How To Make A Self-Cleaning Betta Tank? [Step By Step]

It must be irritating to clean your betta tank regularly, but you can reduce the hassle with a self-cleaning betta tank. Also, it’s pretty stressful for your betta fish when you change the water often and siphon off the dirt of the substrate. That’s why, betta enthusiasts look for step by step guide to make a self-cleaning betta tank.

Hence, I’ve researched for a while, to sum up a guideline to set up a self-cleaning betta tank. In this article, I’ve penned down what you need to make a self-cleaning tank, how you make this tank, and other required information.

So, let’s dive into the details of this article to get a broad guideline.

4 Key Takeaways

  • A self-cleaning betta tank requires minimal human intervention or maintenance.
  • Substrate, plants, and critters play the role of natural filters in a self-cleaning tank.
  • The main purpose of setting up a self-cleaning tank is to establish a complete ecosystem within the tank.
  • However, no self-cleaning betta tank can run fully without any filtration system or water changes.

How Does A Self Cleaning Betta Tank Work?

Many people can’t get how a betta tank cleans itself. So, let me clear up your confusion about how a self-cleaning betta tank works.

Firstly, it’s pretty obvious that your betta fish will produce natural waste in the tank. Moreover, there will be decaying plants, leftovers, etc. That’s why, cleaning the betta tank is a must for the survival of your betta fish.

The traditional method to clean a fish tank is to change a share of the water regularly. If you do not follow the water replacement method, you must follow water treatment procedures. But, a self-cleaning betta tank doesn’t require any of these methods or chemical treatment.

A self-cleaning betta tank means the ability to filter out the wastes by itself. The betta tank owners don’t need to bear the hassle of cycling the water.

In this self-cleaning tank, you need to follow a perfect plant-to-water ratio. Moreover, the aquarists keep certain plants for a self-cleaning betta tank. These plants work as a natural filter. That’s why you do not need any other filter to absorb the bacteria and other wastes from the betta tank.

Sometimes, the aquarists use the power of gravity to clean the waste. By using gravity, there is a sloped-down area where the wastes come into a collection area automatically. Adding aquatic livestock that eats algae, debris, and other wastes helps self-cleaning betta tanks work well.

3 Types Of Self-cleaning Betta Tank

You might wonder whether all self-cleaning tank works in the same way. Before starting the setup process, you should get an idea about the types of self-cleaning betta tanks. There are three popular self-cleaning tanks. Let’s get introduced to these three types of self-cleaning tanks.

1. Gravity-Based Self-Cleaning Betta Tank

This type of self-cleaning betta tank will use the power of gravity to draw off the waste. Hence, the construction of such a tank is slightly different. The bottom of the tank should be sloped. It helps the wastes slide down into a certain waste-collection area.

For this, you should place a container or bucket beneath the bottom layer. Among all these three self-cleaning tanks, this gravity-based self-cleaning betta tank is comparatively easier.

2. Biological Self-Cleaning Betta Tank

This self-cleaning betta tank works with the harmony of betta fish, plants, and bacteria. The complete ecosystem within the enclosed tank will convert the toxic elements into less harmful products.

If you set up a biological self-cleaning betta tank, the beneficial bacteria will turn the fish wastes into nitrate. On the contrary, the plants will intake these nitrates. Moreover, plants will release oxygen that will be helpful for your betta fish.

3. Mechanical Self-Cleaning Betta Tank

In this mechanical self-cleaning tank, a filtration system will be used to remove the waste. As a result, there will conduct biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. This automatic system will keep the tank water clean by all these methods.

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What Do You Need To Make A Self-Cleaning Betta Tank?

Before stepping into the procedure, you should bring all items together to set up a self-cleaning betta tank. Let’s check out what materials you may need to make a self-cleaning betta tank.

1. Fish Aquarium

The very first thing that you’ll need to make a self-cleaning betta tank is a nice fish tank. Now, the size of the fish aquarium depends on the number of betta fish that you want to keep. The larger the tank, the better it works.

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In a smaller tank, the water becomes polluted more quickly than in a larger tank. The toxin build-up is faster in a smaller fish tank.

On the other hand, the large volume of a larger tank can help you perform the nitrogen cycle. Besides, you can maintain the ratio of water-fish-plant well in a larger tank. Since you’re making a betta tank, you should provide plenty of swimming space for your betta tank.

The ideal water capacity for a self-cleaning betta tank should be around 20-300 gallons. In the case of a betta tank, you should buy a wide and shallow fish tank.

