Wondering how often you should clean a betta fish tank? This guide is for you!
Keeping bettas is an enjoyable hobby because of the beautiful colors and vibrant personalities these animals bring into our lives.
Nevertheless, keeping bettas calls for a lot of dedication and commitment. These fish have to be fed, medicated and kept clean.
One way to keep your betta happy and healthy is to regularly clean its tank.
You should clean your betta tank once or twice every two weeks. This frequency increases if your betta fish has tank mates. You also have to consider whether the tank has waste-bursting and oxygen-boosting plants.
A clean tank is not only pleasant to the sight, but improves your pet betta’s lifespan as well.
Acquaint yourself with the proper procedure of cleaning the betta tank to leave it sparkling clean every time you do the job. To accomplish a good job, you need to prepare your cleaning water and materials ahead of time.
What to Consider in Cleaning a Betta Fish Tank
How Large is the Tank?
Big tanks require less cleaning than smaller ones. Don’t be deluded into thinking that smaller is better when regarding cleaning your betta’s home.
You see, how often you clean the tank depends on how quickly it gets dirty. Large tanks hold more water, and are thus more stable than smaller tanks.
It would take lots of waste from a couple of bettas to make a 20-gallon tank dirty. On the other hand, the same pair of fish will quickly change the water quality in a 5-gallon tank.
Think of it this way: if you put 3 drops of ink into a cup of water and a 10-gallon container, in which vessel will the ink show?
You got it right – the ink will be more evident in the smaller container, the cup. The same principle applies when it comes to the size of betta tanks.
Large tanks are not seriously affected by the normal debris, waste, and dirt generated by your bettas. As such, you don’t have to clean this tank as often as you would a smaller one.
While a 5-gallon tank should be cleaned weekly, a 20-gallon tank will make do with fortnightly cleaning.
In the same way, smaller tanks require more frequent water changes than larger ones. Once you know this, you’ll ensure your pet betta is not subjected to unhealthy conditions.
What Equipment Does the Tank Have?
A well-equipped tank is more efficient and requires less cleaning. For example, your betta tank is equipped with a good quality water filter and won’t get as dirty as one without a filter.
Filters work by constantly removing dirt and debris from the water. As such, unwanted materials don’t settle in the tank and make it dirty.
Another vital piece of equipment is the water heater. This equipment produces warmth, which helps to keep the tank clean by breaking down debris and waste in the water.
An air stone or a bubbler is another wonderful addition to your betta fish tank. It works by infusing more oxygen into the water.
This enhances the breakdown of organic substances, keeping the tank cleaner.
Keepers with these pieces of equipment in their betta tanks don’t need to clean their tanks as frequently as those without.
The Presence of Tank Mates
The betta tank will get dirty more quickly if this fish has tank mates. Obviously, keeping more than one fish in the same tank means the bio-waste will be more.
As such, you’ll have to clean the tank more often than if it were holding only one betta.
Also, the type of tank mate contributes to how fast the tank gets polluted. Some types of fish produce more ammonia and other waste than others.
Fish that swim and live and the bottom of the tank, such as Plecos, will stir debris and other material more than fish that live at the top or middle.
You also have to consider whether the tank mate is a fast swimmer or a slow one. Fast swimmers like Tetras create strong currents that stir up debris and make the tank dirtier.
If your betta fish has a tank mate, the best thing would be to clean the tank weekly. But, of course, you leave nothing to chance by doing so.
The Presence of Plants
Plants play a significant role in creating stable conditions in the betta tank environment. Besides providing the betta fish and other organisms with oxygen, they act like natural purifiers.
Plants use some of the waste produced by fish for food. This helps eradicate waste that would have otherwise turned toxic and harmed the fish.
More and more keepers are using plants to create the right balance in aquariums.
The popular Walstad System, named after ecologist Diana Walstad, has been touted as a revolutionary plant-based self-cleaning method.
Using this and other proven plant methods makes cleaning less tedious. In addition, you’ll find that you don’t have to clean as often if your aquarium is populated with the right plants.
Not every plant-based cleaning system is based on the one mentioned above. You need to find out which is the best for your betta fish tank, depending on what you’d like to have in your home or office.
How Often Should You Clean a Betta Fish Tank?
How often you clean your betta fish tank depends on how fast it gets dirty. This, in turn, is dependent on the factors discussed above.
Let’s look at how often you should clean this tank based on whether it has a filter.
Cleaning a Tank with a Filter
A filter clears dirt, dust, waste, and debris from the betta tank water. This keeps the water clean and of the right quality for your pet betta.
Having a water filter makes the cleaning work easier for the betta keeper. Tanks with water filters need far less frequent cleaning than those without.
Although some aquarists contend that betta tanks don’t need water filters, popular opinion has shown the contrary.
Betta fish may be small but still, produce considerable waste that can be toxic if left in the water.
This situation is worsened by the presence of betta tank mates. More fish in the water makes a water filter absolutely necessary.
