Do Bettas Need A Filter? [The Complete Guide]

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If you are an aquarium enthusiast, you must’ve heard about Betta. It is a charming and elegant fish that loves to roam all over the aquarium. Most beginners like to have it as their first pet fish. They buy it and want to give a new home (aquarium) with all of the accessibility that a Betta fish needs. The most basic question arises in their minds “Do bettas need a Filter?”

The brief answer is, “YES.” But in this article, if you keep reading, we will discuss that in detail and will try to clear all the confusions that may discourage any beginner for owning a Betta fish reminding you several times that do bettas need a filter?


Do Bettas Need a Filter? (The Definitive Answer)

Let’s be honest. You want to provide the best possible environment for your Betta fish. Of course, you won’t compromise the necessities that a Betta fish need. One should take care of the Betta fish tank size, its food, its companions, and water temperature. So why would you think to drop the idea of installing a fish tank filter for Betta?

Without a filter, your fish might survive for a particular time but it won’t be healthy and fit as much as you wish to see it. You will witness the cloudy water after a few days without a working filter. But the danger doesn’t lie in what you can see from your naked eyes. It lies in what you can’t. The most dangerous thing that can happen to any fish aquarium is the growth of bacteria due to excessive reproduction, which can make your fish catch diseases easily.

What is the Purpose of an Aquarium Filter?

Like any other living creature, fish also need a clean and pure environment to be fit and healthy. The chances of any aquarium fish survival can be sporadic without a Betta fish filter tank. Filters serve this purpose efficiently. They are designed to eliminate the harmful matter such as chemicals, bacteria, fish feces and decomposed food that can be hazardous for your Betta fish health.

The aquarium water passes through the filter, which has different units in it including various layers of filtration material. As the water passes through it, the impurities get eliminated, and we get the water back to its nearly original state.

Many people have mistaken the idea that they do not need to change the water if they have a filter in their fish tank. Do bettas need a filter? Yes, but do they need water changing? Definitely YES! The filter cleans and sterilizes the water indeed, but changing the water is also necessary as some impurities become settled down the tank, which can’t be subtracted from the water and may later cause severe harm to your beloved fish. However, if you do not install a filter for Betta fish tank, you will have to change the water very frequently (maybe once a day), which is certainly not a good idea, Right?

Myths about Betta Fish Tank Filter

Let’s clear a myth. Many people think that Betta fish are so hard-steeled that they can bear any environment. Many people give the reasoning that the pet store sells the fish in unfiltered jars, so why do we have to use a filter for Betta fish?

They think fish sellers as professionals, but it is not always the same case. Betta fish is quite a tough and resilient fish that can even survive in low oxygen areas, but again, Betta fish are just like any other pet fish, and they need care and safety too. Just because a Betta can survive in harsh conditions, it certainly doesn’t mean that it wants itself to live in harsh conditions.

Some beginners believe in the famous saying the Betta fish can even live in hell. So they neglect the filtration of its tank which makes the aquarium dirty and smelly. It’s not the newbies’ fault. They are not just guided adequately about Aquariums and fish. They would do a lot better if the pet store tells the basics of having an Aquarium to them.

So, Do Bettas Need a Filter?

We hope you have already got the answer to it till now. Although, It’s a common belief that Betta fish can comfortably live in a small bowl without a filter, heater or any other accessory that a domestic fish may need, let’s ask a question to ourselves. Is that all a Betta fish need? Don’t we care about its health and happiness? Yes, we do! And for that, Filter is necessary for the Betta like for any other pet fish.

The fish that have organs resembling lungs are commonly known as “Anabantoids,” and Betta fish is one of them. So they just can’t only breathe inside the water but can also take oxygen outside of it (from the top of the water surface). So there is a general misconception among the people that Betta fish do not need a filter as they take care of their oxygenation system itself.

But let’s clear it once again. Oxygenation is not the only thing to do with the fish tank filter for Betta. There is a severe enemy of our Betta fish present among themselves, which is “Impurities.” It has many forms, such as nitrates, feces, the hardness of water, and many more. Now let’s focus on them individually.

Why Do You Need a Betta tank Filter?

There are various reasons to use a Betta tank filter. You can take a look at some important ones here.

Removal of Ammonia and Other Toxic Compounds

The filter is necessary to remove ammonia, nitrates, and nitrides from the Betta aquarium water. The buildup of ammonia in any fish tank is a constant process and can’t be stopped. But you can control it and stop building it up to the hazardous levels by installing a filter pump into the tank.

The presence of excessive ammonia can weaken the immune system of your Betta fish, which will eventually make them ill, and your fish will die due to it. This phenomenon is generally known as “Ammonia Poisoning.” Having a Betta fish filter restricts the level of Ammonia and other toxic compounds maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your Betta fish.

