The most basic rule taking care of your fish is that you have to keep the aquarium water clean. That should make enough sense, since the water is what the fish moves in and breathes in. Besides, you want to enjoy the sight of your fish, and not the unsightly view of dirty fish tank water. This is rule that includes just about every fish you might have in your tank, and that includes even betta. If you’re keeping betta in a tank, you better have the best filter for betta in there to be on the safe side.
A filter system runs the water through its filter media to take out debris and toxins in the water. It makes your life easier, and of course it keeps the betta healthy. All these reasons make the use of a fish tank filter imperative for betta.
Now that this issue is settled (at least for the moment), the next decision you have to make is to pick the right filter for the tank. The aquarium industry offers a lot of choices, but not all of them are good ones. To make it easy for yourself, you should just select one from our list of 10 recommended filters for betta fish.
Top 10 Filter for Betta Fish Comparison Chart
|Filter||Tank Size||Flow Rate||Filter Type||Filter Stages|
|Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter||3 to 40 gallons||20 GPH to 170 GPH||Internal||Mechanical, biological, chemical|
|Fluval External Filter 106||Up to 25 gallons||145 gph||External||Mechanical, biological, chemical|
|Tetra Whisper PF10 Power Filter||10 gallons||90 gph||Internal||Mechanical, biological, chemical|
|Xinyou XY-2831 Sponge Filter||10 gallons||Depends on the air pump||Sponge filter||Mechanical, biological|
|Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter, up to 10 Gallons||2-10 gallons||80 gph||External canister filter||Mechanical, biological, chemical|
|AquaClear Power Filter||5 to 20gallons||100 gph||Hang on back||Mechanical, biological, chemical|
|Penn Plax Under Gravel Filter For 5.5 Gallon Aquariums||5.5 gallons||Minimal, depends on air pump||Undergravel||Chemical|
|Lee’s Economy 5.5-Gallon Undergravel Filter||5.5 gallons||Minimal||Undergravel||Chemical|
|The Rio Mini Internal Power Pump||5 gallons||85 gph||Internal||Mechanical, but with options for biological and chemical|
|Jardin Aquarium Corner Filter||2.5 to 5 gallons||Depends on air pump||Corner filter||Mechanical and chemical, with biological option|
- 1 Best Filter for Betta Fish Reviews
- 1.1 Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter (3i)
- 1.2 Fluval External Filter 106
- 1.3 Tetra Whisper PF10
- 1.4 Xinyou XY-2831 Sponge Filter
- 1.5 Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter, up to 10 Gallons
- 1.6 AquaClear Power Filter
- 1.7 Penn Plax Under Gravel Filter For 5.5 Gallon Aquariums
- 1.8 Lee’s 5.5-Gallon Undergravel Filter
- 1.9 The Rio Mini Internal Power Pump
- 1.10 Jardin Aquarium Corner Filter
- 1.11 Does a Betta Fish Really Need a Filter?
- 2 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Betta’s Filter
- 3 Conclusion
Best Filter for Betta Fish Reviews
Since we have to factor in the need for low flow rate, we have the Whisper Internal Power Filter with models that go down to 20 GPH. That’s the flow rate of the smallest filter (the Whisper 3i). The most powerful of these filters is the Whisper 40i with 170 GPH.
With the Whisper 3i, you have a filter that can suit a small betta tank with 2.5 to 5-gallon capacity. This is a submersible filter that’s very quiet, though the most recent model now comes with a clip to hold the filter.
This also offers 3-stage filtration, so you’re really sure to keep the water clean. You start off with the Bio-Bag, which uses 2-sided mesh to catch the betta waste and other types of debris. Then you have the activated carbon for the chemical filtration that absorbs the discoloration and the bad smells. This will help keep the water crystal-clear while it eliminates foul odor.
Finally, you have the Bio-Scrubber providing the biological filtration. This features a terrific design that minimizes the clogging so the biological filtration is optimal while it doesn’t add much to your maintenance duties. The solid back of the Bio-Scrubber forces the water to flow evenly over the bristles where the beneficial bacteria grow.
Read full review of Tetra Whisper Power Filter
The old version of the Fluval 106 only gave you mechanical and biological function, which was a problem. While the 206 upgrades to 3-stage filtration, it’s a more powerful filter with stronger flow rates. Now the new Fluval 106 gives you all the 3 filtration stages, while the flow rate is still just 145 gph. That may still be a bit powerful for a very small tank, but for tanks bigger than 10 gallons you can compensate by using baffles.
