How to set up a Betta fish tank?

In this article, we will answer the question “How to set up a Betta fish tank?”. We will also list the top equipment and recommendation for an ideal Betta fish tank.

How to set up a Betta fish tank?

To set up an appropriate Betta fish tank you will be required to give some attention to the tank size and some tank equipment, such as filter and heater. Also, you need to consider good substrate, plants, and decorations. 

Choosing a Betta fish tank

Ideal Betta fish tank size

It is not very rare to find a Betta fish in a tiny bowl. However this belief that Betta fish do not require a lot of space, it is important to provide plenty of space for a Betta fish to swim around and establish its territory comfortably. Tiny spaces can provoke Betta fish sickness and poor quality of life.

The minimum tank size for a Betta fish is 5-gallon. However, it is recommended to have at least a 10-gallon tank for the Betta fish to thrive. 

The minimum tank size to establish a proper Nitrogen Cycle is 5-gallon. However it is still possible to establish in smaller tanks, this process requires expertise and attention.

Do Betta fish tanks need a filter?

Although Betta fish enjoy calm slow-moving waters, they still require a filter in the tank. Having a filter assist in keeping the tank clean and will also avoid dangerous bacteria that could provoke diseases.

Additionally, the long flowing Betta fish’s fins make it difficult for them to swim in strong currents. Thus, it is crucial to guarantee the filter you choose has a gentle soft flow. 

It is also important to choose a filter with enough capacity to cover the entire tank volume. Also, you can opt for a filter that has adjustable settings. Thus, you will be able to adjust the flow according to the tank environment.

Do Betta fish tanks need a heater?

A heater is also needed in a Betta fish tank, mainly in colder places. Betta fish are tropical fish that requires temperatures between 78 and 82° Fahrenheit. Additionally, it is important to have a thermostat and a separate thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature.

Temperatures lower than the ideal could cause diseases such as ich, and higher could accelerate the Betta fish ageing process. 

Choosing a good substrate for your Betta fish tank

Betta fish usually occupy and swim at all the tank levels, even close to the bottom. Thus, you will need a substrate that is small and soft. With this substrate, the Betta fish will not hurt themselves at the bottom of the tank.

The substrate is also important for the entire tank ecosystem. Some bacteria can develop over the substrate and work on the waste breaking. For this reason, it is important to avoid large gravel as the waste could be trapped between gravel pieces and cause chemical problems in the tank.

Plants & decorations for your Betta fish tank

Betta fish are native to tropical waters in Thailand. They inhabit slow-moving water bodies, with lots of shadows, plants and hiding spots.

Thus, your Betta fish tank will need to have caves, hiding spots, and plants. These structures and decorations will provide plenty of shady areas for resting and establishing the Betta fish territory.

It is crucial not to use plastic artificial plants, go for silk plants, as the plastic ones could hurt the Betta fish fins. Live plants are very good options as they can help you with water cleaning and will mimic the Betta fish natural environment.

Lighting for your Betta tank

Betta fish are diurnal fish. This means they usually sleep during the night. For this reason, it is important to turn off the lights during the night. Your Betta fish need to have enough time of darkness to sleep. Betta fish can also nap for shorter periods during the day to stay healthy.

You should opt for an adjustable lighting system, then you can adjust the light according to your Betta fish activity pattern.

Preparing and organizing the Betta fish tank

As a first step, you should wash your tank only with water.  Secondly, you will need to choose where you are going to place the tank. It is important to stay close to a window but out of direct sunlight. If you have any other pet, you may consider using a lid for your tank and placing the tank where the other pets have no access. 

Place the filters and follow the installation directions. Some tutorials may help you with this process. Make sure not to turn your filter on before filling the tank with water.

Thus, you can wash the substrate with water, to avoid any dust from contaminating your tank. You can then place the substrate with around 2 inches of it. If you only have silk plants, 1 inch would be enough for you to attach them.

Make sure to attach the roots of plants to the substrate and all your ornaments are well-anchored to avoid injuries to your Betta fish.

Then, you can fill the tank up avoiding displacing the substrate and plants. While filling it up, look for leaks. Remember not to fill the tank until the top, Betta fish require surface airy area to breathe through the labyrinth organ. Additionally, remember to keep always a lid as the Betta fish are very good jumpers.

Turn on the filter and install the heater

Once the tank is full, you can turn on the filtration system. Adjust the flow to circulate gently and softly. Then, you can place the heater and adjust it around 78-80° Fahrenheit. Place also the thermometer for you to monitor the temperature.

After starting the filtration, you will need to add some neutralizer to avoid any chlorine action. Otherwise, your Betta fish could die. Also, beneficial bacteria will start to establish in the tank, they will assist you in converting toxic substances to non-toxic ones.

Placing your Betta fish in the tank

How to choose a healthy Betta fish

Only buy your Betta fish after fully cycling your tank. To get a healthy Betta fish you can look for some signs and characteristics:

  • Vibrant colours and intact flowing fins;
  • Active Betta fish with good swimming pattern;
  • Faring Betta fish to people or other fish;
  • No abnormalities e.g. missing eyes, fins, scales etc.
  • No white spots or indistinct matters that could be signs of disease.

Finally, introduce the Betta fish into the tank 

Firstly, you will need to acclimatise your Betta fish to the new tank. Keep the transport bag closed and place it inside the tank. When the temperatures are similar, you can start adding small quantities of water into the bag. When the majority of the water in the bag is from the tank, you can let the Betta fish swim freely into the tank.


In this article, we answered the question “How to set up a Betta fish tank?”. We also listed the top equipment and recommendation for an ideal Betta fish tank

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to set up a Betta fish tank?

How long should you wait before putting Betta fish in a new tank?

This will depend on the size of the tank and the filtration system capacity. This is because your tank needs to be fully cycled before starting to introduce your Betta fish to the tank. Then the acclimatisation processes can last for another 2-3 hours. 

What do Betta fish appreciate in their tank?

Betta fish enjoy having enough space to swim around, plenty of hiding spots and plants. The plants should be soft to not hurt the Betta fish fins.

Can Betta fish get lonely?

Betta fish will probably not feel lonely. They are typically territorial and prefer to be kept alone. However, you can use some other stimuli in the tank to avoid the Betta fish from getting depressed.

How do you determine if a Betta fish is happy?

It is possible to determine if a Betta fish is happy by looking for some signals. Its colours should be vibrant and bright, it should be swimming around with wide-open fins, it should feed promptly when the food is offered, and it has active and smooth swimming movements.

Do Betta fish enjoy lights?

Yes, Betta fish enjoy having lights in their tank. It is recommended to keep the lights on for around 8-10 hours.

Does a bubble nest mean a Betta fish is happy?

If a Betta fish is building a bubble nest it is a signal that the fish is feeling comfortable and can be happy. However, if it is not building a nest, it does not mean the Betta fish is unhappy or uncomfortable.


Adams, C. 2021. How to Set up Your First Betta Fish Tank (Infographic).

How to Set Up a Betta Fish Tank: Starter Guide for Beginners.

How to Set up a Beautiful Betta Fish Tank.

Ultimate Betta Fish Tank Setup Guide (Step By Step).

How To Set Up A betta Tank.