There is one more thing to notice here; some bacteria help eliminate the Ammonia and other toxic compounds from your Betta fish tank. Don’t forget them! Filter sponges are designed in such a way that these bacteria remain the water and will feed on the toxic compounds. So the presence of these bacteria will keep the toxic levels of the water low.

Cycling of Water

You might have heard that a stagnant water system is more impure than a running water system like a canal or river. The same idea applies to a small aquarium tank too. The still water in the aquarium tank will settle all of the impurities down. Most importantly, stagnant water has more capability of absorbing Carbon Dioxide from the environment.

You need to take care of your Betta tank’s pH level too. If a lot of Carbon Dioxide dissolves in it, the pH number will start to decrease, making the water acidic which is undoubtedly wrong for your Betta fish.

Although there is a common alternative to filter in the form of the air stone, applying a Betta fish tank filter is still a better approach.

Oxygenation of the Aquarium

Talking about the oxygenation again, it might not be as crucial for Betta fish (due to their ability of water surface breathing) and you may think “do bettas need a filter” as not so important question. But it would not be a great idea to make your Betta fish feel lonely without any of the other fish types.

The filter provides constant movement of the water volume and therefore oxygenates the stagnant water continuously to help other fish and plants.

Less Frequent Water Changes

As discussed above, fish tank water’s changing frequency depends upon the number of impurities producing per day in Aquarium water. Water Filter for Betta fish removes the toxicity and chemicals dangerous to Betta fish by diluting the water, so you do not have to change the water that often.

That doesn’t mean in any sense that you do not have to change the tank water ever! Remember we discussed Carbon Dioxide absorptivity?

Water changing is also beneficial is such a way that Betta requires some minerals for its sustainable growth. These mineral levels might go down over time. So you need to account for that and change the water regularly. The answer to “do bettas need a filter?” is not only related to your Betta but to you too.

These reasons are enough to convince you that you need to get a filter for your Betta fish.

When Not to Use a Filter for Betta Fish Tank

There are certain conditions which give you relaxation for placing a filter. Sometimes the answer to the question “do bettas need a filter” can be “No” too. However, you need to carefully evaluate whether you need filtration for your system or not.

When Most of Your Tank is Filled with Plants

As you may know, plants work as natural filters for water, and they are a natural habitat for the Betta fish. Unless there are so many Bettas in your tank, the plants will do well to serve as a natural filter for your aquarium. Just keep your aquarium clean and green, and plants will do the rest of the work for you.

When Your Tank Size is Less Than 2.5 Gallons

Bettas are small and elegant fish, and most of the filters are overrated for them and not recommended for a small tank. As the filters are too active for Bettas, they might cause them to harm instead of helping them live happily. It is always recommended to buy a filter of one rating less than the specified one so that the current is not that strong for the Betta fish.

However, you might find a few filters that can work well for 2.5 Gallons of water tanks such as Red Sea Deco Art Nano Filter, but they are infrequent to find.

When You Are Committed to Change Water Regularly

Unless you are fully committed to change the water regularly for Betta, don’t go for this relaxation of not installing a filter. Changing the water has a severe impact on your Betta fish, and if you miss even one water recycling, you will end up your Betta lives. So take this as a very severe warning before going forward on this track.

When You Do Not Have Any Other Fish Other Than Betta

Betta fish can live in a low oxygen environment, so as long as you do not have any other fish, No filter method will work for you. Betta will find its way for oxygenation instead of being helped by a filter. But let’s not forget that you will restrict yourself from having only Betta fish in your aquarium tank. You cannot incorporate any other fish with it unless you install a filtration system.

What Happens to Betta Fish Tank Without a Filter?

Although a Betta fish can survive for a long time without a proper filtration system in the tank, their life period will still be a short one if you do not place a filter for them. You may change the water daily (which will be a hectic work in itself) to increase the life period further but how far can you go with this manual process?

Firstly, you will never see the water clean and pure. It will always put a wrong impression to your home or office room. Consider a tank without a filter, do you think how many instabilities it may have? We have already said it before that filter helps to promote good bacteria that feed on toxic materials. Without a filter, this would not be possible.

A big problem that you will face without a filter is the smell of the tank. The whole can become affected due to the scent of aquarium tanks as the residuals and impurities level keep building inside the tank, and you can’t remove it easily once developed.

Stagnant water will keep absorbing Carbon Dioxide, and the harmful compounds will always be present inside the tank which will make your Betta fish sick and might even kill them. Also, if they somehow survive, you will see them losing their glow and vitality. They will become dull, inactive and will prefer to lie in the bottom of the tank. Nobody wants to see their Betta like that.

