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How To Clean A Betta Fish Tank – 12 Step Guide

Unlike other pet fish, Bettas don’t require a ton of maintenance. They survive well in many tank conditions and are known to be hardy aquatic pets.

Still, you don’t want your pet Betta swimming in a filthy tank. They need a livable home just like any other species. So, you want to clean up after their waste thoroughly.

Dirty water can actually decrease the health and lifespan of your fish, and no one wants that.

This post will show you the exact steps you need to learn how to clean a Betta fish tank.

Cleaning up a tank can be a daunting task. But this post has all the information you need to correctly perform this task. Some tanks will need to be cleaned more often than others. It just depends on the size of your aquarium and the amount of fish you have.

But we’ll talk more about specific tank cleaning measures in another section.

Why Your Betta Tank Needs to Stay Clean

It’s not fun cleaning up your tank, but your pet needs clean water to live a long life. Fish, no matter their species, excrete all kinds of waste into their tank on a daily basis.

If you don’t get rid of this filth, your pet can get sick. And over time they might even die as their water becomes too toxic to swim in. Other waste can be found in your aquarium as well. Algae can build up, and other debris from plants and food can accumulate too.

This further pollutes the water environment of your Betta.

Not all tanks require the same amount of care and cleaning. But you want to at least change your water every week or so. You don’t have to do a full-on change on a regular basis.

But at the very least get rid of twenty-five percent of the water. This way some of the waste is taken out of your tank. In addition, changing a little bit of the water helps your fish get nutrients. Water has some minerals your Betta needs. So it’s good to replenish your water.

So When Should A Betta Tank Be Cleaned?

We mentioned changing your water bi-weekly or weekly. But how often you change your water will depend on the tank size.

The smaller your tank is the more often you will have to clean your tank. Waste doesn’t have a lot of room to spread out in smaller aquariums. So it gets way more concentrated in nano tanks made for Betta.

Smaller aquariums should be changed partially once a week. A bigger tank can be changed every other week. But check the condition of your water. If it looks dirty replace some of it.

And really, you want to do more than a water change. Your filter does a lot to upkeep your water. But it won’t get rid of every bit of debris in your tank. Always take out floating material whether they are from fish or plants. Things decay in your tank and can mess up the water chemistry and quality.

It’s tempting to let your filter do all the work, but you should be cleaning things yourself when you can. You don’t have to fully scrub down your tank every week of course. But a full cleaning of your Betta tank should be undertaken. Our recommendation is to do this once a year.

Also, make sure to change your filter and remove algae from your tank. Low maintenance cleaning tasks can do a lot, and keep filth from building up.

12 Steps On How To  Clean Your Betta Tank

1. Get Tools and Cleaning Material

There are many steps to take when you plan to fully clean out your Betta Tank. But one of the first things you want to do before you even touch your tank is gather up supplies.

You don’t want to start cleaning and then realize that you don’t have what you need. This can halt your clean up and cause you to waste time during tank maintenance.

So get what you need first!

Some Supplies to Get:

  • An algae scrubber is a must-have item
  • A gravel vacuum should also be used
  • A razor can also be helpful
  • Container to prepare new water and another one to wash decorations in
  • Something to scrub your items, a toothbrush or sponge is fine
  • Gloves should be used
  • Water conditioner if you are using tap water
  • Wash Clothes are useful too

2. Sanitize Your Hands And Use Gloves

Once the first step is done you will want to wash your hands well. Human hands are full of bacteria that can bring harm to your Betta.

You could also have other substances on your hands that could contaminate their tank. You don’t want your Betta to get sick so don’t skip over hand washing. Make sure to get all the soap off your hands. This way your fish won’t be exposed to any cleaning agents or germs.

Afterward, you can put your gloves on. Some people might think it’s silly to put gloves on when they clean a tank. But gloves are important to use when cleaning a tank. They protect your fish, and they also protect you.

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Bettas also have bacteria on them and in their water. These aren’t harmful to your fish, but they could cause harm to you.

So don’t just stick your hands in your tank. Put some gloves on first!

3. Unplug/Turnoff Your Betta Tank Devices

You want the device in your tank to be powered off when you clean. Everything should be off so you can clean properly. This includes any filtering system lights or other electronic tank items.

It’s not likely to happen, but you don’t want to risk getting electrocuted when you clean your  betta tank. You can remove these items if you want. But if they are submergible products leave them in.

4. Get Your Betta Fish Out of His Tank


Video: “How to safely take out a fish of your tank”

If you are not planning on taking out all the water in your tank, you can leave your betta fish in. A big enough tank will let you clean your aquarium with your betta fish in it.

Betta fish get stressed out easily so it’s usually best to keep them in your tank. But if you want to take them out be careful, and have a bowl prepared for them.

Don’t leave your fish uncovered, or they might escape their container!

5. Gently Remove Decorative Items

Once you have decided what to do with your fish, take out your decorations. If your pet is still in the water, do this slowly and carefully. Again, your Betta will be disturbed by excessive motion in the water. So be gentle.

One item at a time should be removed. Get a bowl to put your decorations in. You’ll clean them up later on!

6. Get Rid of Algae

Algae scrapers should be used for this next step in cleaning. You’ll use this to get any unwanted algae growth out of your tank. Preferably you should use a magnetic algae scraper.

With this device, you won’t have to stick your hand into your tank as much. You just place one of the magnets in the tank and use the other one to clean from the outside. It’s a convenient way to clean out your tank and it takes very little effort.

Algae grow readily on the glass and acrylic surfaces of tanks. So you want to try to use your scraper every week, not just during a full tank clean. But some fish consume algae and cleanup for you.

