Do Betta Fish require a filter?

In this article, we will understand if betta fish need filters. We will also outline how to use and keep the tank in an ideal requirement.

Do Betta Fish require a filter?

Yes, betta fish do need a filter. Betta fish, like any other fish, need clean water to thrive in their aquarium. Inadequate water conditions might cause your betta fish to succumb to sickness or develop fin degeneration.

A filter may considerably minimize the buildup of harmful bacteria and organic detritus associated with uneaten food and fish waste. Circulating the tank’s water through the filter also helps oxygenate the water, which may contribute to your betta’s health.

Additionally, a filter considerably reduces the work necessary to keep the tank clean, which means you’re more likely to maintain it. For tanks equipped with a filter, weekly maintenance consists of replacing around 30% of the water and vacuuming the gravel.

All of this is accomplished in a matter of minutes when compared to a betta tank without a filter. Although it is acceptable to maintain a tank without a filter, you must change the water in the tank weekly and thoroughly clean all of the decorations.

This needs a considerable volume of distilled water, a substantial amount of cleaning time, and a big level of stress for your betta as you clean the aquarium.

For all of these reasons, it is certainly worth investing in a betta fish filter. Whether or not betta fish need a filter is determined by a variety of variables, including tank size, amount of care, and tank mates. It is not a yes or no question, since they can live and even flourish in both conditions with the proper care.

The issues emerge as a result of misinformation and novice caregivers who feel that a bowl or other small tank would be less effort and less costly. That is just not true and may result in an ill or dying betta. Prior to choosing a filtering decision, completely review and appreciate the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Let’s begin by establishing a basic grasp of the betta’s native environment, which consists of rice fields and shallow pools of water. A wild betta may even end up in a muddy puddle with very little oxygen for a lengthy period during droughts. 

Betta fish have evolved the capacity to live in these circumstances by gulping oxygen from the air (at the water’s surface) rather than depending entirely on their gills. This capacity is because they have a labyrinth organ, which classifies them as Anabantoidei, or labyrinth fish.

Bettas are often sought after and suggested for beginners because of their tolerance for low oxygenated water. They may be less expensive to maintain than other tropical fish and need fewer equipment, but misconceptions abound. The author asserts that they favor limited environments and can subsist on the roots of a vase plant. These assertions are untrue and may result in your betta just surviving. Rather than that, you want your betta to have a long and healthy life free of pain, correct?

The Advantages of Filtered Betta Tanks

  • Reduce Waste – Eliminate extra food, excrement, ammonia, and pathogenic germs
  • Filters aid in the oxygenation of water. Helpful Bacteria – beneficial bacteria gather in filter media and tanks.
  • Filters are essential when tank mates are present because of the increased bio load.
  • Low-maintenance and water cycling

Betta fish like filtered aquariums because they thrive in environments with consistent water conditions. A filter contributes to the preservation of good microorganisms by removing and neutralizing ammonia and nitrates. Creating a natural habitat is critical for long-term health and preventing stress and illness.

Betta aquariums that are filtered need minimal care, which simplifies your life. If you neglect water changes in an unfiltered tank, things might soon deteriorate. In a filtered tank, you do not need to do 100 percent water changes unless you have algae or widespread sickness problems.

 Indeed, apart from filter media change according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, all that is required is a 25%-30% water cycle once a week and vacuuming the gravel. To protect good bacteria, always clean your filter with tank water rather than tap water.

What to consider while selecting a betta fish filter?

There are several sorts of filters available, each with its own set of properties. The most critical factor to consider while selecting a filter is power flow.

Power of Flow

Betta fish thrive in filters with a low flow rate. Otherwise, they are thrown about by the currents generated by a high-powered filter, which might result in stress.

If you realize that your filter is too powerful for your betta fish, there are many ways to decrease the flow.

To begin, if your filter is adjustable, you may simply change the flow rate.

This is the easiest method, but you will still be restricted by your filtration system’s minimum flow rate. If altering the filter’s flow rate is not possible, you might restrict water input.

The best material for this is a pair of pantyhose that has been cut to fit over the filter intake, therefore reducing the amount of water entering the filter.

Rather than interrupting the flow, a baffle may be used to spread it. A baffle is something that acts as a barrier to and slows the flow of water from a filter output. Baffles that are often used include mesh tank screens and simple suction-cupped kitchen sponge holders that attach to the tank’s side.