The new 106 also has an upgraded motor. This makes the filter more efficient, plus it reduces maintenance. It’s also even quieter than ever, with the sound-dampening impeller reducing the noise by up to 15%. The startup is easier now too, because the priming system has been redesigned.
The overall design of the 106 really hits the spot. Because of the square shape, it holds up to 50% more water than similarly-sized round canisters. You have multiple media baskets, and they’re removable for easier media replacement. The design of the cleansing path also ensures that the water spends as much time as possible in contact with the filter media.
Even the setup isn’t all that hard. The special Aqua-Stop valves allow for easy hose connections and disconnections. The durable lift-lock clamps can close the filter securely, but you only need a single motion to access the filter. You even have hose lock nuts for extra security.
All in all, the efficiency of the filter is not in question. The only issue is that try to reduce the resulting water current to make sure you don’t overly stress. This is best for larger tanks, so you may want to go beyond 10 gallons for your aquarium even if you have betta fish to raise.
Read full review of Fluval External Filter 106
The Tetra Whisper Power Filter line has models that can accommodate 60-gallon tanks, as the flow rate can reach up to 330 gph. However, for your betta tank you’re most likely better off with the smallest Whisper PF10, which only goes up to 90gph. Some people have even found this to work in a 5-gallon tank though baffles will have to be used. You want to use some baffles to be on the safe side, but with some work this can really clean the water.
This cleaning capacity is due to the use of the medium Whisper Bio-Bag cartridge. The cartridge removes particles floating in your tank water, and it also adds chemical filtration with activated carbon. The carbon takes out any discoloration in the water, and it also eliminates bad smells from the water. The biological filtration stage is also present with the Bio-Foam. This has the beneficial bacteria that can deal with the ammonia in the tank.
This is very quiet, which shouldn’t be surprising in a product that carries the “Whisper” brand. It just emits this almost unnoticeable hum, unless you rally place your ears right next to the side of the filter. This should work for fish tanks in the bedroom, so that you can relax in the presence of your soothing aquarium and your nice betta.
This is quite durable as well, and according to Tetra records and customer feedback these filter systems can last an average of 5 years. Most of the time, any problems that cause it to stop running can be solved by a thorough cleaning of the motor and impeller. If that doesn’t work, there’s still the 2-year warranty.
Read full review of Tetra Whisper PF10 Power Filter
Let’s take a time out from all these powerful filters with strong water flows. Some betta fish just want a nice placid tank of water. Since we’re all agreed that going commando with no filter isn’t optimal, what can you do? One option is to just go with the sponge filter and the Xinyou XY-2831 in particular.
With this sponge filter, you get the mechanical and biological filtration you need for a 10-gallon tank. The sponge traps larger waste particles, and it doesn’t trap smaller fish like your betta. In addition, the sponge acts as a host for the beneficial bacteria that deals with the ammonia in the water.
You can use a small air stone for this so that you can have a suction system that won’t cause your betta any stress at all. You won’t have to use a pressurized pump and as a result you and your betta can enjoy the gentler water flow.
This is actually very cheap, and it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It often works as a secondary filter working in conjunction with other filters. It’s extremely effective, and quiet too.
Of course, there’s no chemical filtration but then quite a few people think betta don’t need this all that much in the first place. In fact, more people complain about the look of the Xinyou XY-2831. It’s not exactly pretty. You can put it behind some decorative items out in the back of the tank so you can keep it out of sight.
This is rated for up to 10 gallons, but it certainly can be used for smaller tanks. The flow rate is certainly gentler at just 80 gph, though the use of baffles won’t hurt either. It does help that your purchase also comes with a spray bar, so that the water flow output rate can be reduced even further to minimize the stress for your betta.
This comes with the mechanical filter sponge that traps particles, along with the bio ceramic media that hosts your beneficial bacteria. You can rinse both the sponge and the ceramic media once a month. This also uses activated carbon to deal with discoloration and bad smells in the water, and you can replace this once a month as well.
As you can tell, there’s not maintenance required with this filter. The flow rate is also perfect for betta fish, and you can even adjust the water flow. It even features calibrated anti-vibration bushings to really minimize the vibrations that can irritate sensitive betta.
