​​How Often Should You Clean A Betta Fish Tank? [Quick Guide]

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how often should I clean a betta fish tank

In most homes, betta fish are kept as pets because of their beautiful appearance and spirited traits. However, they excrete regularly, and the hygiene of their tank should be maintained to prevent any infection. It can be challenging, especially for beginners, and the frequent question they ask is how often should you clean a betta fish tank?

Depending on the size of your betta tank, type and number of fish, vegetation, and the frequency at which you feed them determine the cleaning interval. It can be three days, one week, or even two weeks.

A good general rule for how frequently to clean your betta tank based on its size:

Cleaning Frequency Recommendations:

  • Under 5 Gallon Tank: Clean every 2-4 days
  • 5-10 Gallon Tank: Clean weekly
  • 15-20 Gallon Tank: Clean 1-2 times per month

Smaller tanks gather poisonous wastes faster and require regular cleanings and water changes. You need to clean them at least twice a week and replace half of the water after every three days. If you have a large tank installed with filters, all you need to do is change a quarter of the water every week, and it can go for some weeks without complete cleaning.

Many fish in a betta tank produce more waste that turns into toxic ammonia. Additionally, if you feed them frequently and the aquarium contains live plants, you need to clean the tank weekly and change the water. With the help of a gravel vacuum, you can all the accumulated waste within the rocks.

Below, I will explain all the steps that you should follow for a successful betta tank cleaning, why you need to do so, and the benefits.

Why Should You Clean Your Betta Tank Frequently?

Not only does cleaning your betta’s tank regularly keep it clear and looking good, but most importantly it’s important for the health of your fish.

Don’t be fooled. The water in your betta tank can be clear, tricking you not to clean it. Although it is a good indicator of clean water, there are many bacteria that you cannot see with your naked eyes, making the environment toxic for your betta to thrive. You need to clean the tank recurrently because of the following:

Reduce The Amount of Ammonia and Other Harmful Nitrates

The nitrogen cycle occurs very fast in a betta tank. As the betta fish releases biological waste, bacteria break it down into poisonous ammonia. Other bacteria break it further to nitrates which is safe at low amounts. To maintain the low levels, frequent cleaning and water change eliminate the ammonia compounds while diluting the remaining enabling bacteria to continue the cycle.

If the ammonia level builds up too high in your tank, a betta fish can get ammonia poisoning and require treatment for the fish and extensive cleaning. We’d recommend testing the ammonia levels in your tank regularly.

Substitute Minerals and Nutrients

Your betta depends on the nutrients and minerals present in the water. Because the water is maintained in the tank, all the nutrients can be used completely, leaving your fish in trouble because the water turns toxic. Cleaning and adding new clean water introduces new minerals and nutrients, making your betta stay safe and healthy.

To Eliminate Dangerous Waste

Most fish waste and food debris accumulate at the base of the tank. Cleaning is done to remove them before they rot and affect your betta. Although the filters suck the wastes out, some of them remain. Vacuuming to eliminate the substrate is recommended as it facilitates the removal of organic wastes and food remains.

When is The Right Time to Clean Your Betta Fish Tank?

Many people ask when they are supposed to clean their betta fish tank. There is no standard answer for this question because everything you do depends on your aquarium setup. Factors such as the size of your tank, the functionality of the filters are essential. A complete cleaning is not necessary; all you need to focus on primarily is changing water and vacuuming the gravel which tends to accumulate waste.

If your tank is smaller, you have to do it more frequently than a larger one with filters. Always house your betta in a fish tank that can hold more than five gallons of water to enable them to have enough space to swim in and a large enough environment to sustain their health.

What Are the Steps of Cleaning a Betta Fish Tank?

To clean your betta fish tank effectively, you need to prepare and have the right tools for the task and follow the correct procedure to enhance safety for you and the pets, but overall it’s simple with this quick guide.

Preparation Stage

The following preparation steps will make the whole cleaning process more manageable.

  • Step 1- Assemble All the Tools You Need: Always ensure that you have all the cleaning tools to avoid any inconvenience when you are in the middle of the task. The standard tools you need for this job include an algae scrubber, plastic razor, gravel vacuum, water conditioner, a large container, and gloves.
  • Step 2- Wash Hands and Wear Gloves: This process is necessary to avoid any possible contamination of your aquarium. Please wash your hands using soap and rinse them thoroughly to eliminate any soap traces. Afterward, wear gloves for safety purposes.

Gloves are important because the betta fish tank contains several bacteria, some of which are very dangerous to your health as they can penetrate your body through cuts and sores. Cleaning the tank with bare hands is very risky and not recommended.

Similarly, your hands may contain germs and other dangerous bacteria that can contaminate the water and kill the betta. Gloves prevent these bacteria from landing in the tank as they can breed and cause dangerous infections in the aquarium ecosystem.

Lastly, the gloves prevent the spread of bacteria in the entire house. Your bare hands can contract bacteria from the fish tank and land on any item you touch in the home and, if not well-managed, result in an outbreak of related disease. Always use gloves that cover you up to the elbows leaving nothing to chance.