Finally, you may assist your betta in hiding from heavy filter flow by scattering ornamental plants, logs, and other things about the tank. These decorations efficiently provide enough resting areas for your betta without interfering with the filter’s water flow.

Stages of Filtration

In an aquarium, filtration happens in three stages: mechanical, biological, and chemical.


Mechanical filtration is the first step of filtration; it eliminates any particles floating in the water. Mechanical filtering media include ceramic cylinders, coarse sponges, and filter floss.


The biological step of filtration utilizes helpful bacteria to remove organic materials from the tank water, such as uneaten food and fish excrement.

In the biological filtration part of the filter, biological filtration media like Bio-balls or porous ceramic cartridges are often utilized.


Chemical filtration is used to restore the water’s chemistry and eliminate any dissolved chemical contaminants. Carbon is the most often used chemical filter media due to its short one-month life.

How large is your Betta’s aquarium?

The required flow rate for a filter is also determined by the size of your betta tank.

The filter should cycle through the whole tank’s water four times each hour. Therefore, to get the minimum flow rate required in gallons per hour, multiply the volume of your tank by four.

However, keep in mind that this is a rough estimate of the flow rate required when the tank is empty. If your betta tank is decorated, you will want a somewhat stronger filter than the calculation indicates.

Finally, bear in mind that it is preferable to use numerous smaller filters than it is to use a single big filter. Utilizing numerous filters reduces the amount of current that your betta must battle and improves the tank’s overall filtration.

Is Your Bettas Filter Overpowered?

If the betta’s filter is too strong, you’ll need to remove it or reduce the present strength. Filters are not recommended for tanks less than three gallons, and you should consider increasing the size of your betta’s environment. Internal and external filters are available in a variety of intensities and may be too powerful for a betta fish. If your betta is trying to reach the surface for oxygen, cowering in fear, and swimming wildly in the stream, your filter is too powerful.

This may cause severe stress to your betta fish, leading in fin damage, injury, and perhaps death.  They may be flung about or even sucked up by the filter’s input tube after getting physically weary. Allowing your tank’s water to reach and stay below the filter’s permissible depth also enhances water turbulence.

The first thing to try is adjusting the flow restriction on your filter if it has one (try the lowest setting). If not, consider returning it, obtaining a replacement, or attempting one of the methods below. Increase the number of plants and decorations near the filter to assist the water entering the tank flow more evenly.  There are other alternative techniques, such as splitting the tank to create a separate section for filtering.

Another simple fix that will aid in the protection of your betta fish is the addition of a pre-filter sponge to the intake tube.  This will limit water intake and eventually outflow. Pre-filter sponges will also readily fit over the output tubes of some filters, such as the Fluval Spec V. This may assist in reducing the flow and turbulence in the betta fish aquarium.

Betta fish filter types 

Now that you know what to look for in a betta fish filter, let’s examine some of the most popular varieties.

The following are the types of filters:

  • Canister filter
  • Sponge filter
  • HOB filter
  • Undergravel filter
  • Corner filter
  • Internal power filter

Canisters Filters 

Canister filters are an excellent choice for betta tanks of practically any size due to their high throughput.

This sort of filter extracts water from the tank, passes it through a pressured canister, then returns it by a spillway or spray bar to the tank.

This enables canister filters to provide high-flow rates of water.

Additionally, they do not detract from the tank’s aesthetics since they are concealed below or under the aquarium and are quite silent.

The primary benefit of canister filters is that the material contained inside them may be customized to meet the demands of your tank.

Additionally, they are simple to open for cleaning and media replacement.

However, canister filters’ high flow rates are not always beneficial for betta fish, particularly when the outflow is pressured.

Sponge Filters 

Sponge filters filter water mechanically and biologically by sucking it through a porous sponge material. The biological filtration is very successful because beneficial microorganisms may colonize the sponge’s porous regions.

One of the primary benefits of sponge filters for betta tanks is that suction is generated by an air stone rather than a pressured pump. This results in rather smooth discharges of water, which is great for betta fish. Additionally, sponge filters are one of the most affordable filtering alternatives and need little maintenance.

The primary disadvantage of sponge filters is their size and unattractive appearance.

The majority of individuals who utilize sponge filters conceal them under ornamental kelp towards the tank’s back. Therefore, sponge filters do not function as chemical filters.