So it depends on the type of tank you are keeping. Also, keep your tank type in mind when you use a scrapper. You want something soft to clean your aquarium. Glass won’t scratch too easily, but acrylic tanks are a different story. So be careful.

And if scrapers aren’t working for your tank, try using a razor. They can get through thicker layers of algae. Any razor will work for a glass aquarium. But an acrylic tank should be cleaned with a plastic razor to prevent damage.

7. Start Removing Water

Video: “How to do a Water Change on a Betta Fish Tank”

You want to change your water, but you don’t want to get rid of all your old tank water. This could actually be harmful to your pet Betta. Your tank water has good bacteria in it, that cleans the water. So you want to keep some of the water and that bacteria in your aquarium.

Choose how much you are going to remove, whether twenty-five percent, half, or closer to ninety percent. Then use your gravel vacuum to get the water out of the tank. Slowly remove the water from your betta aquarium and get rid of it in a container.

Keep your remaining water in your tank. When you do this, try not to suck up too many bits of gravel or substrate. You don’t want to disturb your fish too much if it is still in the tank. Water flow and power can be controlled by suctioning the tube on your device. Use your thumb to do this on the outside end of your siphon.

8. Clean The Gravel In Your Betta Tank

As you are taking water out of your tank, you can also start cleaning the surface of your gravel. Most gravel is teeming with waste and bacteria. So make sure to clean your substrate well.

You don’t need to put your vacuum directly on top of the rocks. Putting them a few inches above your substrate will clean them well enough.

Go over the floor of your tank thoroughly until you are done getting rid of the water you are changing.

You might miss some dirt, but don’t worry too much. You want to be cleaning your gravel regularly anyways.

9. Start Cleaning Your Decorations

Video: “Safely Bleaching Aquarium Equipment”

Decorations in an aquarium should be maintained as well. You might not think they need to be cleaned, but they can build up all kinds of dirt.

If you clean your decoration on a regular basis you won’t have as much to clean. But if you leave them in your tank until a full cleaning they will grow algae. And this will require more intensive cleaning practices.

Personally, we recommend cleaning decorations every couple of months for the best results.

There are a few ways to go about cleaning decorations. The easiest way to go about this is to use water. You never want to use soap on objects you put in your tank. So prepare some warm water, it can even be boiling hot.

Put the decorations in your water and let it soak for at least twenty minutes. Once this is done, you will be able to get dirt and other impurities off the decorations a lot easier.

A toothbrush or a sponge can be used to do this. Take your time to get everything off. You want your decorations to be dirt free when they reenter the water. But again, don’t use any cleaning products. This could kill your fish!


If your decorations don’t look clean enough there is another option. You can use bleach to really get rid of tank grime. You don’t want to douse anything in bleach, but a little bit is okay.

Put a few teaspoons of bleach in your container. Use this amount of bleach for every gallon of water. This is around 5 percent bleach and 95 percent water. But unlike the first cleaning method, don’t use any hot water. This will make the bleach less effective.

You don’t have to leave your decorations in long, only around 10 minutes. Then scrub everything down and rinse it thoroughly so no bleach is left.

Alternatively do it like in the video above, and put your decorations in a container with tap water and dechlorinator.

10. Change Your Filter

Next start cleaning out your filter. If you regularly change out your filter and clean it out you shouldn’t have to do much during this step. You might just have to take out the cartridge and replace it. But if you haven’t cleaned your filter in while you might need to wipe it down.

If you are doing a water change and cleaning out other areas of your tank wait a little to do this step. You could accidentally get rid of good bacteria in your tank when doing a full clean down. So if you are doing a water change clean your filter a week afterward.

This is not a complicated process, but you want to be careful about how you do this. First get water from the inside of your tank and set it aside. Then take your filter and start rinsing it in the tank water. This includes your cartridge as well and sponges if you have one in your filter.

Don’t be rough with your filter parts. Rinse them lightly and you can wipe down the filter holder to get rid of waste residue. You can also squeeze your sponge a little to clean it out. After this, you can put your filter back in.

11. Wipe Down Your Tank Glass

The final step of cleaning is the easiest. Get warm clothe and start wiping down the outside of your tank. This is an optional step, but if you want your tank to look great try cleaning the outside surface of it.

Use something soft to clean if you have an acrylic tank though. Cleaning solutions can be used in this step, but they should not get in the water!

12. Put Your Betta Fish Back In If You Took Him Out

If you took your fish out during this process, you can put them back into your tank. Be careful and make sure the water conditions are the same as when your fish left the tank. Otherwise, you will stress your pet out.

If your fish is already in the water, just add water back into your tank to replace what you took out. Make sure this water is the correct temperature as well.

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And if you use tap water make sure to prepare your water with conditioning the day before. Pour it in slow so your fish stays calm.


With this guide, you should know how to clean a betta fish tank the right way. There are many steps involved in the process, but if you put in the work you can keep your tank clean.

We recommend regularly upkeeping your tank so that you don’t have to spend so much time cleaning though. This is also better for your fish. You don’t want them swimming in waste and toxins for months on end. Regular full cleanings of your Betta tank is not necessary though.

But you should scrape algae off and take some of your water out weekly. You don’t have to vacuum your aquarium every week. You also don’t have to take out decorations or your fish often. Really a throughout cleaning should be performed only once in a year.

This way your Betta stays in the best home with the best water conditions. You want to follow all the steps we outlined. And get to every inch of your tank.

But if you schedule in time to clean and maintain your tank you won’t have to work hard to do this. Hopefully, you have gotten all the information you need so you know how to clean a betta fish tank!

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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