Best Filter for Bettas

When it comes to setting up a betta tank, one of the easier decisions is choosing your filtration system. While these fish have some specific preferences when it comes to their water temperature, picking the best filter for bettas is a pretty straightforward proposition.

The key to choosing the right filter is picking one that’s suitable for the size of your betta tank. Beyond that, most systems can be adjusted to provide the gentle circulation that betta’s prefer. Even filters that are not naturally low flow can often be modified at home.

Quick Comparisons of the 5 Best Betta Filters

IMAGE BRAND DETAILS
Aqueon LED 7.5 Gallon Shrimp Aquarium KitAqueon 7.5 Gallon Aquarium Kit
  • Type of Filter: All-in-One (Built into aquarium)
  • Stages: Mechanical and Chemical; 2-Stage filter
  • Tank Size: 7.5-gallons
View Product
UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter in white backgroundUpettools Single Head Bio-Sponge
  • Type of Filter: Sponge Filter
  • Stages: Mechanical and biological; 2-stage
  • Tank Size: 2 to 40 gallon
View Product
tnk-table__imageAquaClear 20
  • Type of Filter: HOB
  • Stages: Mechanical, Chemical and Biological; 3-Stage filter
  • Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallon tanks
View on Amazon View on Petco View on Chewy
tnk-table__imageAqueon Quietflow
  • Type of Filter: Submersible/Internal Flow
  • Stages: Mechanical, Chemical and Biological; 3-Stage filter
  • Tank Size: 10-gallon tank
View on Amazon View on Petco
tnk-table__imageAzoo Mignon
  • Type of Filter: HOB
  • Stages: Mechanical and Chemical; 2-Stage filter
  • Tank Size: 2.5-gallon betta bowl to 5 gallon tank
View Product

Quick Guide to Betta Filters

Of all the decisions you face when buying a great tank for your betta fish, the one you shouldn’t stress over is picking out your filtration system.

Why You Might Need a Filter and Benefits

Let’s tackle the most important question first: Do you have to get a filtration system for your betta tank? No. You don’t have to get a filter if you’d prefer not to have one. But having a filter definitely keeps your tank cleaner and reduces the frequency of water changes.

Bettas really like having a clean tank, and a filthy tank causes stress and often leaves you with a dull colored, sick fish. But they are not terribly picky about how their water is cleaned. If you opt against getting a filter you can make it up to your fish by doing regular water changes.

I still recommend getting a filter as long as you can find one that’s quiet, affordable and fits into your betta tank. But unlike having an aquarium heater, a betta filter is an optional piece of equipment.

Aquarium filters have two jobs:

Aquarium equipment. External Aquarium Fish Tank Canister Filter. Vector illustration. The scheme of the external aquarium bio filter. – stock illustration
  • They circulate water around the tank, which helps oxygenate the liquid so your fish don’t suffocate.
  • They “clean” the aquarium water as it circulates.

Betta fish don’t need a high level of oxygen in their water, since they have an organ that allows them to breathe air. They actually don’t like a high rate of water circulation and prefer low flow filters.

Choosing the Ideal Betta Filter

With all this variety at your fingertips, how do you choose the best option for your betta tank? Consider these factors as you shop for filtration systems:

Types of Aquarium Filters

Aqueon LED 7.5 Gallon Shrimp Aquarium Kit

Aquarium filters come in all sizes and shapes, but the most common options for betta tanks are usually small and inexpensive. Some aquariums are even designed with built-in filtration systems, so you don’t have to add one later.

If your tank doesn’t have a filter, these are some styles available for tropical fish tanks and suitable for bettas:

  • Sponge filter with an external air pump.
  • Filter with stages that hangs off the back of your tank (HOB filter).
  • Undergravel filter with carbon cartridge and external air pump.
  • Submersible or internal flow filter.

For a small betta tank, any of these options work really well, so pick the one that suits your tank the best. Some filters just have a nicer appearance than others, so if that’s an important factor for you, pick the style that you think looks best!

While each type of filter has advantages and disadvantages, the differences in performance for a small tank are pretty minimal. It’s hard to discuss filters just by breaking down the different styles, because within each type you’ll have a wide variety of sizes, features and options.

Pick the Right-Sized Filter for Your Betta Tank

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter inside aquarium tank.

You obviously want to pick a filter that physically fits inside or on your tank and leaves plenty of room for your decor and betta. The easiest way to identify a good option for your tank is to look at the size rating on the filter in question. Nearly all of these products will say which sizes of tanks their filter is designed for.

It’s best to avoid buying a more powerful filter than you need for your tank.

If the filter has a wide range, say 5 to 20 gallons, it might not be the best option for your 5-gallon betta aquarium. Go with a filter designed for a 5-gallon instead of one with a broad range. Definitely get a filter with an adjustable or low flow if you can.

