March 22

Sarah Robertson

5 Gallon Betta Tank Setup Guide

If you are a betta owner and are looking for a new tank, or if you are just starting out with fishkeeping, then you may be wondering what the best size tank for a betta is. A single betta fish should have a tank of at least 5 gallons. It is difficult to maintain a stable nitrogen cycle and control temperature in tiny betta tanks. The larger the tank, the less upkeep your betta fish will require.

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about setting up a 5-gallon betta fish tank. We will cover the basics, such as choosing a tank and filter, as well as more advanced topics like decorating your tank and adding plants. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced fishkeeper, this guide has something for you!

Step By Step Guide To Setup a 5-Gallon Betta Tank

To set up a 5-gallon aquarium, you must follow certain procedures. Here are the list of necessary items and how to set them up:

Step 1: Choosing Your Betta Fish Tank

Unfortunately, bettas are frequently kept in little plastic dishes. The fact is that this causes bettas to become ill and live a miserable existence. Betta fish do not have to be kept in tiny bowls or tanks since they are descended from shallow streams.

Tanks are very important; an unsuitable tank might make the difference between a Betta surviving or flourishing and living a long, happy life.

It's important to choose a tank with a lid since it will keep your Betta from leaping out. A lid can also prevent water evaporation and prevent external elements from getting into the tank.

The tank you choose should be at least 5 gallons - the LARGER the better.

Step 2 – Choosing and installing Equipment and Accessories (Heater, Filtration, Water Conditioner, and Lighting)

Here are the equipment and accessories you need to set up your 5-gallon tank:

Aquarium Heater: If the room temperature falls below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need an aquarium heater. Bettas can tolerate a temperature range of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's important to get a heater that will keep the tank within this range. The sort of heater you choose would be determined by the size and kind of tank you have.

Filter: Filtration is important to keep your tank healthy and your Betta happy. Filters remove water from one end of the tank and return it at the other end or from above the tank. A hang-on-back filter is the best type for a 5-gallon tank, as it will not take up much space.

Bettas dislike a lot of water movement because swimming constantly against a current exhausts them, so it's important to get a filter that has adjustable flow settings. If you don't want to use a filter, there are several options. If you have at least 50% of the tank area occupied by plants, they will aid in the removal of fish waste by-products.

Water Conditioner: A water conditioner is necessary to neutralize chlorine and chloramine in tap water. It also helps to correct the pH levels and remove any chemicals, metals, or pollutants from the body.

Lighting: While not necessary, some people like to have a light installed in their tank. If you choose to have a light, it is best to get a fluorescent light that emits both blue and red wavelengths. They should be placed above the aquarium, not in it.

If your tank is in an area that does not get direct or indirect sunshine throughout the day, a suitable light source would be required. A good light system should provide UV light that is required for plants to thrive. The light may also assist to highlight your Betta's coloration, especially its iridescent scales.

Rubbing Alcohol: It is used to clean the tank surfaces and disinfect them.

Betta Fish Tank Installation Procedure

Installation Procedure

Once you have chosen your equipment and accessories, the installation procedure is as follows:

  • Install the aquarium heater in the desired spot. The heater should be placed at one end of the tank and not in direct contact with the bottom of the tank.
  • Install the filter on the back of the tank. If it's a hang-on-back filter, hang it on the back of the tank and let the suction cups adhere to the glass.
  • Fill the aquarium with water to just below the top of the filter.
  • Apply a few drops of water conditioner to the water and stir well.
  • Install the light if desired.

 After you've installed all of the necessary equipment, fill the water and put the betta in the tank. You can also turn on the filter and heater at this time to ensure that the water temperature is correct. The temperature should be set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do Betta Fish Need a Filter?

Despite their origin, bettas require a filter. A filter will aid in the maintenance of your aquarium and minimize the number of unhealthy bacteria that might cause illness. Filter media removes waste materials and dirt buildup, as well as keeping harmful bacterial levels at bay.

Betta fish have long, flowing fins that make it difficult for them to swim in powerful currents. So a ‘gentle' filter will be required.

Do Betta Fish Need a Heater?

Yes, you'll need to buy a heater because Bettas are from Thailand's tropical seas.

