How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank? Easy Steps

How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank_ Easy Steps
Clean up a Betta Fish Tank with Ease


Keeping your betta fish happy and healthy requires regular cleaning and maintenance of their tank. “How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank?” is a question that many people are interested in. While bettas come from rice paddies and flooded ditches in Southeast Asia, their domesticated tank habitats quickly become dirty without proper care. As an owner, you must commit to frequent water changes and gravel vacuuming to provide your betta with a clean, safe home.

A build up of waste, uneaten food, and algae can pollute the water, harming your fish’s health. Ammonia and nitrite levels can spike from fish waste accumulating in the tank. These toxins in the water can burn a betta’s scales, fins, and gills and make them susceptible to disease. That’s why a regular cleaning routine is essential.

This article by BettaFishy will provide a step-by-step guide on properly cleaning a betta tank, from the needed supplies to the ideal techniques. With the right information, you can maintain a pristine aquatic habitat for your fish.

How Often Should the Betta Fish Tank Be Cleaned?

How often you need to clean your betta tank depends on whether you have a filter or not. For filtered tanks, aim to do a 25% water change once a week. This helps remove waste and replenish nutrients. For unfiltered tanks or bowls, you’ll need to do 100% water changes twice a week to keep ammonia levels in check.

Watch for signs it’s time for a water change:

  • Cloudy water
  • Leftover food or waste accumulating
  • Algae growth
  • Betta less active or not eating
  • High ammonia levels per test strip

When in doubt, test the water parameters. Ammonia and nitrites should be 0 ppm. Nitrates less than 40 ppm. If levels exceed safe parameters, do a water change. For filtered tanks, clean filter media monthly.

With proper maintenance, you can go up to two weeks between partial water changes. But in general, more frequent smaller water changes are better than less often large ones. Follow your betta’s cues and water tests.

Supplies Needed

Supplies Needed
Supplies Needed

Cleaning your betta tank doesn’t require any specialized equipment. You’ll just need some basic supplies, most of which you likely already have:

  • Gravel vacuum – This is essential for removing debris from the substrate. A good option is the Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System
  • 5-gallon bucket – For removing and holding old tank water.
  • Thermometer – You’ll need to match the new water’s temp to the tank water.
  • Water conditioner/dechlorinator – Necessary for removing chlorine and heavy metals from new water. Seachem Prime is a popular choice.
  • Algae scrubber – Helpful for cleaning the tank walls and decorations.
  • Clean towels – For drying hands and wiping down equipment.
  • Fish net – To safely remove your betta before cleaning the tank.

As long as you have the basic vacuum, bucket, thermometer, and water conditioner, you’ll be ready to give your betta’s tank a thorough cleaning.

How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank? Instructions for clear cleaning steps

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to properly clean your betta fish tank:

Step 1: Prepare All Essential Cleaning Materials

Before you begin cleaning your betta fish tank, it is important to gather all of the necessary supplies. This will help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and efficiently. Here are the supplies you will need:

  • Aquarium siphon
  • Algae scraper
  • Bucket
  • Dechlorinated water
  • Sponge or soft cloth
  • Towel

It is important to use dechlorinated water for cleaning as chlorine can be harmful to your betta fish. You can either purchase dechlorinated water from a pet store or let tap water sit out for 24 hours before using it.

Step 2: Arrange a Temporary Habitat for Your Betta Fish

While you are cleaning your betta fish tank, you will need to provide a temporary home for your betta fish. A clean bowl or container filled with dechlorinated water is sufficient. Make sure the container is large enough for your betta fish to swim around comfortably.

Step 3: Disconnect and Extract All Electrical Devices from the Aquarium

Before you begin cleaning the tank, unplug any electrical equipment, such as the filter and heater. This will help to prevent electrical shock. It is important to clean and maintain these items separately according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Use an Aquarium Siphon to Extract Water from the Tank

Use an Aquarium Siphon to Extract Water from the Tank
Use an Aquarium Siphon to Extract Water from the Tank

Place the aquarium siphon in the tank and siphon out about 25% of the water. Be careful not to siphon out any gravel or substrate. This will help to remove any debris, uneaten food, and waste from the tank.

