Fighting fish need great filters. Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, need amazing filters to thrive in your home. We ‘re going to show you the top five filters for betta fish.
What is the best filter for betta fish? Amazing filters for bettas must do two things.
- First, they must provide adequate mechanical and biological filtration.
- Second, they must have a low flow rate because betta fish are a long-finned fish.
We’ll show you the best 5 filters among all the products on the market.
- AZOO Mignon Filter 60
- TOM Aquarium Internal Power Filter
- Aqueon Quiet Flow E Internal Power Filter
- Marina Power Filter
- Penn Plax Small World Pump and Filter Kit
- What Makes a Good Filter?
- Top 5 Best Filters for Betta Tank
- Our choice
- Why do betta fish need filter?
- Tips about filter output rate
What Makes a Good Filter?
Great betta fish filters provide adequate biological and mechanical filtration while maintaining a low flow rate. These two factors are the most important because they directly impact the health of the fish.
Three other factors are worth considering because they make your job as the fish parent much simpler.
Filtration Rate and Water Flow
Betta fish are not strong swimmers. Many people choose bettas because of their long, flowing fins. These same fins create drag in the water and can be damaged by high flow rates.
Betta fish filters should come with an adjustable flow rate, a spreader bar, or a baffle to slow down the flow. Larger tanks can avoid this problem by providing areas in the tank where the filter flow is naturally lower.
Of course, your filter should also match your tank. Larger tanks need larger filters while smaller tanks need smaller filters.
Types of Filtration
Most modern filters get this one right. Filters work to provide three different kinds of filtration. Here they are listed in order of most necessary to least necessary:
- Biological filtration is the most necessary aspect of a filter’s job. This is what turns toxic ammonia into less toxic nitrites and then into almost harmless nitrates. Without good biological filtration, your fish will die.
- Mechanical filtration is second in importance because this is how you remove waste and junk from the aquarium. A sponge, filter pad, or other media catches fish poo or debris for you. Then you remove it from the aquarium when you clean or change the filter media.
- Chemical filtration is the least important because it is often related primarily to water shine rather than fish health. If your water is good, then chemical filtration shouldn’t be too critical.
Keeping these three filtration priorities right will help you choose a great filter. Larger tanks with big filters will almost certainly do all three. Smaller tanks with small filters may need to focus on the first two and rely on water changes to help with chemical filtration.
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Ease of Use
The first two filter criteria are all about the fish. These next three are all about you, the fish keeper. Here are three things to consider for a filter that makes your life better:
- Ease of Use – The filter shouldn’t be complicated to install or clean. Especially for smaller tanks, you shouldn’t need to spend more than five minutes maintaining your filter every week.
- Reliable – Filters that fail, suck. Get a filter with a great reputation and a long guarantee so you don’t have to buy a new one very soon.
- Quiet – The best filters are neither seen nor heard. Some people like the waterfalls made by certain filters. No one likes the death rattle coming from a poorly designed filter pump.
Buy a filter that makes your life better and you’ll never regret it.
Which filter is the best match for all these criteria?
Top 5 Best Filters for Betta Tank
We’ve made a comparison table of the best filters for betta tanks. Our table should help you choose the best filter for your tank whatever its size or shape.
1-AZOO Mignon Filter 60
Small but spectacular. Tiny but terrific. These are a few great ways to think of the AZOO Mignon Filter. It’s designed for nano tanks up to 3.5 gallons in size. If you have a small tank, then this HOB filter should do a great job for you.
There are several great features and benefits of the AZOO Mignon Filter:
- The adjustable flow rate control allows you to choose the best filter speed for your tank size and setup.
- A clear ‘smoke’ exterior provides easy viewing of the inside of the filter, so you know when it’s time to change the media.
- An automatic restart after power outage design gives you peace of mind in case you ever lose power unexpectedly.
- Easy to use filter media makes maintenance and fish health easy. The prefilter sponge will prevent your betta from being trapped by the intake’s suction.
The AZOO Mignon filter is a great choice because of its value for money, customizable filter media areas, and reliability.
2-TOM Aquarium Internal Power Filter
For tanks slightly bigger than 3.5 gallons, you can choose the TOM Aquarium Internal Power Filter. Nestling somewhere in your tank, this powerful filter will keep your water clean with little fuss.
We love a few things about this filter:
- It works in any orientation so you can move it around in your tank or even lay it on its side. Hide it behind some décor and your friends and fellow fish admirers will never know it’s there.
- The included spray bar works great for directing and dispersing water flow. Many betta parents direct the spray bar onto one of the sides of the tank to keep the disturbance low for their fish.
- Adjusting the flow rate is super easy with the simple blue slider. The filter allows flow rates between 10 and 45 gallons per hour.