You should invest in a completely waterproof heater that can maintain temperatures between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You must also be able to check the temperature quickly.

If the temperature drops too low, diseases like Ich become more likely. If you keep the temperature too high, your Betta will age faster. Choose a heater with a thermostat so you can easily adjust the temperature. And, while heaters are good for keeping your space warm, they aren't always reliable.

Do Betta fish need Light?

A betta should be exposed to between 14 and 16 hours of light (minimum) each day. You may buy timers for the aquarium lights to ensure that they are switched on at the appropriate times. If you don't have a timer already, one may be installed on the plug socket that controls the light.

Choosing and Placing Plants and Decorations

Step 3: Choosing and Placing Plants and Decorations

When you are choosing plants, remember that the betta is a labyrinth fish and therefore needs access to the surface of the water in order to breathe. Choose plants that will not grow too high and cover the surface of the tank. You can also place some smooth stones or pebbles at the bottom of the tank as well.

Here are a few things you can add to your tank:


You can add a substrate to your tank, but it's not necessary. If you choose to use one, make sure that it is non-toxic and safe for fish.

You can add 1-2 inches of gravel, sand or a mix of both. Substrates are not required with mechanical filtration. However, because the fish's feces will be visible on the ground and in the water as it is swept up by the filter, aesthetically it won't be as appealing.


You can also add rocks to your tank, but be sure that they are smooth and non-toxic. They can be used to create hiding spots for the fish and also to add some decoration to the tank.

Your local pet store may sell you rock made of resin or plastic. Natural rocks can be utilized, but it's not a good idea to use rock from an open environment. They might include chemicals or other pollutants, as well as parasites or fungus. Only get rock decorations from a trustworthy vendor if you want to use actual rocks in your aquarium.

Examples of Rock Decorations:

  • Fake Rocks: These are available in a variety of styles, including those that appear to be covered in moss. They're inexpensive, simple to maintain, and look great. They may also be used to cover tubes as needed.
  • Rocks and Pebbles: Natural rocks are more natural-looking and give the tank a distinctive look.
  • Aquarium Glue: This is a good material for attaching objects to the tank's sides and bottom.


Driftwood comes in a variety of shapes and forms, each with its own distinct character.

Over time, all driftwood will decompose and create tannic acid, which stains the water a brownish color. Water changes can dilute it, and chemical filtration (carbon cartridges) will remove it entirely. The average life expectancy of driftwood is one year or more depending on the size, sort, and condition in which it is kept.

Here are a few Examples of Driftwood Products:

  • Organic Driftwood
  • Resin Driftwood
  • Bonsai Driftwood


There are several aquatic plants that are simple to maintain and do not require much light to survive. These plants can be found at most pet stores.

When choosing plants, be sure they are suitable for your aquarium and will not grow to be too huge. Also, make sure the plant's edges aren't sharp.

Java Fern: The Java fern is a wonderful plant for low-light aquariums. The Java fern requires 1.5 watts of illumination per gallon of water. In brackish water, the Java fern will survive.

Anubias Nana: Anubias nana is a compact plant with broad leaves. It has dark green colors that make it appealing and will aid in the maintenance of your aquarium's water quality and oxygenation.

Cryptocoryne: The Cryptocoryne wendtii is a wonderful live plant for Betta fish because of how easy it is to maintain and what it contributes to the tank. Because this species of plant requires such little light to survive, it's a great choice for any owner who doesn't want to install lighting in their aquarium.

Water Sprite: Water sprite, also known as "water lettuce," is a floating plant that can be your betta's best buddy since it absorbs ammonia quickly and helps to maintain your aquarium water clean.

Marimo Moss Balls: For betta tanks, marimo moss balls are popular among both beginners and experts. They don't require much upkeep, and they're beautiful to look at. Tank inhabitants adore them.

Betta Bulb: Betta bulbs are a type of aquatic plant known as Aponogeton. It is native to Asia, Africa, and Australasia's temperate and tropical regions. These plants produce large bulbs with long, thin leaves.

Sword Plant: Consider adding a huge sword plant, such as an Amazon sword or red flame sword, to fill your tank for large aquariums. This popular fish aquarium plant is appreciated for its simple maintenance requirements and big, broad leaves that provide resting and hiding places for aquatic animals.

