Betta fish (Siamese fighting fish) is a species of the gourami family that is quite popular in the aquarium hobby. It’s famous for being exceptionally beautiful with flowing fins and brilliant colors.
It’s also quite hardy thus easy to care for even by new hobbyists.
However, it’s not uncommon for aquarists to keep this fish in small containers such as bowls for display around their home. But these environments cause health issues and can lead to the early death of the fish.
Therefore, the best betta fish tank is one that’s at least 10 to 20- gallons in size, adequately planted and has a quality filter and a heater. Plus they love accessorized and decorated tanks.
Moreover, betta fish will mostly adapt to a wide range of water conditions but prefer still water akin to their natural habitats in canals, rice puddles, and floodplains. Which means an air pump and bubblers are not too necessary in a betta fish tank.
This is also aided by the fact that betta fish have a respiratory organ called a labyrinth that allows them to breathe the air above the water surface.
That said, this article will help you understand what makes a good betta fish tank and help you make a sound choice once you a ready to make a purchase.
What is a Good Tank for Betta Fish?
A good betta fish tank is any aquarium big enough (more than 5- gallons) to accommodate one betta fish comfortably. In case you want a tank that can hold a group of betta fish, like in a sorority setup, you will need at least a 20-gallon aquarium.
Pet shop owners will often tell you that a 0 to 5-gallon is enough, which is partially true because your fish will survive, but will be exposed to the many risks associated with keeping aquatic species in confined spaces.
This includes illnesses, water quality problems, stress and less space in the tank to place important equipment like filter.
Other aspects of a good betta fish tank are temperature and water quality. Since betta fish are native to warm equatorial regions in South East Asia, you will want a tank with a heater to keep your fish tank temperature between 74°F and 82°F.
Betta Fish Tank with Filter
Many new aquarium owners and some experienced hobbyist start betta fish in small starter aquariums and bowls which can barely accommodate standard filters.
So, a common question I get is “Do betta fish tanks need a filter?”
Well, it depends on several factors which include tank size and tankmates. But simply put, betta fish tanks that are 2.5 gallons or less should not have a filter because there is a chance the filter will do more harm than good.
In smaller tanks, filters cause strong currents which toss the fish around and escalate its stress level. This especially so because betta fish are not strong swimmers and their long fins further complicate mobility.
However, if your tank is above 5-gallons you are definitely better off with a filter in the aquarium.
That said, water quality in small unfiltered fish tanks will be a challenge, and contrary to common belief, more tasking to maintain.
On the flip side, water quality in larger aquariums will decline slowly plus the filter when installed will play a huge role in cleaning biowaste hence the tank is easier to maintain.
By and large, you will need to do more water changes in small filterless tanks than in those with a bigger volume.
Recommended Betta Fish Tank Filter
The filter you choose to use in your betta fish tank is mostly be determined by the size of the tank and the filter flow power.
You don’t want a high power filter in a small aquarium, but you also need to make sure it is sufficient if you have a bigger tank with more fish. Ideally, the filter should cycle all the water in the tank four times per hour.
In which case, sponge filters are best for starter 10-gallon size tanks or below. The filters are easy to set up and allow for both mechanical and biological filtration.
Moreover, keep in mind that multiple small filters are better than using one large, powerful filter. So, should one sponge filter become inadequate, it always possible to add another filter even a different type.
Alternatively, use the second option which is a hang-on-back middle nano filter especially on 5-10 gallon betta tanks. The strong suit of H.O.B filter is they are stuck on the back hence won’t block your view on smaller tanks.
Also, you can adjust the flow on H.O.B kits should the rate get too high for your betta.
However, if your filter flow output is not adjustable, you can use a pair of pantyhose cut to fit over the filter intake to slow down the water entering the filter.
A third option is to use an internal filtration unit that goes inside the tank. This type is ideal in betta tanks that are less than 5 gallons, although they limit your betta’s swimming area since they are attached to the wall of the tank.
In case you plan on maintaining your betta fish in a community tank, you may need to use a high power filter.
