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Betta Fish Tanks: How to Choose the Best Aquarium for Your Betta

Updated on February 04, 2016
EricDockett profile image

Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.

Choose the best tank for your Betta fish and make sure he lives a long, healthy life.
Choose the best tank for your Betta fish and make sure he lives a long, healthy life.

Betta Tank Kits

If you want to make sure your Betta fish lives a long, happy life, you need to choose the best tank you can for his home. Aquariums come in all shapes and sizes, and you have a lot of options. Ultimately, you want a Betta tank that is attractive, easy to care for and healthy for your fish.

Unfortunately, things get a little convoluted when it comes to the poor Betta fish. Betta are anabantids, which means they can gulp air above the water if they need to. In the wild this helps them survive for short periods of time in harsh, low-oxygen conditions and muddy, stagnant puddles.

Because of this ability to tolerate poor living conditions, people mistakenly get the idea that Betta prefer tiny little tanks or bowls with no filtration. Even worse, people stick them in plant vases, book ends, "cubes" and other horrible enclosures.

If you were hoping to get any such suggestions from this article you've come to the wrong place. Betta do not belong in tiny little tanks any more that you or I ought to live in a closet. Just like any other tropical fish, Betta need space to thrive.

If you choose a larger tank your Betta will be healthier. But there are benefits for you, too. Larger tanks are easier to care for. You'll spend less time fussing with the tank and performing water changes. And, you'll have lot more room to decorate, whether than means lives plants or artificial d├ęcor.

Ultimately, choosing the right tank means a happier Betta fish and a happier you. This article will get on the right track to finding the perfect home for your Betta.

Betta Tanks Under 5 Gallons

One gallon of water is the absolute minimum tank size your Betta needs for survival. Even though there are plenty of options out there for smaller tanks and other habitats, I really hope you avoid them.

In fact, even one gallon is very small. Frankly, I do not like to see any fish in a tank under 5 gallons, even a solitary Betta. Tanks that small get dirty way too fast, and don't provide enough room for your fish to swim around. Really, putting your Betta in any tank smaller than 5 gallons is not a great idea. If you take anything away from this article, I hope it is this lesson.

However, I know I can say this until I turn blue and pass out and people are still going to do it. So, let me at least offer some points of advice.

  • Do not rely on the air pump that comes with many small tanks to operate as a real filter. Instead, choose a tank with a decent in-tank filter or hang-on-back filter, or one that has the capability of mounting an aftermarket nano filter.
  • You still need to do full weekly water changes with a tank under 5 gallons. If you move up to a larger tank with quality filtration you can do partial water changes at less frequent intervals.
  • Betta may not like the bubbles or current created by the air pump. You might be better off without it, and again this is a one big reason to avoid small tanks that rely on air pumps for so-called filtration.
  • Do not put any other fish or critter in with your Betta fish in such a small tank. If you want tankmates for your Betta consider a tank of at least 10 gallons.
  • Choose pebbles instead of aquarium gravel so you can remove them weekly and clean out any waste or uneaten food. In larger tanks you can vacuum the substrate, but in tanks under 5 gallons you are going to need to do more thorough cleanings to maintain healthy water quality.
  • Do not choose a tank under one gallon, whatever else you decide.

Tetra 29095 Cube Aquarium Kit, 3-Gallon
Tetra 29095 Cube Aquarium Kit, 3-Gallon

If you insist on a tank smaller than 5 gallons make sure you choose one with a good filtration system.


Betta Care Advice from Fluval

The Fluval Spec 5: An aquarium kit is an easy way to get into the Betta keeping hobby.
The Fluval Spec 5: An aquarium kit is an easy way to get into the Betta keeping hobby.

5-Gallon Betta Aquariums

A 5-gallon tank is perfect for your Betta fish. It is small enough for a desktop or tabletop, but large enough to provide adequate swimming room for Betta. In a perfect world every Betta keeper would house their fish in a tank 5 gallons or bigger!

There are some good reasons why bigger is better. Really, it all comes down to water quality, and space. Not just space for your Betta to swim, although that is important too, but space to provide all the needed elements for your fish to thrive.

Betta need heat and filtration just like any other tropical fish, and this is very difficult to accomplish in a tank under 5 gallons. There are nano filters and heaters available for tanks as small as 5-gallons, and these are smart addition to your setup. By making sure these needs are met your fish is going to be more resistant to disease, enjoy better quality of life and probably even live longer.