Anacharis: Anacharis is excellent for betta tanks since it provides them with lots of hiding and exploring options. It will also help to reduce the number of algae in the tank. When maintaining anacharis and bettas together, be sure their fins aren't being harmed.

Duckweed: It is simple to grow duckweed in aquariums. It's not a picky plant that gets most of its nutrients from the air. Goldfish, tilapia, koi fish, and other fish species like it since it offers a high-quality, protein-rich food source.

Floating Plants: Floating plants are a wonderful method to improve the top layers of their habitat since betta fish like to hang out near the water's surface. Floating stem plants, Amazon frogbit, and redroot floaters are just a few of the most popular kinds.


This is optional. Some people like to add a toy or two to their tank for their fish to play with. Be sure that any toys you add are non-toxic and safe for your fish. If you wish, you may add a mirror to your tank. Bettas are territorial by nature, and the addition of a mirror might help to decrease aggression.

Step 4: Setting up Your Betta’s Tank

It's time to prepare your betta fish tank now. This is where things will start to get fun for you, and you'll be able to personalize your tank to your preferences. You must, however, make sure that everything is acceptable for your betta. Here are some of the steps you should take:

Cleaning The Tank/Checking The Leaks

To begin, you must clean your tank and look for leaks. The easiest approach to accomplish this is to let it sit in a bath or on a soft mat in your garden. After that, fill it with water and give the inside cleaning with a towel.

A cleaning solution might remain in your tank, poison your betta, and even kill him. So, it is better not to use chemicals for cleaning the aquarium. When you're done, check for any leaks in the tank. If there are no leaks, use a gravel vacuum or a cup to empty the tank.

Don't try to lift the tank when it's filled with water. It'll be much heavier, not to mention far more likely to break, than if you fill it gradually over time.


When selecting the ideal aquarium setup for betta fish, one of the most neglected fundamentals to consider is where you'll position it.

If you place it in an area that is too bright, the extra light might cause significant algae growth. However, if you set it in a location that is too cold or has frequent temperature changes, the tank's temperature may become unstable. When the temperature drops, bettas may experience thermal shock, which can be deadly.

Because of this, it's usually preferable to put the tank in the middle of the house rather than by any windows. The chance of sunlight and wind affecting it will be reduced as a result. However, keep away from radiators (particularly if you live in a warmer climate).

Last but not least, make sure your tank is out of reach of little children and animals.

Adding Substrate

After you've got your tank positioned in the location you want, the next step is to add substrate. This is rather simple, and if you wish to grow live plants, aim for about 2 inches of substrate across the tank.

If you want your aquarium to look natural and lovely, the Fluval Stratum is the finest alternative. It also has the advantage of looking attractive and natural, making it a great choice for planted aquariums.

If you're using Fluval Stratum or other aquarium soil, just drop it in and leave it. If you're going to use gravel or sand, though, you should wash it a few times before to make sure it's clean.

Adding Plants & Decoration

The next step is to put the plants in the tank. You should fill your tank a few inches deep with water before you add the plants. Place a plate beneath where you'll be pouring the water to keep the gravel neat. After adding a couple of inches of water to the tank, wait 10-15 minutes with a dechlorinator.

The next step is to add any decorations you wish. If you're not sure what decorations to put in your tank, we've compiled a list of the greatest betta fish decorations. It's always a good idea to include a hiding place for your betta.

The final step is to add your plants. When growing plants, make sure you can properly bury their roots in the substrate. If their roots are buried, some plants, such as anubias, will die and must adhere to something else.

If you're not sure what to add, java moss, betta bulbs, and marimo moss balls are excellent beginner plants that look great in any tank.

However, if you know what plants you want and need their roots to be buried right away, now is the time to do so. Finally, plant the bigger plants at the rear of the tank and decrease their size as you approach the front. This will not only allow you to see more clearly into your tank, but it will also make it appear larger.

Filling The Tank

Filling The Tank

After you've got everything where you want it, it's time to fill in the rest of the tank. It's also worth noting that it's a lot more effective to pour water into a plate in your tank rather than straight into the aquarium. If you try to throw water straight in, you'll upset all of your plants and cause craters in your substrate.

