How Often Should You Clean A Betta Fish Tank? Ultimate Cleaning Guide

    minimum betta fish tank size

    If you want your beloved Betta fish to thrive in their home, then you need to be keeping their tanks clean. This means that you need to conduct proper maintenance, but just how often should you clean a Betta fish tank?

    Betta fish are generally considered to be hardy fishes, but their tank still needs regular water changes to keep clean. The most accepted rule of thumb is that you need to conduct 30 to 50% water changes every week for your Betta tank.

    This is not as simple as it sounds, though, and there are things that you need to keep in mind in cleaning a Betta fish tank. We’ll talk about that and more in this article.

    Factors Affecting Betta Tank Cleaning Frequency

    how to clean a betta fish tank

    Before answering the question of how often you should clean a Betta fish tank, there are a couple of factors that we need to discuss first.

    Here are some of the factors affecting how often you should clean your Betta tank.

    Tank Size

    Obviously, the bigger the tank, the more water there is to maintain. Many people think that this means they have to clean their tank more, but that’s not always the case.

    In fact, this factor is quite interesting due to one simple fact: the bigger your tank, the less often you need to clean it. That’s because the bigger the tank, the more stable the water quality becomes.

    Think of it this way. Imagine adding a drop of food coloring into a 20-gallon container of water. It’s probably not going to do anything to the water, let alone add color to it.

    But if you add the same drop into a 3-gallon container, you may be able to see a hint of color. The logic works the same way as your tank water.

    If you have a big tank, the typical dirt, debris, and waste won’t affect it as easily. This means you can get away with doing fewer water changes or spacing your cleaning sessions for longer. A 20-gallon tank with only a Betta and a few invertebrates can get away with a monthly or bi-weekly water change.

    However, if you have a small tank, it’s easier for the water quality to change, so you need to do more water changes to make sure that your fish isn’t swimming in poor conditions.

    Tank Mates

    Another factor that affects how often you should clean your Betta tank is the presence of tank mates.

    If you have other fish in the tank with your Betta, then you need to do more water changes than if your Betta was the only fish in the tank.

    This is because other fish tend to produce more waste than Bettas. More waste means more ammonia, which can be toxic to your fish.

    Cleaning frequency also depends on the type of fish you have as tank mates. Some fish are messier than others, so you need to take that into account when deciding how often to clean your tank.

    For example, if you have bottom-dwelling fish like Plecos, they tend to stir up more debris, which can affect water quality.

    On the other hand, if you have fast-swimming fish like Tetras, they might create more of a current, which can also affect water quality.

    If you want to be safe, we recommend doing a water change once a week if you have other fish in the tank with your Betta.

    Tank Equipment

    The type of equipment you have in your tank can also affect how often you need to clean it.

    For example, if you have a filter, it will help keep the water clean and remove some of the waste from the tank. This means you won’t need to do as many water changes. We’ll discuss this in more detail in another section below.

    If you have a heater, it will also help keep the water clean. This is because heat speeds up the breakdown of waste and debris in the water.

    A bubbler or air stone can also help keep the tank clean by adding oxygen to the water and preventing stagnant conditions.

    So, if you have a heater, a filter, and an air stone in your tank, you can get away with doing fewer water changes.


    The presence of plants in the tank can be a game-changer for many aquarists.

    This is because plants can serve like a natural filter, helping to keep the water clean by absorbing some of the waste in the water. Plants also produce oxygen, which is essential for your fish to breathe.

    There’s a pretty popular tank setup called the Walstad method, named after the aquarium hobbyist and ecologist who created it: Diana Walstad.

    The Walstad method is a natural, plant-based approach to keeping an aquarium. It relies on plants and organic soil to keep the water clean, essentially making a self-cleaning system.

    It also doesn’t require much filtration or water changes. In fact, some tank owners can get away with not doing a water change at all. They only have to top up the water that evaporates. It’s especially popular with small tank owners, including course, Betta fish owners.