Filtration Steps in an Aquarium Filter

There are three different steps incorporated in a water filter of the aquarium for the proper cleaning of it.

  1. Mechanical Filtration
  2. Chemical Filtration
  3. Biological Filtration

Each of them is equally important for the Betta fish health, and you cannot ignore the value of any of it. Even if you know the answer to “do bettas need a filter?” you still need to do the mechanism behind filtration. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Mechanical Filtration

It is the easiest one to notice. The fish tank can have too much debris if not cleaned properly for a long time. Mechanical filtration servers for this purpose and removes the dirt and impurities that can be seen by the naked eye.

Mechanical filtration is more related to make your fish tank look clean rather than removing chemicals, bacteria, and toxic substances. But still, it is the most dominant part of the filter as it removes a sizeable non-desirable mass.

As every filter has some cartridges, its cartridge also needs to be changed every two to four weeks (depending on your filter and tank size). If you do not change it according to your tank requirements, the water flow will reduce significantly due to clogging by debris, eventually compromising the water quality.

Chemical Filtration

As the name implies, Chemical filtration is the name given to the chemical removal from the Betta tank. Activated charcoal is the most common chemical filter available. It is simply charcoal that is given a high temperature to increase its absorption power. This makes it more efficient in absorbing harmful chemicals from the water tank.

As we have already talked about the importance of Ammonia and other compounds removal, chemical filtration is very crucial for the Betta fish tank.

As the world is evolving and emerging technologies are coming forward, many chemical absorbers are available in the market. Different types of chemical removers target different chemicals present in the fish tank. Don’t worry. You will find which is better for your tank, start with the basic one that comes with your original Betta fish tank filter, and you will do fine.

Biological Filtration

It is the filter that is directly related to the health of your Betta fish which includes a biological sponge that helps useful bacteria to live in the tank and continue feeding the toxic substances, which can cause harm to plants and fish.

It might sound weird to you, but some bacteria are essential for your Betta fish health indirectly (as they help in completing the Nitrogen Cycle), so keeping them is a win-win situation always.

Nitrogen Cycle in a Fish Tank

To understand Biological filtration better, you must know the basics about the Nitrogen Cycle. It will help you find out what is going on inside your Betta tank.

  1. There are many waste products of plants, food, and fish itself that needs to be eliminated. Thanks to our helpful bacteria and fungi that do this job for us by breaking down the waste products into ammonia. Remember that Ammonia is a highly unacceptable compound in any fish tank (Zero tolerance should be given for it)
  2. Now the Ammonia is further broken down into nitrites by Nitrosomonas. Although the nitrates aren’t as harmful as Ammonia but are dangerous for any living creature of your aquarium.
  3. And then comes Nitrobacter, which further breaks down the Nitrites into nitrates, which aren’t that harmful, and your tank can bear 20 ppm of it.

Tips to Select the Best Filter For Your Betta Tank

Well, till this point, we have discussed a lot about the importance of the filtration system in a fish tank and know the answer to “do bettas need a filter”. Now let’s take a look at some tips on how to select the best filter for Betta fish. Following these steps, you will be able to buy the most excellent filter for your Betta fish aquarium.

Three Filtration Systems

As we have already discussed that a good filter usually has three filtration systems that are mechanical, chemical and biological. If you do not have any of these, there is a high chance that your Betta won’t survive for a very long period. So consider buying a filter that is capable of cleaning the water from waste materials, chemicals, and unwanted compounds.

Slow Water Flow

Bettas like to roam and swim in slow-flowing water. They do not want themselves to be stressed out by the high flow currents which can make them weak and unhappy.

Filters for Betta Fish tank do not need to produce strong water currents, so try buying a filter that has an adjustable current feature to modify the current yourself accordingly.

Easy and Less Frequent Maintenance

Time is precious for you. Do not let yourself waste time in such a thing that has no meaningful benefit to you. When filters with easy removable media are available in the market, it is not a good idea to buy a filter that cannot be cleaned easily. Try to work smartly and efficiently for yourself and your Betta!


Reliability is everything. Even if you are buying a tank for your Betta or installing a filter. It will help if you take notice of whether the filter works appropriately or not. Do not save a few bucks just for the sake of saving. Your Betta fish is something that is worth spending on.

Types of Filters for Aquarium Tank

There are hundreds and thousands of filter models available to buy. You might not be familiar with different types of filters used for the aquarium tank so let us introduce them to you so that you can select the best one for your Betta fish tank.

Power Filters

Have you seen some filters hanging at the back of the aquariums? Those are power filters. Power filters are the most commonly used filters and are an excellent choice for you if you’re a beginner.

