How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank in 8 Easy to Do Steps

how to clean a betta fish tank

Many novice Betta owners do not know how to clean a Betta fish tank without scaring or stressing the fish. For some, the idea may even frighten them.

The apprehension is understandable. After all, Bettas (known as Siamese fighting fish) are carnivores. Surprisingly, they have a greater pound-for-pound bite force than the Great White shark. Not to worry, their bite will not puncture your skin. Still, cleaning the tank is necessary.

We are here to give you a no-nonsense guide to properly clean a Betta fish tank¸ allowing you to ensure your fish’s optimum health and happiness.

Step-by-step to Clean a Betta Fish Tank

What to prepare

You will need the following.

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  • Clean bowl as temporary Betta “home”
  • Fish net or plastic cup to transfer the Betta from the fish tank
  • Cleaning materials – scrubber, toothbrush, strainer, or sieve
  • Others – large container for fish tank decorations, gloves, siphon (for transferring the water)
  • Water conditioner


Step 1. Observe basic safety measures (handwashing and wearing gloves).


Hand wash before you take care of Betta fish in a bowl or fish tank.

More than 3,000 microorganisms across 150 species are on our hands at any time. Imagine not washing your hands before cleaning the Betta fish tank, and you increase the risk of cross-contamination.

Although Bettas are aggressive, they are not immune to bacterial and parasitic infections. Not washing your hands can introduce harmful microorganisms into the Betta’s habitat and risk it getting sick.

So, rinse your hands very well and use soap to remove as many germs as possible.

It is also worth noting that aquarium water is not the cleanest. It contains microorganisms, organic substances, and other particles from fish excrement, uneaten food, and algae.

So, wear disposable gloves to protect yourself against potential cross-contamination, especially if you have cuts, wounds, and other breaks in skin integrity.

Step 2. Turn off all fish tank accessories and remove decorations.


Check all electronic devices running on the fish tank (i.e., heaters, aquarium lights, air pumps, and filtration systems) and unplug them from the electrical outlet.

Remove these gadgets and electronic accessories and place them in a box or container. You do not want to get accidental electrocution when cleaning the Betta fish tank.

Remove all fish tank decorations, including artificial plants, rocks, statues, and others. Store these items in a container separate from the electronic accessories.

Step 3. Remove 50 to 80 percent water from the fish tank.


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  • If you have a siphon, fill most of the tube length with water by placing its top end into the tank, then cover the bottom end of the tube, which goes into a bucket.


To let water flow out, uncover the bottom end of the siphon after filling it.

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  • Scooping the water with a plastic cup can be a good solution for households without a siphon. Get a small plastic cup and carefully scoop up some Betta fish tank water.


Also, do not discard this water because you will return it to the fish tank after cleaning.

If you have a 3-gallon Betta fish tank, you can scoop about 1.5 gallons if this is your first time changing the water and cleaning the tank. You can gradually increase the water changes until you hit the 80% maximum.

Scoop the water only from the surface, and work your way to the bottom. Most Betta fish filth is in the substrate. Removing only the water in the uppermost sections will prevent agitating the water and mixing the filth with the water change.

Step 4. Carefully transfer the Betta fish to its temporary home.


Be patient during this step because you do not want to stress or harm the Betta fish. Submerge the same cup you used in scooping water out of the fish tank and carefully maneuver it towards the fish.

Avoid making sudden moves to avoid scaring the Betta. Let the fish swim to the cup, being mindful about not damaging its delicate fins. Go slow, ensuring the Betta settles calmly in the cup before lifting it out of the fish tank.

Slowly submerge the cup into the water of the other bowl or bucket (the one you transferred 50 to 80 percent of the fish tank water into). Tilt the cup to let the Betta swim away.

Cover the container because Bettas are excellent jumpers.

Step 5. Empty the Betta fish tank and clean the gravel.


Grab the Betta fish tank and head to the sink. Place a filter on the sink and pour the aquarium contents, including gravel and remaining water into it.

Notice the slime, grit, and other filth in the substrate. These substances might look icky, but you have gloves anyway.

Open the hot water faucet and place the gravel-filled strainer under the running water. Shake the sieve to dislodge dirt, debris, Betta poop, uneaten food, and other substances.

You can also agitate the gravel with your gloved hand to remove particles.

Step 6. Rinse the Betta fish tank and decorations.


Place the Betta fish tank under warm running water. Get a scrubber and rub it against the Betta fish tank’s sides.

