March 22

Sarah Robertson

Betta Fish Tank Setup: a Complete Guide

Betta fish is one of the most beautiful and easy-to-grow fish around, therefore he must have a lovely aquarium to match. Setting up your betta fish tank can seem daunting, but it’s really not that difficult. In this article, we will walk you through the entire process, from selecting a tank to adding the final touches. So, let’s get started!

When setting up a tank for a betta, you must consider several factors such as tank size, add-ons to include, plants and gravels. A perfect tank setup will always have a positive impact on the health and well-being of your fish.

Things to Consider Before Betta Fish Tank Setup

1. Choosing Your Betta Fish Tank

The first step is selecting the right tank. There are a few things you need to take into account when choosing a tank. When shopping for a betta fish tank, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Size of the Tank

While picking a tank for a betta, Size definitely Matters! Your fish tank should be big enough to accommodate your betta and some plants or decorations. A 5-gallons in size tank is a decent size for a single betta fish, but most betta fish will require more space.

A larger tank enables your betta fish to explore his new surroundings. It also prevents the water from becoming dirtier for longer, so you'll need to perform fewer water changes!

Popular Tank Models to Consider

Office desk tanks: Mini tanks, on the other hand, make wonderful temporary residences for your Betta. Ideal for taking them to work with you.

5-Gallon Tank: Ideal for keeping a single Betta fish or rearing fry.

10-Gallon Tank: Bettas can be kept in a single 10-gallon tank if they are the only fish. Bottom feeders, such as catfish, may also be kept in the tank.

20-Gallon Tank: Your Betta can live in the same tank with other fish, plants, and decorations.

You've identified the tank size that you wish to use. You must make sure you have the right table, shelf, or stand that can accommodate and support your selected tank's size and weight.

Tank Shape

You’ll want to choose a tank that’s wide rather than tall, as bettas like plenty of swimming space. The rectangular design indicates there is plenty of horizontal swimming room, which is fantastic! So it's always preferable to pick Length Over Height for a betta tank.

Tank Material

You can buy tanks made from glass, acrylic or plastic. Glass tanks/glass bowl are heavier but more durable, while acrylic tanks are lighter but more prone to scratches.

Choosing Your Betta Fish Tank Accessories

2. Choosing Your Betta Fish Tank Accessories

Once you have chosen the right tank, it’s time to pick out the accessories.

The following are some essential items you will need for your betta fish tank:


Because bettas are native to tropical waters, they require warm water at 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. This implies that if the temperature drops too low (below 74f) or varies erratically, your Betta will become sick. The sort of heater you pick would be determined by the size and kind of tank you are using.

Your water heater must be able to sufficiently and continuously heat all of the water in your tank. Your heater should produce 3 to 5 watts for each gallon of water. So, if you have a 10-gallon tank, you'll want one that generates between 30 and 50 watts of power.


Filters take water from one end of the tank and return it at the other, or from above the tank. A small sponge filter or a hang-on-back (mechanical) filter are both suitable for a Betta tank.

It's also worth noting that Betta fish dislikes a lot of water movement since keeping up with a stream exhausts them, so get a filter with adjustable flow settings.

Alternatively, if you don't want a filter at all and have a large collection of betta fish tank plants, that is also an option. They will assist to filter out fish waste byproducts if you have at least 50% of the tank space filled with plants. This, however, is impossible if the tank has a large number of fish.

Water Conditioner:

Water conditioners are used to restore the pH balance and eliminate any pollutants, harmful chemicals, or metals. This will remove chlorine and chloramine from your tap water, providing safe and nutritious water for your betta fish. So consider this an essential item if you're buying your first fish.

Changing the water every week is essential for a tiny tank. Usually, you'll have to change 30-50% of the water each week. The water in a big aquarium with a filter must still be changed every week, but only 20% of it needs to be replaced.


If your tank is in an area that does not receive direct or indirect sunlight throughout the day, you'll need a light source.

A good light system would provide UV radiation that is necessary for plants to develop. The light may also be utilized to accentuate the coloration of your Betta, particularly its iridescent scales.

