Easy Steps To Cleaning A Betta Fish Tank

Estimated read time 11 min read

We can all agree Betta fish are often sold as easy-to-care-for, low-maintenance pets. And while they are generally hardy fish, they still produce waste like any other fish, and their tanks will eventually need to be cleaned.

The waste your Betta generates decomposes and turns into ammonia, which is toxic to your fish. Cleaning your Betta’s tank regularly will help eliminate harmful waste and clear ammonia and other toxins out of the water reducing the chances of your *betta getting sick. And the cleaning process is relatively easy.

It can even be fun to keep your Betta’s home looking neat!


How To Clean Your Betta Tank

In this guide, you’ll learn how to clean a Betta fish tank and simple tasks like keeping the glass clean and other things you can do in less than 30 minutes each week and every month to ensure your *water quality remains cleaner for your animal. When you’re done, you’ll have crystal clear water and a pleased fish.

At the end of the post, we’ve included a video showing each of the steps below.

Further Reading: If you’re setting up a new tank for your Betta, make sure you know what the ideal Betta Fish tank size is and give your little buddy some room to swim.

Let’s start:

Before we begin, you’ll need a few things to clean a tank correctly.

1. Gather Everything You Need

Before you start, you should take the time to get all the equipment you’ll need to clean the tank.

Below is a list of some of the things you’ll need to complete the steps below.

2. Prepare Your Water Ahead of Time

When you clean your Betta tank, you’ll want to perform some water changes. Whether you’re changing 10%, 20%, or 50%, you should have your water already prepared before you start the cleaning process.

Like all fish, Bettas can’t survive in unconditioned tap water. So if you’re using tap water, put the amount you need in a container and use a water conditioner to neutralize chlorine and other chemicals harmful to your fish.

You can also leave tap water out for 24-48 hours, and the chemicals evaporate naturally.

No matter what kind of water you’re using, you’ll want to bring it as close to your tank temperature as possible, either by letting it sit out for a few hours to get to room temperature or by using a heater.

Remember: When cleaning the tank, always wash your hands with warm or hot water to be safe. This will help remove and kill harmful bacteria and chemicals left on your hand or arms, keeping your pet healthy.

3. Washing Hands And Putting On Gloves

Before you even think of putting your hands into the take, make sure you wash them. Oh, and don’t use soap.

Wash your hands and arms (up to your elbows) with warm water for about three minutes.

This will help remove oils, perfumes, or dirt on your hands and arms.

4. Remove Betta Fish From Tank

Before cleaning, you’ll want to remove your Betta fish from the tank and put him somewhere calm and safe.

Fill a bowl or cup with tank water, and use a small fishnet or sterile container to scoop your fish out of the tank gently. Put him in the tank of water you’ve set aside, and he’ll have a place to swim around while you clean his living space.

Make sure you place a cover on top of this container. Betta fish are fantastic jumpers.

5. Remove Decorations

Next, remove all the tank’s decorations, accessories, plants, and hiding places. Taking these out will make cleaning the rest of the tank more straightforward, and many items will need to be cleaned.

Set aside everything in a large bowl to keep them together and to make cleaning easier.

6. Turning Everything Off

7. Remove Tank Water to Save

Start a siphon, remove a portion of the tank water, and set it aside. Suppose you’re doing a 50% water change; set aside half the water in the tank. Suppose you’re doing a 10% water change; set aside 90% of the water in the tank. You’ll be adding this back in when you’re done with the cleaning.

When *changing water, so you should always keep some original tank water to add back.

Your tank water has built up beneficial bacteria over time, and it’s the environment that your Betta is used to. So a sudden, drastic change to that environment could send him into shock.

8. Pour Out Remaining Water

Once you’ve scooped out the water you’re going to save, the rest of it can be dumped. Slowly pour the water out, ensuring your gravel doesn’t fall out.

You can also pour the water over a sieve or strainer to catch anything that falls out while dumping it. Finally, pour your gravel into the bowl holding your tank decorations.

9. Clean Decorations

Run warm water over the decorations and accessories from your tank. Then, use a soft scrubber or brush to scrub off any slime and dirt stuck to the surface.

Do not use soap on the decorations or anything else in your tank. Even if you rinse it off well, soap residue can remain and harm your fish.

Once you have finished rinsing your decorations, set them aside on a clean paper towel.

10. Clean and Scrub Tank

The next thing to clean is the tank itself. First, put the tank in your sink and run warm water into it. Next, scrub the bottom and sides of the tank with a soft brush to loosen any accumulated dirt, *algae, and slime.

Make sure you give the corners a good scrub.

Again, do not use any soap on your Betta tank. Once you’ve scrubbed everything, dump the water and give the tank a final rinse.

Removing Algae 

When removing algae, it’s best to scrape the glass before you start to vacuum the substrate; this is because as you start the siphon, you’ll also remove some of the algae particles that are now floating in the water.