Most importantly, they have mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration system which is the first choice when buying filters for a fish tank. They work on siphon effect (sucking the water into the filter so the flow is maintained continuously)

However, everything has some drawbacks when we talk about its usability. It needs betta fish filter cartridge changing as the debris and waste material will block the filter after a certain period and you will have to wash it to use it again.

Internal Filters

It is the second-best choice for you as a beginner. As the name implies, you have to place it inside the aquarium mounting it the aquarium wall. However, it can also be laid down to suck the debris up instantly.

The working of internal filters is a bit complicated than power filters. You will see the air pumping through the filter’s bottom section (through the cartridge), and you’ll get the clean water from the top of the tank.

For the ease of understanding, let’s discuss the two types of Betta internal filters. Sponge and Corner Filters.

Sponge Filters

It is the best filter choice for small fish tanks. They aren’t as efficient as power filters but will serve the purpose for a smaller container as they need an air pump (from which they draw oxygen). They usually lack chemical filtration material, so you will have to add it separately along with the sponge material that handles mechanical and biological filtration.

Corner Filters

Corner filters can do everything, whether it is mechanical filtration, chemical filtration or biological filtration. They are tiny and, therefore, can be placed easily. If you own a small Betta fish tank, then this filter will work for you efficiently. Although, it’s not much effective as other filters, it’s still worth trying out as a beginner.

UnderGravel Filters

This filter doesn’t disturb the beauty of your Betta fish tank. There are multiple uplift tubes in it pointing on the surface of the water, and it gets sucked through the gravel.

However, UnderGravel Filters are highly inconsistent. Different flow rates are present in different tubes so that each tube will have varying amounts of debris blocking it. So a gravel vacuum is needed to clear them out to avoid the build of Hydrogen Sulphide in the tank, which can kill your Betta.

UnderGravel Filter is not suitable for a planted aquarium as it can disturb the plants. Also, you will need to clean the filter frequently.

Canister Filters

Last but not less critical, Canister Filter is for aquarium geeks that own substantial aquarium tanks. When you own 30+ gallons aquarium, power filters won’t work efficiently for you, so you have to shift towards Canister filters.

It works by pushing the water through different filter mediums and then pumping it back into the aquarium. They usually work at high pressure; therefore, you need to use that in large water tanks only so the Betta will be stress-free.

You will have to consider more room for maintenance for Canister Filters as they serve for more space and have a lot more tubes.

Best Filters for Your Betta Fish Tank

Do Bettas need a filter? If yes, then what filter is the best for it? Well, here is your answer.

These filters are selected by critically evaluating their performance for fish like Betta.

AZOO Mignon Filter 60

AZOO Mignon Filter 60 is our best pick for Betta Fish Tank Filter. Why? You’ll find out soon.

Just grab this filter now from your nearest store to enjoy useful features.

As filter space decreases the beauty of your fish tank, your filter must not take up too much of the tank space. Due to its minimal size, it can fit in a very small fish tank and doesn’t require too much space for it. It saves a lot of space for your Betta fish to swim and it keeps them happy.

As this is a nano filter, it is the best filter for Betta (10 gallons). There are lots of accessibility in this filter, including adjustment of the flow direction and flow rate. Unlike the noisy filters, it is so quiet that you can use it even in your bedroom. It won’t disturb you or your Betta fish. Being so small, it is energy efficient too.

It can incorporate many types of filter media. It is why it is quite handy and convenient.

Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter

Another good suggestion of the Betta Aquarium filter for you is the Aqua tech power aquarium filter which is very much efficient and reliable in cleaning your fish tank from impurities and chemicals.

It also works on the three-step filtration system that is mechanical, chemical and biological filtration and quickly does the job of eliminating harmful and toxic compounds from your Betta fish tank.

It easily hangs on the side of your aquarium, taking minimum space of it. This will also be able to protect the Betta fish from harsh water currents as the direction will be a little sidelined, and your fish won’t feel the strong currents.

The most versatile feature of this Betta fish tank filter is that it comes for multiple size gallons like for 15, 20, 40, and 60 gallons. This easy to install filter will do wonders for your aquarium. Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter is indeed one of the best filters for the Betta fish tank.

Wrapping Up

Well, that’s much information to digest at once. So you might have to come here again and see the instructions. But these instructions are far more enough to answer “do bettas need a filter? Do not let your Betta fish compromise on anything that may affect their health or happiness.

It is not 100% necessary to install a Betta fish filter tank but highly recommended if you want your Betta fish to live happy and longer. With a proper filtration system, your Betta will get the opportunity to thrive in a pleasant and content environment.

Please share your valuable feedback in the comment section below about this guide about if bettas need a filter? and tell us how we can further improve it through your experiences; we would love to hear your Betta fish stories.

You can also check our article on What is the best tank size for Betta fish

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