It may seem like a daunting task, but picking out the best betta tank doesn’t have to be a tough decision. Betta fish are a great option for beginners but do have a few specific needs. It’s best to become familiar with their requirements before you settle on your ideal betta tank.
For instance, did you know that bettas can jump several inches out of their water?
To avoid the potential for death-by-dehydration or other problems, I’ve put together this primer on betta habitats. You’ll learn which features to prioritize and how to choose the perfect betta tank for your needs.
Table of Contents
Quick Comparisons of the 5 Best Betta Tanks
|Fluval 5-Gallon Freshwater Aquarium||View Product|
|Aqueon NeoGlow Aquarium Kit||View Product|
|Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit||View Product|
|Marineland Portrait Aquarium Kit||View Product|
|BiOrb Flow Aquarium||View Product|
Buyer’s Guide to Betta Fish Tanks
Next to choosing your pet fish, the most exciting part of starting an aquarium is shopping for your tank. Aquariums come in a dizzying array of designs, and it’s easy to get distracted by a unique or cool betta tank set-up, even when it’s not the best style for your fish.
There are really two aspects to choosing a tank for bettas:
- Understanding the basics of betta behavior, and how it influences their environmental preferences and needs
- How your aquarium set-up specifically impacts the health and happiness of your pet
To avoid wasting your money or investing in the wrong equipment, here are the factors you should consider before shopping for your tank!
How Betta Behavior Influences Habitat Requirements
Bettas (Betta splendens) are a colorful and curious tropical fish originally native to Southeast Asia. Their wild ancestors still live in rivers, rice paddies and irrigation ditches throughout the region, where they feed on insect eggs and larvae.
Bettas are Also Known as Siamese Fighting Fish
Their nickname may tip you off to one of the biggest challenges of keeping these flashy fellows, and that’s the fact that they don’t much care for other fish.
- Male bettas are downright aggressive and will fight on sight. They will even exhaust themselves trying to fight their own reflection or a male in a near-by tank.
- The females are a bit more laid back, and are sometimes willing to co-habit if their tank is spacious enough. But they often squabble or pick on each other.
- Both male and female bettas may be housed with a few other similar-sized fish, as long as their tank mates don’t have long, flowing fins and are peaceful in temperament. Your betta may nip at fish with fancier fins.
- You have to keep an eye on the situation if you get your betta a companion, and it’s best to have a spare tank handy in case they don’t get along.
Divided tank designs, also called double betta fish tanks, aim to solve this problem by partitioning a tank into separate sections. Sometimes the barrier is removable, and in other cases it’s fixed in place.
This style may work for keeping multiple bettas in the same tank safely, depending on the capacity of each section. The tricky part about them is that male fish will still try to fight if they can see each other through the divider. Pick a tank with a solid barrier if you want to keep multiple male bettas.
Bettas Don’t like Dirty, Stagnant Water
Bettas are a type of labyrinth fish and have an organ that allows them to breathe oxygen directly from the surface of the water. The myth put out by shady pet stores is bettas can survive in mud puddles, so it’s fine to maintain them indefinitely in a little bowl of water in your home.
The thing is, there’s a reason bettas have inherited the remarkable ability to jump several inches out of the water; it’s to rescue themselves from muddy puddles and into cleaner, more spacious accommodations!
Bettas are sensitive to their water conditions. While they don’t require a high level of oxygen in their water, and don’t like swimming in strong currents, they do prefer very clean water.
They also enjoy breathing air at times and like to hang out on the surface of their tanks. You’ll want to be sure your aquarium’s design leaves them room to do this.
Bettas are Tropical Fish
There’s another factor to consider, in terms of your betta’s water preferences.
It’s not surprising that fish native to the Mekong Delta prefer warm rather than cool water. But bettas don’t just prefer warm water, they become stressed and often sick if their water temperature drops too low.
I’d say the number one mistake new betta owners make is keeping their betta in a tank that’s too cold.
Unless your home maintains a constant 80°F, chances are you’ll need a supplementary source of heat to keep your fish comfortable and healthy.
Bettas are Carnivorous and Need a High Protein Diet
Another common mistake new betta owners often make when selecting an aquarium is picking a style designed for a species that primarily eats algae. These so-called “self-sustaining” tanks are a lot of fun and a great option for teaching kids the principles of ecology.