Blue and white lights provide your fish and plants with a variety of lighting frequencies. They should be placed above the tank and not in the water.

Rubbing Alcohol:

This is a great item to have on hand in case of an emergency. For example, if your betta becomes sick and you need to clean the tank, you can use alcohol to do so. It will kill any bacteria or fungus present in the tank and help to sterilize it.

Tank Lid: 

Although a betta can live without a lid, it is preferable to get one. Betta fish are notorious for leaping out of their tanks, thus they should always be kept in containers with lids.

A lid on a Betta aquarium also protects the water from pollutants, which may cause an oily protein film to develop on the water surface and decrease evaporation. More evaporation means more water changes in the tank are required.


Gravel is a great substrate for your tank as it helps to trap debris and food. This makes cleaning the tank much easier and also keeps the water healthy for your fish. Uneaten betta fish food particles fall from large gravel and get stuck in the gaps between them. This is difficult to clean and causes dirty water to accumulate. Smaller, finer gravel will aid against this problem.

Betta fish enjoy swimming at all depths, and it's typical to see your betta cruising on the bottom. To prevent your betta from injuring itself, you'll need tiny or smooth gravel.


Plants are ideal for Betta bowls or aquariums since Betta fish like to relax among the leaves and sleep, but not to eat!

If you want to use live plants, you'll need to consider the substrate so that the plants may grow and flourish. It's a good idea to half fill your tank with water before adding any live plants since it makes it easier to place them.

Beginner plants, such as anubias, java fern, and marimo moss balls, are excellent because they do not need special substrate or lighting to thrive and help keep the water cleaner through biological filtration.

Not only do aquatic plants help purify the water from your fish’s waste, but they also provide a beautiful, natural environment for your betta. Plants serve as excellent enrichment for your betta to explore, obstacles to block line of sight in case he gets territorial, and resting places for him to sleep at night. Some of the plants suitable for betta tank are Cryptocoryne, Water Sprite, Betta Bulb, Sword Plant, Vallisneria, Pogostemon stellatus ‘Octopus’, Floating Plants..etc.

If you prefer artificial plants over real ones, make sure to get silk plants. Live plants may carry parasites or diseases that could harm your betta, while fake plants will not. You can find a wide variety of fake plants at your local pet store, and they come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles to fit any tank décor.

Betta Tank setup

How to Set up a Betta Tank

Now that you've gathered all of your materials, here's a step-by-step guide on how to put together your aquarium:

Pick a Good Location

The aquarium should be near an electrical outline for the equipment and a supply of water for simple tank maintenance. Avoid locations in direct sunlight or adjacent to the air conditioner or heating unit to minimize algae development and temperature changes.

Finally, keep in mind that your aquarium is most likely made of glass or acrylic, so pick a position where the tank will not be struck or smashed against because no one wants 5 gallons of aquarium water to flow down the floor.

Use a Good Aquarium Stand:

Because aquariums are heavy (about 10 pounds per gallon when full with water and goods), make sure your stand is on a sturdy, flat surface that can support the weight. In addition, the stand should be resistant to water so it does not bend over time.

Wash the Supplies :

Rinse the tank, equipment, substrate, and decorations in warm water to remove any dust or debris. Because soaps and cleaning detergents could be harmful to your fish, do not use any. If you bought a used aquarium, check for leaks by leaving it full of water for 24 hours and searching for signs of moisture.

Install the Supplies :

Now it’s time for the interior design! Install the equipment in the aquarium (without plugging them in yet) and then position the decorations around them in a pleasing manner. Betta fish don't enjoy fast currents, so hide the filter with ornaments or plants to decrease water flow.

Add the Water and Conditioner:

In this step you need to fill the tank with tap water and then add water conditioner or Neutralizer to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals from the water. Over-conditioning a tank containing fish can be deadly. That said, rather than using too much water conditioner, it's far more likely to kill a fish not to use it at all.

The filter is now in and ready to use, but most heaters need 30 minutes to warm up and get used to the water temperature. You may also need to run a fishless cycle. It's the act of establishing a colony of 'good bacteria/beneficial bacteria' in your aquarium filter before introducing any fish to the tank. You may stimulate the bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate by adding an ammonia source.