While we think this is a great filter, we would change a few things if we could. The included filter media isn’t great. The sponge is basic, and the activated charcoal is not sufficient to provide very much chemical filtration. We’d prefer to see a higher quality sponge and some extra biological filtration.
Still, considering all these things, this is a great filter for tanks up to ten gallons. It’s reliable, quiet, and the price is right.
3-Aqueon Quiet Flow E Internal Power Filter
There’s a lot to like about the Aqueon Quiet Flow Filters. The range covers small tanks and large tanks. This model is made for tanks up to three gallons in size.
We like the manufacturer. Aqueon is one of the top aquarium equipment suppliers in the market. They have a great reputation for quality and reliability. This filter comes with a 1-year warranty as evidence of their commitment to quality.
The auto priming feature is also very useful. The pump can be installed quickly and started easily. There is no fuss for the user, just clean water for your fish.
Of course, no filter is perfect. The black exterior makes it hard to see the condition of the filter media. The size of the filter can also overwhelm small tanks because it is hard to hide.
However, the price is very hard to beat. We recommend this filter for anyone creating a budget betta tank setup.
4-Marina Power Filter
The Marina Power Filter is a great choice for small tanks up to 10 gallons in size. It is a nicely sized HOB filter with pleasing looks. The exterior is semi-clear so you can look inside to check on debris buildup. There are some great things we love about this filter:
- The slim design is perfect for maximizing tank space in a small area. The filter isn’t inside the tank, so the tank is used fully. The design is wide but not deep, so it fits into a smaller footprint on whatever shelf, cabinet, or counter you are using.
- This is a very quiet filter with an adjustable flow rate. Once it is up and running, you shouldn’t hear it unless your water level drops too far. Then you’ll hear the waterfall sounds from the output.
- Customizing this filter is easy thanks to its large filter media chamber. This makes it ideal for setting up different tanks such as paludariums, reptile or frog tanks, or even small breeder tanks.
The filter primes itself, so it makes life just a little easier.
Of course, few filters are perfect. We’d like to see better filter media included with this one. Also, changing the filter media regularly can lead to more expense.
Even with a few imperfections, this is still a very good filter for small tanks.
5-Penn Plax Small World Pump and Filter Kit
Penn Plax is a well-known and respected aquarium equipment supplier. Their Cascade filters have been on the market for years and people love them. This filter, their Small World Pump and Filter Kit, is a great addition to their product line.
The Small World pump and filter kit is a little unique in the market. It uses air to power the filter instead of water. Most other small filters use an impeller to draw water from the tank and push it through the filter. The Small World uses an air pump to push air into the filter. As the air moves through the filter and rises, it creates suction that moves water into the filter.
This is a neat design for small tanks. The in-tank filter box can be placed almost anywhere if you have enough air tubing. The air pump could also be placed anywhere you can reach so it could be hidden.
As far as filtration goes, this filter is probably best suited for small tanks less than 5 gallons. It doesn’t create as much water circulation although the bubbling effect will help clean the water. In a small tank, its lack of circulation won’t be too much of a problem.
We don’t like having to replace filter cartridges from manufacturers because this is costly. However, the Penn Plax cartridges look good and provide good filtration, so they are good to use.
While this filter is a little pricier than others, the addition of the air pump should help tanks stay healthier and look nicer.
We can’t recommend just one filter! There is too much variety in tank setup and fish needs to make a single recommendation. All these filters will work very well if you follow our tips. Here’s a quick recap, though:
- The AZOO Mignon filter is a great choice because of its value for money and good performance.
- The TOM Aquarium Internal Power Filter is brilliant for its spray bar.
- Aqueon’s Quiet Flow E Internal filter comes from a great brand at a fantastic price.
- Choose the Marina Power Filter for its ability to be customized with different filter media.
- The Penn Plax Small World Pump is best for tiny tanks or those with special shapes.
While all of these will work, one will be the absolute best for your tank. Have a look and get started!
Why do betta fish need filter?
All fish need filters. Plants even need filters, too. We know nature doesn’t have filters in the oceans, lakes, and rivers. Your tank isn’t like nature, though. Everything in your tank needs a little help to thrive and a filter provides that help. That beautiful betta needs a filter to do what happens normally in nature.
What do we mean? Well, here are a few things a filter does that happen in nature:
- The filter moves water around. The water in the ocean, in lakes and ponds, and in rivers and streams is constantly moving. Even betta fish, bred in the slow-moving pools of Asia, need water movement to avoid too much bacteria buildup.
- Filters also help to oxygenate the water in your tank (click here to read on How Long Can Fish Survive Without an Air Pump?) . Oxygen enters the water through the process of gas exchange at the surface of the tank. This is a constant process but it only occurs at the surface. It can be increased by agitating the surface or adding air bubbles into the water. Most filters do both. Since the filter also moves the water in the tank, the level of oxygen is kept equal in different areas of the environment. Even though bettas can breath through their labyrinth, oxygenated water is still better for them.