How Often Should You Change the Water in Your Betta Fish Tank?
Same to the filter you use in your betta fish tank, how often you do a water change will depend. The determining factors include the size of your betta tank, whether you have a filter or not and whether your fish is living with tankmates or alone.
The general rule of thumb is to change 30 to 50 percent of the water every week if you have your fish in a small filterless tank.
If your betta lives in a filtered tank, then you only need to change 20 percent of the water each week.
However, you need to be aware of the level of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates forming in the tank. The only safe level of ammonia and nitrites being zero parts per million (ppm) with a concentration of just 2ppm enough to kill your fish.
Ideally, the maximum level of nitrates should be between 5 and 10 ppm though many aquarists run their tanks with extreme nitrate levels, sometimes up to 20 ppm or more.
In spite of this, freshwater tanks, like those that betta fish live in, will work at a slightly higher level than marine fish only setups.
A common hobby hack is getting some test strips which quickly evaluate your water quality to let you know if conditions are safe or in need of a change.
You may also want to consider adding plants in your betta fish tank and clean out rotting and decaying food to keep toxic chemicals in check.
Things You Need to Have in a Betta Fish Tank (Requirements)
Apart from an appropriate filter for your betta fish tank, you also need to add a few other equipment and accessories to keep the fish comfortable. Most importantly, a heater and maybe plants and decorations, a substrate, and toys.
Betta Fish Aquarium Heater
Betta fish are tropical species that need to live and swim in warm water between 74°F and 82°F. For this reason, I recommend you use an aquarium heater with 5 watts of power for each gallon of water in your fish tank.
That said, a large community or species tank may need a heater at either end to make sure the heat is well distributed all around the aquarium.
You may also need to add a thermometer in the betta tank to monitor how the heater is functioning.
When adding it in the tank, give the water 15 minutes to settle before you add the heater. Plus place it close enough to the filter to properly distribute the warmed water around.
It’s also important to note that most aquarium heaters are rated for the specific setup they will be used in, though many owners go a level up just to make the equipment is adequate.
Betta Fish Tank with Plants
Your betta fish tank needs some plants to liven it up and give the fish a place to hide, maybe even lay their eggs.
There are several different plants you can add in your tank, but it will function better with hardy live species especially since betta fish don’t feed on aquatic plants.
Some of these plants include Java fern, Java moss, anubias nana, and hornwort. Java moss is particularly good because the plant is quite versatile. It can be used to make spawning beds, to provide hiding spaces and even entertainment in the form of moss balls.
However, betta fish don’t spawn on the plants directly but instead use them to bind their bubble nests where they then lay their eggs.
Over and above, plants help your filter clean the betta fish aquarium and also create an environment akin to the natural betta fish habitat.
What Decorations (Toys) are Good for Betta Fish Tanks?
Betta fish are not exactly fond of company, and they are Ok living in solitary. However, the fish are also quite intelligent and curious, so you need to add toys in the tank for your fish to investigate.
Some toys that’ll keep a betta fish happy include both floating and fixed objects in your betta fish tank. One great add-on is a betta fish hammock.
Basically, this is a leaf that acts like a leisure bed for the fish. It includes a large leaf and suction pad which can be stuck to the side of the aquarium a few inches from the top of the surface.
A good alternative to a hammock where your betta can also chill is a floating betta log. It forms a perfect den for the fish to sleep and play.
Other good toys decorations and toys you can add in a betta fish tank include.
- Ping pong ball
- Moss ball
- A small mirror (Though don’t leave the mirror in the tank because it could stimulate aggressive behavior especially in male bettas)
- Silk aquarium plants (Avoid plastic plants or other rough materials which can easily tear the flowy betta fins)
One last trick is placing items outside the betta tank and constantly relocate them in way that you’ll keep the fish interested. Or use a non-permanent marker to draw on the aquarium glass surface which should keep your betta engaged as well -learn more on how to keep your betta from getting lonely or bored).
Hope you have fun with your betta