Do Betta Fish Need an Air Pump?

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Imagine buying a new device for your aquarium, only to discover that it’s absolutely useless to your fish species. That is every aquarist’s nightmare.

An air pump is one of the most common equipment in water tanks. They help by bubbling air through your fish tank, and many fish like Gourami will benefit from this device.

However, you might be unsure if betta fishes will also benefit from air pumps, especially if you’re new to keeping them.

If you’re looking for an answer to the question, do betta fish require an air pump, there are many factors to consider before arriving at an accurate conclusion. Many people would wrongly assume that it is good for every tank, and we even saw a comment under a fish website where someone said so.

This article will address all of them and answer any additional questions you might have about them in betta tanks.

What are Air Pumps, What Do They Do, and How Do They Work?

Air pumps are devices that help oxygenate the water. Another name for them is bubblers because they form bubbles in the water.

Their mode of operation is simple, and their materials are limewood, porous stones, or engineered plastic/glass. They have two parts:

  • Bubbler
  • Pump

You connect the bubbler (usually has stones) to the air pump, which feeds oxygen into it. Bubblers have a very porous nature that separates the oxygen into very small bubbles.

Using only the pump will create very large bubbles and lead to the oxygen rising to the surface before escaping into the air above the water.

It gets worse:

These huge bubbles might also scare your betta fish and make them unsettled.

This is why you should always use a bubbler and pump together. Using them in combination will produce smaller bubbles that can easily dissolve into the water.

Air pumps use air to create tiny bubbles and diffuse oxygen in the water allowing your betta fish to breathe easier. It moves oxygenated water to the bottom of the fish tank and pushes freshwater from the bottom of the tanks (which has carbon dioxide) to the top.


A repetition of this process oxygenates your tank mainly from the surface movement between your tank water and the environment. It also spreads the oxygen evenly, so it reaches all the areas of your tank, and your betta fish don’t have to swim to the surface of the water to breathe.

How are Air Pumps Different from An Aquarium Filter?

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At first glance, it might seem like aquarium filters do the same thing as air pumps because they also agitate on the water’s surface.

That isn’t true.

The first main difference between an air pump and a filter is that they do not clean your tank. On the other hand, when water passes through a filter, it goes through many including sponge, chemical and biological. This process ends up purifying your fresh water and removing impurities.

Here’s the deal:

Even though it might seem like an air pump produces the same effect by similarly moving the water, it does not have any media for purifying water. Most aquariums will be fine without a bubbler, but they will not be fine without a filter.

Are Air Pumps Necessary for Betta Fish?

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Now, the central question of this article: Do betta fish need an air pump?

The short answer to this question is: No, air pumps aren’t necessary for betta fish to survive. But, you should know the main reason is because of the labyrinth organ.

Labyrinth Organ

Fishes with the labyrinth organ are labyrinth fishes, and the betta fish is a good example. The labyrinth organ acts as a small lung similar to the one in humans.

What is it for?

With the labyrinth organ, bettas can breathe gaseous air from the water surface. This is why you might have seen bettas going to the surface of the water to open their mouths and breathe air.

While most fishes can only absorb oxygen from the water, bettas can absorb it from the air, too, giving them other options when it isn’t enough in the water. This is why betta fishes do not really need a bubbler for survival and will be just fine without them.

Thus, it could go a long way in making their lives more stress-free.

Your filter should generally be enough for agitating your water surface and build up a high rate of gas exchange in your fish tank. However, an air pump benefits from being in the same tank as your bettas and helps your tank.

When You Should Use an Air Pump

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There are some instances where it might be useful to use an air pump or bubbler in your betta tank. Some of these are:


If your betta fish is sick and you’re using medication for them, an air pump could come in handy and supply oxygenated water. Many drugs remove oxygen from the water as a side effect and make it difficult for fishes to breathe.

This could potentially suffocate your fishes and end their life, especially if they’re too weak to swim to the surface for oxygen.

Dire diseases such as the swim bladder disease could make it impossible for your bettas to swim to the surface, and their labyrinth organ will not be able to help.