You can buy a fish tank from any local store or reliable online store. If you want to save some money, you can buy a used tank. Make sure that the fish tank doesn’t have any cracks or defects.

2. Substrate

One of the most significant materials of a self-cleaning betta tank is the substrate. Since a self-cleaning tank works the filtration by beneficial bacteria, you need to make the ground home for bacteria. For this, you should choose a mineral-rich substrate in your self-cleaning betta tank.

You can use individual components as substrates. Such as soil, gravel, sand, etc. Otherwise, you can mix different types of substrate components. Make sure that the substrate fulfills the requirements of bacteria.

Another crucial component of a self-cleaning betta tank is planted. A good substrate plays an effective role in the nourishment and good growth of these plants. Since substrates are the food source of your plants, you should focus on mineral-rich substrates.

If you look for substrate recommendations, you can check out CaribSea Eco-complete and Flourite.

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3. Plants

You might know that three by-products of waste are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. To dissolve these materials, you should choose plants wisely for your self-cleaning betta tank.

A self-cleaning betta tank requires aquatic plants with special demands. After all, these plants feed on bacteria that help the self-cleaning betta tank sustain itself.

Besides, the roots of the plants work as a natural filter for a self-cleaning tank. These roots will absorb the bacteria released from betta feces, wastes, and debris. Plant roots can remove several types of dissolved wastes from the water.

In cases of self-cleaning betta tanks, you must choose fast-growing plants. Due to their fast growth, these plants can consume nitrates and phosphates more.

Also, dense or bushy plants can be a good hiding place for clean-up crews. Besides, leftovers can store on bushy plants. Your betta fish or critters can consume these leftovers and debris later.

Make sure not to overcrowd the betta tank with plants. Before bringing plants, you should consider a few things.

Since these plants are for your self-cleaning betta tank, you should choose low-maintenance plants. Also, you should choose those plants that do not require frequent trimming. Try to choose such plants that require less attention.

I’ve made a small list of plants to add to your self-cleaning betta tank. These are-

  • Duckweed (surface growing)
  • Amazon frogbit (surface growing)
  • Java moss (surface growing)
  • Waterweeds (surface growing)
  • Java fern (bottom growing)
  • Green Buce (bottom growing)
  • Guppy grass (bottom growing)
  • Pearl weed (bottom growing)
  • Anuvias (bottom growing)
  • Sword plants (bottom growing)
  • Hairgrass (bottom growing)
  • Water lettuce (bottom growing)

4. Filter

No matter what people say about not using any filtration system, a self-cleaning tank requires an aquatic filter. The definition of the term of the self-cleaning tank is not entirely true.

No self-cleaning tank can run without any help. After all, it’s complicated to mimic the natural ecosystem to make a 100% self-cleaning tank inside the home.

You need to monitor and clean your betta tank even if it has a balanced ecosystem. Although plants and critters work as natural filters in such tanks, you should choose the right filter for your betta tank. If you do not want to add any filter, you must make partial water changes regularly.

There are varieties of filtration systems of different sizes and shapes. To encourage bacteria growth, you can add textured filter media inside the filter.

5. Heater

A self-cleaning tank will reduce your hassle of maintenance with the help of plants, substrate, etc. You need to ensure the proper growth of these plants. To help your aquatic plants flourish, you need to keep a constant water temperature.

That’s why you should install a digital tank heater. Also, you must avoid fluctuating the water temperature for your betta fish. Otherwise, your betta fish will have a poor metabolism rate.

In cold temperatures, betta fish becomes susceptible to diseases. To keep the eco-system and your betta alright, you need to adjust a reliable tank heater.

6. Lighting Source

You must not forget the necessity of lighting in your self-cleaning betta tank. Although it’s a self-cleaning tank, your priority should be the health of your betta fish. These betta fish require a sleep and wake cycle.

That’s why, a diurnal lighting system is a must for any betta tank. You should provide 8-12 hours of lighting followed by 12 hours of darkness. Moreover, the growth of the plants in your self-cleaning tank depends on the lighting setup. You must not keep this self-cleaning betta tank

But, there’s a drawback of constant exposure to lighting. Direct exposure to lighting can cause algae to bloom in your self-cleaning tank. Besides, the water in this tank may become warmer.

The experts suggest adding LED lighting in such self-cleaning tanks. If you look for any suggestions, you can try NICREW CLASSICLED Aquarium Light.