When filling your tank, make sure to leave about an inch of space at the top for your betta to breathe. To stay healthy, bettas need to breathe air and water. Another reason to leave an inch of breathing room is to lower the chance that your betta will leap out.

To remove chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals, simply add your water conditioner to the tank after you've poured all of the water you require in it.

Adding Your Filter

After filling your tank with water, you'll need to add your filter. Some aquariums include a compartment specifically designed to conceal your filter.

However, if your aquarium does not have this, select where you'll put it. It's usually preferable to put it at the top and back of the tank away from the action. However, depending on the filter you choose, it may need to go beneath the gravel or hang off the back of the tank.

Finally, when you're adding your filter, try to slow the flow as much as possible. If the current is particularly powerful, baffle the filter, add sponge, or use decorations to obstruct it.

Adding Your Heater

Then, it's time to add the heater. When you're putting your heater in, keep it as close to the filter as possible. Instead of being confined to one location, warm water will now flow throughout your whole tank. Suction cups are usually attached to the bottom of your heater in order for you to attach them to your tank.

Setting the temperature to 78°F is ideal, but anything between 75 and 82°F will suffice for your betta. The most important thing is to maintain a consistent temperature.

Step 5: Introducing Your Betta to its New Tank

Now that you have your tank all set up, it's time to introduce your betta. When you're bringing your betta home from the store, be sure to ask whether it has been acclimated to the temperature of the pet store's water. If it has, there's no need to adjust the heater in your tank.

If your betta has not been acclimated, you'll need to slowly adjust the temperature of your tank over the course of about two hours. To do this, use a floating thermometer to measure the water temperature in your tank and the water temperature in your betta's cup.

Once the temperatures have been matched, it's time to release your betta into its new home. Be sure to have a net on hand in case your betta needs to be caught and moved back to its cup.

When you're adding your betta, add a little of its old water to the tank so that it can become acclimated to the pH level and hardness of its new home.

Cycling Your Tank

The last stage before putting your betta in is to cycle the tank. In-fish cycles are not advised, whereas fishless cycles are.

Fishless Cycle

If you use a fishless cycle, it means you'll be giving your tank room to develop bacteria without any fish in it. There will be an accumulation of ammonia if no bacteria exist, which can be fatal to your betta.

In many cases, fishless cycling without adding useful bacteria to break down ammonia is not enough. The Fluval Biological Enhancer is primarily used by fishkeepers, although it's up to you which one you choose.

In-Fish Cycle

You may also do an in-fish cycle while performing a fishless cycle. You'll need another biological stimulant to get your aquarium started.

Once the tank has been adequately filled with bacteria, check the parameters to ensure that the ammonia and nitrite are at 0ppm, and the nitrate is at 20ppm (parts per million). To do this, you'll need the API Master Test Kit.

You can then put your betta in the tank if the water quality is sufficient. However, you'll need to check the water every day and make frequent water changes to keep the ammonia levels low after he's in there.

You should also neutralize any ammonia build-up with an ammonia detoxifier to avoid your betta becoming harmed.

It's not suggested that you perform fish cycles because they are more stressful. Not only will they add to the stress of your betta, but it's also a lot more likely he'll die during the procedure.

Betta fish care might be complex, but with the proper instructions, you can do it!

Tank Mates For 5 Gallon Tanks

Tank Mates For 5 Gallon Tanks

Betta fish are often kept alone in a tank, but they can be kept with other fish as well. When choosing tank mates for your betta, keep in mind the size of the other fish, their temperament, and how much space is available in your tank. It is better to avoid unusually huge or aggressive fish that could cause fights with your betta. Also, keep other male and female bettas out of the aquarium.

Here are the Best Betta Tank Mates for 5 Gallon Tanks:

  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Brigittae Rasbora
  • Least Killifish
  • Strawberry Rasbora
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Ember Tetras
  • Phoenix Rasbora
  • Neon Tetras
  • Dwarf Rasbora
  • Ramshorn Snails
  • Bladder/Pond Snails

Here are a few bad matchups for betta:

  • Cichlids
  • Pea Puffers
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Scarlet Badis
  • Most Barbs / nipping fins


Is 5 Gallons a Good Aquarium Size?

