Need a Filter for Betta Fish? Best Reviews for Filter?

Topic: I have a 5 gallon betta fish tank and need a filter. I was wondering what is the best one to get? I heard that bettas don’t like too much surface movement because they come to the surface alot.. Need some help here.. I just plan on buying it online and having it shipped to my house.

*Awarded Answer
Posted by Megan H: The best filter for a smaller setup is going to use an air pump to power it because they are lower power and push less water (less surface movement) for your betta. This is the most popular filter (image below). I have 6 betta tanks and this filter in every single tank. Here is the link to They are super cheap and work really well.

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What’s nice is that the filter comes with an air pump and everything you need. These are a great little setup. BEWARE – Even though the filter pad looks dirty doesn’t mean it needs to be changed! Sometimes a dirty filter pad is the best thing for a fish aquarium because that “dirty pad” holds good bacteria known as “beneficial bacteria” and that helps your water. I don’t want to get too technical with you here on water specs (I could chat all day) but just trust me.

  • Yeah but a basic sponge filter is going to be a lot cheaper…
  • This filter uses the same concept as a sponge filter does except it is more efficient and you can change out the filter pads over and over.
  • I also own this filter and have zero complaints about it. I like to make sure the filter pads are super dirty before I change them though because the dirtier the pads are the cleaner the water is usually (seems ironic).
  • ^^ that’s not ironic at all because a dirty filter pad is full of “good bacteria” that clear up your water. That’s what you want. Only change the pads when you absolutely have to. Let them get super dirty and stinky.


Posted by Natasha N: Is baffling a filter intake bad for its motor? I used panty hose and it’s slowing down the flow quite a bit. Will my success shortly be followed by a broken filter? Lol

  • I did the same with my Fluval Chi and burned out the pump. When I replaced it with a generic one, I realized that on the bottom (where you would never ever ever be able to get to) there is a flow adjustment! Head slap.
  • I slow the intake tube of my filter with a plastic water bottle cap that has holes drilled into it and a plastic water bottle baffler. Nothing has gone wrong for months.
  • The motor should be fine…. I would definitely keep the hose clean!
  • i don’t know if that will make the motor work harder….
  • Most people overfeed with food and that’s what wrecks the water. Watch how much you feed your fish and it will really help keep you water cleaner.

Posted by Chris B: I’m confused. The filter I have takes cartridges and it says to replace them once a month. Someone in another group told me to never replace the cartridges because they contain beneficial bacteria? Just very confused. Do I change the carbon cartridges monthly or no? What’s this about it will ruin the beneficial bacteria in the tank? Wouldn’t the bacteria be in the tank and not all in the filter?

  • Okay so. The carbon lasts not very long so it just turns into a biological filter. There’s a debate about chemical filtration, but in my experience the only time you need it is if you’re removing medicines. Changing the cartridge will at the very least cause a mini spike of ammonia. I domt recommend it, again unless you’re trying to remove medicine and need fresh carbon. The “change monthly” is pretty much a ploy for more money.
  • Also the bacteria is over every surface in the tank. Though that alone can’t hold your cycle. You need to have media or a sponge for the bacteria to live and make your tank healthy. Keep taking that away and you’ll never get a cycle.
  • What’s a media? and just a kitchen sponge? and i have an API superclean 10 filter.. came with a 5 gallon tank.
  • Is the carbon like zeolite after a while it will disperse the toxins its absorbed back in to the water?
  • I don’t know much about that. I just know that the carbon filters that are sold with most tank kits come apart after a while, and the carbon just starts to spill out. I only use a sponge, nothing else, unless there is meds that need cleaned out from the water.
  • Or you have this basic kind with one blue filter cartridge. You don’t change it every month. The bacteria is on it not IN the tank. Like I said before you can get a sponge filter and that will greatly help. I’ll add a picture of my sponge filter.
  • Actually, beneficial bacteria builds up in the tank as well. more surface area taken up in the tank, the more beneficial bacteria. but MAJORITY of it is indeed in the filter and the media.
  • Excuse me for not being specific enough for you. He was clearly very confused so I was speaking as cut and dry and simplistic as possible. Continuing to say it’s also in the tank wasn’t helping him.
  • betta filter
  • The cartridge filters are crap. I place cut up filter sponges in them. 90% of beneficial bacteria lives in the filter. You throw it out and you’ll have ammonia spikes.
  • So you have one cartridge you put in. When you take old tank water out in a bucket wash the filter in it then put it back. When you do have to change it because it is falling apart a sponge filter will keep your beneficial bacteria so that it won’t have issues when you put in a new one.
  • How about Marineland filters with the Biowheel? Marineland maintains that the Biowheel contains the important beneficial bacteria, so then would replacing the filter cartridge each month be an issue? Does anyone have experience with Biowheel filters?

Posted by Nicki H: What kind of filters does everyone use? Thanks ????
EDIT: I need suggestions for a 10 gallon and a 3 gallon. Right now I have an HOB on my 10. But I’m wondering if that is too powerful flow wise. (No betta in there yet)

  • Aquaclear, fluval, and marineland. I’ve used aqueon and top fin…. Eh not so great but the first 3 are great.
  • Do you let it run as is? Or do something to adjust the flow? I have an Aqueon on a 10 gallon. No betta in there yet. But I’m wondering if the flow is too strong.
  • usually the flow can be controlled by the height of the water levels. If you have the water all the way to the top, gravity cant really make the water drop into the tank to disrupt the water surface.
  • Yeah that’s what I do for my Axolotls. I wasn’t sure if that was even too much of a flow for bettas. Thanks!
  • I’ve never used a sponge filter before. But I am considering it for my betta tank, possibly for my Axolotls too. I’m assuming it doesn’t create that much of a flow?