    Of course, not everyone wants to use the Walstad method. It is worth mentioning, though, because it shows that plants can have a significant impact on the cleanliness of your tank.

    If you’re interested in this method, we recommend doing some research to see if it’s right for you.

    How Often Should You Clean A Betta Fish Tank?

    how long to wait to put betta fish in tank after cleaning

    Now that we know the different factors, let’s talk about how often you should clean a Betta fish tank depending on one specific factor: the presence of a filter.

    Tank With A Filter

    Not everyone thinks that Betta tanks need a filter. Some aquarists think that it’s okay to not have a filter inside their Betta tank, and in some situations, this is true.

    However, we still recommended adding a filter to your Betta tank. Not only does this keep the water clean and clear for your beloved pet, but it also reduces the amount of work that you have to do.

    Of course, if you do already have a filter in your Betta tank, it’s important to remember that it’s not a substitute or a replacement for water changes. It may keep the water looking clean, but there are invisible things in the water that a simple filter may not be able to deal with.

    For example, toxins like ammonia and nitrites can build up in the water, even with a filter. You don’t see these toxins by using your eyes – you need to use a water testing kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit in order to measure the amount in your water.

    If your water has high ammonia or nitrites, the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to fix it is to simply change some of the water.

    This is why water changes are essential, even if you have a filter in your tank.

    So, how often should you clean a Betta fish tank that has a filter? We recommend doing a partial water change every other week, or a 25-30% water change once a week.

    This may seem like a lot, but it’s necessary to keep your fish healthy and happy. Plus, it’s not as bad as it sounds. A partial water change only takes a few minutes, and it’s something that you can easily do while you’re cleaning the rest of the tank.

    Tank Without A Filter

    If you don’t have a filter in your Betta tank, you’ll have to clean your tank a lot more often. This is especially true if you have a non-planted tank.

    As discussed above, you can go without a filter or even water changes if you have a Walstad tank, but if you have a non-planted tank, there’s nothing stopping harmful bacteria from growing in your tank, especially if it’s a small one.

    That’s because, without a filter or plants, there’s nothing to remove the waste and toxins from the water. Remember the ammonia and toxins we discussed above? If a tank with a filter can’t deal with those, what about a tank without a filter or plants? 

    If you don’t have an air stone or a bubbler, the problem is worse, since it means that there’s nothing to create a water movement. A good, stable flow is necessary in your Betta tank to avoid the water from getting stagnant and bad bacteria from growing.

    In other words, if you don’t have a filter and other tank equipment, the water quality can deteriorate quickly, and your fish can become sick.

    To keep your fish healthy in a tank without a filter, we recommend doing a partial water change every week, or a 30-40% water change every other week.

    How To Clean A Betta Fish Tank

    how often should I change my betta fish water without filter

    Now that you know how often you should clean your Betta tank, it’s time to learn how to actually clean it.

    The most important thing that you need to remember in cleaning a Betta fish tank is that you need to do it gradually. This means that you cannot just replace all of the water at once as this will shock your fish.

    This section will discuss everything you need to clean a Betta fish tank as well as step-by-step instructions to do it.

    Equipment Needed

    To clean your Betta fish tank, you will need the following equipment:

    • Clean bucket. This is where you will put the old water that you will remove from the fish tank. Make sure that the bucket is clean and doesn’t have any soap residue as this can be harmful to your fish. If you have a 20-gallon tank, you can use a 5-gallon bucket such as the Seachoice plastic bucket. If you have a smaller tank, you can use something like the 2.5-gallon Rubbermaid heavy-duty bucket.

    • A siphon is a tube that you use to remove the water from the tank. It’s also used to clean the gravel at the bottom of the Betta tank. You don’t need anything special – something like this AQUANEAT siphon is enough.