To remove algae, use a scrub pad or razor for stubborn algae, or you can try an old credit card for an inexpensive method.

Wash hard-to-reach places

Do your best to get right into the corners of the tank and other hard-to-reach places where algae and debris may accumulate.

11. Vacuum the substrate. 

A lot of the waste and debris in your Betta tank accumulates in the gravel, which can be the dirtiest part of your tank.

Run warm water over the gravel while gradually rubbing your hands through it to loosen slime and dirt. Once you have given the gravel a good rinse, drain the dirty water from the bowl. You can also place the gravel in a sieve or strainer so that water drains while you rinse it.

Repeat as many times as necessary until your gravel is completely clean.

12. Cleaning The Filter 

Cleaning your filter is a simple process.

Remove the filter media and wash it with old tank water. Then you can reuse the media or replace it as needed.

While the filter media is out, ensure to clean out the filter box as well as the input/output tubes.

This will help improve the overall water flow of your filter.

13. Put Gravel and Decorations Back in Tank

Now that you’ve cleaned your tank, gravel, and decorations, you’re ready to put everything back together.

First, pour the gravel back into the bottom of the tank and arrange it, so it’s evenly spread out.

Next, put in your decorations and accessories and arrange them how you want. For some cool setup ideas.

Read: 19 Cool Betta Fish Tank Ideas That Will Inspire You

Finally, reattach any heaters, filters, thermometers, and anything else you removed before cleaning.

14. Refill The Tank 

Slowly pour the old tank water you set aside back into the tank, so you don’t disturb your gravel and decorations. Then, fill the rest of the tank with the freshwater you prepared earlier.

Give everything a stir to mix the water, reposition any decorations that may have fallen over, and test your *temperature and pH to ensure it’s ready for your fish. You’ll want the pH and temperature to be close to what your fish is used to.

15. Put Your Betta Fish Back In

Now that you’ve got everything clean and backed where they belong, it’s time to reintroduce your Betta fish to his home.

To do this, take the container he’s in and place it in the tank. Then, slowly tilt the container until your Betta can swim out on his own.

Be careful when doing this so he doesn’t damage his fins. Your Betta should be happily swimming around his newly cleaned tank.

Why Is Your Betta’s Tank So Dirty?

Your Bettas tank will naturally get dirty over time, and the longer you wait between cleanings, the messier it will become.

The most common reasons a tank gets dirty are;

  • Overfeeding
  • Poor aquarium maintenance
  • Poor source of water

Products You Should Avoid When Cleaning Your Betta’s Tank

There are many things you should avoid, but here are a few significant things to look out for;

  • Products with alcohol
  • Soap
  • Bleach
  • Something that can scrape or damage glass

Final Thoughts.

Cleaning your Betta tank regularly is vital to keeping your fish happy and healthy. The simple steps above cover the basics of cleaning a Betta fish tank. As you can see, it’s a simple process that doesn’t need to be intimidating or a lot of work, and it is crucial to clean any pet habitat regularly.

Check out the video below for a walkthrough of this simple process:


This process works great for smaller tanks and tanks without a lot of complex aquascaping. However, if you have a larger or more complicated tank, it may not be feasible to empty everything. But you also may not need to.

Installing a good *filter and performing regular 10-15% water changes with a siphon will go a long way towards keeping your tank clean. Siphoning water from the bottom will clean out much of the collected debris in the gravel, and your filter will capture anything floating in the water.

No matter what tank you have, regular water changes and cleaning will keep your Betta happy, and your tank looks great.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often To Clean Your Betta Fish Tank

How often you need to clean your Betta’s tank depends on the tank size. Smaller tanks accumulate toxic levels of waste more quickly and need much more frequent cleanings and water changes. For example, you may change out 30-50% of the water every few days and clean the tank once or twice a week.

Larger tanks with filters need less frequent water changes and even fewer cleanings. It’s a good idea to change out 10-15% of the water every week or two, and your tank can go several weeks without a complete cleaning.

Thoroughly cleaning your Betta’s tank may initially seem intimidating, but it’s pretty simple. Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • Freshwater
  • Containers for fish, water, and gravel/decorations
  • Soft brush or sponge
  • Sink

Depending on the size of your aquarium, how much food you feed each day, and whether you keep live plants. Your aquarium might require a weekly tank cleaning and a water change using a gravel vacuum to suck out any build-up of waste in the rocks and gravel. Doing this properly will also replace at least 25-30 percent of the gallons in your tank simultaneously.

How Long Does It Take To Clean A Betta Aquarium?

Cleaning your Bettas aquarium should only take about 30 minutes if you regularly complete weekly maintenance.

For more thorough cleanings, you might need about one hour.

Can you use tap water for a betta fish?

You can use tap water to fill up a betta tank. Just ensure to use a water de-chlorinator product like Seachem Prime.

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