As this is an external filter, you can just hide it out back so it doesn’t mar your view. Filter head is also easy to open so cleaning and replacing the filter media won’t be any trouble at all. Get a 10-gallon tank for your betta and then get this filter, and you pretty much have the ideal setup.
Read full review of Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter
For betta, this means you need to get the AquaClear 20 Power Filter. This works for up to 20-gallon tanks, with an output of 100 gph. This flow rate can be a bit too much for smaller tanks, but if you ever decide to get a bigger tank for your betta, you better get this power filter too.
This is an extremely efficient system, with a filtration volume that’s up to 7 times bigger than what you get with similar filters. The filter media design leads to lots of contact time between the media and the water. Here you get the AquaClear Foam for your mechanical filtration, the activated carbon for chemical filtration, and the BioMax for the beneficial bacteria that consume the ammonia in the water.
In addition, this also features the special waterfall design so that the filtered water returns to the tank without creating a lot of water movement that will bother your betta. This is also rather quiet, so that makes it easier to place in the bedroom. The waterfall also oxygenates the water as well.
You can control the flow rate with this filter, so you can set it to its lowest setting for your betta. This uses a media basket that lets you install and replace new media with no hassle. In fact, you can even customize the media you use as AquaClear offers a wide range of media options. You can put in the Ammonia Remover and the Zeo-Carb, which are designed exclusively for the AquaClear 20.
All in all, the only potential issue here is the 100 gph flow rate. You should go with a bigger tank with this filter, and baffles can really help. At least you have the waterfall design that minimizes the water current. This will make sure your betta will enjoy clean water, and it makes your job a lot easier than you might think.
Read full review of Aquaclear Power Filter
When you have a single betta inside a 5-gallon tank, all you really need is this filter plus an air pump and you’re done. You don’t really need a lot of filtration anyway when you have a single betta, so the filter cartridges you have here can offer chemical filtration that can certainly deal with the mess a lone betta can create. As this is an undergravel filter, it won’t mar the overall aesthetics of the tank.
What you can be sure of is that you can really minimize the water flow with this setup. You can get any air pump you want to use with this filter. This also comes with high pore air stones to provide the steady air flow to power your filter.
For betta, just use this instead of trying to do without a filter. You can just get a plant (such as the Anacharis Egeria Elodea Densa) to help oxygenate the water, though the filter also helps with that. With the activated charcoal in the filter cartridge, the messes can be dealt with easily enough so you won’t have to change the filter too frequently.
This is the best filter you can get if you’d rather not spend any money at all for a filter. This is quite affordable, as it only offers chemical filtration. But it’s easy to use, and it certainly won’t bother your betta.
You can also use this if you’re already using only mechanical and biological filtration such as the Xinyou XY-2831. Use that sponge filter with this undergravel chemical filter, and you can even cover all 3 stages of tank filtration.
Here’s another undergravel filter that offers chemical filtration. You don’t really need much when you have a single betta. But you can also use this to supplement another filter, especially with a system that only features mechanical and biological filtration. With the addition of this undergravel filter, you get all 3 stages.
The design of this UGF is quite nice, as it can offer better water circulation with more open space on the filter plate. It’s made of semi-flexible plastic that’s also break-resistant, so it should last a while. Your purchase does give you an Original Carbon Cartridge that can last 3 to 4 weeks. You also get a Slim Discard-A-Stone for aeration.
This distributes the water intake through the whole base of your tank, and this reduces the water flow that can stress out the betta. It’s true that undergravel filters can result in powerful outflow, but the design of this UGF neatly sidesteps the problem. The water siphons put out the water up at the surface of the tank to really minimize the water movement below.
All in all, you get clean water for your betta, and at the same time you virtually don’t make any sort of water movement that can stress out your betta. It’s the perfect balance for some folks, especially if you’re contemplating doing without a filter instead to ensure minimal water movement.
As is, this only comes with sponges for mechanical filtration. But this has 2 sponge compartments that you can actually customize with different media. All you really need to get is some nylon media bags and you can use different media. This means you can instead use activated charcoal for one of the compartments, or you can put in Nitra-Zorb ion-exchange resins. Both options can reduce the ammonia, and the Nitra-Zorb can also reduce the nitrates.