Introduce Your Betta Fish

Now that your aquarium is ready, it's time to add betta to your tank. Float the sealed bag with your betta fish in it for about 15 minutes to equalize the temperature of the water in the bag and tank. Then, using a net, scoop him out of the bag and release him into his new home.

Cleaning the Tank/checking the Leaks:

How often you'll need to clean your tank depends on how many fish you have, what type of filter you're using, and how much algae is growing. To clean the tank, follow these procedures:

Wash Your Hands:

Take the time to ensure that your hands are clean. You don't want to introduce germs or dirt into the tank while cleaning it. Rinse the soap off fully if you use it. Soap residue might be fatal to fish.

Unplug heaters, filters, lights, and other equipment:

While cleaning the tank, it's critical to keep all electrical devices disconnected and away from it. Although these devices are intended to be used in a fish tank, you don't want them to fall into the tank or get wet due to carelessness.

Gather the tools and materials you will need:

To clean the tank, you must first prepare a secure location to store your fish. Find an empty cup or dish that you may use to contain the fish. Pour some water from the Betta's existing tank into the glass or fish bowl; you'll just need enough water to allow the fish some space to swim about.

You'll also need the equipment to clean and refresh the tank's water. Aside from that, you'll need a sink, a plastic cup or net to scoop the fish and water, paper towels and a scrubber to clean the fish tank's interior, water conditioner (optional), and a sieve for cleaning gravel.

Scoop water out of the tank.

Remove half to the full amount of water from the tank using a tiny cup. Allow it to stand so that you may use it later in the tank. This is necessary since you cannot entirely replace the water because it might cause the betta to become unconscious. Instead, you will replace the water you set aside with clean water once again into your aquarium.

If you're a first-time owner, start with 50% water changes and work your way up to 80 percent.

The gravel at the bottom of a betta's tank is mostly dirty. When you clean the gravel, you will still be removing most of the dirt and debris since the water on top has been removed.

Remove the Fish From the Tank.

Once you've removed some of the water from the tank, scoop your fish with the same cup. Take your time and be cautious of the fish's fins while scooping them. If you go rather slowly, you may be able to get the fish to settle into the cup while it is underwater, at which point you can simply lift it straight up.

After removing the fish from the tank, you may place them in the glass or bowl that has previously been filled with tank water.

While performing this, keep in mind that the fish must not leap out. Because bettas are known jumpers, make sure whatever container you're keeping the fish in has a lid on it.

Washing a Betta Fish Tank:

Now that the fish are out of the way, it's time to wash the tank. Rinse the entire tank with warm water to remove any loose dirt or debris. If you have a gravel vacuum, use it to clean the gravel while you're rinsing the tank. If not, just use your hands to agitate and move the gravel around while the tank is still wet. This will help loosen any dirt or algae that's stuck to it. Here are the steps:

  • Empty the tank. Drain the remaining water out of the tank through a sieve into the sink. This will avoid any gravel from falling down the drain. Any décor that was in the tank should also be removed.
  • Use warm water to clean the gravel. Shake the gravel side to side to remove the dirt, poo, and left-over food. Make sure it's done thoroughly with hand.
  • Rinse the tank and decor with warm water. To clean the glass, use a gentle scrubber. After drying the decor with a paper towel, place it aside. Never, under any circumstances, use soap on anything in a fish tank, especially the tank itself. The residue is likely to remain and harm your betta.
  • Refill the tank. Before you refill the tank, replace the gravel and plants. Then fill it up with fresh water and condition it. To determine how much conditioner to use in your fish's tank, follow the instructions on the package of conditioner. You can use a plastic spoon to stir the water, making sure that the conditioner is mixed into the new water thoroughly. Also, remember to reserve enough space for the water you took out of the tank, your new water will not be sufficient. When the new water has been conditioned, pour back any old water that was kept aside. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.
  • Allow 24 to 48 hours for the water to settle and reach room temperature. The water in the aquarium must be kept at the same temperature as the water was before, and it should be between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 27 degrees Celsius). If you change the temperature too rapidly, your fish will perish from stress. Water in the tank may take some time to reach room temperature. After 24 hours, check the water with a thermometer to ensure that it is at the same temperature as the room's ambient temperature. If it isn't yet room temperature, wait a few more hours and then double-check it again.
  • Reintroduce the betta to its tank. Slowly lower the cup where you kept your betta into the tank and tilt it a bit. Your betta will crawl out of the cup on its own as you do this slowly. Be careful while doing this since you could harm its fins. After reintroducing betta into the tank you need to keep an eye on it. It'll soon start exploring the tank after you set it free. Set your aquarium back to its previous state and enjoy as it swims around inspecting everything!
betta fish tank