Posted by Ryan V: Why is my water cloudy? Temp is right, I don’t over feed, it’s not from the gravel or anything.. I do 50% water changes weekly.. I just changed the filter yesterday, still cloudy.. Any ideas? It’s not like horrible, it’s just questionable though.

  • When I changed my filters before adding sponge filters this would happen. Your filter has all the good bacteria in it. Try adding one and it’ll stop happening. Most people advise to just wash your filter in old tank water until it’s falling apart also to avoid this.
  • The filter cartridge ? You have to replace it monthly I thought?
  • No. That just gets rid of whatever good stuff you had. You change the carbon probably once a month but never the ceramic media cartridge.
  • Nope. Everytime you change it you lose any beneficial bacteria that has managed to grow there. I don’t change a filter cartridge unless it is falling apart and cannot be used (which takes a long while). If it’s gunky just sort of swish it around in old tank water during your water change to clear it a bit and put it right back. Your tank should clear in a few days.
  • If you have a carbon insert, that needs frequent replacing, but then there should also be another form of media in the filter, like sponge or bioballs or ceramic, to house beneficial bacteria. If you throw the whole contents of the filter away every month, you’re never going to have a cycled tank.
  • Have not replaced my filter cartridge in probably 7 months or more. But like said above if you have a carbon one you do have to replace those frequently. If you do not have a filter cartridge getting one should clear up the water some. I totally second water test so you know what your parameters are. It’s very likely that something is off.
  • I always keep the ceramic filter media , never change just swish in water if gunky
    The sponge 1 at a time if falling apart and if gunky swish in tank water
    The black carbon inserts i did change but i if the tank is fully cycled and kept properly you dont need carbon
    If its like zeolite after a certain time the ammonia stored in them will disperse back in to the water, if thats the same with carbon id not bother or try to fill inserts with a different sponge they can get pricey and are not actually needed.

Posted by Patricia Y: I know we’ve had this discussion before, but I have two 2.5 gal tanks for my two fish, and I can’t seem to get anyone to agree on the best cleaning method. At the present time, it’s all I have room for and that is the way it has to stay for the foreseeable future. This being the case, my fish have heaters but no filter. I have been doing 100% cleaning/water change once a week, using Prime as conditioner. My lfs says this is fine, they wish all fish owners did this. Petco says it’s too much, I should only do 20% water changes and 100% only once a month, never removing the gravel. What do people in my situation do in terms of cleaning. Thanks for any advice. This is Fish Sticks.

  • Hi my advice would be get a syphon to clean the gravel , by sucking up the old food, poop etc that way the good bacteria is still on there but the nasty stuff is mostly gone, as you have no filter to suck it up , gettin the bad bits out is a must!
    I would not do 100 percent water change as it can really mess with your cycleBut it all dep on your water parameters! And what they are !If anybody has a better idea pls say,
    I would not do 100 percent , unless needed so maybe 60 percent with a good siphoning of the gravel

    A small filter would help

  • It is a total myth that 100% wcs will “mess with a cycle,” as little to no beneficial bacteria lives in the actual water column. As long as the filter media and substrate remain wet the bb will not die. Also, in a small container with no filter, you’re not going to really have a cycle anyway. If water parameters *match* then the fish won’t be shocked by a 100% change, either.
  • I thought the bb stayed on gravel etc , decorations & in the filter! ! Glad I did say check ! Whas wrong with me 2day!
    I honestly never do a 100 percent on any tank unless something bad has happened,
    But i cant have no filter , tried it many years ago and it was just so much hassle and the fish gt ill !
    Eveybody is diff, the London water is not known for its many health benifits at end of the day lol
  • I’m doing the same as you. I have a 5 gal tank with a heater but no filter. I’ve tried 5 different filters and my fish is scared of every single one of them. I’ve tried to slow the flow down as well as slowing the intake down but he’s still afraid. I finally gave up and decided to do more water changes instead.
  • ou do 100% every week, including the gravel? I’m hoping someone with experience with smaller, unfiltered tanks will give me some advice I can use.
  • I’m hoping an angel or angels with experience of tanks that we have will give us some advice. I appreciate people with large tanks chiming in, but successful little-tank people could help a lot and I know there are some on here.
  • You guys will benefit by doing two to three smaller changes each week, rather than one large one at week’s end. Pet stores often give out misinformation and bad advice, sorry. Because of my busy schedule, I tend to do minimum two 80% or so changes per week on my 2.5s, but prefer to do three times.
  • I have 7 filtered tanks ranging from 3-22 gallons. When my fish are in unfiltered hospital tanks with no airstone (two had fin rot, both fine now) I change the water 50% every day or every other, otherwise they are swimming in their own ammonia…
  • With 2 fish in an uncycled 2.5g tank you should do atleast 50 to 60% DAILY and rehome one of the boys over the long term. 2.5g is the accepted minimum for one fish, but even for one it is very very small.
  • So, never take the gravel out and rinse it? Just change the water frequently? That’s what they said at Petco. They said never remove the fish when you clean. What about the decorations?
  • Sponge filters are a few $ on Amazon and can be powered by a nano pump. No additional room needed. About $25 will get you a nice filter. Then just gravel siphon off 1/2 the water 2x a week. I usually do Tues/Sat. This will allow better cycling.
  • Are you opposed to live plants? I have a few tanks with tail biters that wouldn’t tolerate any water movement. I removed the filters and planted the tanks with live plants. They will act as a natural filter as they live off of the bad stuff. My planted tanks are 3G and with them being planted I do 2, 10-20% water changes and 1 50% water change a week.