How to Use an Aquarium Siphon

  1. Place one end of the siphon in the tank and the other end in a bucket.
  2. Gently shake the siphon up and down until the water starts to flow into the bucket.
  3. Once the water is flowing, move the siphon around the tank to remove debris from different areas.
  4. When you have removed enough water, simply lift the siphon out of the tank.

Step 5: Remove Decorations and Rinse Them Thoroughly

Remove any decorations from the tank and rinse them thoroughly with dechlorinated water. You can use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub off any algae or debris. It is important to never use soap or cleaning products on your betta fish tank decorations as they can be toxic to your fish.

How to Clean Tank Decorations

  1. Fill a bucket with dechlorinated water.
  2. Remove the decorations from the tank and place them in the bucket.
  3. Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub off any algae or debris.
  4. Rinse the decorations with clean dechlorinated water before placing them back in the tank.

Step 6: Cleanse the Interior Surfaces of the Tank Using an Algae Scraper

Using an algae scraper, gently scrub the inside walls of the tank to remove any algae buildup. Make sure to be gentle and avoid scratching the glass. You can also use a sponge or soft cloth for this step.

How to Choose the Right Algae Scraper

There are different types of algae scrapers available in the market, such as magnetic scrapers, handheld scrapers, and long-handled scrapers. Consider the size and shape of your tank when choosing an algae scraper. For smaller tanks, a handheld scraper may be more suitable, while larger tanks may require a long-handled scraper.

Step 7: Clean the Gravel or Substrate in the Tank

If your betta fish tank has gravel or substrate, it is important to clean it regularly to prevent the buildup of waste and debris. Use a siphon to remove any debris from the gravel or substrate. You can also use a gravel vacuum for this step.

Clean Gravel or Substrate with a Gravel Vacuum

Clean Gravel or Substrate with a Gravel Vacuum
Clean Gravel or Substrate with a Gravel Vacuum
  1. Place one end of the gravel vacuum in the tank and the other end in a bucket.
  2. Gently move the vacuum around the gravel or substrate to remove any debris.
  3. Once you have removed enough debris, simply lift the vacuum out of the tank.
  4. Rinse the gravel or substrate with clean dechlorinated water before placing it back in the tank.

Step 8: Refill the Tank with Dechlorinated Water

After cleaning the tank and decorations, it is time to refill the tank with fresh dechlorinated water. Make sure the water is at the appropriate temperature for your betta fish. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature and adjust accordingly.

Step 9: Reinstall and Plug in the Electrical Equipment

Once the tank is filled with fresh water, you can reinstall and plug in the electrical equipment. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation. It is important to let the filter run for at least 30 minutes before adding your betta fish back into the tank.

Step 10: Gently Reintroduce Your Betta Fish to the Refreshed Aquarium

Before adding your betta fish back into the tank, it is important to acclimate them to the new water. This will help to prevent shock and stress. Here’s how to acclimate your betta fish:

  1. Place your betta fish in a plastic bag or container filled with some of the clean water from the tank.
  2. Slowly add small amounts of the new water into the bag or container every 10-15 minutes for about an hour.
  3. After an hour, you can release your betta fish back into the tank.

Avoiding Common Mistakes When Cleaning a Betta Tank

It’s important to be aware of some common pitfalls when cleaning your betta’s tank so you can avoid stressing or harming your fish. Here are some key mistakes to steer clear of:

Overcleaning the Tank
Cleaning the tank too frequently, such as doing 100% water changes more than once a week, can shock your betta’s system. Bettas thrive on consistency and familiarity. Stick to a schedule of partial water changes of 25-50% once a week.

Drastic Temperature Shifts
When replacing tank water, always match the new water’s temperature to the existing tank water. Sudden temperature swings of more than a few degrees can cause stress or shock. Use a thermometer and adjust the new water accordingly.

Using Soaps or Detergents
Never use soaps, detergents, or chemicals when cleaning a betta tank, as residue can harm your fish. Rinse decorations and equipment in old tank water or dechlorinated water only. Soap residue can damage bettas’ protective slime coat and labyrinth organ.