    • A fishnet is used to catch your fish when you need to remove them from the tank, such as when you’re cleaning it. You can use any type of fishnet, but we recommend something like the PENN-PLAX Quick-Net.

    • Water conditioner. A water conditioner is used to remove chlorine and other chemicals from the tap water. This is important because chlorine and other chemicals can be harmful to your Betta fish and other tank inhabitants. We recommend the Seachem Prime Conditioner or the API Stress Coat+ Water Conditioner.

    • Algae scraper. An algae scraper is a tool that you can use to remove algae from the walls of your fish tank. This is important because algae can compete with your plants for nutrients and can also be unsightly. You have many options depending on the size of your tank, but some of the best ones on the market are the API Algae Scraper and the NEPTONION Magnetic Algae Scraper. Aqueon also has different sizes for its Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets, so you can choose the most suitable one for your tank.

    That said, there are also special tools nowadays that can help you clean your tank and change the water without having to use a traditional bucket and siphon combo.

    All of these tools have one thing in common: they connect to your faucet and allow you to do a water change with minimal effort.

    Here are some of the best options:

    Step-by-Step Instructions

    Now that you have all the equipment you need, it’s time to learn how to actually clean your Betta fish tank.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Begin by turning off all of the lights in your aquarium. This will help reduce stress on your fish.
    2. Next, turn off any filters and aerators in the tank. It’s important to do this before you start removing any water from the tank, as you don’t want to accidentally suck up your fish or other inhabitants.
    3. Now it’s time to remove the water from the tank. You can do this with a siphon, gravel vacuum, or water changer. If you’re using a siphon or vacuum, start by placing the end of it in the bucket and then sucking on the other end to get the water flowing. Let it run until the bucket is full.
    4. If you’re using a water changer, simply connect it to your faucet and let it do its job.
    5. This is also the time to scrub all the algae that you can find. Typically, they will be on surfaces of your decorations or on the glass itself.
    6. For the equipment and the filter, make sure you clean them using the same dirty water that you removed from the tank. This helps ensure that you don’t accidentally kill the good bacteria that has already developed on your tank.
    7. If you have a planted tank, now is also a good time to trim your plants and remove any dead leaves. This will help keep your plants healthy and prevent them from taking over the tank.
    8. Once the bucket is full, dump out the dirty water and then refill it with clean, fresh water.

    How Long Does It Take To Clean A Betta Fish Tank?

    The whole process of cleaning a Betta fish tank should take roughly 30 minutes. This includes the time it takes to remove the water, clean the gravel, and refill the tank with fresh water.

    Of course, it does depend on the size of the tank and how long it’s been since you last cleaned it, especially if you need to trim some plants. Generally, it shouldn’t take more than 30-60 minutes maximum.

    How Long Should You Wait To Put A Betta Fish In A Tank After Cleaning?

    After cleaning the Betta tank, it’s best to acclimate your fish for at least an hour, but you can do it for longer if you want to be extra careful.

    Your Betta fish need time to adjust to the new water conditions, and this can be done by slowly acclimating them. To do this, you need to add a little bit of water from the new tank to the current one every few minutes.

    You also need to make sure that the new water is at the same temperature as the old one. You can do this by using a thermometer or by letting the new water sit out for a while until it reaches the same temperature as the old water.

    Ideal Betta Fish Water Parameters After Cleaning The Tank

    After you clean the tank, it’s recommended to measure the water parameters before adding your Betta. Again, the API Freshwater Master Test Kit can assist you with this.

    pH 6.8-8.5
    Temperature 75F-82F
    Ammonia 0 ppm
    Nitrite 0 ppm
    Nitrate <20 ppm
    GH 3-4 dGH
    KH 3-5 dKH


    Fishkeeping can be tedious, but if you want a healthy and long-lasting Betta fish, you’re going to have to clean their tanks at regular intervals.

    With information from our article, you can now do Betta fish tank maintenance fearlessly and keep your Betta happy and healthy!

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