How to Set up a Betta Tank Properly

One of the most common questions that people ask when it comes to betta fish is, “how to keep a betta fish” alongside how to set up a betta tank properly, betta tank mates, food to feed them and the tanks decoration ideas. Betta fish or Siamese Fighting Fish is one of the awesome fish that you can keep as a pet. It’s because of their vivid colors and glorious fins. They are known for their aggressive nature. They deserve a home that allows them to flourish and live a healthy life.

Steps to Set up a Betta Tank Properly

This post will cover the most important steps you should follow to create a perfect aquarium for your betta fish. following these steps will help you to set up a betta tank properly.

Choosing your betta fish tank

Set up a Betta Tank Properly

The first step to set up a betta Tank is choosing an ideal tank for your betta fish. In this step, I will be talking about some of the betta fish tank ideas.

Unfortunately, it’s common to see a betta in a small container in your local pet store. But the reality is that this leads to poor betta health and you let your betta fish live a poor life. Just because Betta Spledens come from shallow streams and can breathe oxygen does not mean that they can be kept in small aquariums, containers or bowls.

The thing is that you want your betta to own a healthy and happy life not just them to thrive in your container. For this, you need to choose a tank not less than 5-Gallons, the bigger the better. And what I mean is that, housing one male betta per tank.

Preparing and Placing the Aquarium

At first, you need to start by cleaning out the tank with just water. And remember, you shouldn’t use any soap to clean the tank.

After that, you need to choose a spot. You need to make sure that your tank is not placed near the window. Since direct sunlight may cause your tank temperature to fluctuate and cause algae to grow quickly.

You need to be sure about the stand, which must be considered before purchasing. You need to choose a stand, designed to hold the weight of your tank. And make sure, you leave five inches in between the aquarium and the wall in order to allow the Hang on Back Filter to fit in.

Add Your Gravel

Set up a Betta Tank Properly- substrate

You need to add gravel in the next step. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the substrate with cool running water in order to remove dust which could clog your filter and make sure you do not use soap or any kind of chemical as this will be harmful to your fish.

Now it’s time to add substrate in your tank. If you are using any kind of aquatic plants you should add around two inches of the substrate.

Fill it up

set up a betta tank properly

While filling the tank, place a plate on top of your gravel. And pour water on top of the plate to fill up the tank. This prevents you from displacing the gravel.

You shouldn’t fill your tank all the way to the top, you need to leave about an inch and the top. Betta fish are good jumpers, leaving an inch on the top will prevent betta to jump out of the tank.

Add Your Plants and Decorations

set up a beta tank properly

This is one of the best steps when you set up a betta tank properly, betta fish tank with plants is a great combination. You create your betta fish a home using your own creativity. Adding decoration and live plants help betta splendens in various ways. Adding decorations and plants ensures that you give enough place for your beta to rest and hide. While adding your aquatic plants, you need to ensure that the roots must be properly buried in the gravel as well as all decorations must be anchored into the gravel. Betta fish loves swimming in a tank with lots of caves and shades provided by the plants. If you are using fake plants do use the plants with soft and silk plants. Because hard plants can snag or tear your betta’s delicate fins.

Do Betta Fish Need a Filter?

set up a beta tank properly

A filter will help keep your aquarium clean and healthy. There are different types of filters available in the market, which require different installation methods. But a betta fish needs a filter with low current “gentle filter”. That makes Hang on Back filter the best filter for betta fish.

Turn on Your Filter and Install Your Heater

After the tank is filled with water, it’s safe to turn on your filter. You need to make sure that water is circulating gently, smoothly and quietly. You may need to adjust the settings (that’s why is good to buy an adjustable one).

A heater will come with suction cups in order to attach it inside an aquarium. You need to set the temperature between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and you need to place your heater where the water is flowing. You need to keep the heater which is near to the mouth of your filter as it will help to the water in your tank heat evenly. Place a thermometer in your tank to monitor the temperature.

Adding Neutralizer and Perform a Fishless Cycle

Now that you have set up a betta tank properly, its time to add neutralizer as tap water contains chlorine. Follow the instructions of the product in order to remove the chlorine.

Neutralizing your tank is important as chlorine will stop from being able to perform the most important step “The Nitrogen Cycle”. If you perform the nitrogen cycle, then when you add Betta it will die.

A fishless cycle is a humane method of the Nitrogen Cycle. Do read the article Performing Fishless Nitrogen Cycle for more detail. This allows beneficial bacteria to establish in your biological filter media. Now you need to add ammonia in order to convert it into nitrite, then nitrite to nitrates which are non-toxic.

The beneficial bacteria feed on the fish waste that will supplement the fish tank’s environment.

Adding betta fish to your tank

set up a betta tank

Don’t buy your betta fish until your fish tank is fully cycled. It takes around 1 week to fully cycle the tank. When you have set up a betta tank properly, it’s time to buy your betta fish. Don’t just add your betta into the tank. It will stress your fish eventually killing them.

You first need to acclimate your fish to its new environment. Your betta will come in a bag of its own water that will be different from your tank water. So you need to float your betta bag without opening the bag in your tank. This ensures that the water from your tank and the bag will reach the same temperature. Once the bag’s water reaches the same temperature, open the bag and add a small amount of water from your tank into your bag at a time. Now you need to drain water from the bag and let the fish swim into the tank.

Lightings for Your Betta

set up a betta tank properly

Your betta fish is just like you. It prefers schedule lighting. If your tank does not come with a light, then I recommend you to get a light for your betta and your plants.

Now that you have set up a betta tank properly, let’s look at some of the betta tank mates which is mentioned below:

  • Mystery Snails
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Feeder Guppies
  • Cory Catfish
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • African Dwarf Frog
  • Neon Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Clown Plecos
  • Kuhli Loach


While decorating you need to be more careful about the fish which kind of fish you are keeping in your aquarium before you set up a betta tank.

Betta is originated from Thailand, they inhabit in rice paddies, slow-moving streams with shady places with plenty of hiding spots. This is the reason you need to set up a betta tank properly.

Betta love to swim in a tank that contains caves to hide in. And plants that provide plenty of shady areas. Also, they enjoy lounging in leaves and it is a comfortable place for them to hide and sleep.

Live plants are always good because it helps to clean the water as well as it will also provide your betta with a natural environment.

Gravel will also play one of an important role in your tank’s ecosystem. Beneficial bacteria grow on the surface of the gravel that helps to break down waste.

Buy an LED light that has a light intensity control feature.

If your tank doesn’t come with filters then I recommend you to buy a filter. And don’t forget to do at least 10% water change per week.