  • Step 3- Get rid of the Entire Decorations: here, you need to remove the decorations slowly without disturbing your betta and place them in the container. Then place them at a safe place to clean them later.
  • Step 4- Turn Everything Off: put off everything in your betta fish tank, including the lights, filters, and heaters. The main purpose of this step is to keep you safe.

Cleaning Stage

After you have prepared everything, it is time to clean your betta fish tank. It will be easier for you because everything is n order. Here are the steps

Step 1- Remove Algae: Algae is commonly found on the sides of the fish tank and, with the help of a scrubber and plastic razor, begin removing it carefully. A magnetic scrubber is recommended because it has no intrusion into your betta. Remove algae from every corner of your tank, and if there is one that is hard to remove, use the razor to scrape off. For acrylic tanks, the plastic razor is suitable because it does not scratch the sides, but you can use the standard one for the glass one.

Step 2- Gravel Cleaning and Water Removal: after you have entirely removed the algae, this is the step the gravel vacuum will be crucial. First, it will help you eliminate all the debris, fish wastes, and accumulations at the base tank. Additionally, it will remove some water to enable you to add the fresh one. Depending on the size of your tank, remove as much water as possible.

When operating your gravel vacuum, ensure that it is raised above the gravel and placed in another container to prevent spillage on the house floor, giving you another extra tiresome task to clean. If your betta fish tank contains sand instead of gravel, the process is similar, but you will have to raise the siphon higher to prevent the sand from being sucked up.

Step 3-Washing the Decorations: Betta fish tank decorations are the most significant cleaning part, but you should not worry. The better thing is that you don’t have to clean them every time. Only do it when you have realized that there are accumulations of mineral deposits, algae, and bacterial wastes. Here is a simple way of how to clean your betta fish tank decorations

  • Remove them carefully and place them in a container to avoid disturbing the betta. Ensure that the container is clean and chemical-free by washing and rinsing it with warm water
  • Turn the heater back on to maintain for about 45 minutes to balance the correct temperatures, particularly if you have a smaller tank.
  • Fill the container with tap water and do not include any cleaning product at this stage. Boil the water and soak the decorations for twenty minutes to kill all the bacteria and make the cleaning process more manageable.
  • Do not use overheated water because it could destroy the decorations. After they have soaked, begin scrubbing them gently using a toothbrush set aside only to avoid any contamination. After all the grime has been removed, rinse them and dry them.

Step 4- Cleaning the Filters: because your betta fish tank is delicately balanced, you must clean everything separately to avoid any damage. Most of the bacteria that facilitate and break down the toxic ammonia into nitrates are found in the filters, and you do not have to destroy all of them when cleaning. If you eliminate all of them, there will be high amounts of toxic compounds to kill your betta. To properly clean your filters,

  • Put enough clean water into a container that you will use to rinse the filter cartridges.
  • Please turn off the filters and remove the cartridges slowly to avoid damaging them. use a clean sponge to rinse to eliminate any possible debris
  • After you have cleaned both the interior and exterior of the filters, please return them to their initial position.

Is it Advisable to Remove Betta Fish While Cleaning the Tank?

Do everything possible to ensure that you don’t remove the betta fish from the tank. Exchanging them to different tanks is risky as it will be stressed or get other infections that may affect its system. You are only advised to shift the betta when placing him in the quarantine tank.

The best method to help not to shift betta fish from the tank is by gently cleaning, changing a considerable amount rather than removing everything from the tank.

Are Tank Mates Helpful?

If your tank is large enough to accommodate more pets, there is no problem introducing tank mates. Although they will add extra waste in the tank, some are significant as they reduce algae buildup when they feed on them. Shrimps and catfish like Corydoras are some of the best tank mates you can try.

Is Tap Water Good for Betta Fish?

Yes, tap water is good when refilling a betta fish tank. However, make sure you use a water de-chlorinator and condition the water properly. 

Sometimes people think they should use purified or distilled water since it is “cleaner”, but this is wrong. You should NEVER use distilled water or purified water to refill your betta tank. You betta actually needs nutrients and minerals found in tap water that are NOT in the purified or distilled water. 

Why Does Your Betta Fish Tank Get Dirty So Often?

Although you clean your betta fish tank regularly, you will still find that accumulations at the base of the tank require you to clean them again. This can happen because of the following.


Your betta fish are always willing to take any food you introduce to them at any time. It is recommended that you have a good schedule that will give them the right amount of food. The uneaten food should be eliminated immediately. They will accumulate and lead to the algae problem if you leave them.

Poor Water Source

Sometimes the problem with your dirty tank is not overfeeding. Tap water is good, although it can contain impurities that lead to blockages and stains. Ensure your water has undergone reversed osmosis or distilled to remove those impurities.

Final Recap

Betta fish are among the best and easiest pet fish to take care of. But less maintenance does not mean you should not clean their aquarium regularly. Before purchasing them, ensure you understand the basics of cleaning the tank and all the maintenance tips. The above tips will guide you through and have a happy, clean, and healthy betta.

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