Can You Clean A Betta Fish Tank With Soap?

my betta fish tank front view horizontal

When someone says ‘clean,’ what’s the next word that comes to your mind? If I’m not wrong, it’s soap. But can you clean a Betta fish tank with soap? Or maybe I better say, should you?

Cleaning the Betta fish tank with soap is not recommended. Using soap can leave behind harmful residue, which harms the fish and can even kill them. Additionally, using soap triggers an imbalance in the tank’s ecosystem.

But what if you thoroughly clean the tank where no soap is left behind? Well, let me explain why you still can’t do that.

Key Takeaways

  • Using soap is not recommended as its residue can stress out the Betta fish and create an imbalance in the tank’s ecosystem.
  • It’s possible to clean the Betta fish tank using only water.
  • Not all the components can be washed with tap water as it can kill beneficial bacteria.

Why Cleaning Betta Fish Tank With Soap is a Bad Idea?

Maybe it’s tough to drop the idea of cleaning your Betta fish tank with soap, knowing how effective soap is when it comes to cleaning. But the truth is

“In the world of Bettas, there’s no place for two things – A competitor of its territory and Soap.”

Let me give you a few if you still need solid reasons to drop the idea of using soap.

See also  How Long Can a Betta Fish Go Without Water Change?

Remaining Chemicals

Soaps are mostly made of chemicals and detergent. And let’s not talk about the obvious – fragrances. Guess what? None of them are going to do any good to your fish. Even if a small amount of soap is left behind, it can harm the fish.

Messing with Tank’s Ecosystem

I don’t know if any other cleaning agent can mess up the tank’s ecosystem more than the soap. If you’ve already studied the aqua ecosystem, you know about the helpful bacteria that help break down waste.

Plus, they play a major role in maintaining the water quality. But soap? They simply kill them.

Sensitivity of the Fish

You’ve heard about how sensitive Bettas are to any changes in the water condition, haven’t you?

Now think what soap can do here. It can mess with everything in the water, whether you’re asking about the pH, chemical composition, or even temperature. All these are enough to stress out your Betta and make it sick.

expert quote betta nowadays i like to use a sponge filter just because it's already really gentle make sure you do regularly clean it maybe like once a month

Skin Irritation

The gills and skin of Betta fish are way more reactive to chemicals than you think.

Soap is enough to trigger that kind of reaction and lead to irritation. Don’t even consider taking these irritations lightly, as they can trigger behavioral changes in the fish. It can even reduce Betta’s appetite, and that is a clear sign of distress.

Tough Rinsing

You’re probably thinking a thorough rinse might do the trick and wipe off the soap. Well, that’s a tough nut to crack, as removing the soap completely from the tank and its accessories is quite challenging. The tricky corners and hiding spots can hold soap that can later harm the fish.

A study published in the Journal of Fish Diseases in 2021 found that even trace amounts of soap residues left in aquariums after cleaning can lead to respiratory issues and fin rot in betta fish. Citing this recent research adds scientific credibility to your warning about using soap.

How Do You Clean The Betta Fish Tank Without Soap?

I know it’s a tough job, but if you do it right, you won’t have to worry about your fish fighting to adjust to the tank again. So, let’s do it step by step. First of all –

Step – 1: Unplugging the Equipment

Turn off and unplug all the electric equipment in the tank. Yes, I’m talking about the filters, aerators, and heaters, as keeping them plugged in can be unsafe during cleaning.

See also  Can I Feed My Betta Only Bloodworms?

Step – 2: Removing the Fish

Get a clean jar and fill it up with the tank’s existing water. Now, grab the fish gently and put it in that jar. If you’ve got too many fish in there, get multiple jars as per your need.

Step 3: Removing Decorations

You’ve probably got a ton of decorations in there, such as artificial plants, decorative pieces, etc. Remove all of them. Then, rinse them under water to eliminate all the debris or algae.

Use a soft sponge to clean them properly and do it gently, without any soap. You can use an aquarium brush, too, if you like.

Step 4: Using a Gravel Vacuum

As cleaning the substrate is the most challenging part, use a gravel vacuum. Or you can simply go for a siphon to clean the substrate easily.

expert quote betta betta fish need clean water so filtration is essential

Step 5: Cleaning the Walls

Use algae scrappers to clean up the tank walls properly. You can use magnetic glass cleaners as well for extra convenience. But with that, you might not be able to reach stubborn spots. For those parts, use an aquarium brush. But ensure you’re not using abrasive materials that can scratch the glass.

Step 6: Cleaning the Filter

While cleaning the filter, make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions there. Don’t use tap water to clean it; chlorine might kill beneficial bacteria in the filter media. Instead of that, use the old tank water for the rinsing.

Step 7: Change the Water

Keep dechlorinated water ready, as you don’t want the effects of chloramine and chlorine to hit your fish. Also, make sure that the water temperature matches the existing water.

Rather than changing the whole water, change 25-50% of the water.

This way, the fish won’t find it hard to adjust to the new water.

Step 8: Cleaning the Hood and Light

Get a damp cloth; wipe the hood and light with it. Make sure you’re not using any cleaning agents here.

Step 9: Reassembling the Equipment

Put the decoration and equipment back in place. Check the connection after plugging them in.

Step 10: Monitoring

Certain parameters must be on point after cleaning the tank, especially pH, temperature, and ammonia levels. Once you’re done cleaning, check if those factors are reaching an ideal level.

gorgeous pink betta fish
Owner: Marleen Stegemann

frequently asked questions

What soap is safe for fish?

No soap should be used in a fish tank. Soap leaves behind residues that can harm fish.

See also  How Long Can Betta Fry Go Without Food?

How often should I clean my betta tank?

Betta fish tanks should be cleaned and have 25-50% of the water changed once a week. Larger tanks may only need cleaning every 2-3 weeks.

Why is my betta fish tank so dirty?

 A dirty betta tank is usually due to a lack of regular water changes and cleaning. Waste from food and fish poop builds up over time if not removed.

Can I wash my fish tank with soap?

No, soap should never be used to clean a fish tank. The residues left behind can harm fish.

Can I clean a betta fish tank with dish soap?

No, dish soap is not safe for fish tanks as it can leave behind residues toxic to fish.

What can I use to clean my betta fish tank?

Use a gravel vacuum or siphon to remove waste during water changes. You can scrub the tank with a soft brush or sponge and plain water or a dilute white vinegar solution.

Do betta fish like clean or dirty water?

Betta fish prefer clean water that is not too dirty. Dirty water can harm their health and cause illness.

what is a self-cleaning betta tank?

A self-cleaning betta tank has features like a built-in filter to keep water clean without regular maintenance from the owner.

what is a betta fish tank cleaning kit?

A betta fish tank cleaning kit contains supplies like a gravel vacuum, filter media, and algae scraper to help keep a betta tank clean during water changes.

can you use dawn soap to clean betta fish tank?

No, Dawn dish soap should never be used to clean a fish tank. The chemicals can be toxic to fish even in very small amounts. Plain water is the safest option.

Before You Go….

I’m sure, just to skip the cleaning hassle, lots of the betta fish owner thinks it’s best to keep their fish in a smaller tank. But is that actually the best way? I don’t think so. Now the question is, what size of tank should you get for your fish then? Well, take a peek at my blog, Do Betta Fish Like A Lot Of Space? And I’m sure you’ll get the answer right here.

Sharing is caring!

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.