You can get an air pump to prepare for unexpected circumstances. It will serve as a precaution for instances of power cuts or damaged filters to step in and supplement the oxygenated water in tanks.

A battery-powered air pump that doesn’t use the same electricity source as the filter will help protect your fishes from any unintended harm. This is especially good if you’re not usually around for most of the day and would not be able to intervene immediately in an emergency. That way, your fishes can still breathe.


Bettas are playful fishes, and the water movement caused by air pumps could keep your fishes excited. As long as it isn’t extreme or making them agitated, your bettas could enjoy the bubbles produced and enjoy playing around with it.

Any addition to your tank that gets your bettas excited or makes them playful keeps them happy and healthy.

Benefits of Using Air Pumps in Your Tank

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Air pumps could prove beneficial to your tank and not just for the betta fishes but all the inhabitants. It is a good idea to have air pumps even if your betta doesn’t need air as much as other fishes.


Aeration sounds like oxygenation, but these concepts are very different. Apart from having oxygen in the tank, it is also good that it spreads it evenly in the water – that is what an air pump or bubbler can help you do in your tank water.

Aquariums that only have oxygen concentrated at the top are not well aerated and will leave some disadvantaged. If your tank is well aerated, oxygen will get to all the fishes in the water irrespective of the area they prefer to stay, including the bottom of the tank.

Keeping Balance in The Tank

Air pumps help keep the water quality at optimum levels. During the filtering of aquariums, bacteria break down toxins such as ammonia. After bacteria break down nitrates and ammonia, so they’re harmless, they inadvertently consume oxygen.


Depending on how dirty your tank is and the number of toxins in them, more bacteria are needed to break down the compounds. More bacteria mean they will consume more oxygen and deplete the tank. Bubblers prevent this and ensure a continuous supply of oxygen to keep your fishes healthy.


Air pumps also look cool in the tank and can greatly improve the aesthetics of your tank. They also form bubbles that make your aquarium pleasing and neat. Your bettas swimming around excited also helps in making the tank look good.


Do Betta Fish Neeed Oxygen In The w\Water?

Yes, bettas need oxygenated water, just like other fishes. They have gills for taking in water and then pulling out the oxygen they really need for their survival.

So, if there is no oxygen in water, they could suffocate just like other fishes. However, bettas can live comfortably with lesser oxygen in water than many other fishes because of their labyrinth organ.

Putting plants in your tank with a good filter can help oxygenate the water and make it comfortable for your fishes to breathe through their gills.

Do Bettas Need a Filter?

Yes, bettas need a filter in their tank like other fishes. Filters help clean the tank and remove the impurities so the water will be conducive for the fishes.

They are a necessary part of any aquarium tank and important for the survival of your fishes.

Do Bettas Need a Bubbler?

No, bettas do not need a bubbler except in some particular scenarios like we explained above. Thus, they could be a great addition to your tank, giving you a lot of benefits.

Firstly, they aren’t expensive to purchase, so you won’t lose much by putting them in your tank. They are good to have in an emergency or keep your tank well oxygenated and aerated.

If you purchase and put an air pump in your tank, pay extra attention to your fishes’ behavior. If you notice any changes in their appetite or stress, you should take the bubbler out.

Can Bettas Live Without an Air Pump?

Yes, your bettas can live without an air pump and do not need it for life. If there isn’t enough oxygen in water, they have their labyrinth organ to help them in tight situations; thus, they can generally live longer than other fishes with depleted oxygen levels. So they do not need it to be alive.


Putting an air pump or bubbler in your betta tank is not compulsory, but it could come with several benefits. It was also good for specific situations like when your betta fish is taking medications or just for precaution, so it is a good idea to have one handy.

It helps to provide an additional source of oxygen bettas need in rare instances, so your fishes do not suffocate. Remember that betta fish has a labyrinth organ that can help them survive longer than others.

It is also important to know the difference between a filter and an air pump, so you don’t put one in the place of another.

Filters are compulsory for every aquarium and necessary for the survival of your fishes, while air pumps aren’t compulsory. Do plenty of research about everything on air pumps before purchasing one.

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