- Filters provide a home for beneficial bacteria. In nature, beneficial bacteria and moving water keep ammonia and nitrite levels low in the water. A filter moves water, but it also houses bacteria in its sponge, cartridge, or bio filter media. These bacteria eat ammonia and produce nitrite so other bacteria can eat the nitrite and produce less harmful nitrate.
Filters mean less work because you will not need to change the water as often. Clear, moving water with good bio filtration will keep the tank healthy for your fish. This can extend the life span of your betta fish from 2-3 years to as many as 8-10 years.
Tips about filter output rate
One thing most betta owners know is bettas don’t do well with strong currents. These beautiful fish, especially the males, have very large fins that can be easily damaged by a current ripping through the aquarium.
So, how do you know if the current is BAD for the fish?
Playing Hide and Seek
If your betta is constantly hiding out behind a large plant or inside a cave, then this may be a sign it is struggling with the current. Decorations and plants are little safe refuges where the current is decreased. Bettas are natural fighters and usually respond to people. So if your fish friend doesn’t come to greet you – or threaten you! – then they might be struggling to swim.
Avoiding the Current
This is like hiding but is different because the fish is swimming. It just isn’t swimming everywhere. If you notice your fish stays away from a section of the tank where the current is strongest, then this is a good sign your filter may be putting out too much flow for your fish.
Fish should swim about. That seems pretty basic, right? If your fish isn’t swimming much or looks to be fighting to stay in one place, then the flow in your tank might be too high. The same is true if your fish looks to be swimming sideways or at an angle. Imagine you are trying to walk into a very, very strong wind. You would lean forwards. If your fish looks like it is ‘leaning’ into the current, then the flow rate is probably too high.
How do you slow down a betta fish filter?
In case your current filter output rate is too strong for your betta, and you don’t want to buy a new one, here are some quick tips for adapting your filter to your fish.
- Use a pre-filter sponge over the intake part of the filter. This will stop fish (and shrimp) from being trapped or damaged by the intake. It will also slow the water movement down, but only a little.
- Use decorations or a spray bar to disperse the flow of water. For example, the waterfall output from your filter could be directed onto a large decorative rock underwater in your tank. This would spread the flow out and make it easier for your fish. Likewise, a spray bar will spread out the flow over a larger area.
- Make a filter baffle to diffuse the flow. You could use glue to attach a plastic cup or plate near the filter output to disperse the flow. Water flowing onto a sponge would also work very well.
The idea is to find a way to make the water flow spread out. Baffles work very well, but we prefer the decoration method. It is easier to do this in a way that enhances your tank instead of adding more equipment to it.
You may still have some questions. Here are some common betta fish care questions and our best answers.
Can bettas live in a bowl without a filter?
Yes and no.
Yes, bettas can survive in a small bowl for a short period of time.
No, you should not plan on keeping your betta, or any other fish, in a small bowl. Imagine if we put you in a 5-foot by 5-foot square box. Could you live? Yes. Could you thrive? No.
Your fish are the same. Space = health.
How often does a Betta fish tank need to be cleaned?
It could be as often as once a week but should be less. With a good filter, weekly maintenance should be simple. A quick change of 25-33% of the water, a rinse of any filter sponges in the old tank water, and a quick inspection of the tank for algae is probably enough. More intensive cleaning can disturb the fish.
Will betta be hurt by filters?
Not usually. If you have followed our advice on flow rates, then your fish should be fine. With an acceptable flow rate, your fish should not be harmed by the output of your filter. If there is a problem with the intake, then you can add a sponge pre-filter to prevent any damage to the fish.
It’s helpful to remember most bettas are sold after being in a small bowl or tank. They may take a few weeks of living in a larger tank to build up their muscles and strength. The filter shouldn’t harm the fish and could make them stronger.
Does filter noise bother betta fish?
Not exactly, no. Fish hear differently than people. Fish hearing comes from several different organs but is mostly due to their lateral line. It’s better to think of fish sensing pressure rather than hearing sounds. So a loud sound might create a lot of pressure and spook fish. Smaller sounds, such as those from a filter, are unlikely to cause any real harm to fish.
Can I turn my betta filter off at night?
No, you should not turn off your filter. Your filter houses a large colony of helpful bacteria. These bacteria rely on moving water to stay healthy. If you turn off your filter, then the lack of water flow can kill your bacteria.
Betta are beautiful fish. They recognize their owners and have amusing social interactions. They need a little help from you to thrive in a tank. Using the right filter is the best way to help your betta live a long and happy life.