Betta fish are some of the most commonly sold aquarium fish. While these fish are generally easy to care for – and absolutely gorgeous to look at! – they still require some basic care in order to keep them healthy.
Many people decide to raise Betta fish thinking they require no care at all. This is not the case! Anytime you keep an aquarium, you need to make sure you are taking extra steps to keep your fish happy, healthy, and safe.
Luckily, keeping your Betta fish healthy is as simple as cleaning the tank on a regular basis. It can be confusing to figure out what you need to do, so we have broken down all the steps in cleaning a Betta fish tank for you in this handy guide.
- How Often Do I Need To Clean My Betta Fish’s Tank?
- Get Your Water Ready
- Remove Your Bettas And Any Decorations
- Remove Your Tank Water
- Wash Your Decorations
- Scrub Your Tank
- Replace Decorations And Gravel
- Refill Your Tank And Replace It With New Water
- Return Your Betta To His Home
- Can I Use This Process On Other Types Of Tanks?
How Often Do I Need To Clean My Betta Fish’s Tank?
Betta tanks become dirty in a relatively quick fashion. When your Betta fish produces waste, this waste decomposes and breaks down into ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to fish. If you clean your tank on a regular basis, you will be able to get rid of much of the harmful waste products in the tank – you’ll also remove ammonia and other toxins.
Plus, who wants to look at a gross, disgusting fish tank? You likely want your home to look nice and clean, so cleaning up your Betta fish tank can help make your home appear tidier.
How often you need to clean your tank will depend on the size of the tank you have your betta housed in, as well as how many fish you have (as well as if you have decorations or other items in your tank). In general, a small tank will accumulate waste more quickly and need more frequent water changes and cleanings. You might have to change out up to fifty percent of the water every couple of days and thoroughly clean the tank twice a week if you have a particularly small one.
However, if you have a larger tank with a filter you will require fewer cleanings and less frequent water changes. You may need to swap out up to fifteen percent to the water each week or every other week, but your tank will be able to govern several weeks without a full scrub-down.
You don’t need a lot to clean your Betta fish’s tank, either. The supplies are relatively simple. You will need some freshwater, containers for your fish, water, substrate, and decorations, a soft-bristled brush or sponge, and your kitchen or bathroom sink.
Get Your Water Ready
The first step in cleaning your Betta tank is to perform a water change. You will need to change anywhere between ten and fifty percent of the water in your Betta tank. You should have this water prepared before your start cleaning, because Bettas can’t survive for long in unconditioned tap water. You need to use a water conditioner to neutralize chemicals like chlorine in the water. This will help remove the danger to your fish. If you don’t have a water conditioner or a way to purchase one, you can also just leave the tap water out on the counter for a day or two to allow the chemicals to evaporate.
Regardless of how you choose to prepare your water, you need to bring in as close to the temperature of the tank as possible. Let it sit out for a few hours to allow it to reach room temperature or use a heater.
Some people assume that using distilled or bottled water free of contaminants and added minerals will be best in a fish tank. This is rarely the case. Fish need some of the minerals found in tap water, so it’s important that you don’t use water that is free of any minerals or other nutrients. Tap water is fine as long as you remove any chemicals via the processes we mentioned above.
Remove Your Bettas And Any Decorations
Before you clean the tank, you will need to remove your Betta fish and put the fish somewhere he feels safe. You can fill a metal cup with tank water and then use a small, sterile container to scoop your fish out of the tank and place him the separate container. Make sure you are extremely gentle while you do this so you don’t startle your fish.
Whatever you do, make sure you put a lid or some sort of cover on this container. Betta fish are notorious for their ability to jump – you don’t want to have to worry about him leaping out of the tank!
Next, take all of the accessories, decorations, plants, and other items out of the tank. This will make it easier for the rest of the tank, and depending on how often you clean your tank, you may also need to clean these individual items themselves, too.
Put everything in a large bowl to make cleaning the tank easier and less stressful.
Remove Your Tank Water
Next, you will want to scoop out some of the existing tank water and set it off to the side. The exact amount of water that you set aside will depend on how much of the water you are replacing, if you are only doing a ten percent water change, you should set aside ninety percent of the water already in the tank. If you’re doing a fifty percent change, set aside half. You will add this back to the tank when you are done cleaning it.