The idea is to create a miniature ecosystem inside the tank with the right mix of plants and animals. Plants recycle waste products from the animals and use the energy to grow. In return, the animals eat the plant material. In theory, these tanks are low-maintenance and you don’t have to clean or add food to them.
But they are not the ideal habitat for bettas. Your betta needs to eat a high protein diet, so algae or plant roots just doesn’t cut it. You’ll need to supplement them with a proper betta diet if you want them to thrive, and this might throw off the balance of your self-sustaining tank.
Quick Look at Betta Tank Preferences and Requirements:
|Average Adult Size (total length)||3 to 5.5 inches|
|Minimum Tank Size||5 to 10 gallons preferred|
|Required Temperature Range||Tropical; 75-86°F|
|Preferred Filtration/Flow Rate||Well-filtered water with a low flow rate|
|Compatibility with Tank Mates||Both genders are best kept in their own tank |
May be housed with a few small-finned, similar-sized fish such as gouramis
Males should not be housed together, or where they can see another male
Females may be housed together but often squabble
|Other Considerations||Bettas are champion jumpers and frequently leap out of their tanks. Any tank housing bettas should be covered with a lid or aquarium hood.|
Considerations When Choosing Your Ideal Betta Tank
Picking out an awesome betta tank isn’t hard once you’ve mastered the basics of betta behavior!
There’s two ways to go about buying a new betta set-up:
- You can buy a kit that includes your tank and basic equipment such as a hood and filter.
- If you’re not sure what to put in your betta tank, this could be the easiest way to go and is usually very cost-effective.
- The downside is that your starter kit may not come with everything your betta needs. You might have to shell out more money for the missing items.
- Alternatively, you can buy an empty aquarium and fill it with the equipment and decorations you already have or buy the specific products you prefer.
Let’s put your newfound knowledge to work and take a look at aquariums and equipment for bettas. See our post on other fish tank ideas for betta here.
Tank Size and Capacity
Aquarists typically talk about the size of their tanks in terms of their capacity, or how much water they can hold. This is actually a bit of a misnomer, because it only applies to a completely empty aquarium.
Everything you add to your aquarium, from decorations to the fish themselves, subtract from its overall capacity.
For instance, once you add substrate to your tank it will hold less water.
- A 10-gallon tank with a graveled bottom only holds about 9 gallons of water.
- Add your equipment and decorations and you may be down to a capacity of 7 or 8 gallons of water.
When selecting a tank size for your betta fish, you’ll have to take this water displacement into account. Bettas need room to swim and explore, or they get stressed.
While you can keep your betta in a small, well-maintained 2.5-gallon tank, it’s not ideal. Once you add the basic equipment your fish might only have a gallon of water to swim in. A larger-capacity 5 or 10-gallon tank is usually a better pick.
My personal rule-of-thumb is to allow for a minimum of 5 gallons per betta for a basic set-up with a minimal amount of decorations. For highly decorated or live-plant tanks I go with one betta for every 10-gallons of capacity.
If you happen to come across a unique betta tank with a non-standard design, you can easily calculate it’s capacity on your own. Then you’ll know if the tank is roomy enough for your fish.
The size and capacity of your tank will also influence how often you have to do water changes. It’s easier to maintain a large betta tank over a smaller one. I recommend getting your betta the biggest tank that will fit in your home and budget.
Tank Construction Material
Aquariums are usually constructed from either glass or a durable plastic such as acrylic.
Glass aquariums are strong, resistant to scratching and don’t turn cloudy or yellow with age. You can rehab a 30-year-old glass aquarium to like-new condition with a bit of effort.
Glass tanks have a few disadvantages, though. They’ll crack or break if something hard lands on them. They’re also heavy and add to the total weight of your aquarium. A glass tank typically weighs about one pound for every gallon of capacity, before you add anything to it.
When stocked with equipment and fish, a 10-gallon glass tank may weigh more than 100 pounds! If you’re planning to keep your fish on a table or shelf, make sure it can handle the full weight of your stocked betta tank.
Plastic or acrylic tanks make a good option for smaller betta habitats. They are lighter and most only weigh a few ounces for every gallon of capacity. But plastic tanks are easily scratched, tend to yellow or become cloudy over time and don’t last as long as a glass aquarium.
It may also be a little harder to find equipment that works with a non-standard or customized plastic betta set-up. That’s not a problem if you go with a standard 5 or 10-gallon glass tank.
