Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, are beautiful and hardy creatures that make a great addition to any home aquarium.
But while some aquarists believe that these freshwater fish don’t need air pumps in order to thrive, some say that they do need them.
So, which one is correct? Do Betta fish need air pumps or not? In this article, we’ll answer everything you need to know about Betta fish and air pumps.
Do Betta Fish Need An Air Pump?
Air pumps are used to keep the water in an aquarium oxygenated, which is absolutely necessary for fish to survive. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that every aquarium needs an air pump, as many tanks are able to maintain adequate levels of oxygen without them.
So, do Betta fish need an air pump in their tanks or not?
Actually, the answer isn’t an easy yes or no.
Most of the time, Betta fish don’t need an air pump in order to be healthy – but that doesn’t mean they have no use for it.
Bettas are labyrinth fish, which means they have a labyrinth organ.
This organ enables Betta fish to get oxygen from the surface of the water, which, in turn, allows them to tolerate even poorly oxygenated water, such as the shallow ponds where they live in the wild.
Other fish which don’t have a labyrinth organ need to stay in well-oxygenated waters because they’ll suffocate if the oxygen levels in their tanks drop too low.
An air pump oxygenates the water enough to keep these fish alive, but Betta fish don’t need that much oxygen in their tanks.
The Benefits of Using An Air Pump for Betta Fish
So, if Bettas don’t really need an air pump to survive, why use one? Well, there are actually several benefits to using an air pump for your Betta.
Creates a Water Flow
An air pump creates a water flow in your tank, which is beneficial for both your Betta and the tank environment.
Betta tanks benefit from a gentle water flow, which helps to keep the water fresh and moving. This is essential in avoiding stagnant conditions that can foster bacterial growth and put your fish at risk of infection.
One of the most obvious signs of this is biofilm. It’s a greenish, slimy layer that you’ll often see on stagnant bodies of water. Biofilm is composed of bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms. Obviously, this can be hazardous to your fish’s health, so you’ll want to avoid it in your Betta tank at all costs.
Promotes Better Circulation
The movement caused by an air pump encourages more efficient flow throughout your aquarium, resulting in a much healthier environment.
It can also help prevent algae build-up on various surfaces by providing more oxygen to areas that may have otherwise been prone to stagnation.
Not to mention, a steady water current aids in keeping debris and waste suspended in the water column. This makes it easier for your filtration system to remove them from the tank and keep the water clean.
Lastly, better circulation also means that your water temperature will be more consistent throughout the entire tank, eliminating any warm or cold spots.
Improves Water Quality
Air pumps will help to improve the water quality and make it cleaner, which can go a long way towards keeping your Betta fish healthy and happy.
Also, as mentioned above, air pumps can help circulate water, which increases the amount of contact that your fish’s gills have with oxygen. This allows them to breathe easier and stay healthier overall.
The right amount of oxygen will allow beneficial bacteria to thrive and convert harmful ammonia into nitrate, which is much less toxic to your fish.
Connects to Other Important Equipment
The main thing reason why people want an air pump in their aquarium is to connect it to other equipment.
For example, you can have your air pump connected to the following:
- Filters (Sponge filters, box filters, corner filters)
- Air bubblers (air stones, bubble walls, other bubble decor)
- Protein skimmers
Without an air pump, none of these things will work.
So, if you want to add any extra filtration or decoration to your tank, an air pump is essential.
When to Use an Air Pump for Betta Fish
While Bettas don’t always need air pumps in their tanks, there are certain situations where using one is beneficial.
- Large tanks. If you’re keeping Betta fish in a tank that’s larger than 5 gallons, then an air pump is a must. The larger the tank, the more oxygen is needed, and a pump can help provide that.
- Betta sororities or community tanks. If you want to house several Bettas in the same tank, like in a sorority tank, then having an air pump is very beneficial. It’ll help ensure that all of the Bettas are getting the proper amount of oxygen. This is also true if you have a community tank with other species, like guppies or mollies.