This is an internal filter, but it doesn’t take up much space. It only measures 1.8 x 1.2 x 5.5 inches (hence the “Mini” in the name). It can filter 69 gallons an hour, which makes for very gentle water movement that should appease your sensitive betta. It’s easy to install and energy-efficient, and it sure doesn’t make a lot of noise.
This is the type of filter you get when you’re worried about water movement and noise from the filter. This offers adequate filtration without subjecting the betta to powerful currents. In fact, it also comes with adapters that let you direct the output flow. This means you can direct the water output towards a lonely corner of the tank so it won’t bother your betta swimming languidly in the very center of the aquarium.
What if you don’t have enough space inside your tank and you also don’t have enough money for a filter? Then you get this filter, along with an air pump and an air hose. You don’t spend a lot of money on your filter, you get a tiny filter, and you also won’t cause a strong current in the water.
Yes, this is cheap and maybe because it’s small. What’s really nice is that it’s designed to fit into a corner of the tank so it can fit in well. This filter only measure 3.2 x 2.4 x 3 inches, and it has a right-angle corner design.
Yet this intriguing cake-like design has 2 layers of filtration. One uses the cotton sediment pad to trap particulates fecal matter. Then you also have activated charcoal that deals with the ammonia along with the bad smells and discolorations in the water. This also aerates the water, so you can be sure your betta has oxygen.
It’s a simple filter for a small tank, and for betta what else do you need? You need minimal water movement and low noise and you can get that with the right air pump. It’s very gentle and quiet. Some people have even managed to put in biological ceramic media for beneficial bacteria.
Does a Betta Fish Really Need a Filter?
This is actually a matter of contention among hobbyists. The more experienced aquarium owners tend to go with the “gotta have a filter for betta” side, although quite a few newbies (and the retailers who sell to them) contend that a filter isn’t absolutely necessary for the betta to survive.
In a very narrow sense, it’s actually true that a filter is not absolutely necessary for your betta to survive. But the point of having betta in your fish tank isn’t about their mere survival. As a responsible keeper, you want your betta to thrive in the very best environment you can provide for them. To do that will require the filter for the betta.
Without the filter, you will need to use distilled water for the betta tank. Then you have to keep the water clean, which in this case means changing out all the water in the tank each week. You’ll have to clean the tank then as well.
The frequent maintenance will undoubtedly disrupt your betta and cause them stress. In fact, you’ll feel the stress too, since you’re the one doing all that water changing and cleaning each week.
Don’t forget the fact that many newbies tend to buy bettas in tiny bowls. Such a small amount of space means that the water will get dirty even much more quickly.
But with the filter, you won’t have to expend all that effort in changing the water and cleaning the tank thoroughly. Instead, you can change only about a third of the water each week, while you just vacuum the gravel. The reduction in your maintenance requirements should reduce your own stress. You’re also more likely to adhere to your fish tank maintenance requirements, which should be even better for your betta.
Basically, having a filter makes your life easier, while it also makes the life of your betta much better. In other words, just get that filter for the betta!
Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Betta’s Filter
Now that you’re up to choosing the filter for your betta, how exactly do you determine the best one for your need? Here are the considerations you need to keep in mind:
Low Flow Power
Due to their size, betta fish don’t really do well in very strong currents. This is another fact that the “no filters needed for betta” faction tend to cite, because having no filter means no movement for the water.
That’s why the high-powered filters with high GPM ratings aren’t normally considered the very best options for betta. It’s best if you have the option to adjust the flow rate on your tank filter, though in some filters the lowest flow rate can still be too strong for your betta.
Of course, there are ways for you to reduce the strength of the current in your fish tank. But with the best filters, you won’t have to unless there’s no other choice.
Size of the Betta Tank
In general, the rule is that you want the filter to be able to cycle through all the water in the aquarium about 4 times an hour. At that rate, you can keep the water clean despite the constant mess produced by your fish. Keep in mind that the ammonia that eventually results from fish fecal matter is highly toxic to the fish (including your betta).
This will mean that you have to maintain a proper balance between the needed flow rate for the filter and the need of the betta for low water flow. In an ideal world, your filter will be able to cycle through the water at a rate that can keep up with the mess production, while it doesn’t stress out the betta with a very high flow rate.
Filter Media Options
Your tank filtration system should include mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. You’ll want all 3 media options to cover all your bases, but some filters for betta only contains 2 of these stages.
Mechanical filter stages take out floating debris and particles. You may have several layers of mechanical filters to takeout the bigger particles first before the fine filter takes out the smaller particles.