Style of Tank and Ease of Maintenance
Aquariums come in a wide variety of dimensions, and may be rectangular, square or even round. What style of tank do bettas prefer?
Bettas like having space to swim, and also enjoy feeding and breathing air at the top of their tanks. They prefer tanks oriented horizontally, rather than tall or vertical betta tanks.
If you keep your betta in a tall or narrow tank, they might become stressed and unhappy. Give them room to swim and they’ll be a lot more comfortable.
There are some fantastic and beautiful betta tanks out there, but some styles aren’t very practical. If your tank’s style makes it hard to feed your fish or clean the tank you’ll likely end up frustrated. You definitely want to consider how easy a particular design will be to maintain before you buy it.
Additional Equipment for Betta Tanks
Starter tank kits often come with a selection of generic equipment for beginning fish keepers. Unless your kit is designed specifically for betta fish, however, chances are it’ll be missing something your betta needs.
Equipment typically found in starter aquarium kits includes:
Any betta habitat you purchase should come with an appropriate-sized heater. Having a stable and consistent temperature in your tank will keep your betta healthy and showing off their brightest colors.
If your starter tank doesn’t come with a heater you’ll have to find one off-the-shelf that will fit. Some aquarium designs don’t leave room for a heater, so be sure you can find one for the tank you go with.
Filtration systems are a nice bonus in a betta tank, as long as you can adjust the flow rate. Bettas don’t like a lot of water current. A male betta won’t be able to build a bubble nest if your filter outflow causes a lot of disturbance at the surface of the water.
Filters remove debris from your tank and may help keep the water clean, if they come with replaceable carbon cartridges or substrate. Some filters also allow for the proliferation of healthy bacterial colonies on a “bio-wheel” or similar device.
Bettas prefer very clean water, but you can get by without a filter so long as you do frequent water changes. But if you have the option, I’d pick a tank with a filtration system over one without.
I’ve mentioned how talented betta’s are when it comes to leaping out of their water.
This is a definite hazard when you have these fish as pets, and one reason uncovered fish bowls and flower vases are not my choice for housing bettas.
If your tank doesn’t come with a lid or hood you’ll have to get one before you introduce your fish to their new home. Even a small 1-inch gap could be enough for your betta to slip through.
If you go with a starter kit that includes a hood, chances are it will also include a light. LED betta tanks are a great option if your room is often in shadows, and help show off your aquarium when it’s dark outside.
An additional advantage to a LED light over standard fluorescent aquarium light is they don’t get as hot and are more energy efficient. Some hoods also include a blacklight or “moon light” to highlight your tank at night when the regular lights are off.
Substrate, Decorations and Extras
Aquarium starter kits may also include some substrate or gravel for the bottom of your tank and a plastic plant for decoration.
These supplies are easily purchased separately, and you can always opt to buy your own instead of using the ones in your kit.
Using Bottles, Fish Bowls or Vases for Bettas
Back in the 1990s, it was very popular to keep bettas in small individual betta habitats. These bowls, cubes and vases were so attractive and stylish! They seemed like the way to go for a modern betta tank.
Like many novices, I was seduced by a pair of cute hexagonal cubes which fit together on my bookshelf. They were inexpensive too, which my budget-minded teenage self really appreciated.
My two male bettas, Bert and Ernie, were much less impressed. Within a few days they lost appetite and looked dull in color. It didn’t help that I unknowingly placed them where they could see and compete against each other. No wonder they were exhausted!
By the end of the first week they were clearly unhappy. So I shelled out for two 10-gallon tanks and turned my desk into a fish tank stand. My cheap betta tanks ended up costing me a whole lot of money by the time I fixed my mistake.
No matter how cute or stylish, I don’t recommend using tanks under 1-gallon. Fish bowls and flower vases are simply not suitable for bettas. They don’t have enough room for a single fish, let alone a heater and decorations.
How to Choose a Betta Tank
Now you should have all the information you need to pick the ideal betta fish habitat for any situation!
To sum up, when choosing the perfect betta tank:
- Get the biggest tank that will fit in the location you’ve picked out, with regards to the size and weight of the tank.
- Aim for a maximum of one fish for every 5 gallons of capacity, though 10 is even better. If you want a tank mate for your betta you’ll need at least a 10-gallon set-up.
- If you get an aquarium starter kit, be sure it comes with a heater or has a heater available for purchase.
- Always get a set-up with a lid or aquarium hood to keep your betta from jumping to their death.