Don’t think that it is not dirty just because the water looks clean. Most harmful elements your betta has to deal with are invisible to the naked eye.
You need a good filter to trap and remove them before they harm your pet.
However, having a filter in the tank, no matter how good, does not mean you should do away with changing the water.
You need to change the water in the tank at least once a week. You see, fish produce some invisible toxic waste that even filters cannot deal with.
For example, your betta’s activities will generate nitrates and ammonia. Although you may not see these toxins, they will harm your pet if left to remain in the water.
You’re sure your pet betta is safe by changing the water regularly and cleaning the tank.
Cleaning a Tank without a Filter
A betta tank without a filter holds more dirt and needs to be cleaned more often. However, some aquarists contend that you don’t need a filter in a water tank considering the fish are so small.
Well, they could be somewhat right, especially if your water tank is well-planted with waste-bursting foliage.
Without plants and a good filter, the betta tank will attract lots of toxins from the activities of the organisms it holds.
All living things in this tank – from the betta fish to algae, and bacteria – produce waste that soon turns into toxins.
This waste becomes more lethal the longer it stays in the water. Without the filters and plants to neutralize this danger, you’ll have to clean the tank more often.
This problem becomes even more compounded if you don’t have a bubbler or an air stone. This indicates the tank has nothing at all to clear toxins and create a stable water environment.
The water quality in the tank deteriorates fast if you don’t have the equipment to remove dirt, dust, debris, and bio-waste.
You’ll have to do a 30% partial water change every week, and do a thorough tank cleaning at least once a month.
How to Thoroughly Clean a Betta Water Tank
Cleaning your betta tank thoroughly should not be a tedious activity if you know you’re doing it for the wellbeing of your betta fish.
You need to prepare adequately before the actual cleaning begins. You must arm yourself with all the necessary tools and equipment to get the job done.
Remember, betta tank cleaning should be done gradually. This means you can’t remove all the water at once, as this would cause serious fluctuations in your betta fish, leading to shock.
Equipment Needed to Clean a Betta Fish Tank
A clean bucket
You’ll put the old water into this bucket as you remove it from the betta tank. This bucket should be clean and free of dust, debris, and soap, as these harm your fish.
Ensure the bucket is big enough to hold or transfer the water to a suitable holding area.
You can shop around for sturdy buckets that will help you effectively transfer old water.
A siphon tube
Use this tube to siphon water from the tank into the bucket. Also, this tube is used to clean the bottom of the tank.
Look for a quality tube that will do the job well.
You don’t have to remove all the water in the tank to clean the gravel at the bottom. However, using a gravel vacuum, you can effectively clean the tank’s bottom, especially when dealing with a large tank.
This equipment is used to catch the betta fish and transfer them from the tank into the holding area.
Although a fishnet does not have to be special, go for one designed for this particular purpose.
A water conditioner neutralizes chemicals such as chlorine from tap water. Also, it removes any hardness in the water, making it more betta—friendly.
Without a water conditioner, the betta fish and other organisms in the tank will be subjected to callous conditions that will compromise their immunity.
This is a small scraping tool you use to remove algae from the flat surfaces of the tank, such as the walls.
Although most algae don’t produce toxins, they create an imbalance in the tank that affects the overall wellbeing of your fish.
Some algae will kill your plants by engulfing their leaves, making it hard for photosynthesis to take place.
You can use stainless tools to fix the substrate and trim the plants.
Some stainless tools are designed to siphon some water out of the tank and bring in clean water without using buckets and siphon tubes.
A Step-by-Step Betta Tank Cleaning Guide
#1 – Get the Water Ready
Do you have the new water on standby? You need to ensure this before you start cleaning your betta tank.
You can’t use tap water in your betta tank. This is because tap water contains chlorine and other harmful substances likely to compromise your pet’s immunity.
As such, before you start the cleaning process, use a water conditioner on the tap water to make it ready for use in the betta tank.
Using the right water conditioner eliminates chlorine and water hardness and minerals from tap water.
Raise or lower the temperature of this water to the level your betta fish are used to. This ensures your betta fish is not shocked when you introduce it to the new water.
Also, thoroughly wash your hands before cleaning the tank to ensure you don’t contaminate it with chemicals.
#2 – Remove the Fish from the Tank
Before cleaning the betta tank, ensure the fish and his tank mates are safe elsewhere.
This means you need to prepare an adequate holding ground beforehand, where they can stay as you clean their home.
To avoid any hiccups, use the old water in the holding area. Your betta fish is already used to this water, and it will fare better than if you were to put this fish in new water.
#3 – Take Out the Decorations
Next to move from the tank should be all the décor. Ensure that you carry the plants, hiding places, rocks, and other decorations carefully not to break anything.
Put them in a separate place away from where you’re holding the fish. Also, ensure these decorations and plants are out of the way as you clean.
You wouldn’t want to step on them or accidentally break any.
#4 – Remove the Tank Water
As noted earlier, betta tank water is changed gradually. This means you can’t remove all the water in one go.