The volume of water itself plays a role in the overall living conditions in your Betta tank. All fish tanks accumulate pollution as time passes. If you think of a stream or lake, you can imagine how these bodies of water have natural processes that ensure waste is properly eliminated and water conditions are adequate for life to thrive.

In a home aquarium you must intervene on behalf of nature and make sure those processes are happening. This means cleaning your tank and performing water changes in order to dilute waste. The larger the tank, the easier it goes.

Very small tanks pollute quickly, and the more water you can give your Betta the better. Remember, just because Betta has the evolutionary adaptations needed to survive in poor conditions doesn't mean it is okay. He still needs clean water to thrive.

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon, Black
Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon, Black

A 5-gallon tank means better living conditions for Betta! Choose a tank at least this large for you best chance of success in Betta care.


Provide the Right Conditions for Your Betta to Thrive

Not just survive!

The Fluval Edge 12 Aquarium makes a great home for a Betta fish!
The Fluval Edge 12 Aquarium makes a great home for a Betta fish!

10-Gallon Betta Tanks

A 10-gallon tank is the ultimate Betta setup, and the best choice if you have the space. In a tank this big you'll have plenty of room to decorate Betta's home, and he'll have enough area to swim.

A 10-gallon tank is a standard size in the aquarium industry, so you'll have many more choices when it comes to accessories. However, you can always choose to take the road less traveled and build a unique Betta tank that not only gives your fish everything he needs, but looks amazing.

Most importantly, a 10-gallon tank is able to establish itself as small ecosystem, with healthy bacteria colonies in the filter and substrate that will help break down waste. Remember, in a home aquarium you need to assist nature in managing waste, and a larger tank gives you the space to make sure this gets accomplished.

This means a healthier tank, healthier Betta, and lot less work for you! Instead of weekly cleanings you can learn to do easy water changes once or twice per month. This is less stress on Betta, since you won't have to remove him from the tank every seven days. It also means less stress on you, and a more enjoyable fish-keeping experience.

Don't think a single Betta needs to live in a tiny tank! A well-planted or decorated 10-gallon tank with a single Betta in it looks amazing!

Fluval Edge 12-Gallon Aquarium with 42-LED Light, Black
Fluval Edge 12-Gallon Aquarium with 42-LED Light, Black

Choose an awesome tank that will stun visitors to you home. A well-planted or decorated Betta tank over 10-gallons is a beautiful thing.


Building a Tank from the Ground Up

Tank kits are very popular for good reason. They provide everything you need to assemble an aquarium in one package, minus the fish and the water of course. Fish tank kits come in sizes from under one gallon, all the way up to 55 gallons. They are an easy and economical way to get into the aquarium hobby.

However, if you already know a bit about fish care, or if you are willing to do a little research, there is another way to go about building the perfect Betta tank. Many aquarium owners like to choose their own tank components rather than rely on a kit.

Start out with a basic glass or acrylic tank and a hood, and from there choose your filter, heater and other accessories. This allows you to build a custom setup, without limitations based around the design of the aquarium kit manufacturer.

This is smart and fun way to create exactly the kind of Betta tank you want.

Your Betta's Home

Good luck choosing the perfect tank for your Betta fish. I hope you decide to give him at least a 5-gallon tank, to ensure he has the best quality of life. No living creature should be stuck in a tiny tank for its whole life, especially not your awesome Betta Fish!

As you progress in your new hobby take some time to learn more about the needs of your Betta, and about fish keeping in general. This is one of those hobbies where you can never really know everything, and the more you learn the better.

If you make some mistakes along the way, don't beat yourself up over it. The important thing is to approach fish care from a position of respect and appreciation for nature, and to do your best as a steward of a living creature.

Even a little Betta fish deserves your best effort, so make sure your Betta thrives in his new home!

Which Betta Tank?

What size tank will you choose for your Betta fish?

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    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I always feel sorry for the betas they keep at Walmart. They can barely turn around. I love the Fluval edge tank. I've never seen one like that before. Well done and voted up. Good job on raising awareness.

    • retief2000 2 years ago

      I have a gorgeous blue Betta in a large fish bowl. I change the water weekly. Based on the advice in this Hub, I am changing to a larger tank.

