Looking for some advice

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Registered Member
Jul 13, 2020
Hi everyone! I am a fairly new aquarium owner as I wanted something interesting for my kids homeschool room. So we got a 20gallon tank and set it up about a month ago. It has several java ferns (5 I think) and about 3 smaller plants up front. We also have a pirate ship thing for them to hide in. I bought a betta when we got the tank (the lady at the fish store said it was fine to put him in early) and then about a week later we got 3 serpae tetras and some sort of betta ball plant. Everyone was getting along and doing well until this weekend. We added a few ghost shrimp and a couple snails which don’t seem to be causing any issue. I also added 3 guppies-2 were dead before the next morning and 1 I cannot find. I suspected that my betta had killed/eaten it.I went back to the store today and they suggested getting some platties instead bc they were a little meatier and may not get picked on by the others. So I brought them home and added them. But then I noticed that my bettas fins were looking pretty ragged and chewed up and he was having a hard time swimming. Researching further I found out that serpaes can become aggressive and should not be housed with “fish that have flowing fins”. I currently have my betta in an isolation tank and am hoping that he recovers. But I don’t know what to do moving forward. Should I get him his own tank? Should I return the serpaes? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well as helpful sites or recommended reading.

the loach

AC Members
Aug 6, 2018
Welcome here Lucy. My first advice would be to doubt everything they tell you at any fish store. Sure there are some that give decent advice, but it would be impossible for you to tell if they do or not. I think keeping fish is a very personal choice as to what you like in a fish. Serpae tetras should really be in a school of 8+, and the betta should have its own tank. So I would at least return 1 of them, or both, and think what kind of fish you would like to have. Just ask on this forum if it is the right choice or they are compatible, there are many helpful members here.