5 gallons is a good aquarium size for bettas, but it is also suitable for other small fish. You can keep a variety of different fish in a 5-gallon tank, but be sure to research what each species needs in terms of care and tank size. A good general rule is to not keep fish that are larger than your betta in a 5-gallon tank.

How Many Bettas Can You Keep in 5 Gallon Betta Fish Tank?

You can keep 1 betta in a 5-gallon tank. If you want to keep more than one betta, you will need a larger tank.

What Kind of Plants Can I Put in My 5-gallon Tank?

You can use live plants or artificial plants in your 5-gallon tank. Be sure to research the needs of the plants you choose, as some plants need more light or a specific type of water to thrive.

Java Fern, Anubias, Marimo Moss Ball, Cryptocoryne, Water Sprite, Betta Bulb, Sword Plant & Vallisneria are good plants for a 5-gallon tank.

What Kind of Filter Do I Need for My 5-gallon Tank?

The size of the filter will depend on the size of your tank. Be sure to select a filter that is rated for the size of your aquarium. A good filter for a 5-gallon tank is the AquaTech five-gallon power filter.

Can I Use an Air Pump With My 5-gallon Tank?

An air pump can be used with a 5-gallon tank, but it is not necessary. If you choose to use an air pump, be sure to select one that is rated for the size of your aquarium.

What Kind of Light Do I Need for My 5-gallon Tank?

You will need a light for your aquarium. A good rule of thumb is to use a fluorescent light that emits both visible and ultraviolet (UV) light.

How Often Do I Need to Change 5-gallon Tank Water?

If you have 5 gallons tank, Typically you'll need to change the water once a week.

What Kind of Food Do I Give My Betta in a 5-gallon Tank?

High protein betta pellets sold in pet stores are good food for bettas in a 5-gallon tank. You can also give your betta freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other small live or frozen insects.

What Is the Typical Size of a 5-gallon Fish Tank?

The normal measurements of a 5-gallon fish tank are 16" x 8" x 10".

Can I Put a Betta in a 5-gallon Tank?

A 5-gallon tank is ideal for a betta fish. It's small enough to sit on a desktop or table, but it has enough of swimming area for a betta.

How Long Does It Take a 5-gallon Tank to Cycle?

Cycling an aquarium takes around a month. A test kit will be required to check your water quality in order to determine where the cycle is at. Your numbers should tell you when it's time to add fish gradually after three weeks as your biological filter adjusts to the fish and their waste.

What Can I Put in a 5-gallon Tank With a Betta?

In a 5 gallon tank, the ideal betta tank mates are brigittae rasboras, ember tetras, strawberry rasboras, and ramshorn snails. Avoid fish that become too large or aggressive; they may fight with your betta.

How Much Does a 5-gallon Betta Tank Cost?

A 5-gallon Betta fish tank will set you back anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00. The cost of a tank varies with its size. You can also find tanks that come with a built-in filter and LED light.

Do Betta Fish Need a Filter in a 5-gallon Tank?

A filter is not necessary for a 5-gallon tank, but it is recommended. The actions of a filter also aid in the oxygenation of water. Bettas thrive on low-flow filters because they are frequently knocked about by high-output ones. A low-flow filter, will assist with oxygenation.

Final Thoughts

A 5-gallon tank is a great size for a betta fish. It is small enough to sit on a desktop or table, but it has enough swimming area for a betta. When cycling an aquarium, it takes around a month. In a 5 gallon tank, the ideal betta tank mates are brigittae rasboras, ember tetras, strawberry rasboras, and ramshorn snails.

A filter is not necessary for a 5-gallon tank, but it is recommended. The actions of a filter also aid in the oxygenation of water. Low-flow filters are best for bettas. A 5-gallon tank will set you back anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00.

Setting up a 5-gallon tank is easy as long as you have the proper supplies. The most important thing to remember is to cycle your tank before adding any fish. This will ensure that your aquarium has a healthy environment for your fish. Follow the tips and steps mentioned in this article and you'll be on your way to owning a healthy 5-gallon tank!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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