Do Betta Fish Need A Filter? (All You Need To Know)

Betta fish live in shallow places like rice paddies, stagnant ponds, and marshes in the wild. Living in these places in the wild makes us think that bettas can live in a small place without a heater or filter in captivity.

In this article, we will discuss whether betta fish can live without a filter in captivity. So, Do betta fish need a filter? Let us find out.

Betta fish require a filter in their tank as they thrive in clean water conditions with no harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite. Adding a filter will keep the water clean and protected from harmful toxins. Consider filters with a low current flow to ensure their comfortable swimming.

This article will also discuss how to make a perfect tank for our betta fish. So, let us get into it.

Do betta fish need a filter in their tank?

Betta and all other fish require a filter for their comfortable living.

Filters do the work of keeping the water clean and safe from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.

The beneficial bacteria in our filter help break the ammonia into nitrite and nitrate.

If you don’t add a filter to your betta tank, there is a high risk of an ammonia spike in the tank as the fish waste will not get processed without a filter, resulting in a spike of ammonia.

And you must know that bettas are very sensitive to ammonia and can suffer from a life-threatening condition due to even a small amount of ammonia in the tank.

So, always consider providing your betta fish with a good filtration system with biofilter media to ensure good water conditions and protection from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.

What are the best filters for my betta tank?

These are some of the types of filters that are present in the market:

  1. Canister filter
  2. Hang-on filter
  3. Internal filter
  4. External filter
  5. Sponge filter

Sponge, internal, and hang-on filters are best for your betta fish.

Betta fish don’t like high current flow in the water and need a gentle flow to ensure comfortable swimming.

All these three types of filters are good for small-size tanks.

These are the best filters for your betta tank:

  1. Carefree Fish Aquarium Power Filter.
  2. Aqueon QuietFlow 10 E Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Power Filter.
  3. Pawfly Aquarium Nano Bio Sponge Filter.

The filter also helps create water movement in the tank and provides aeration.

Betta fish have a special organ called a labyrinth organ which allows them to breathe air.

This allows them to survive in low oxygen levels in the wild when living in rice paddies, marshes, and stagnant ponds.

However, this doesn’t mean they will live comfortably in the tank without aeration or oxygen, as here we are talking about survivability and not living comfortably.

The filter will provide safe water to your betta fish and ensure a good level of oxygen in the tank.

Do betta fish require a heater in their tank?

Bettas are tropical freshwater fish and require a warmer water temperature to thrive.

Betta fish require a well-heated tank to live comfortably.

A heater is also necessary for your betta fish because bettas are sensitive to water parameters and can suffer when living in an inadequate water temperature.

Also, the unstable water temperature will cause stress to your betta fish, and they will become prone to various diseases and parasites.

Adding a heater to your betta tank will ensure adequate and stable water temperature.

Betta fish require a water temperature between 78-82 °F.

Also read: Ideal pH Level For Betta Fish?

How to make a perfect tank for my betta fish?

The place where the bettas live in the wild makes us think they can live in a small tank without a filter and heater.

In reality, your betta fish require a well-maintained tank with ample space to live comfortably in captivity.

If you want your betta fish to thrive, you must provide them with these things to make a perfect tank for them:

  1. A big size tank
  2. A heater
  3. A filter
  4. Live plants
  5. Light

Bettas live in shallow places like rice paddies, stagnant ponds, and marshes. 

But, in captivity, you must provide them ample space to ensure their comfortable living.

A minimum size of a 5-gallon tank we suggest for one betta fish. However, a 10-gallon tank would be best for keeping betta fish.

As discussed above, bettas require a heater as they thrive in warm water temperatures. 

Adding a heater will ensure your betta tank’s stable and adequate water temperature.

A filter is the most necessary thing in the tank as it keeps the water protected from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.

Make sure to add a filter with low water current flow as bettas like gentle flow. Also, with their long and flowing fins and tails, they cannot swim against high water current flow.

An internal and hang-on-the-back filter is the best filter for your betta fish.

Also, bettas require plenty of hiding spots in their tank, especially if you have other fish in the tank.

They require hiding spots to relax and hide whenever under stress or vulnerable.

Adding live aquatic plants will help you ensure two things. One is it will help you mimic the natural habitat of your betta fish, and the second one is it will create good hiding spots for your bettas.

Light will be necessary when adding live aquatic plants to your betta tank.

Ensure not to keep the lights on for more than 8 hours daily.

Also, keep the lights off during nighttime, as your betta fish will rest.

Consider adding an automatic timer to your lights so that it gets on and off automatically according to your set time and duration.


Betta fish require a filter. Not only betta fish but every fish that lives in captivity also needs a filter to thrive.

Filter helps in breaking down the ammonia into nitrite into nitrate.

Bettas are very sensitive to ammonia and can suffer from a life-threatening conditions because of the small amount of ammonia in the tank.

So, adding a filter to your betta tank is necessary to prevent the water from ammonia and nitrite.

Bettas prefer filters with low water current flow as they cannot swim against high current flow.

Consider adding a sponge, internal, or hang-on-the-back filter to your betta tank.

With a filter, other necessary things for your betta tank are a heater, plants, light, and plenty of hiding spots.

Reference: College of Veterinary Medicine, Wikipedia,

Recent Posts