Do Bettas Need Air Pump?

Do Bettas Need Air Pump?

An air pump for an aquarium is a device used to bring air into the water column. You can plug it into a socket powered by electricity. To produce a bubbling effect, you can use an air line hose tubing from the air pump and put it into the aquarium.

This piece of equipment has been in the hobby for so many years and it is inexpensive. Any beginner going into the hobby of taking care of a new betta fish will surely ask themselves if it needs an air pump.

Let’s discuss this to give you information to guide you in your decision.

Do bettas like air pumps?

A lot of hobbyists will share unique stories regarding how their pet betta fish would react to air pumps. Some will tell you that their red betta fish love to swim through the bubbles while others will say that their blue betta fish just ignores it. Or that a male betta fish will react differently from a female betta fish but really it depends on the temperament of your own betta fish. But do they really need air pumps?

It is important to remember what type of habitat betta fish originated from. They came from the tropical country of Thailand living in shallow rice paddies and streams. The flow of water there isn’t very strong. There are no air pumps in the wild.

Betta fish need oxygen to breathe and they have a specialized breathing evolution. They can use their labyrinth organ to extract oxygen directly from the air they gulp from the water surface aside from using their gills.

Betta fish have evolved to do this to survive the hot season when water levels drop and they stay in very little water. This is where the idea that betta can survive in small containers came from. Remember that surviving differs from thriving. Please do not put your betta fish in tiny containers.

A betta tank without an air pump is very common to see in the betta fish care hobby. Betta fish will live without an air pump. Some betta fish keepers like seeing the bubbling effect for aesthetic purposes that’s why they put air stones in the tank. Some don’t like a stressed betta fish because of too much water flow that’s why they avoid using air pumps. If the current generated by the air pump is too strong, then you risk your betta fish to exhaustion and may die.

Do Bettas Need Air Pump?

Do air pumps add oxygen to water?

There are a lot of significant reasons to use an air pump. The primary reason is to add oxygen into the water column inside the aquarium. You can do this by providing lots of surface agitation and a lot of surface movement at the water surface to create a high rate of gas exchange. This creates flowing current inside the tank making sure that the water column contains oxygen.

An air-driven sponge filter requires an air pump to function. The sponge filter will provide mechanical and biological filtration for your aquarium. The movement of the air though the filter will make the sponge suck up debris such as uneaten food and fish waste. This will clean the betta fish water column. The sponge provides a huge amount of surface area for beneficial bacteria which will detoxify the water column. Beneficial bacteria will break down ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to fish! This is one reason why you need an air pump in your first betta fish aquarium project.

Another reason to use an air pump is when you have a sick fish put inside a quarantine tank. If a betta fish has swim bladder disease, then it may have difficulty in swimming to the surface of the tank. To avoid exhausting your betta fish, use an air pump. Keep the water shallow at around 3 to 4 inches. Put the medication and put an air stone. This will keep the water oxygenated. 

Be sure to regulate the flow. You don’t want a sick fish sweeping around the quarantine tank by a strong current. You can lessen the pressure of the air going through the air tubing by using an air hose valve such as DGZZI Aquarium Air Pump Valve.

Here is an example of a popular air pump from a company that has been in the industry for a very long time. Hobbyists recommend it a lot.

Tetra Whisper Air Pump with Minimal Noise and Maximum Air Flow


How can I oxygenate my water without a pump?

The disadvantage of using an air pump is that it creates a buzzing sound because of the rapid vibration. You can hear this sound throughout the day other sounds in the household can overlap the noise. However, some people are annoyed by it.

To avoid this, you can use a different kind of filter instead such as a hang on a back filter or a canister filter. These are usually more quiet. This will allow you to create surface agitation and provide filtration without the sound of an air pump.

Boxtech Aquarium Hang On Filter

This hang on back filter has a trickling waterfall feature which will provide lots of surface agitation.


SunSun Tech’n’Toy HW-602B 106 GPH 3-Stage External Canister Filter

This canister filter is suitable for betta fish tanks between 5 to 10 gallons.


Another way of keeping water oxygenated is by doing 20-25% daily water changes. This requires discipline though which not everyone has. The flow of water from the tap to the bucket and the constant change of water will ensure oxygenation. Always remember to treat tap water with a water conditioner to neutralize harmful substances such as chlorine and chloramine.