Skip to content

Guide to Keep Otocinclus With Betta Fish

Otocinclus With Betta Fish

Betta fish are known for their aggressive nature and territorial behavior. They usually prefer to be alone. This does not mean that you cannot host another fish with your betta fish. Keeping in mind the temperament of the betta fish, you can keep an otocinclus with betta fish.

If you want to know if it is at all possible to keep an otocinclus with betta fish, the short answer is yes. However, you should keep in mind that Otocinclus is not the easiest fish to keep with a betta fish. If the correct parameters are not met, the chances of your tank’s success will go down drastically.

How to Keep Otocinclus With Betta Fish?

Otocinclus With Betta Fish

Otocinclus is a freshwater catfish with over 19 different species. These fish may be found in the Andes mountain region of South America. They prefer well-oxygenated and moderate-flowing streams. They can be observed schooling in the hundreds, nibbling on algae-covered leaves and rocks.

Interestingly enough, these fish are most commonly seen in the upper region near the water surface. These fish have developed the capacity to breathe atmospheric air just like the betta fish. If the water’s oxygen levels are low, otocinclus will swim to the surface and breathe atmospheric air.

The water current is one of the most difficult things to deal with while keeping an otocinclus with betta fish. Otocinclus catfish prefer a steady and constant flow of water, whereas bettas require a moderate and low flow.

The way you design your tank is one of the best solutions to get around this. You will have enough area in a 20-gallon tank or more to slow down the stream till it is conditioned for your betta at the further end of the tank.

Plants and decorations should be placed in front of the water flow to achieve this. At first, place the plants sparsely, then more densely where you want less current. As a result, your betta fish will be able to swim happily in the tank.

Otos are amazing algae eaters that will prevent unnecessary algae outbreaks in your tank. Otocinclus should never be kept in an aquarium that is not already planted or set up because of their high desire for algae. Lack of sufficient algae can cause it to starve to death.

The Otocinclus catfish is a peaceful creature that will not attack your betta unless it is deprived of proper food. Your betta, on the other hand, may or may not indulge in a fight with the oto. There is a possibility that your betta will attack your oto unprovoked.

In a tank with bettas, no fish is safe, unless and until you know your betta’s temperament and personality before introducing a tank member with the betta. It is recommended not to put an otocinclus with betta fish if he is too aggressive.

Problems in Keeping an Otocinclus With Betta Fish

One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining otocinclus is that they rely significantly on the algae already existing in your tank. Thus, if your tank setup is relatively new, it may be challenging to host otocinclus in your tank.

Otos are pretty picky eaters and will need to be fed algal wafers and blanched veggies regularly. It is also worth noting that these fish are timid and would only thrive in a community tank with other calm fish such as rasboras and tetras. Betta fish may be pretty intimidating for your oto.

Furthermore, otos must be kept in groups and will not fit in a 10-gallon betta fish tank owing to space constraints. Remember that, like your betta, oto catfish prefer the upper level of the water tank, and the two fish will not be able to live in the same tank happily.

To mimic their natural habitat, Otos also require a high water flow. Higher water currents can quickly drive bettas about the tank, and they will not tolerate the conditions required to keep otos happy.

Additionally, bettas have been observed frequently picking at aquarium plants. Because plants produce algae, which provides the majority of otocinclus food, a lack of natural hiding areas might cause your Otocinclus to starve and get stressed.

Because of the extended time they spend on travel and the scarcity of food available in pet stores, otos are infamous for transmitting the disease to fish tanks. You should isolate an otocinclus for a few weeks before introducing it to your aquarium with a betta.

Other Ideal Tank Mates For Your Betta Fish

Here are some of the most suitable tank mates for your betta fish.

Corydoras Catfish

Cory catfish is perhaps the most popular tank mate choice for your betta fish. These fish should be kept in groups, and the water temperature should be checked periodically because Cory catfish prefer colder temperatures. Recommended tank size is at least 20 gallons.


Being a bottom dweller and perhaps the most peaceful aquatic animal, snails are also one of the most suitable candidates for betta tank mates. Snails like Nerite snails, Rabbit snails, Assassin snails, and trapdoor snails are best suited for your betta fish.


Shrimps are also quite peaceful creatures and generally stay away from the water surface of the tank where the bettas usually are. This prevents confrontation and a possible attack by the betta fish. The most suited shrimp types for a betta fish are red cherry shrimp and ghost shrimp.

FAQs on Keeping Otocinclus With Betta Fish

Can an otocinclus live alone in a tank?

NO. They should be kept in groups of at least 3 to avoid stress and anxiety. While 3 is the recommended amount for a group, a school of 5 to 6 is much happier and safe.

Can I keep otocinclus in a 5-gallon tank?

As they are kept in schools of at least 3, otocinclus generally prefer a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. Thus, a 5-gallon tank may not be enough and suitable for otocinclus.

What is a good algae eater for a betta tank?

– Otocinclus catfish
– Bristlenose Plecos
– Guppies
– Cory Catfish
– Rabbit Snail
– Bamboo Shrimp

Final Thoughts

While some people have successfully kept Otocinclus with betta fish, it is still suggested that they be kept in a communal tank with other calm fish. As long as all of the conditions are met, you can add an otocinclus to your betta tank.