How Many Stages Do Betta Filters Need?

There are three ways a filter can function to keep your aquarium water clean. Think of these as stages. Some filters have multiple stages and clean your water in two or three ways, while others use a single stage.

Filter Stages Chart

The most important stage for a betta filter to have is the first one—a filter pad for debris removal. Removing debris, which may include fish waste, old food or plant material, prevents them from rotting in your tank and fouling your water. But you still have to regularly clean and/or replace the pad in your filter.

I’d prioritize getting a betta filter with the first two stages, if possible: Filter media helps keep your water clear and smelling fresh. Depending on the type of media in your filter, they may remove chlorine, chloramine, copper, ammonia and aquarium medications from the tank water.

Noise Level of Filter and Pumps

It’s amazing how noisy an aquarium can be, and filters are probably the worst offenders. It’s not actually the filter that makes the most noise; it’s the pump that really turns up the volume.

Close up shot of AquaClear - Fish Tank Filter.
  • HOB-style and built-in filters have an integrated electrical pump that moves the water around. These are usually the quietest styles.
  • Sponge and the submersible types of filters are hooked into a separate air pump via a line of thin plastic tubing.These suckers can be noise bombs!

It’s not just that the pump makes a lot of noise itself. A high quality air pump is usually pretty quiet. But their vibration can be super annoying if they touch the side of a table or aquarium stand. Placement is key to minimizing the vibration and noise.

  • If your betta tank is located in a bedroom or other area where you need to keep things quiet, you might want to avoid filters with these external air pumps.
  • Opt for a HOB, submersible or a tank with a built-in filter instead.

Maintaining Your Filter—Can You Find Replacement Parts?

An aquarium filtration system may save you time by reducing the frequency of water changes, but they still have to be cleaned and maintained. A filter that’s designed to be accessible and easy to clean will make this chore a lot less annoying.

Lefunpets Biochemical Sponge Filter Breeding Fry Betta Shrimp Nano Fish Tank for Aquarium Fish Tank 5 Gal-25 Gal spare parts
  • Typically, you’ll need to clean your filtration system and replace the filter pad and/or media at least once a month.
  • It’s easiest to do this filter maintenance along with your water changes.

Filter pads and media cartridges can restrict the water movement if they get clogged.

  • This can increase the noise your filter makes and may even burn out your filter’s motor. You should check your filter every week or at least every other week to avoid problems.

It’s always a good idea to check the availability and cost of commonly-replaced parts to your filter before you plunk down your money. Can you easily and affordably find replacement filter pads, cartridges and media?

Using a Baffle to Modify Your Betta Tank Filter

Close-up betta filter baffle
Image Source : Green Jean

A baffle is a fancy term for something you place over the outflow of your filter to reduce the water current. Many filters have an adjustable flow rate, but sometimes that’s just not enough in a small betta tank.

A baffle can be something as simple as a cheap, disposable plastic cup or bottle. Cut it into the size you need and use it to redirect the flow of water as it comes back into your tank. It’s hard to give more concrete instructions because it depends on your filter and aquarium set-up.

You may not need a baffle, but you’ll likely know it if you do. Your betta will avoid the areas of choppy water. If you turn your filter off and suddenly your betta is happy and swimming all over your tank, you probably need to add a baffle to your filter’s outflow.

Top 5 Betta Filter Reviews

Let’s take a look at some filtration systems and set-ups that are ideal for a betta tank. I’ve tried to find options to suit a wide variety of aquariums, including betta bowls and small tanks.

I don’t usually recommend keeping bettas in aquariums under 5-gallons. If you have a filter, do weekly water changes and pay diligent attention to your betta’s color and appetite, a small tank can work. Even if it isn’t ideal. You’ll likely have to modify your filter with a baffle, however.

1. Aqueon 7.5 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Aqueon LED 7.5 Gallon Shrimp Aquarium Kit
  • Type of Filter: All-in-One (Built into aquarium)
  • Stages: Mechanical and Chemical; 2-Stage filter
  • Size: 14.5 x 14.5 x 13.5 inches
  • Power: Electrical
  • Suitable For: Raising Fry, Adults and Breeding Tanks
  • Tank Size: 7.5-gallons

One of the easiest ways to set up a filtration system is to buy a tank that includes one! It can be a bit more expensive up-front to get an all-in-one betta tank, but it saves you the hassle of deciding on a filter style and figuring the best way to place it in or on your tank.

The Aqueon 7.5-gallon aquarium kit comes complete with the basic supplies you need to set up your betta tank. It has a gentle 2-stage filter with a filter pad and a replaceable carbon cartridge. What I love about this setup is how easy the filter is to access. 