You can use an algae scrubber if you see algae on the fish tank surface. For stubborn algae, you can use a plastic razor.

Use a toothbrush to scrub fish tank decorations, including the aquarium’s corners.

Avoid using soap when cleaning the Betta fish tank because soap residues can remain on the surface and undermine your fish’s safety and health.

Step 7. Refill the Betta fish tank.


You are now ready to change water for Betta fish.

Return the gravel (or any Betta-safe substrate) into the fish tank. Replace the plants and other aquarium decorations as well.

Fill the Betta fish tank with fresh water, leaving sufficient space for the original water you removed in Step 3. For example, if you removed 1.5 gallons from your 3-gallon tank, make sure there’s space for 1.5 gallons.

Read the water conditioner’s instructions to determine how much conditioner you must add to the new water. Pour the correct amount of conditioner into the tank and mix well.

Slowly add the original water you reserved into the newly-conditioned Betta fish tank. Stir very well.

Step 8. Reintroduce the Betta to its newly cleaned home

Always check the water temperature (it should be 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) before returning the Betta to its newly-cleaned fish tank. The water temperature must be the same as the room’s ambient temperature, which usually takes about 24 hours.

Using the same technique in Step 4, carefully scoop the Betta from its temporary shelter and relocate it to its newly-cleaned fish tank. Be gentle when handling this fish, especially its fins.

Return all electronic fish tank accessories (i.e., heater, filter, bubbler, and lights), and enjoy your Betta. Observe it for several minutes as it explores its surroundings.

The Importance of Cleaning a Betta Fish Tank


Aquarists must keep a Betta fish tank clean to ensure the fish’s happiness, health, and safety. After all, we all want to live in clean and tidy homes, and so do our aquatic friends.

Like other aquatic life forms, Bettas eat and defecate in the same water they swim in. It is like eating your feces (we know it is gross, but necessary to prove a point).

Uneaten fish food, urine, fecal matter, and other organic substances can pollute the tank water and undermine Betta’s health. These substances put Bettas at risk for disease and shorten their lifespan.

Bettas need a watery environment with a pH of 6.8 to 7.5 and a temperature of 76 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, nitrogenous wastes from fecal matter and undigested fish food can lower the pH to acidic levels.

Although a Betta fish tank with filter can improve water quality, you still need routine Betta fish tank maintenance. The good news is filtration systems make cleaning and maintenance less frequent (as infrequent as six to eight months for units with robust filtration systems).

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does it take to clean a Betta fish tank?

How long it takes to change a Betta fish water, clean the tank and put everything back depends on several things.

Tank size is one. For instance, you can clean out a Betta fish bowl within minutes, while a 10-gallon fish tank might require extended time.

The number of Bettas you have will also determine how long you must clean the fish tank. Fish tanks with rocks can be more tedious to clean than gravel, lengthening the maintenance process.

Frequent water changes can also hasten the cleaning, while too many aquarium accessories (i.e., plants and decorations) can lengthen it.

Ultimately, 30 minutes to an hour is the average timespan.

How often should I change the water in my Betta fish tank?

The frequency of water changes in a Betta fish tank depends on the tank size, number of Bettas, and aquarium setup.

As a rule, water change frequency decreases with bigger fish tank sizes. Hence, if you need to clean a 5-gallon Betta fish tank by changing ten to twenty percent of its water weekly, a 1-gallon Betta fish tank might require more frequent water changes.

It is worth noting that Betta aquariums larger than ten gallons only require twice-monthly water changes.

However, the more Bettas you have in the fish tank, the more frequently the water refreshes.

How long to wait to put Betta fish in tank after cleaning?

How long to wait before you return the Betta fish to the tank after cleaning the aquarium depends on whether you use a water conditioner.

Adding a conditioner to the fish tank can help you return your colorful aquatic friend after five minutes. If you do not have a water conditioner, your Betta must stay in its temporary shelter overnight or half a day before returning “home.”


How to clean a Betta fish tank might look straightforward enough. However, Betta fish require utmost care during handling, especially their elegant fins.

Soaps and conventional cleaning agents are a no-no when cleaning the Betta fish tank because chemical residues can undermine your aquatic friend’s health and safety.

Handwashing is necessary to protect the fish, yourself, and your tank. Water changes are also crucial, starting at 50% and gradually increasing to 80.

With this guide, you should feel more confident cleaning your Betta’s home as part of its routine care.