- Filtration systems are useful for keeping bettas, but not essential, as long as you’re willing to do frequent water changes.
Avoid tanks that:
- Have features that make them difficult to maintain, such as awkward corners you can’t reach or hoods that restrict your feeding and cleaning routines
- Are tall, narrow or too cramped to allow for an aquarium heater
- Are uncovered or don’t have a hood/lid you can buy to prevent your fish from jumping out
- Provide less than 5-gallon of water capacity for a single betta fish
Top 5 Betta Tanks From Small to Large Reviews
I’ve searched the internet to find the top options for housing bettas. I’ve based my reviews primarily on how these tanks and starter kits meet the needs of betta fish. But I also looked for products that are user-friendly and provide a good value for your money as well.
These seven set-ups each have something special or unique to offer to the right household. If you’re still not sure what kind of set-up you want for your betta, consider these tanks:
1. Fluval 5-Gallon Freshwater Aquarium
- Glass 5-gallon tank
- 20.5 x 7.5 x 11.6 inches
- Built-in 3-stage adjustable low-flow filter with replaceable media
- Bright LED day light with night time dimmer mode
Fluval has long been a by-word for quality in the aquarium trade, and this modern betta tank is no exception. I really like the set-up and features of this tank, even though it’s a little tricky to clean and requires a narrow aquarium siphon.
The 5-gallon glass aquarium comes with an adjustable 3-stage filter that sits in a dedicated side compartment. It also has a small but powerful LED overhead light with a dimmer night light, and a clear cover for the top of the tank.
The Fluval is a great option if:
- You’re trying to fit your aquarium into a narrow space like a counter or side table
- You want to keep a single betta and live plants
- You prefer the appearance a narrower aquarium over a standard shape
- Perfect size for a single betta and will fit on a kitchen counter or small table/shelf
- Filter medium is replaceable, and includes a “bio active” media to maintain healthy bacterial populations
- Light makes it ideal for growing live plants along with your betta
- Filter creates a powerful current, even with the low-flow setting. You may have to add a Fluval-Brand sponge filter to get it down to your betta’s prefered flow rate
- Set-up does not include a heater, and it can be tricky to fit one in this tank. You may have to drill a hole in the lid for the heater cord to pass through
- Typically more expensive than other options, especially since you still need a heater, substrate and decorations
2. Aqueon NeoGlow Aquarium Kit
- Glass 10-gallon tank (standard size)
- 20.2 x 10.5 x 13 inches
- Complete set-up comes with heater, filter, substrate and other supplies
- LED blacklight makes tank, substrate and decorations glow in fluorescent colors
If you’re one who likes a lot of color in your life, then this could be the tank for you!
This standard-sized 10-gallon glass aquarium kit from Aqueon comes complete with substrate, decorations, filter, heater and low-profile hood with a LED light, along with some other supplies like a fish net and water conditioner. I will freely admit that I wanted this set-up the second I saw it.
What makes it really special is how everything glows when you turn on the blue LED light. The substrate, plastic plants and even the sealed edges of your tank will glow a fluorescent orange, green or pink when you turn on the light. Your betta might really stand out against the black backdrop, too!
The NeoGlow is a ideal choice for:
- Kids, teens and anyone who wants a colorful and unique betta tank
- Budget-minded shoppers who want to pick up everything they need in a single kit
- Owners who want to keep a second betta or tank mate in the same habitat
- Complete tank set-up includes all the basic equipment you need, including a heater, filter and hood
- Ideal size for a betta, with room for a tank mate or live plants
- Stunning visual display, especially at night or in a dark room
- Doesn’t have a regular white light, so darker bettas may not stand out as well in this set-up
- Hood is not very durable and the light bulbs need frequent replacement
- To get full visual effect, all the decorations and substrate must be Aqueon-branded NeoGlow products.
3. Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit
- Acrylic 5-gallon tank
- 16.6 x 11.2 x 13.2 inches
- Bowed front allows tank to be visible from the sides
- Comes with LED light and Whisper filtration system
It can be tricky to find a good tank for a small apartment or dorm room, but the Tetra Crescent is designed to be seen in small spaces. The bowed front and seamless construction offers you a clear view into your tank, even from awkward side angles.
This is a great design for tiny homes, and the built-in LED light and low-flow Whisper filter make this a very energy efficient option too. With a 5-gallon capacity and discreet cover, you’ll have easy access for feeding and cleaning your tank. It’s the ideal size for a single betta and some decorations.