You can check the filtration system from the top of your tank by lifting the lid—it’s so simple! This set-up is an ideal option for a betta, and the filter is gentle enough for raising fry and shrimp too. At 7.5-gallons, it’s got plenty of room for an adult fish and decor, and there’s no reason you couldn’t grow live plants in this tank as well.

Pros

  • Complete aquarium set-up includes everything you need to start a betta tank.
  • 2-stage filter removes debris and cleans the water, reducing the frequency of water changes.
  • Filter is built into the hood and easy to access.

Cons

  • May be more expensive to purchase a complete set-up.
  • Since filter is built into the hood, the noise level may increase as the water evaporates.
  • Filter can’t be reused separately for other tanks since it is integrated into the aquarium.

2. Upettools Single Head Bio-Sponge

UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter in white background
  • Type of Filter: Sponge Filter
  • Stages: Mechanical and biological; 2-stage
  • Size: 2.76 x 2.76 x 7.48 inches
  • Power: Requires air pump and tubing
  • Suitable For: Raising Fry, Adults, Breeding and Hospital Set-ups
  • Tank Size: 2 to 40 gallon
Check The Price

Every aquarist should keep a sponge filter like this in their arsenal of aquarium equipment

Sponge filters are ideal for tank’s of all types, and are especially useful for breeding set-ups, raising fry and hospital tanks. They’re also ideal for betta tanks, since they’re gentle, have a low flow rate and rarely produce much current. This single-head filter from Upettools is just about the most impressive sponge filter I’ve ever seen, and has a couple of unique features worth checking out!

Sponge filters are typically simple set-ups that provide mostly mechanical filtration  and help circulate the water around your aquarium. They’re powered by an external air pump and connect to the filter with plastic tubing (sold separately). Dirty water is drawn through the fine sponge tip, where debris collects until you can rinse them away. They also provide a bit of biological filtration, since the “good aquarium” bacteria living in the sponge helps break down waste. But sponge filters can’t usually provide robust bio-filtration or any chemical filtration at all.

The Upettools bio-sponge, on the other hand, gives you the option of adding chemical media or long-lasting bio media to your tank as well! It has a small compartment under the sponge tip that you can customize with the media of your choice, and you can leave the media out if you’re using medications or treating a sick tank. This filter is adjustable, so it’ll fit in any part of your tank, and the outtake tube even extends from 7 to 11-inches high for bigger aquariums. The unique sponge tip has a ribbed design and can trap more debris than most, too. I highly recommend this filter!

Pros

  • Inexpensive filter that’s easy to adjust for set-ups from 2 to 40 gallons, including betta bowls.
  • Media canister can be used for additional biological filter media, or you can use carbon or ammonia chips and turn it into a 3-stage filter!
  • Provides the ideal gentle flow rate betta fish prefer, and suitable for  breeding, raising fry and hospital tanks.

Cons

  • Amount of media it can hold is limited, so you may need to change it more frequently than a larger HOB or internal filter.
  • Sponge tip requires weekly maintenance to prevent the filter from clogging.
  • Also needs an air pump to operate (sold separately), which may produce too much noise for a betta tank in a bedroom.

3. AquaClear 20

AquaClear - Fish Tank Filter
  • Type of Filter: HOB
  • Stages: Mechanical, Chemical and Biological; 3-Stage filter
  • Size: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5 inches
  • Power: Electrical
  • Suitable For: Adult Bettas
  • Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallon tanks


The AquaClear 20 is an impressive and inexpensive 3-stage HOB filter for tanks from 10 to 20-gallons in size. It comes with a filter sponge pad, replaceable carbon cartridge and large basket for holding biological or other media. The flow rate is adjustable with the touch of a knob.

It’s pretty quiet once you have it installed, although the vibration is noticeable when the lid is left loose. It’s very easy to access the padding and media for maintenance, and the clear plastic housing lets you see what’s going on inside the filter.

The AquaClear is a good option for larger betta tanks but may need to be modified for smaller ones. Personally, I’d cover the filter intake (the part that draws water from the aquarium into the filter) with some filter padding or a sponge filter, to prevent your betta from being sucked into the filtration system.

Pros

  • Filter fits most standard-sized 10 and 20-gallon tanks, and can be swapped from tank-to-tank easily.
  • 3-stage design and included media provide mechanical, chemical and biological filtration, reducing the frequency of water changes.
  • Provides the ideal gently flow rate betta fish prefer.

Cons

  • Hard plastic case may rattle or vibrate if lid or other parts are placed loosely.
  • The water flowing into the tank from the outflow may be noisy as the water level drops.
  • Does not come with a sponge filter for the intake, so you may need to purchase this separately.