You want to avoid removing all the water in your entire tank as this will cause a serious shock to your Betta, which can be very bad for his health. You need to make sure the tank water is as close to your Betta’s natural environment as possible – a sudden drastic change could really shock his system.
Once you have removed the tank water you are going to save you can dump the rest of the water out. You can do this slowly, making sure you don’t remove any of the gravel, or you can pour it over a colander to catch anything that falls out. Pour your gravel into the same bowl that holds your decorations and other tank items so that you can clean the gravel, too.
Wash Your Decorations
Run some warm water over your tank accessories You can use your brush or scrubber to remove any slime, dirt, or other debris. You want to avoid using any kind of soap on the decorations in your tank. Soap can harm your fish and no matter how well you think you have removed it, it can still remain and injure your fish.
When you have finished cleaning off all of your decorations, you should set them aside on a clean towel or paper towel.
Scrub Your Tank
Your next step is to clean the tank itself – this is arguably one of the most important parts of lending your Betta tank, as it will likely be nice and dirty! You can put the tank in your kitchen or bathroom sink and let some warm water flow into it. You should then scrub the sides and bottom of your tank with a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt, slime, and algae that have accumulated. Work extra hard to make sure the corners get clean!
No matter how much dirt or other debris has built up in your tank, do not use any soap in the tank. You should just use some simple elbow grease to scrub at the inside of the tank. Make sure you dump out the water and give the tank a good final rinse before moving on.
Replace Decorations And Gravel
Once you have everything out of the tank and cleaned it, you can reassemble it. You should pour the gravel back into the bottom of the tank and make sure it is evenly distributed. Set up your decorations and accessories and arrange them however you’d like. Reattach any filters, heaters, thermometer or other equipment you may have removed, too.
Refill Your Tank And Replace It With New Water
Next, you should fill your tank up with the old water that you saved as well as new water. You should do this slowly to avoid disturbing your decorations and gravel – don’t just dump it in all at once.
Once you have refilled the tank, give the water a light stir with your hand to make sure it is mixed. You should reposition any decorations or gravel that may have shifted while you were adding water.
Next, you want to make sure you test your pH and temperature in your tank. If these are not back to the levels required for your Betta fish, you should not reintroduce him quite yet. You need to make sure that these are as close as possible to what your fish is accustomed to.
Return Your Betta To His Home
Once everything is nice and clean, you can return your Betta fish to his home. To do this, simply take the container that you have him in and place it in the tank. You should slowly tilt the container until the betta can swim out on his own.
Don’t dump him out, as this can shock him and make him have some trouble swimming, similarly, you need to be careful when you are introducing him to the tank because you don’t want him to damage his fins. Otherwise, your betta should be super contented just to swim around his new, clean tank.
Can I Use This Process On Other Types Of Tanks?
If you’re reading this article, you might be wondering, “Sure, this will work great for a Betta tank. But what if I have another kind of fish tank, too?”
Luckily, this cleaning process is one that you can use for almost any other kind of tank, regardless of the size or type. Depending on the type of tank you have – freshwater versus saltwater, for example – you might have to change a few variables but in general, this is a good guideline for cleaning any kind of fish tank.
This process works exceptionally well for tiny tanks as well as those without lots of aquascaping (or design elements). If you have a larger, more complicated tank, you may not be able to take everything out of the tank as you did in this tutorial. However, you might not need to.
You can reduce the frequency with which you need to clean your tank by following a few simple steps. For example, you can limit the number of fish – particularly bettas – that you have in a tank, which will reduce the overall bioload remember, the larger your tank is, the less often you will need to clean it.
In addition, installing a good water filter and conducting regular water changes of at least fifteen percent per week with a siphon can help keep your tank clean on its own, too. This will help clean out a lot of the debris and algae that were collected didn’t he gravel, and the filter will do a good job of capturing anything else that might be lurking in the water.
Remember, water changes and cleaning can help prevent a variety of diseases in your freshwater aquarium. If you are vigilant about maintaining a clean tank, you won’t have to worry about other health problems and diseases that may befall your beautiful betta.
As always, an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure – and that’s never been truer than when you are caring for your Betta fish!