Consider the Crescent if:
- You live or work in a small space and want a betta tank that’s viewable from most angles
- You particularly like the bowed appearance and seamless design
- You want an energy-efficient tank with built-in filtration system and lights
- Seamless, bowed front design makes it easy to see your fish from the sides as well as front
- Easy access for cleaning tank and feeding your betta
- LED light fixture and Whisper filter are both rated as energy efficient
- Made from acrylic instead of glass, so it may be easily scratched, and may not age well if kept in bright sunlight
- Does not come with a heater, so you’ll have to purchase one separately
- A bit pricey given the lack of heater, substrate and decorations
4. Marineland Portrait Aquarium Kit
- Glass 5-gallon tall tank
- 11.8 x 16.8 x 11.8 inches
- Includes LED light and built-in low-flow filter
- Light fixture and lid slide back for easy access
This stunning 5-gallon glass aquarium from Marineland has more to offer than just a sleek, modern appearance. It also has some impressive and smart design features.
The glass lid slides back for easy feeding and maintenance, and the corners of the tank are smooth and rounded. I really like the LED light fixture for this tank. Not only does it have both a day and night light, but the fixture folds back, so it’s very easy to access the inside of your tank. It also comes with an integrated and adjustable filter.
The portrait-orientation means the tank’s taller than it is wide, but it still leaves plenty of swimming room for your betta!
The Marineland could be the choice for you if:
- You prefer a taller tank with a portrait orientation
- You don’t plan to grow live plants
- You want a beautiful tank that is very easy to maintain
- Tall 5-gallon glass tank with rounded corners looks sleek and modern
- Glass lid and light fixture slide back for easy access to your tank
- Built-in adjustable low-flow filter is perfect for maintaining a betta
- Doesn’t come with a heater, so you’ll need to pick one up separately
- Filter is built-in, so you can’t change its location or remove to use in another tank
- Lights are not powerful enough to support most live plants. You’ll be limited to “easy” plants like anubias
5. BiOrb Flow Aquarium
- Acrylic 8-gallon round tank
- 15.5 x 16.5 x 15.5 inches
- Built-in filter with replaceable media
- Includes a halogen light and cover
While a fish bowl is usually less-than-ideal for bettas, the BiOrb is the exception that shatters the rule. This attractive acrylic tank looks like a fish bowl, but inside features a 5-stage filtration system to clean and circulate your water. The low-voltage air pump and light are energy efficient and very quiet.
This is a fantastic option if you want to keep your betta in a round tank, because it has a generous 8-gallon capacity. You can easily maintain your betta and have room for decorations in this habitat. The cover keeps your betta safe and comes off so you can care for your fish and do maintenance.
The BiOrb is an excellent choice if:
- You prefer the look of a fish bowl but want a fully-functional aquarium
- You’re looking for a roomy but compact betta tank
- Prefer a tank with a modern design
- Space-saving round tank looks like a fish bowl but comes with an integrated filter and cover
- With an 8-gallon capacity, offers plenty of room for a betta and decorations
- Set-up includes a halogen light, filter media and substrate
- Round shape limits customization, since tank can’t be divided to house two bettas
- Doesn’t come with a heater, and it’s tricky to fit one in this tank with the round sides
- Requires BiOrb-brand filter media, which may not be available in your local pet store
As you can see, there’s a lot of factors to consider when choosing a home for your pet betta. Once you’ve taken their behavior into account, it’s not very hard to come up with a short list of tanks that would be perfect for any situation.
Bettas are an easy fish to maintain, as long as they’re kept warm with a heater and have at least 5-gallons of water to swim in. They really are an ideal choice for beginning aquarists, too.
Any of the tanks I reviewed would be a good pick for your first betta tank. The Fluval 5-gallon has almost everything you need, once you add a heater to the set-up. But if you still need a bit of help, I’ll recap things for you.
If you have a limited budget for a betta aquarium, consider:
- Penn Plax Aquaponic
- Tetra Crescent
- Aqueon NeoGlow Kit
If you’re setting up a betta tank for children, these could be a good choice:
- Aqueon NeoGlow Kit
- Back to the Roots Water Garden
- Penn Plax Aquaponic
If you have limited room for an aquarium, these space-saving tanks could be the ones for you:
- Fluval 5-gallon
- BioOrb Flow
- Marineland Portrait