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7. CO2 Kit

You might know that CO2 is a significant component of the photosynthesis process of plants. In your closed self-cleaning tank, your plants will not get plenty of CO2 like in the wild. Since plants work as a natural filter for your self-cleaning betta tank, you should ensure the healthy growth of these plants.

To help your plants flourish, you should manage a constant supply of CO2. The amount of CO2 depends on the amount of lighting exposure on your plants. That’s why you must include CO2 kits in the shopping list for your self-cleaning betta tank.

8. Fertilizer Dosing Pump

Since you are setting up a self-cleaning betta tank, you can reduce your work of fertilizing your plants. For this, you need to get a fertilizer dosing pump. It’s an injector that pumps fertilizers for your plants on the correct dose.

If you want to give medicine, you can make additional use of your fertilizer dosing pump. This automatic system of fertilizing will keep the plants healthy for your self-cleaning tank.

9. Water

You might overlook the parameters of water for a self-cleaning betta tank. But, it’ll be a huge mistake. Since it is a betta-specific tank, you must add water according to betta requirements.

Betta fish require warmer water of 76-85 degrees Fahrenheit. These fish thrive well in the pH of 6.8-7.5. To keep your betta happy, you need to buy water test kits to monitor the water parameters regularly.

10. Supplement

Plants need minerals and vitamins to flourish properly with good health. Since plants play a vital role in your self-cleaning betta tank, you need to provide supplementation for your plants. These supplements include iron, zinc, carbon, vitamin, manganese, and other trace elements.

I’ll recommend API Leaf Zone and Seachem Flourish Tabs.

11. Decors

There are not many special décor items for a self-cleaning tank. You can add décors to help your betta fish thrive well. Such as coconut shells, rocks, wood, etc. There are also plenty of artificial décor items available in online stores.

12. Aquarium Cleaners

Lastly, you must bring the necessary equipment to clean your betta tank. Before setting up the tank, you need to clean the aquarium thoroughly.

If you do not have any aquarium cleaners at home, you should add these items to your grocery list. Such as algae scraper, glass cleaner, bleach, filter media, filter brush, paper towels, gravel vacuum, etc.

How Can I Make A Self-Cleaning Betta Tank?

Do you feel gross cleaning your dirty betta tank? Then, you should switch to a self-cleaning betta tank. To reduce your hassle, I’ve summed up the 9 steps to set up a self-cleaning betta tank. Let’s go through the details below.

Step 1: Choosing The Right Sized Tank

If you look at the wild, you’ll notice that the natural water sources do not need any water change or filtration. Despite producing ammonia and nitrite, the aquatic creatures still manage to thrive there. The vast amount of water makes the amount of nitrate insignificant. That’s why the experts suggest choosing larger tanks.

In addition, you should take the number of betta fish that you want to keep in the count. Since you may add plants and other items to the tank, you must not overcrowd the tank. Hence, choosing the right-sized tank should be your first responsibility.

Step 2: Cleaning The Tank And Equipment

You might be too excited to set up your self-cleaning betta tank after bringing all items. But, hold on. You should keep some patience to prepare the enclosure beforehand.

First, you should clean the tank and all equipment. If the tank is already used, you must sterilize the tank. Firstly, you need to clean the glass aquarium. Afterward, you should wash décor items, gravel, outside glass fixtures, and filter.

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Step 3: Adding Substrate

The next step is to add substrate. After all, the substrate houses bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrate.

It works not only as a filtration system but also surface for plants. The substrate for the self-cleaning betta tank will be slightly different from the regular betta tank.

Since substrate functions the biological filtration, you need to add substrate in several layers. You can choose sand, soil, and gravel. Several types of pre-made mixtures of substrates are available at markets. Since substrate works as a rooting medium for plants, you must add mineral-rich substrate.

While setting up the layer, you should keep the soil at the bottom of the tank. After all, the smallest particles should be kept at the bottom layer.

In the middle, you need to keep a layer of 2-3 inched sand. Not to mention, sand is the most natural filter for any fish habitation. Finally, you need to keep around 1-2 inched gravel. These three layers of particles will help beneficial bacteria grow in your self-cleaning tank.

Step 4: Adding Textured Filtered Media

If you maintain a mechanical self-cleaning betta tank, you will add a filtration system. To encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, you should add textured media.

These textured filter media will be a great breeding ground for beneficial bacteria. As a result, the nitrifying action will get faster in your self-cleaning betta tank. So, the wastes from dirty water will become purified.

Step 5: Installing Other Equipment

In this stage, you can install the necessary equipment for your self-cleaning tank. Such as heater, lighting, fertilizer dosing pump, décor items, etc. Also, you should keep in mind the right placement of this equipment.

