just because you could doesn't mean that you should" ;). Wise woman, my mother... 

  • Personality mismatch: Another thing with bettas and goldfish. They are a mismatch personality wise: 

    Goldfish: dumb as a post, swims a lot all the time, eats a LOT and (yes) Pooooops a LOOOOOOT (hence polluting its own tank at lightning speed). Pretty harmless, big toothless mouth pointing down, silly looking. In short, your retarded cousin type :).

    Betta: Cunning, elegant, majestic, smart, temperamental, likes his space, likes his peace. Moves slow, likes napping a lot. Does not want to be disturbed, especially not by retarded cousins ;). Small mouth pointing upward, ideal to pick on above mentioned retarded cousins crowding the water space above him hehehe.

    As you can see, as I paint this (ever so colorful) picture, the two fish have little in common :). His highness the regal betta wants to have the tank to his self. The goldfish are an aggravation he could do without. When small, the godlfish may also be perceived by Mr. Betta as other bettas and attacked accordingly. As they grow bigger (and bigger and bigger), the betta might figure out the goldfish are not bettas and leave them alone (or not?). 

As I said above, each betta is different, and some individuals may associate with goldfish while others would not be caught dead socializing with one ;). What I would recommend, is that you do not put goldfish with your betta (yep, I was working my way to this one hehehehe). But if you MUST ab-so-lu-te-ly try this mismatch, then I would recommend the following:

  • make sure to keep water temps in medium range: 70F should work for both species involved. Do not let water get too hot and most importantly too COLD. At 55F, bettas will die from hypothermia (while goldfish will thrive).
  • keep a close eye on all parties involved: The goldfish are more at risk then the betta, but a hurt betta unable to swim away (sick etc) can be picked on thoroughly by a goldfish. 
  • give it a 2 week try: if after 2 weeks, betta is still nipping at the goldfish, then chances are, he always will. The cohabitation will then most certainly end in a blood bath of some sort. 
  • make sure to keep tank clean: Goldfish are very dirty fish and can withstand more harmful levels and bacteria attack then bettas. Bettas are more fragile than goldfish. Hence if the goldfish poopoocaca your tank and seem to be A-OK, your betta however will pay the price and get sick. So you will have to clean up a lot more to compensate for this discrepancy.
  • make sure goldfish do not eat your betta's food. Remember they swim faster than him and seem to never stop eating. They are likely to eat everything you toss in there and not give Mr. Betta a chance to get to his food (GRRRRR). Although betta food will not hurt them per say, the lack of food will hurt and weaken Mr. Betta. This problem will become more and more critical as the goldfish get bigger and bigger!

Well, I hope I was helpful (at least to a degree). Once again I recommend keeping goldfish in one larger tank and Mr. Betta in his own 3 gal tank with gentle filter :), this is, in all truth, the best way to go. Goodluck to you and to your fish!

( and NO, I do not dislike goldfish, I actually think they are very cute, but my loyalty must lay with bettas so if I said real nice things about goldfish, my bettas would be really pissed off and I'd never hear the end of it LOL - they can hold a grudge for a long long time LOL and I don't want one to come flying out of his jar and latch on to my jugular at feeding time LOLOLOL :)))).) !!

 

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