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Filter or no Filter?

The topic of whether or not filters are necessary for keeping bettas has been highly debated in the fish-keeping world.Some say that filters are necessary because if their other fish need filters, then bettas should get one too.To them, not providing bettas with filters is just being lazy and not giving them the best possible care.Others believe that filters are unnecessary and even cruel to bettas because its putting the bettas in an environment that they are not accustomed to.Many bettas, especially the long-tailed varieties go through a lot of stress swimming in the current because their fins act as a sail and are pushed to wherever the current takes them. Betta owners want their bettas to feel at home by making sure there is little or no current in the aquarium, just like the bettas natural habitat in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

When to use and not use a filter

  • There are other fish/aquatic animals housed with the bettas
    A filter is definitely needed here because the more fish, the more waste, which ultimately leads to more ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.Additionally, most fish dont have the ability to live in low oxygen waters such as the betta so the water agitation caused by the filter is necessary.

  • More than to of the aquarium volume is filled with live plants
    In this situation, the live plants not only act as a natural filter, but provide a hiding place for bettas and imitate the bettas natural habitat.However, this only worksif you tank only houses 1 betta, or else more plants would be needed.

  • Tank size of 2.5 gallons or less
    A filter is not recommended because most filters rated for these sized tanks are too strong for bettas. However, there are filters that work for 2.5 gallons such as the Red Sea Deco Art Nano Filter. It is recommended to do bi-weekly waterchanges of 25%.

  • Tank size of over 2.5 gallons
    For these tank sizes, a filter is recommended because there is more room for bettas to escape the current and it allows the owners to do water changes once a week instead of twice a week. However, its important to find a filter rated one level down for the specific size tank so the current isnt too strong.

  • Willing to keep up with weekly or bi-weekly water changes
    If you, as a responsible betta owner, solemnly swear to regularly do waterchanges (twice per week for 2.5 gallons or less and once per week for tanks over 2.5 gallons), then a filter is not necessary.However, if you miss one waterchange, it may be the end for you betta.Larger tanks are more lenient for missed water changes because it takes longer for the chemicals to build up to toxic levels. Smaller tanks are not so kind though.


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