Forgetting Water Conditioner
Always treat new water with dechlorinator and beneficial bacteria before adding it to the tank. Chlorine can burn gills and kill beneficial bacteria that keep the tank stable. Read instructions carefully and dose properly when conditioning new water.

Signs of a Dirty Betta Tank

There are some clear signs that indicate it’s time to clean and change the water in your betta’s tank. Being aware of these signs can help you stay on top of your tank maintenance and ensure a healthy home for your fish.

One of the most obvious indicators is cloudy water. As waste, uneaten food, and other organic matter accumulate in the tank, they can make the water appear hazy and opaque. Cloudy water means the nitrogen cycle is out of balance and pollutants are building up. Cloudy water is usually a sign it’s time for a water change and gravel cleaning.

Excess algae growth is another red flag. As nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus rise in the tank, it can trigger rapid algae blooms. Green spots algae and green water algae are common in dirty betta tanks. Wiping down the tank walls and decor to remove algae is recommended each time you clean the tank.

Seeing a lot of uneaten food sitting on the tank bottom is a clear indicator of excess waste accumulation. Uneaten food decomposes and spikes ammonia levels. A sign of overfeeding, leftover food signals the need for more frequent gravel cleaning and water replacement.

Finally, high ammonia is a surefire sign of a dirty tank. Ammonia comes from fish waste, decomposing organic matter, and uneaten food. High ammonia levels above .25 ppm can be toxic to bettas. If your test kit shows rising ammonia, a deep clean and large water change is in order.

Making Water Changes Safe

When making water changes, it is crucial to ensure the transition is safe and stress-free for your betta fish. Here are some tips:

Match the temperature of the new water to the tank water. Use a thermometer and adjust the new water accordingly. Drastic temperature changes can shock bettas. New water should be within a couple degrees of the tank temperature.

Add water conditioner to the new water before adding it to the tank. Conditioners remove chlorine and heavy metals. Follow the product instructions for proper dosing. Slowly add the conditioner and mix thoroughly.

Net your betta fish out of the tank before changing the water to prevent stress. Have a small holding container ready with some old tank water. Gently net the fish and move to the holding area while you clean the tank.

Gradually mix in the new water over 10-15 minutes. This allows the fish to slowly acclimate to any slight changes in pH or hardness. Rapid water changes can shock their system.

Following these tips will help make all water changes smooth and safe for your betta.

Cleaning the Filter

The filter is a critical component of a betta tank that needs to be cleaned regularly to ensure optimal water quality. There are several types of filters used in betta tanks:

  • Sponge filters
  • Cartridge filters
  • Biological media filters

For sponge filters, rinse the sponge under old tank water during a water change to remove debris. Avoid using tap water, which can kill off beneficial bacterial colonies. Replace the sponge every 3-4 months.

Cartridge filters should be rinsed or replaced according to package directions, usually every 2-4 weeks. Rinse cartridges in old tank water and reuse if still in good condition. Replace when falling apart. Avoid rinsing under tap water.

For filters with biological filtration media, rinse media in old tank water every 2-4 months. Never use tap water, which removes beneficial bacteria. Replace media every 6-12 months per manufacturer recommendations.

Make sure to inspect filter tubing and attachments during cleaning. Remove gunk and algae buildup to ensure optimal water flow.


Regular tank cleaning and water changes are essential to keeping your betta fish happy and healthy.
How to clean a betta fish tank? Follow the proper cleaning steps outlined, with the right supplies and techniques, you can easily maintain a clean, healthy environment for your betta.
Be sure to vacuum the gravel, clean decorations and wipe down tank walls with each weekly partial water change. Check ammonia levels and watch for signs of cloudiness or algae growth to indicate when a full tank cleaning is due. Use the water conditioner and match temperature when replacing water. Don’t overclean, forget dechlorinator or allow soap residues.
With the right schedule and process, you can keep your betta’s tank sparkling clean and avoid problems like fin rot, disease and lethargy. Keeping up with tank maintenance will lead to a vibrant, active and long-lived fish.


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