Can Betta Fish Live Without Oxygen?

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Betta fish make an amazing pet, even for beginners. They look simply beautiful and are known to be hardy fish. On top of that, they are quite special when compared to most aquarium fish, as they have a unique respiratory organ.

The labyrinth, as such organ is called, allows fish to breathe small amounts of air when putting their mouth out of water. However, does that mean that Betta fish can live without oxygen across their water tank?

No, betta fish can’t live without oxygen. Bettas do require to have appropriate oxygen levels in the water they live in. Keeping them into small bowls, thinking that they will simply use their labyrinth to collect oxygen from air, is not recommendable at all.

How do You Add Oxygen to Aquarium Water?

There are several mechanical and natural methods of adding oxygen to your aquarium, but the most effective manual way is to simply agitate the water surface. Another handy suggestion is to grab a clean cup, fill it with aquarium water, and pour it back in the aquarium from far above. The bigger the distance is, the more oxygen will it create.

Oxygen levels are increased with water circulation. And the more it circulates, the more oxygen will there be. The amount of such activity that one should do depends a lot on the tank size but also on the number of fish that live there.

A clear sign is tracking the Bettas behavior- if they are constantly reaching to the surface trying to collect air, this certainly indicates that your pet is struggling to catch enough oxygen.

If adding oxygen to aquarium water using the cup pouring trick, please make sure to have a stable dish or plate at the bottom, right below the point where you are pouring water. This will decrease the chance of the tank substrate of being stirred and making the water muddy.

Do Bettas Need Air Bubbles?

Air pumps, such as air stones, are a handy mechanical way of increasing oxygen levels into tank water. They basically push the water from the bottom of tank, which has more carbon dioxide in it, to the very top of the tank.

And this is what brings to oxygenation. Air bubbles can certainly bring to higher oxygen levels (this is their main purpose, after all) but they are not essential for Bettas. And often, filters can bring to better performances.

Air bubbles usually create a lot of water movement and some Bettas may find that quite stressful. Also, their intention is to increase oxygen levels, but they are not able of making water any cleaner. On the other side, filters can do both, and that is exactly why they are more recommendable for Betta aquariums.

Do Bettas Need a Filter?

Filters are not a must for Betta tanks, as they can survive without those, but they are highly suggestable. Filters agitate the surface water very well, increasing the oxygen levels all across the aquarium.

On top of that, filters will require less manual cleaning activities and water changes, as they are literally keeping the water much cleaner. This brings to advantages both to fish and to their owners, and they are really not that much of an investment.

There are several kinds of different filters available today, but they all work on the same principle. Water runs through the tank filter and there are multiple activities which happen while it is located inside the very filter.

First of all, filter media catches all the visible particles (such as food residues, fish waste, decomposing plant parts) inside the filter and this certainly brings to water becoming cleaner and clearer.

At the same time, beneficial bacteria which live across the filter perform their part of the job. They literally convert ammonia from fish and food waste into less toxic substances, such as nitrates.

And, last but not least, carbon or other chemicals can be added to tank filters when necessary, to remove some metals or toxins from the water. This is quite helpful after medication processes, for instance.

Aquarium filters are one of the inventions that we are so thankful for. Not only will they keep tank water cleaner, but they will ultimately create more oxygen while doing so.

Increase Oxygen Level with Live Plants

Plants are the lungs of the Earth! They take in carbon dioxide and give oxygen in return. Plants are what makes us all, both human and animals, live normally. So why not transferring such thinking to aquariums, too? Aquatic plants are a great way to increase oxygen levels around tanks. And, on top of that, Bettas simply love to hang around them.

Betta fish originate from tropical areas of the world, where they live in the shallow warm water of ponds, rivers, rice paddies, and similar.

Such places are usually super-filled with various types of plants, so placing plants in their aquariums will surely make them happy. They like resting on leaves, but as well to use plants as their own playgrounds.

Planting aquatic greenery in your Betta tank will help increasing oxygen levels, with the rule “the more, the better“. Just be careful not to overplant your aquarium, as Bettas will then have trouble in swimming freely. There should be enough space for fish to move with no obstacles at all times.

Some plants which are known to work great with Betta fish are: anubias, guppy grass, hornwort, marimo moss ball and amazon frogbits. These are all easy to maintain and, on top of that, they will ensure that your aquarium looks amazing.

Wrapping Up

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for new fish owners to ask themselves whether Betta fish can live without oxygen. The reason for that is that we can often see them in decorative bowls around pet stores.

Yes, they can survive under such poor conditions, thanks to their labyrinth breathing organ. But no, they will certainly not have a happy life.

Bettas need space to move freely and play with their owners, but they also need oxygen-enriched water, which can circulate around their tanks. Only such conditions are able of providing them a long and happy life.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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