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks Ann1AZ2! I feel sorry for those Bettas too, and that's a perfect example of the problem.

      @retief2000: That's awesome! I hate to see Betta in bowls. You're making a great decision!

    • sheilamyers 2 years ago

      I always enjoy reading your advice about Bettas. I've never thought about getting one, but the more I read, the more I think about getting one.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks for sharing. I enjoy seeing fish in tanks, but don't have room, myself... ;-)

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks Sheila and Homeplace Series! I appreciate the kind feedback.

    • Loki Olney 24 months ago

      I have managed to lay my hands on a "Aqua-Alien" style tank, its only 3 gallons, but its dimentions are odd, (a foot high, by 6 and the sides being 7 inches, but it takes up little room) its an odd shape, and the bottom gives me little room to put much but his log in the tank. For the first two months he loved it, but lately he has been kind of mopey and sad. Im thinking of upgrading his tank size. I have a perfect filter(low current) a heater four different foods , a betta bed, a betta filter, and plenty of orniments I cycle out so he doesn't get bored. so I have no idea what, besides space it could be.

    • maggie 24 months ago

      does the AZOO Mignon filter fit on the Aquarius AQ15005 5-Gallon Aquarium Kit or is the one with it ok?

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 24 months ago from USA

      @Loki: It's hard to say what makes a Betta "mopey and sad" or if there is anything wrong with him at all. Depression isn't really something Betta's have to cope with, so you may be interpreting his lethargy as something bad when it is not. However, I am highly in favor of a tank upgrade to at least 5 gallons or more. It certainly could be the cause of stress and impending disease for you Betta.

      @maggie Out of the box, the AQ15005 is intended to work with the supplied filter. However, I believe it can be adapted to use with other small HOB filters. I'd start with the filter included with the tank and go from there.

    • anonymous 19 months ago

      I was thinking of buying a 3 gallon Fluval Spec, but now you've got me thinking about the 5. Where can I buy Bettas tbat aren't swimming in their own poop in a cup? I have heard about betta "rescue" but I also don't want to encourage pet suppliers to kepp doing that.


    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 19 months ago from USA

      @Anonymous: The 5 would certainly be better than the 3-gallon. As far as where to buy a Betta, pet stores have them in those little cups because they can't house them together in a tank like other fish. Scout out a few different places and see how they manage their stock. Some stores are very conscientious about maintaining a low stock that turns over quickly, meaning the fish aren't stuck there for long periods of time. Others are not so good at this. You can even talk to the management or employees about how they manage their Betta fish. A good store will have a plan, not just pile the fish up like they are making a display of soup cans.

      I'm glad you're thinking about this! You're right: Buying from a store with abusive or negligent policies toward managing their stock only encourages and rewards bad practices. There is one big-box store in particular I can think of that has no business selling fish, and I really wish people would stop buying from them.

    • New Guy 14 months ago

      Is a 4 gallon ok?

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 14 months ago from USA

      Hi New Guy. I always recommend a 5-gallon tank or bigger for a single Betta fish. But a 4-gallon is better than a 3-gallon, and much better than a bowl.

    • Rowan M 11 months ago

      Is this tank a good one to purchase? I've had bettas in the past, but did not do as much research as I should have--I want to do better this time around. That being said, I've never purchased a filter tank before. Will the filter tank still require water changes? Also, do water changes have to be 100% or 50%? I've read both. When needing to remove the Betta from the tank, what is the best way to do so without causing much stress? Thank you!

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 11 months ago from USA

      Hi Rowan. Yes, that tank would be great for a Betta. I will caution you the filter current may be a little strong, so keep an eye on him. If so, it is fine to go without the filter as long as you stay on top of water changes. In a tank that size you can change 50% weekly, but be sure to do a complete cleaning about once a month or so to clear the waste out of the gravel. With filter running, you can change about 20% weekly.

      As for removing him from the tank, I've found it best to scoop him out with a cup. Then you have to make sure he rests somewhere secure while you perform thank maintenance. Bettas can jump, so be careful. If you are only doing a partial water change you don't need to remove him from the tank.

