Is The Filter Too Strong for Betta? (3 Ways to Fix It)

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Many myths surround the Betta fish – one of them being that this feisty breed does not like strong currents. 

However, the truth is that each Betta fish, like any other living organism, has a distinct personality, and some do enjoy going with the flow. At the same time, most Betta fish are lazy and get tired quickly when placed in a tank with a strong filter.

So, if you often see a Betta coming up to the surface for a quick breather, it’s time to ask yourself, “is my filter too strong for my Betta?”

How To Tell If Filter Is Too Strong For Betta?

A distressed pet can make any pet owner worried. After all, they rely on you to make their lives better. Unfortunately, there are many things out of our control that may be the source of their worries. However, you can control the current and filter settings for your Betta fish tank

That said, watch out for these tell-tale signs of a Betta fish that might be gasping for calm waters.

Struggling To Swim

Imagine you are out on the street in the middle of a storm, and the wind starts shoving you around. The same goes for Betta fish that are exposed to a strong current. As much as Betta fish are lazy, they still enjoy swimming around the tank. So, if you find them failing to glide with ease, you may want to turn down the current. 

However, it is worth noting that a Betta fish that has been transported from a small bowl or cup to a large aquarium recently may struggle to swim due to weak muscles. In this case, you should wait a while before altering the filter settings.

Swimming At An Angle

Although many marine animals swim in circles, Betta fish is not one of them. Apart from poor water quality, a strong filter may prevent the fish from swimming straight. 

If you notice the fish swimming at an angle, turn down the filter and observe its reaction. In case it continues swimming in the same manner, something fishier may be going on. That said, erratic swimming may be a symptom of illnesses, such as constipation, swim bladder disease, and dropsy

Floating Or Hiding

You may notice a Betta fish wedged into a plant or hiding behind aquarium decorations. Or perhaps, the fish hovers around the top or bottom of the tank – or wherever there are dead spots. 

Although Betta fish feel content in confined areas, they usually utilize a good amount of space when transferred to a bigger tank. That said, your Betta is most probably not shy but rather avoiding getting pushed around by the current. 

How Do I Make My Betta’s Filter Less Strong?

As long as you purchase the correct filter for the size of your aquarium, the current is probably just right to keep water conditions at an optimal level. However, Betta fish come from slow-moving streams and shallow ponds, and they are considered bad swimmers among fish. 

That said, you may have to be a bit creative to reduce the current without compromising water quality. Here are a few ways to go about it:

DIY Filter Baffle

To create a filter baffle, all you need is a used water bottle or plastic pop bottle, a marker, adhesive tape, and a pair of scissors. 

First, measure the filter output on your tank or simply place the bottle against it and mark its length on the bottle. Then, with a pair of scissors or a utility knife, cut along the marking. Make sure that you measure from the bottom and remove the bottleneck. 

If you are using a pop bottle, ensure that the bottle has been thoroughly washed with water and is free of any contaminants. Once it has dried, attach the bottle on its side to the filter outlet and adjust its placement. As a final step, use packing tape to secure your DIY filter baffle.

Decorate Your Tank

Indeed, aquarium decorations don’t just make the surroundings more beautiful for your pets. They also serve as a buffer against the current and a hiding place when your Betta wants some privacy.

That said, you can add plants, such as java fern and betta bulbs to slow down the current. In addition, underwater caves provide the perfect hideaway for Betta fish, whether or not the current is too strong for their liking.  

Invest In A New Filter

Sponge filters are cost-effective and easy to use. But the best part, of course, is that they allow you to adjust the current to replicate the Betta fish’s natural surroundings. 

Fortunately, most online pet supplies stores sell a plethora of adjustable filters for fish tanks. You can expect to pay only about $10-$20 for a filter that is well-suited for a 5-gallon tank.

Alternatively, you can buy a pre-filter sponge and attach it to the filter nozzle to reduce the current output. 

Final Thoughts 

Apart from being bad swimmers that are not acclimated to strong currents like saltwater fish, Betta fish are a unique breed that breathes in atmospheric air. Putting them in an aquarium with a strong current means they must continually fight to come up to the surface. 

In the long run, this causes them extreme physical and emotional stress, which may eventually lead to illnesses that may prove to be fatal. In fact, a Betta fish may avoid coming up for air altogether and damage its labyrinth – the specialized organ which facilitates its ability to breathe in oxygen directly. 

Not to mention how the fish won’t be able to catch or find its food that keeps floating away with the strong current. Needless to say, you must provide calm waters to your Betta fish so that it can stay calm all the time.

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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