However, if necessary, a carbon filter may be added to the output of a sponge filter.

HOB Filters 

HOB – hang-on-back – filters draw water from the aquarium and filter it mechanically, biologically, and chemically.

Due to their location behind the tank, HOB filters are simple to reach for media maintenance and do not distract from the available space or aesthetics of the tank.

Mechanical filtering using HOB filters is often more effective than sponge filters.

Many aquarists, however, suggest utilizing a sponge filter as a pre-filter to HOB filters since sponge filters provide superior biological filtration.

Undergravel Filters 

An undergravel filter is a collection of plates that lie under the gravel media at the bottom of your aquarium and draw water through the gravel before recirculating it to the top.

As water passes through the gravel, this sort of filter offers good mechanical and biological filtration, and some types include chemical filtration modules in the outflow tube.

Notably, since this sort of filter collects particles inside the gravel of the tank, it is critical to vacuum the gravel periodically to keep the tank clean and the water’s chemistry stable.

Additionally, although undergravel filters distribute water input evenly throughout the tank’s base, lowering currents in that direction, the outflow may be fairly powerful.

This may be an issue for your betta, or the water may be directed to the water’s surface, depending on the design of the filter.

Corners Filters 

Corner filters are one of the most time-tested and reliable kinds of filters available.

These filters are intended for tanks up to 25 gallons in capacity and are normally installed in the tank’s back corner.

They work by forcing water through a filter that includes a range of media for mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. Corner filters provide a number of benefits. To begin, they may be filled with a unique media mix that is tailored to your betta fish’s specific requirements.

Second, they employ an air stone to bubble water through the filter, which produces little current and so does not bother your betta fish.

Finally, corner filters are one of the most affordable types of filtration available. The sole disadvantage of corner filters is that they might make media replacement more complex and time-consuming than canister or HOB filters.

Internal Power Filter

Internal power filters are installed inside your tank and circulate water through a range of filtering media types. Internal power filters have the major benefit of allowing the outflow to be regulated in any direction using an internal flow meter.

The primary disadvantage of internal power filters is that, in comparison to other filter types, you will have less control over the filtering media composition.

While this may not be an issue for tanks that are normally clean with standard filtration, aquariums with problems with water chemistry or disease outbreaks may need further customisation of their filtration system.

Which Betta Filter is the Best?

Which filter is optimal for your betta is determined by a variety of criteria, including the size of your tank, the number of filtering stages required, and your budget.

When selecting a filtration system, the most critical factors to consider are the kind of media used to keep your water free of hazardous bacteria and debris that might change the water’s chemistry, as well as whether the filter itself does not produce a current that could stress out your betta fish.


In this article, we learned if betta fish need filters. We will also outline how to use and keep the tank in an ideal requirement.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Do Betta Fish require a filter?

Do betta fish appreciate the presence of filters in their tank?

Betta fish like filtered aquariums because they thrive in environments with consistent water conditions. A filter contributes to the maintenance of good microorganisms by removing and neutralizing ammonia and nitrates. To protect good bacteria, always clean your filter with tank water rather than tap water.

Can I replace the water in my aquarium every week rather than using a filter?

Some individuals believe that doing water changes is more practical than using a filter.

Not only is this more time-consuming, but it may also be less effective. It may cause stress to the fish, and frequent water changes will be required. A properly configured filtration system will reduce your fish’s susceptibility to sickness and disease. In the great majority of situations, a high-quality filter combined with frequent water changes is the optimal arrangement.

Is Using a Filter Harmful to a Betta?

No. When the proper filter is used in the proper setting, the result is the polar opposite – it is beneficial to your betta. While it is true that bettas dislike water movement, and while a filter’s pump mechanism does generate current, there are filters on the market with low / adjustable outputs. Indeed, there are aquariums designed specifically for bettas that have a compact maintenance system, which includes a filter. 

Is it possible for a betta to survive without a filter?

Your betta will live for a while without an aquarium filter. Additionally, if you perform frequent water changes, you can extend this period even further. However, if you choose not to use a filter in your tank, you may anticipate your betta’s life to be significantly shortened.


Adams, 2022. The Best Filter for a Betta Fish (2022 Review)

Dockett, 2021. Do Betta Fish Need a Heater and Filter in Their Tank?

Do Betta Fish Need A Filter?