Whether or not betta fish need a filter depends on several factors: size of the aquarium, presence of other fish, and regular maintenance. The answer is not clear-cut because betta splendens can thrive with or without a filter – always provided that they are given the right care.
The problems stem from bad advice from salespeople or caring people, but they themselves are uninformed. Many people believe that a ball or a small aquarium requires less maintenance. This is wrong, and it is for this reason that very small aquariums, too small even to use a filter are not recommended for beginners in aquariums. Let us have a look at the best betta fish tank.
Find our complete guide to betta splendens here to learn all about their ideal living conditions, to keep them healthy for a long time.
An aquarium of less than 10 liters can only take away from you, and in particular deprive you of the possibility of putting a filter. Before making your decision on filtration, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each solution.
Why is it often believed that combatants do not need a filter?
In its natural state, the combatant lives in rice fields and shallow water bodies. During droughts, a wild betta splendens can even end up in a cloudy puddle for a while with very little oxygen. Fighters are able to survive in these conditions thanks to their ability to absorb oxygen from the air (on the surface of the water) instead of depending solely on their gills.
Because of their tolerance level in low oxygenated water, fighters are frequently recommended for beginners, and there are many misconceptions. We often hear that fighters prefer small habitats and that they can live in a ball. These claims are false and can make the fish sick and seriously reduce their life expectancy.
The filter is not compulsory but maintenance is much more difficult without!
A badly chosen filter can do more harm than good if its flow is too powerful. A filter can easily cause too much current in small aquariums, which can mistreat fighting fish. Indeed, the fighters sold in pet stores were selected to have large fins, which is aesthetic but very impractical for swimming. Too much current can tire them and make them die of exhaustion.
However, water quality decreases rapidly in low-volume unfiltered aquariums. Uneaten food and feces cause ammonia, nitrate and nitrites to form, which build up much faster when there is no filter.
Caring for a filterless fighting fish may seem simple, but it actually takes a lot more work because the water changes have to be more regular. Unfiltered aquariums require 3 water changes of around 20% each week to stay perfectly clean. In addition, it is necessary to change most of the water at least once a month.
You should also use tests to analyze water parameters in real time. In addition to the water changes, it is necessary to regularly clean the waste that is deposited on the bottom of the aquarium. For this, use a suction bell specific to the aquarium hobby, which will simplify your task.
To remember for a fighter aquarium without filter:
- Make three water changes per week, 20% of the total volume each time.
- Take the opportunity to clean the floor with a suction bell
- Use nitrite tests to make sure the water is clean
- Change half of the water once a month
After reading the section below, you will quickly understand why filtered aquariums can be more beneficial to fighting fish and easier to maintain.
The fighter in a filtered aquarium
There are many filters you can buy if your aquarium doesn’t have an original one. The possibilities are vast: internal filter, suspended filter, external filter. Find here our complete guide to the different types of filters for aquariums. The most important feature for bettas is the filter flow, having an adjustable flow is crucial. Your betta should be able to swim freely without difficulty.
If your aquarium does not have a suitable filter, you can buy one separately. In this case, choose a filter with a lower flow than what is usually recommended , the fighters need calm water.
Benefits of filtered aquariums for fighters
- Waste reduction – elimination of excess food, excrement, ammonia and bad bacteria.
- Better oxygenation – filters help oxygenate water.
- Good bacteria – beneficial microorganisms accumulate in the filter media.
- Simplification of maintenance – reduction of maintenance and the water cycle.
Filtered aquariums are more suitable for fighters because the water parameters are more stable. A filter helps maintain beneficial bacteria while cleaning and neutralizing ammonia and nitrites. Establishing a natural ecosystem is crucial for long-term fish health and limits the risk of stress and illness.
Filtered aquariums require less maintenance, which will make your life easier. If you forget to make water changes in an unfiltered aquarium, things can deteriorate quickly. In a filtered aquarium, a water change of 25 to 30% once a week and cleaning the floor is all that is needed. Always be sure to clean your filter in aquarium water and not tap water to preserve beneficial bacteria
Is your filter too powerful?
If your fighter has trouble climbing to the surface to breathe and is swimming frantically in the current, your filter is probably too strong. It is therefore important to reduce the flow rate if the filter allows it, or to replace it with a less powerful filter.
Too strong a current can severely stress your fighting fish and lead to fin damage, injury and even death. Exhausted, a fighter can be sucked by the suction tube of the filter.
The first thing to try is to limit the flow rate of your filter if it is adjustable (try the lowest setting). You can also reduce the current bypass by increasing the number of plants and decorations near the filter, or by directing the water jet towards a wall.
Another quick fix that will also protect your betta fish is to place some filter foam in front of the suction. This will limit the suction of the filter and protect your betta. Some filters are supplied with specific foams to be placed around the suction for this purpose. If none of these methods work, consider replacing the filter with a less powerful model.