It’s very common to believe that betta fish can live inside a small-sized bowl that contains no filter or heater. This does happen, but in very rare scenarios. So in that case, do bettas need a filter? The answer is yes, they definitely do.
If you continue reading, you’ll understand the differences between a tank with a filter and one without.
Bettas Without A Filter
Tanks the size of 2.5 gallons and smaller are not supposed to include a filter. It’s because the filter does more harm in such cases. The harm in the sense they create strong currents in a small-sized tank. And these strong currents have the ability to toss the fish around. Doesn’t sound like such a comfortable or healthy environment now, does it?
You should know that bettas are quite weak when it comes to swimming. Plus, they have long fins. And these might complicate their mobility when strong currents take control. Keeping this in mind, bettas prefer still or slow-moving water.
No wonder it’s so common and popular to not use a filtered tank for a betta. The practice comes closest to mimicking the natural ecosystem.
However, the downside to this is the quick deterioration of the quality of water. When the volume of tank/water is low, its quality declines much faster. But if the volume is higher, the process becomes slower. Meaning easier when it comes to maintaining the tank.
Food leftovers and feces in the tank give rise to the building up of nitrites, nitrate, and ammonia. When too much buildup occurs, your betta becomes more susceptible to getting stressed out and sick.
The most common betta ailments associated with small-sized unfiltered tanks include tail and fin rot. Apart from that, there are also good bacteria naturally existing in the aquarium water. But constant changes in water tend to limit such beneficial microorganisms. And this too, in turn, can cause stress and sickness.
The minimum tank size for bettas is 2.5 gallons and the maximum is 5 gallons.
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Do bettas need a filter? When the answer to this question is no, you have to care for your fish by putting in more effort. Let me explain below.
When a tank is unfiltered, it demands around 2 water cycles (25%) and 1 full water change (100%) every week. As for the 5-gallon capacity, just a single water cycle each week at 25% to 35% and water change at 100% per month are perfect.
For analyzing your real-time water parameters, you can choose test strips. In the case of unfiltered tanks, eliminate poop and uneaten food before they settle and start to decay. For this, there’s a tool called turkey baster. What it does is suck out debris quite easily from the tank.
Now you know everything about bettas without a filter. So it’s time to get to know what lies on the other side of the coin. And this side is what’s highly recommended by the way.
Bettas With A Filter
Do bettas need a filter? Yes, they do. And here’s why!
Let’s assume your tank doesn’t come with a filter. Never mind because the current filter options on the market are quite many. For example, there are internal filters, below gravel filters, sponge filters, and more.
So when choosing a filter for your betta, what matters the most is a strength. Bettas should enjoy the freedom to swim in the tank without struggling. This means a filter that offers adjustable flow is the safest and most recommended.
Even highly recommended are tanks specifically designed for bettas. In that case, you’ll see how they come with their own filtration units. Also, take the size of the filter into account as well. For instance, if it’s a 5-gallon tank, the filter size should be 1-3 gallons.
Benefits of a Filtered Tank for Betta Fish:
- Low maintenance and reduced water cycling.
- More beneficial microorganisms like good bacteria found in the water.
- Filters are necessary for counterbalancing the increase in the bio loads of possible tank mates.
- Reduction of waste. Waste includes bad bacteria, ammonia, feces, and excess food.
- A filter oxygenates the water.
It’s all very simple here. Filters in tanks keep the water parameters stable. And this is just the kind of environment betta fish prefer. You can expect fewer nitrates and ammonia. Along with more beneficial bacteria when a filter is involved.
What the filter does is establish a very natural environment. One that is perfect for the long-term mental and physical health of your little pet. It limits the likelihood of developing diseases and stress.
Another thing you might want to know is that filtered tanks demand fewer maintenance efforts. So if you live a busy life, you don’t have to keep cleaning your aquarium very often. On the other hand, forgetting or neglecting to change the water in unfiltered tanks can make the setting very bad very quickly.
In the case of filtered tanks, full 100% water changes are done when there’s algae growth. Or when some rampant disease is a possibility. Instead, what you can do is just carry out 25% to 35% water cycles per week. Along with vacuuming the aquarium’s gravel and replacing filter media.
One last thing I would like to add here is making sure to clean the filter in the tank water. Don’t use tap water. Otherwise, you won’t be able to preserve all the beneficial bacteria. Speaking of filters, how strong should it be? Let’s find out below.
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Do Bettas Need a Filter? Yes, But How Strong?
If it’s too strong, then can you lower the current strength? If not, it’s best to remove the filter altogether. A tank below 2.5 gallons doesn’t require a filter in the first place. So if you wish to include one, I would highly advise you to upgrade your betta’s habitat. Meaning buys a larger tank.
Internal and back-hanging filters offer many options in terms of strength. Even so, they’re stronger than they should be for bettas. And how would you know this? Betta fish struggling to reach the surface to get some air, scared and hiding, or frantically swimming. These are some of the few warning signs of the filter strength being too strong.
You, as a responsible pet owner, should take steps to keep your betta from feeling stressed out. The fish’s health is always a priority, right? When the strength is too strong, betta can get physically exhausted. And it doesn’t just end there. After getting exhausted, it’s likely to be sucked up or tossed around by that crazy strong filter.
In light of the matter, you might also want to know that water level also matters. If the depth is below the filter output, it increases the water turbulence.
So how about restricting the filter flow? Select the lowest option. And if it’s not an adjustable filter, I would suggest you return it. Buy the best filter for bettas fish as it features adjustable settings.
You can also increase the number of decorations and plants near your existing filter. These components weaken the strong flow once it hits the tank. Another control method includes creating an individual filtration compartment. This you can achieve by dividing your tank.
As for a quick fix, place the pre-filter sponge over the filter intake tube. What this does is limit water intake along with output. Such types of sponges fit easily on the output tubes of filters. And they do an excellent job of reducing turbulence and flow present in your aquarium.
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That’s About It!
In the end, it all depends on your personal preferences and situation. But whatever you do, just avoid using fish bowls or tanks below 2.5 gallons. Larger tanks also mean easier and less frequent maintenance. But, more importantly, a large tank with a filter creates a healthier environment for your betta. No two ways about that!
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