    • Tony 9 months ago

      Hi! So I'm planning on getting a 5 gallon fish tank for my Betta. I'm also planning on setting up my own aquarium for him with live plants and have many questions. Where would I go to buy a plain 5 gallon tank. I've seen many aquarium kits but rarely any plain 5 gallon tanks online. I also have a few questions on live plants. Do I buy a specific substrate and simply plop the plants in there or do I have to wait for it to grow? After I added the plants, decor and other stuff for the tank I was suggested to let it 'cycle'. Does this mean I should just let it sit for a couple of days before adding my Betta? How would I go about cleaning the tank and doing water changes with live plants and decor present? Thank you for taking your time to read this!

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 9 months ago from USA

      Hi Tony! Most places that deal with aquarium equipment should have a plain 5-gallon tank available. If you do a search on a site like Amazon you ought to be able to find one.

      If you don't understand how to cycle a tank you should also do a little research on that. Yes, you will let it sit, but you need to monitor the water conditions to determine when the cycle has run its course.

      You'll also have to add something to the tank to start the cycle. There are special additives like Tetra SafeStart you can buy to accomplish this (new fish tank kits usually come with a packet of some kind) or some people simply put a couple of pinches of fish food in the there. You need something for the new bacterial colonies to feed off of so it can grow. DO NOT use live fish in your cycle. It's cruel for the fish, and many species won't survive.

      To make sure plants have a source of fertilization, what I've always done is establish the tank with artificial decorations first, wait a couple of months, and then plant the live plants.

      Alternatively, you can use plant food sticks or water-based fertilizer. Doing it this way, you can add plants while the tank is cycling. Keep in mind that anything you add to your tank for the plants will also have an impact on the fish. Regular gravel is fine for most plants.

      Generally speaking, live plants will make your tank healthier for your fish and help keep your water parameters in line. Do keep an eye on things though, especially in the beginning.

      Be aware that a 5 or even 10-gallon tank is very small for many aquarium plants. Makes sure you check the full-grown size of the plant before purchase. And be prepared to trim. :-)

      When cleaning, vacuum around the plants and get any debris off the surface. Don't dig into the substrate around the plants with the end of the tube, but do dig into places where the plants won't be disturbed. You can remove and replace any other decorations that won't disturb the plants.

      Just like a garden plant, the roots of your aquarium plants will spread around your tank (under the gravel) so you don't want to risk moving them and breaking up the root system.

      If you have any more questions let me know. Good luck!

    • mr guu 7 months ago

      I kept my betta in a container but i am going to switch him to a 1 gallon tank with a nano filter

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 7 months ago from USA

      Well done, mr guu. Now, can I convince you to go with a 5-gallon tank instead of a 1-gallon? :-)

    • Chase 4 months ago

      My Betta fish has fin rot and I don't how to cure it pls help

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hi Chase. Fin rot is caused by poor water conditions. If you want him to recover you have to figure out why the water in your tank is fouled. Once the water is clean and healthy the fins will slowly grow back. You can treat with aquarium salt in severe cases.

    • 4 months ago

      How do you clean a tank with live plants in it? Would I take my betta out?

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hi C. Here is an article that explains how to clean the gravel and change the water without removing the fish:

    • Charles 3 months ago

      I am a teacher and a student couldn't care for her betta anymore. So I took it in. He's super small at a little over an inch or so and came in a 1/2 tank. I have a 1.5 gal tank with filter, live plants and a heater that I moved him to. I am cycling a 5 gallon tank but it will take a couple weeks as this is my first Betta fish and first attempt at cycling. Is he ok in the 1.5 gal while the larger one cycles?

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      Hi Charles. Well done moving betta up to a 5-gallon tank! He should be okay in the smaller tank while the new one cycles. Just make sure you keep up with water changes. Good luck!

    • zoey 2 weeks ago

      is it okay if i'll use a 2.5 gallon fish tank for my betta fish?

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 2 weeks ago from USA

      @zoey: 5-gallon would be much better. :-)

    • Annie 13 days ago

      I have always had bettas but after awhile they start looking sick. The one I currently have wasn't looking too good, I researched what to do, and I went out yesterday and got him a 5 gl tank with filter and heater. (As opposed to the small cube I had him in) I set it up yesterday and put him in this morning. He is swimming around and looks way happier!!

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 12 days ago from USA

      That's awesome, Annie! You made a great decision! I hope your Betta has a long, happy life.

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