4. Aqueon Quietflow

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter
  • Type of Filter: Submersible/Internal Flow
  • Stages: Mechanical, Chemical and Biological; 3-Stage filter
  • Size: 2.8 x 1.5 x 5.4 inches
  • Power: Electrical
  • Suitable For: Adult Bettas
  • Tank Size: 10-gallon tank
View on Amazon

If you’d prefer a filtration system that is very quiet and discrete, then this submersible filter might be the best option for your 10-gallon betta tank. The Aqueon Quietflow 3-stage internal power filter sits inside of your aquarium, where it works without having to pump the water out of your tank.

This means it provides the same level of filtration as built-in or HOB-styles, but doesn’t need to use as much power. It works in any orientation, and can be attached to your tank’s side with suction cups. The filter has an adjustable flow rate, and the outtake swivels so you can direct the current as you wish.

The Aqueon could be a great option for a betta tank in a bedroom or other location where the filter’s noise might be a concern. Since it goes inside the aquarium, the low-powered filter’s sound is barely detectable when it’s on, and there’s no noise from the water outtake.

Pros

  • Submersible 3-stage filter fits in any shaped-aquarium of suitable size.
  • One of the quietest filter styles, so it’s ideal for bedrooms.
  • Provides a gently flow rate and rarely needs to be baffled for bettas.

Cons

  • Filter must be removed from the tank for maintenance.
  • You may have to modify your aquarium hood to accommodate the power cord.
  • Filter is a bit large to fit in smaller betta tanks under 10-gallons in size.

5. Azoo Mignon

AZOO Mignon Filter 60
  • Type of Filter: HOB
  • Stages: Mechanical and Chemical; 2-Stage filter
  • Size: 3.2 x 3.8 x 6 inches
  • Power: Electrical
  • Suitable For: Adult Bettas
  • Tank Size: 2.5-gallon betta bowl to 5 gallon tank
Check The Price

Finding a good filter for a betta bowl or nano tank, as they’re often called, can be a challenge, especially if you want a HOB-style filter for your aquarium. The Azoo Mignon is an HOB nano filter with a clear plastic housing. It has an adjustable flow rate that’s very easy to use.

The Azoo offers 2-stages of filtration and includes a filter pad and replaceable carbon cartridge. It also comes with a sponge filter for the intake, so your betta won’t get injured by accidently getting pulled into the filtration system. I especially like that the Azoo comes with a sponge filter for the intake.

While this filter says it’s designed for 3.5-gallon aquariums, it’s actually ideal for betta tanks from 2.5 to 5-gallons. This might actually be the best filter for a 2.5 gallon betta tank or bowl on my list, if it fits and you baffle the outflow. While it may technically be underpowered for a 5-gallon, that makes it perfect for raising a betta fish!

Pros

  • Inexpensive nano HOB ideal for betta tanks from 2.5 to 5 gallons.
  • 2-stage replaceable filter offers both mechanical and chemical filtration.
  • Comes with a sponge filter to cover the intake, protecting your betta from injury.

Cons

  • Design may not fit in curved tanks or round betta bowls.
  • Sponge filter on the intake requires weekly cleaning to prevent debris from clogging the system.
  • Noise may be noticeable if water level drops below the top of your tank.

Conclusion

Close up of Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter in the aquarium.

As you can see, choosing a filter for betta tanks is not a difficult decision. It mostly comes down to which style you prefer and which one best fits into your tank. Modifying your aquarium filter with a baffle, or sponge filter over the intake tube, is usually an easy and affordable way to make nearly any filter work with your tank.

If you’re still not sure which style of filter you should get for your aquarium, consider this last bit of advice:

  • If you have a tank that’s 10-gallon or larger, consider the Best HOB Filter, the Aqua Clear. You may need to modify it for your set-up, but it’s a great all-around option for most bigger betta tanks.
  • If noise is a concern, the Best Submersible Filter, the Aqueon Quietflow, is an excellent option and priced very reasonably. It’s so quiet you might forget you even have a filtration system in your tank.
  • If you need a small filter for your betta bowl or tank, consider going with the Azoo Mignon, rated as the Best Filter for Nano Tanks. It’s a good choice for tanks from 2.5 to 5-gallons, and I love that it comes with a sponge filter for the intake.
  • It’s never a bad idea to have the Best Sponge Filter set-up available if you need to set up a hospital or quarantine tank. It also makes a great option for betta tanks of all sizes. Since it’s a 1-stage filter, you’ll still have to do weekly maintenance and water changes, but your betta will likely love it.

Hopefully, my quick guide to betta filters has been informative and helpful to you as you plan your tank. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or tell us about the filtration system you use in your betta tank!

Jen has more than 30 years experience as a biologist, aquarist, and fishkeeper. She is an expert in setting up new tanks and maintaining naturally-planted freshwater habitats, and has experience raising a wide variety of aquatic species.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.