While betta fish are solitary animals, they do well in tanks with small nonaggressive fish such as danios, tetras, guppies and gouramies. However, some of the best tank mates for bettas are snails, which not only provide company but also help keep the tank clean.
While simple pond snails will help keep an aquarium clean, there are many other varieties available. Many of these -- such as zebra, mystery and apple snails -- are much larger and more colorful than a common snail. In addition, these varieties are peaceful and will thrive in a wide range of light and water conditions. These species rarely breed in aquariums, an advantage over others that can become too numerous.
Adult zebra snails are about 2 inches long. You should have no more than one snail per 2.5 gallons of water. While its shell boasts black stripes on a tan background, its body is gray with black stripes encircling it, making it a colorful addition to the tank. The mystery snail is easy to find in most pet stores and comes in a variety of colors. Since it stays rather small, you can have several to a tank. Apple snails will eat rotting vegetation as well as algae. However, since they can grow quite large, only one to a 5-gallon tank is recommended to limit the amount of snail waste.
Introducing Snails to the Tank
Regardless of the type of snails you select, you should add them to the tank the same as you would add fish. Place the bag or container holding the snails in the water for several minutes to allow the temperature of its water to reach that of the tank. While you can then pour the snails into the water, some people prefer adding the snails without the water they come in to avoid putting excess ammonia in the tank. Watch to make sure the betta will not nip at it. Since some snails like to climb, it is wise to also keep a lid on the tank.
Cleaning the Tank
Even with snails, you'll need to clean the tank occasionally. Keep the betta and the snailsin separate containers with water from the aquarium while you clean the tank. After removing any gravel and plants, rinse the tank thoroughly -- never use soap, as residue can harm or even kill the animals. Treat the water to remove any chlorine before adding the fish and snails. Let the water in the tank set for a while so both it and the water in the temporary containers with the fish and snails will be at room temperature, thus minimizing any shock.