Do Betta Fish Prefer Long Or Tall Tanks?

Honestly, I would’ve always preferred taller tanks for my fish. Then, I learned about Betta fish – one of the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen. But seeing them mostly in smaller tanks confused me about whether they like taller or longer tanks. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to find out.

Betta fish prefer longer tanks over taller ones because longer tanks provide more room for swimming. A longer tank offers a calm water flow, which Betta fish usually prefer. Additionally, longer tanks are more similar to their natural habitat

But is there any other substantial reason that makes longer tanks a perfect habitat for these colorful swimmers? And what if you need to keep them in a taller tank? Can they keep up there? Well, you’re a scroll away from these answers.

Key Takeaway

  • Longer tanks are more suitable for Betta fish because they provide more swimming space and better breathing.
  • Longer tanks reduce aggression and also expands exploration area.
  • Taller tanks can also accommodate Betta fish with modifications, like subdued lighting, lowering water levels, adjusting filters, etc.
my betta fish tank
This is my own betta fish tank. It’s a horizontal tank. (Size dimensions: 22 x 12 x 14 inches)

Why Longer Tanks are Better for Betta Fish?

What is the purpose of a fish tank? Giving the fish a place to live will promote its natural behavior and positively influence its well-being. That’s the same reason why Betta fish need a longer tank. But let’s be precise and start with the actual reasons.

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FactorLong TankTall Tank
Swimming SpaceMore horizontal space for swimming.Limited horizontal space but more vertical swimming.
Better for mimicking natural habitat.Less natural for bettas who prefer shallower waters.
Hiding PlacesEasier to create hiding spots along the bottom.Can have hiding spots but may be less accessible.
More space for plants and decorations.Vertical decorations can be used.
Viewing EnjoymentEasier for the fish to see and interact with the world.Higher perspective can be interesting.
More space to explore and patrol.Limited exploration due to vertical limitations.

Horizontal Space for Swimming

Betta fish are used to their regular horizontal swimming patterns.

After all, in their wild habitat, they live in shallow water, especially the ones with slow-moving streams. So, they feel more at home when you get them a longer tank with that kind of horizontal space. It will also help them in exhibiting their natural behavior.

Breathing Area

Have you heard about fish that are labyrinth breathers? Well, Betta fish is one of them.

It means betta fish can breathe directly from the surface using their organ ‘labyrinth’.

So, when putting them in a taller tank, it becomes difficult for them to reach the surface frequently to breathe. On the other hand, a longer provides a larger and easily accessible breathing area.

Minimizing Stress Level

A taller tank can sometimes trigger stress in Betta fish. After all, they’re uncomfortable or not used to living in that much open water. Plus, it makes them feel exposed. But when you give them a longer tank with enough hiding spots, they find it more secure, ultimately reducing their stress level.

expert quote betta i like to use aquarium gravel instead of marbles in my tank because the poop for the betta fish tends to stay on top and it's just really easy to vacuum out versus marbles

Filtration and Circulation

Longer tanks will always be ahead of taller ones, especially regarding efficient water circulation. The same goes for filtration as well. FYI, for Betta fish, it’s a must to maintain the water quality through proper filtration and water circulation. They keep the water free of waste and toxins that might make your fish sick.

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Expanding Exploration Area

If you’re asking about the most curious fish to keep, I can’t help taking the name of Betta fish here. But for fueling their curious nature, having a decently big enough, explorable is a must. So, when you’re giving them a longer tank, having that shouldn’t be a problem.

Reducing Aggression

There’s nothing new to say about the aggression of Betta fish. But when the tank is taller, it surely will have less room and can eventually put another fish in front of your Betta. You know what’s going to happen next. But in a longer tank, the fish will have enough space to set its territory and reduce the aggression.

Look at my betta fish! He’s trying to hide!

What Should Be the Size of the Longer Tank?

The size will depend on the number of fish you’ve got. So, let’s cut it short with a table.

Number of FishTank LengthTank Size
124″5 gallons
236″10 gallons
348″15 gallons
460″20 gallons
572″25 gallons
684″30 gallons

Can You Keep Betta Fish in Taller Tanks?

Okay, what if you’ve already got a taller tank but still want a Betta fish in your tank? Yes, you can keep it there, but I’ll still say it’s not the best place to keep the fish. If you cannot change the tank, you can try a bunch of tips to make it more suitable for your Betta, such as –

Plants and Decorations

Try adding a vertical cover for the fish that will also provide some resting place for the fish.

You can use tall decorations here that will go the surface from the bottom. You can also use live plants to pull this off.

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Hiding Spots

You’ll see some caves in aquarium shops that can be a fine hiding spot. Adding floating plants, such as water lettuce or duckweed, will also be helpful. These will create a more subdued atmosphere for the fish, just as they like it in their natural habitat.

rainbow color marbling betta fish
Owner: Frankie Hernandez

Adjustable Filter

If your tank doesn’t have an adjustable filter, get one. Make sure it can adjust the water flow.

After all, you must ensure the betta fish is getting calm waters as excessive water flow can trigger stress in them.

Low Water Level

Don’t forget that Bettas are labyrinth breathers. So, keep the water level comparatively lower as they need to access the surface for breathing.


Bettas will like it as long as you’re keeping the lighting subdued. So, instead of using hard-hitting lights, try using the low-intensity ones. And also create more shaded areas with proper decorations.

Other Fish

While choosing tank mates for your Betta, you need to be very careful as you don’t want to make it a battlefield. Pick species only if they’re compatible with the fish and prefer living in the same condition as Betta.

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

Before We Go….

Though I’ve given you a table for finding the size of the tank, you might find it difficult and confusing. So, why not make it a bit easier with a calculator? So, what are you planning to know? What is the right tank size? Amount of water required? Well, you’ll get it all here at Betta Fish Calculator.

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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.


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