What Are Ideal Water Parameters for Betta?

Because bettas love calm water with a pH of 6.8 to 7.5, you can expect that your fish will thrive in this type of aquarium. While they appear to tolerate colder temperatures, Bettas will be inactive and more prone to disease at these temperatures, therefore it's best for their health if the temperature is maintained between 76° - 85° F.

How Often Should You Change Betta Water?

It's fine to put your betta in its container as you add the freshwater but proceed slowly so that you don't upset the fish. The majority of experts recommend changing your betta's water at least once a week.

Can I Use Tap Water for Betta Fish?

Tap water is the most common choice for betta fish water. Tap water may be used as long as it is properly conditioned.

Which Substrate Is Best for Betta Tank?

The substrate is what you'll use to line the bottoms of your tank. In most cases, people utilize gravel, but it's also possible to use sand, aquarium soil, or choose not to use any at all. When selecting a substrate, you should select one that isn't too massive, rough and has sharp edges.

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

In approximately 24 hours, your Betta's bag will reach the same temperature as your aquarium. Begin adding tiny quantities of tank water to the container once the water in his bag has reached the same temperature as your aquarium.

Do Betta Fish Like Light?

A betta requires approximately 14 – 16 hours of light in a 24-hour day. Timers are available for aquarium lights to ensure that the amount of light is controlled. If not already done, timers may be built into your aquarium's plug socket that controls the light.

Does Your Betta Need a Filter?

Betta fish do best in tanks that include a filter. You can keep a betta in a bowl, though I personally really hate seeing it. You need to really stay on top of weekly water changes, be sure not to overfeed, and keep the water crystal clear. You also need to make sure your room temperature remains appropriate for Betta.

Tanks with filtration are simpler to keep clean. The bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain the system.

The activities of a filter also aid in the oxygenation of the water. Bettas do well with low-flow filtering since they are frequently thrown about by high-output filters. Even a minimal flow filter will assist with oxygenation.

Do Betta Fish Need a Heater?

The ideal water temperature for betta fish is between 76 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature of your room differs from this range, you'll need to invest in an aquarium heater.

What Are the Essential Items for Setting Up Your Betta Tank?

A filter, heater, water conditioner, and aquarium salt (if desired) are all necessary. Some ornaments or aquarium plants should also be included. An effective betta thermometer is critical to maintaining the correct temperature for your pet fish.

Optional items that will benefit the betta and aquarium inhabitants include: an air pump and airstone, a betta food supplement, protein skimmer, LED or UV overheat light (this is compulsory if keeping live plants), An aquarium substrate for bettas (like sand, gravel, etc.)

Final Thoughts:

Setting up a betta tank is not as difficult as it may seem. With the proper equipment and some simple knowledge, you can have your betta thriving in his new home in no time!

While setting the tank up, be sure to keep an eye on the water temperature and pH levels. Once your tank is set up, continue to monitor these levels and make adjustments as necessary to ensure your betta's health and happiness.

Be sure to keep a regular cleaning schedule, changing at least 25% of the water each week. If you can't commit to this level of maintenance, a betta fish tank with a filter is recommended. Include some live plants in your tank to help keep the water clean and oxygenated. A few well-chosen decorations will make your betta's home more interesting and enjoyable. You can also include plastic plants in the betta tank, but be sure to remove any sharp edges that could harm your fish.

With a little effort, you can have a beautiful and healthy aquarium that will bring joy to both you and your betta fish!

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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