- Planted tanks. Having an air pump can also be beneficial in tanks that are heavily planted, as it will help to keep the water moving so that your plants can get the oxygen they need.
The Best Air Pumps For Your Betta Tank
There are many air pumps on the market right now. If you’re new to air pumps, here are some of the best options for you.
Tetra Whisper Easy to Use Air Pump for Aquariums
The Tetra Whisper Air Pump is a great option for beginner aquarists, as it’s extremely easy to use. All you have to do is plug it in, add airline tubing, and connect it to your equipment of choice.
It has two airline outlets, which means you can use this to power the sponge filter of two small Betta tanks or for a box filter and an air bubbler in the same tank.
The pump is also very quiet, which makes it perfect for smaller tanks that are located in bedrooms or living rooms. There are 4 different variants, 10 gallons below, 20-40 gallons, 40-60 gallons, and 60-100 gallons.
Our favorite part? It’s extremely cheap and power-efficient. You can buy the 10-gallon variant for less than $5, and it only consumes 2.5 watts of electricity per hour.
Pawfly Aquarium Air Pump with Nano Bio Sponge Filter Kit
If you want a complete kit for your new Betta fish tank, you can’t go wrong with the Pawfly Aquarium Air Pump with Nano Bio Sponge Filter Kit.
The name is kind of a handful, but it does come with all the tools you need for a functioning bubbler in your Betta tank: a 2-watt air pump, a nano sponge filter, a 5-ft long airline tubing, and even a check valve.
With these, all that’s left to do is take it out of the box and put it together. You’ll be done before you know it!
Just a side note: if your tank already has an internal filter and you just want additional oxygen, you can also opt for the bubbler variant, which includes a small airstone instead of a sponge filter.
FEDOUR 80GPH Aquarium Air Pump
Need a bubbler and not a filter? If you don’t think Pawfly’s airstone will suffice, you may want to check out the FEDOUR 80GPH Aquarium Air Pump.
FEDOUR’s complete bubbler kit includes both an air pump and two airstones. It also has other inclusions, such as two airline tubes, two return valves, two regulating valves, two suction cups, a T-connector, and a filter cotton.
The 3-watt air pump is apparently strong enough to handle tanks from 10 gallons to a whopping 120 gallons. For Betta tanks, this is more than enough. And if it can really handle 120 gallons, then we’re certainly impressed.
What’s the Difference Between an Air Pump and A Filter?
An air pump is not the same thing as a filter. A filter helps to remove debris, bacteria, and other contaminants from your tank water, while an air pump simply pumps air into the aquarium.
They can be used together, though. You can connect an air pump to a sponge filter or a box filter in order to provide extra filtration to your tank.
What’s the Difference Between an Air Pump and A Bubbler?
Most people think of a bubbler when you say air pump and vice versa. However, even though air pumps are commonly used with bubblers, they’re not the same thing.
Air pumps introduce air into the tank, while bubbles create bubbles. Bubblers will not work without air pumps, however, which is why people usually mistake one for the other.
Do I Need Both a Filter and A Bubbler?
It’s not necessary to have both a filter and a bubbler in your Betta tank. If you’re just keeping one Betta, then a filter might be enough as long as you’re doing regular water changes.
However, if you’re keeping larger groups of Bettas or other fish species, then having both a filter and a bubbler can be beneficial.
Can I Use an Air Pump with Live Plants?
You can use an air pump with live plants in your aquarium. The air bubbles produced by the pump will help to keep the water moving and oxygenated, which is necessary for healthy plant growth.
Just make sure that you don’t have the pump on too high, as this can cause other problems for your Betta.
At the end of the day, whether or not you choose to use an air pump for your Betta fish is up to you.
Bettas don’t require one in order to thrive in their aquarium, but there’s practically no downside to using one. After all, air pumps provide more efficient circulation and oxygenation, leading to a healthier environment for your Betta.