The biological layer uses beneficial bacteria that converts the ammonia into something a lot less toxic for the fish. Usually, this layer provides space in which the beneficial bacteria can thrive.
Finally, the chemical filtration layer removes chemical impurities in the tank. Usually, this involves the use of activated carbon. You need this stage especially if you have aquarium decorations like driftwood which may leach impurities into your tank water.
Ease of Maintenance
The more filter media you have, the more stuff you need to monitor. Each of these media will have a particular lifespan, and you’ll need to keep changing them regularly.
It’s best if you have a filter system that uses cartridges, so it’s much easier for you to remove old filter media and replace them with new ones. You can then just take out the part of the filter that needs replacing, instead of having to remove or even disassemble the entire filter system.
It’s important that you also read a lot of the customer reviews for the betta filters you’re considering, and not just settle with our assessments. That’s because customer reviews can give you a more accurate idea of how likely parts of the filter will break down or prove defective. A filter with terrific specs on paper isn’t really worth much if it breaks down constantly.
Silent or Noisy?
An aquarium can be soothing, but a noisy filter can really destroy the relaxing mood you’re trying to get into. So it’s better for you if you go with a quieter filter. Besides, lots of betta fish don’t really appreciate the noise especially when it causes vibrations in the water. The betta can dart around as if they’re agitated until the noise goes away.
Looks are important, even though function is certainly more crucial than form. But when everything else is equal, you may as well go with the better-looking filter (or the filter that best suits the overall look of your tank). The sight of the betta in the tank is supposed to soothe you, and it’s more relaxing when your filter doesn’t mar the overall look of the aquarium.
More Tips Regarding Your Betta Fish Tank
- If you have an adjustable flow rate for your filter, try out the lower flow rate first. See if that flow rate can keep the water clean so you can keep the water current to a minimum.
- Another great filter option to reduce the water flow is to get one with a spray bar. This will spread the water out over the small holes so you get a gentler flow rate.
- Limiting the water intake of the filter can also work to reduce the strength of the current. One common way to do this is to cut a pair of panty hose over the filter intake. This should slow down the rate of the water entering the filter.
- You can also use a baffle. This is anything that blocks and slows down the water from the filter water outlet. This may even be a better option than lowering the water intake, since you let the filter go through a lot of the water while you minimize the resulting current. Baffles you can use include mesh tank screens over the water outlet. You can also use cheap kitchen sponge holders that you can attach to the side of the aquarium with suction cups.
- If the water current in the tank is still too strong, you’ll want to create safe havens for your betta where the current won’t flow as strongly. You can create these areas with strategically placed decorative plants and logs along with other decorative items.
- If you have half-moon betta with very long fins, you better make sure you keep the water movement to an absolute minimum. That’s because these fins are very fragile and even mild currents can tear these fins.
- Live plants are great for betta tanks. They provide food, filtration, and oxygen for your betta, plus they offer a safe haven from strong currents.
- You shouldn’t have a tank smaller than 2.5 gallons for betta fish. That’s because the water in really small tanks can foul up much more quickly.
- Try to monitor your betta frequently to make sure they’re not having a bad time with your current tank filter.
- If you’re using an undergravel filter, the debris in the gravel can gather and quickly foul up the water. So when you’re using this type of filter, you’ll need to clean the gravel more frequently.
- If you have a fish tank smaller than 10 gallons, change about ¼ to ½ of the water every week. Clean the tank every month.
- Larger tanks only require the changing of 10 to 15 of the water each week. You won’t need a major tank cleaning each month either. Once every 2 months should be fine.
Regardless of the debate about the absolute need for a betta tank water filter, the fact remains that you want to be sure that your water for the betta remains clean. This is an imperative, and to be sure of this you need a filter. So just go get it.
As you can see from our list of recommended betta tank water filters, you have plenty of options regarding flow rates and quite operations. Some of these options are also quite affordable. So there is really no good reason not to have a filter for your betta. You can get filtration effectiveness and minimal water movement that won’t stress out your betta. In fact, with the right betta tank filter you won’t get too stressed either!
Rod Hanks is a 32 year blogger from the United States, helping readers find the best quality products and services. He holds a masters degree on Finance from University of Minnesota. When he is not working, Rod plays football, goes to the gym and plays video games Read more about him.