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Step 6: Adding Water

Although it is a self-cleaning tank, the main concern of this tank is the betterment of betta fish. So, you must add water that fulfills the requirements of your betta. You can prepare tap water.

Otherwise, you can buy pre-conditioned aquarium water from any store. Some hobbyists want to choose spring water, bottled water, or reverse osmosis water. These are also safe for your betta. But, this water can be expensive.

If you want to choose a budget-friendly way, you can start preparing tap water. For this, you should boil tap water to remove chlorine and other toxic elements. Then, you need to cool down the water.

However, the water must be 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit warmer when you add them to the self-cleaning tank. Not to mention, the tank water should have 6.5-7 pH.

Step 7: Add Live Aquarium Plants

One of the biggest natural filtration components in the wild is plants. Lots of plants grow on the edge, bottom, and surface of the freshwater lakes, ponds, etc. The roots of these plants consume nitrates as their nutrients from the water bodies. In this way, the ecosystem of natural water sources works to clean the water without any water change.

By applying this formula, you can run your self-cleaning betta tank. Choose fast-growing aquarium plants. You must ensure a proper environment for these plants. After all, these plants are weapons to remove the nitrates. 

Step 8: Introducing Livestock

Although your self-cleaning tank is a betta-specific tank, you should add some livestock to keep the tank clean. Make sure to choose certain livestock with a small bioload. For this, you need to add cleanup crews known as microfilters. Such as snails, shrimp, critters, etc.

Step 9: Cycling The Self Cleaning Betta Tank

Before introducing your betta, you should run and cycle the self-cleaning betta tank. It is a preparatory phase to give the ammonia cycle some time to start processing. You can add bacteria to a bottle.

The best step will be adding some fish food. Then, you need to let the food rot and disintegrate. When the rotting foods produce ammonia, the bacteria available in the substrate and filter will convert them to nitrite and nitrate. Then, it’ll be food for your plants.

In this way, you can cycle the self-cleaning tank for 3-4 days. Make sure to test the water before adding your betta fish.

4 Maintenance Of Self Cleaning Betta Tank

Your work isn’t finished after establishing a self-cleaning betta tank. To keep your betta happy there, you should do well maintenance of this self-cleaning tank. You must ensure not to break the balance of the ecosystem of the tank.

Let’s check out the following tips.

1. Cleaning Schedule

For regular maintenance, you should make a cleaning schedule for your self-cleaning betta tank. Since betta fish do not like algae, you must monitor to see any sign of algae growth. Make a schedule to clean the tank glass, substrate, and filter media.

3. Adding Automatic Feeder

Since it is a self-cleaning betta tank, you should minimize human intervention as much as possible. That’s why you can install an automatic feeder. You can set a specific dose to provide food for your betta fish.

As a result, no excess foods may store at the bottom of the tank. So, ammonia production will be less due to less rotting foods. But, this action may fail in some cases.

Sometimes, an automatic feeder can dispense too much food in the tank. You should keep an eye on the automatic feeding system of your self-cleaning betta tank.

4. Monitoring Water Parameters

You must remember that no tank can be 100% self-cleaning. To ensure the safety of your betta, you should monitor the water parameters regularly. Make sure that the ammonia level must be 0 ppm. For this, you can use digital water testing kits.

5. Remove Dead Plant Matters

Rotting leaves or plants can add ammonia to your self-cleaning betta tank. Like the name self-cleaning, you can add natural live-in gardeners to remove dead plant matter. For this, you can add some herbivores foragers that are compatible with betta fish.

6 Common Mistakes To Avoid In A Self Cleaning Betta Tank

If you’re a beginner, there may remain some risks to make mistakes. To help you succeed, I’ve made a small list of common mistakes that people usually make in a self-cleaning betta tank. Take a look at the following mistakes to avoid any mishaps.

  1. Do not overstock the self-cleaning betta tank.
  2. Choose aquarium plants with less maintenance.
  3. While choosing critters and foragers, you should check their compatibility with your betta tank.
  4. Some clean-up crews will do the chores of additional cleaning.
  5. Do not forget to monitor the water parameters.
  6. You should remain concerned about the bio-load of the livestock that you want to add to your tank.

However, people often like to get a readymade self-cleaning tank for their betta. If you do not want to take the hassle of setting up the tank, you can buy any self-cleaning tank from several reliable sources. Some of the best picks from Amazon are As Seen On TV My  Fun Fish Tank and Back To The Roots Water Garden.

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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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