Take out the water you intend to reuse to give your betta fish a sense of continuity. Then, set this water aside, away from any contaminants.
#5 – Save the Residual Tank Water
The residual water is the water you want to change. This should be the equivalent of the tap water you had conditioned earlier.
The conditioned tap water will replace the old water you take out in this step. Pour out this water slowly from the tank, ensuring you don’t disturb the substrate and the gravel.
To ensure everything goes well, you can use a sieve to catch any gravel that falls off. Once this is done, carefully take out the gravel.
#6 – Clean the Gravel
A lot of dirt goes to the bottom of the tank. As such, the gravel is likely to hold the worst murk, dirt, and debris found in a betta tank.
Tank your time to thoroughly clean the gravel. Loosen the slime, grime, and dirt with your hands as you run warm water on the gravel.
After a while, you’ll see the gravel become cleaner and shiny, like when you first put them in the tank. Then, give them a good rinse with clean cold water.
Put the gravel in a sieve for all the water to drain out. If you are not convinced the gravel is clean enough, repeat the process until you are satisfied.
#7 – Clean the Decorations
Run warm water over the accessories and decorations for the loose slime and dirt to come off. Then, use a soft brush to gently brush over the décor surfaces to remove any still stuck dirt.
Avoid using detergents as they may affect your fish. Betta fish are very sensitive to soap and other detergents.
As such, they will likely be affected no matter how much you try to rinse them off.
Set the decorations aside once you’re done cleaning them. This should give them time to air as you go on with the other steps.
#8 – Clean the Tank
This is the last thing you should clean. Instead, clean it gently with a sponge or soft brush while running warm water down its sides.
Use the algae scraper to gently remove any algae and grime stuck on the sides of the tank. Then, use the sponge or soft brush on the bottom of the tank until all the dirt and scum are wiped clean.
Remember; don’t use soap or any detergents in this process. Warm water and a sponge are enough to get the job done.
Give the tank another douse of warm water to clear everything.
#9 – Put Everything Back into the Tank
Carefully and gently put the gravel, rocks, plants, and decorations back in the tank.
By the time you’re through this step, all the accessories should be in place, and your betta will be happy to interact with them.
Like when taking them out, take care not to break anything.
#10 – Pour in the Old and New Water
Put back the old water you had set aside into the tank. Don this slowly and gently, so as not to disturb the plants, gravel, rocks, and decorations already in the tank.
After this, put in the freshwater prepared before the cleaning exercise. Gently stir the water to mix it together.
Ensure that the temperature and pH levels are right for your betta fish. If you need to heat the water a little bit, do so to gain the optimal betta temperature.
Check that everything is in its place before moving to the next step.
#11 – Put in the Betta Fish
Lastly, put your betta fish back in. If you have put your betta fish in a bowl, put this bowl in the water and tilt it for the fish to slide off into the tank water.
Handle this process carefully not to injure the fish in any way.
Seasoned betta keepers recommend acclimating the betta to the new tank conditions for about an hour before immersing it back into the tank water.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does cleaning a betta tank take long?
Cleaning a betta fish tank depends on how big the tank is. Also, consider the factors affecting the size, such as the presence of tank mates.
Cleaning a betta tank should take about 45 minutes.
How long should I wait to put my betta back in the tank after cleaning?
You should allow betta fish time to acclimate to the new tank conditions. This can take between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
Considering how bettas are sensitive to changes in the water parameters, treat this fish gently as you put him back into the tank.
How do I know if the water is the right temperature for my betta fish?
Use a thermometer to measure the water temperature. The new water in the clean tank should be at the same temperature as the old water the betta fish has been used to.
A thermometer will ascertain whether this threshold has been met. If the water is too cold, heat it to the right temperature before re-introducing your betta fish.
What’s the Ideal water pH after cleaning the tank?
The ideal water pH level should be between 6.5 and 8.5.
What’s the Ideal water temperature after cleaning the tank?
The tank water temperature should be no less than 240C (750F) and no higher than 280C (820F). The ideal water temperature level should be 260C (780 F).
What’s the Ideal ammonia level after cleaning the tank?
The ideal ammonia level after cleaning the tank should be 0 ppm. All efforts should be made to maintain this level at that point, although this is only sometimes possible.
What’s the Ideal nitrite level after cleaning the tank?
The ideal nitrite level after cleaning the tank should be 0 ppm.
What’s the Ideal nitrate level after cleaning the tank?
The ideal nitrite level after cleaning the tank should be <20 ppm.
What’s the Ideal general hardness level after cleaning the tank?
After cleaning the tank, the ideal general hardness level should be 3-4 dGH.
What’s the Ideal alkalinity level after cleaning the tank?
The ideal alkalinity level after cleaning the tank should be 3-5 dKH.
Although bettas are considered a hardy fish species, they cannot thrive if neglected. Therefore, Bettas should live in hygienic conditions that empower them to express themselves fully.
For this reason, any keeper needs to take cleaning the betta fish tank seriously.
Ensure you change about 25% to 30% of the tank water weekly.