Do Betta Fish Need An Air Pump? We Take A Breather On This!

Do Betta Fish Need An Air Pump
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Last Updated: September 17, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

An air pump helps aerate water in your aquarium. This tool operates through water circulation. The device pushes the oxygenated water from the top to the bottom of the tank and vice versa for aeration. 


An air pump produces bubbles that cause the surface water movement increasing the gaseous exchange between the tank and air.

Do betta fish need a bubbler? Betta fish are adapted to live without an air pump due to their excellent respiration system. 

Let’s find out how bettas survive without an air pump, when they require it, and the benefits of having an air pump in betta tanks.

Do Bettas Need an Air Pump?

Betta fish don’t need air pumps. They have a labyrinth organ adapted to breathe gaseous air. So, do bettas need a bubbler? The answer depends on whether your aquarium has an efficient filtration system and other aeration methods. 

So, what’s a labyrinth organ?

The labyrinth organ is a Siamese fighting fish adaptation to help them absorb oxygen from the air. This organ helps the fish breathe air from the water’s surface. So, it’s common to see your bettas gulping as they have a special labyrinth organ. 

This organ is highly vascularized, like a small lung. Within the organ, it contains bony structures called lamellae. The plates have thin membranes that enhance air movement to the bloodstream. 

This organ may take some time to develop in fish; thus, it depends on the gills before its maturity. 

This organ’s size correlates with dissolved air indirectly. When it absorbs more air, the size becomes small, and when air is less, it’s enormous. 

Do Bettas Need a Bubbler? 

Bettas can survive without a bubbler if there are means to aerate the water tank. Again, bettas dislike much water surface agitation, which makes them stressed. Aggressive bubbling tools can also destroy the betta’s nests if they are in mating season. 

So, do bettas like bubbles? Not all betta fish like bubbles due to different temperaments.

Some fish are calm and gentle, and others are very playful. The playful bettas will like playing with the air bubbles. But the other fish won’t love the bubbles; if the currents are strong, they will get stressed. 

However, other bubblers are friendly to most fishes and produce tiny bubbles. Some of the aquarium pumps like airstone are the best. 

Choose a smooth air stone for it to produce tiny bubbles.

Aerating a Betta Fish Tank

Aerating a Betta Fish Tank

There are other ways of oxygenating water instead of an oxygen pump.

Do betta fish need oxygen? Yes, all bettas require oxygen to survive. 

Bettas use gills for breathing oxygen or using the labyrinth organ. The best-dissolved oxygen levels should be 5-7 ppm for your fish to survive. But if the levels go below three ppm in tank water, it’s risky for your fish. 

For healthy fish life, ensure you use other aerating methods instead of them gulping. 

A filter is a great device that improves water aeration. It works by stirring the water as it exits, which helps oxygen dissolve. An aquarium filter again comes in handy in purifying your water by removing all the chemical impurities and decayed organic matter. 

Another way of aerating water is using a cup or pitcher when doing a water change. You should pour the freshwater into the tank from a higher level. This practice helps to introduce oxygen into the aquarium. 

Additionally, you can have some aquarium plants. Plants use carbon dioxide during the day and produce oxygen for the fish. So, your tank will aerate during the day, but you require backup means as plants use oxygen at night.

Regular water change is another simple way of adding oxygen to water. Doing a 25-50% water change can provide extra oxygen for your labyrinth fish. 

Instances When Betta Fish Require a Bubbler

Even if bettas don’t require an air pump, some situations may call for one. However, as a beginner, there is no harm in installing an oxygen pump in the aquarium as it has several benefits for a healthy environment: 

Betta Fish Need an Air Pump if Under Medication

When your fish is ill, you may require a bubbler. Some medicines may affect oxygen solubility in the tank, making your fish suffer. You may wonder, “why does the labyrinth take over the respiration task?”

The organ will be helpful when the fish are under medication but not always. For instance, if your fish suffers from swim bladder disease, it might not swim to the water surface to gulp air. 

Again, some medications affect dissolved oxygen levels, thus requiring an oxygen pump in a betta tank.

When your fish gets sick, you are advised to raise water temperatures. Higher temperatures directly affect oxygen solubility in water. You may not want to stress your sick fish with low oxygen; that’s why an air pump is necessary. 

Bettas Need a Bubbler in case of Emergencies

You may consider being cautious if the filter breaks down by using a battery-powered air pump. So, there is no harm in purchasing an air pump in case of such occurrences.

Betta Fish Need a Bubbler in Large Betta Tanks

Large tanks need more oxygen levels than smaller ones. Again, you will likely have more fish with a large tank, thus needing more oxygen. Therefore, it’s best to have a bubbler in a betta fish tank. 

Betta Fish Need a Bubbler in a Warm Water Betta Tank

Tanks with warm water will require an air pump than those in cool temperatures. High temperatures affect oxygen availability in water, so you need an air stone to supplement the levels.

Bettas Need an Air Pump in Planted Fish Aquariums

Aquarium plants aerate tank water by releasing oxygen. But at night, these plants consume oxygen, thus reducing the levels. So, if your aquarium has many plants, it’s necessary to have air pumps for your bettas.

Benefits of Air Pumps for Betta Fish

Air Pumps for Betta Fish

There are many types of air pump to use for an aquarium. You can consider choosing one that matches your preferences but ensure it causes moderate agitation. Buying an oxygen pump gives the following benefits;

  • Air pumps aerate the water column, thus preventing your fish from gulping 
  • A bubbler breaks down toxic compounds like ammonia
  • A bubbler acts as a toy, especially for the playful bettas
  • Air pumps cause water surface movement that controls the rate of algae growth.

Fun Fact: Air pump? Water filter? Or both? We would rather let you decide by proceeding to our article titled, “Do Betta Fish Need A Filter? We Dive For Aquatic Proof!” to learn more. Tell us what you think afterward.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you oxygenate a betta fish tank?

The best way to oxygenate a betta fish tank is by using a filter to create some water movements. Another way is through live plants in the tank to aerate the water during the day. These two methods are enough without the need for an air pump.

How long can betta fish live out of water?

Bettas can live out of the water as long as the skin is moist. With the best air conditions, like cool, humid air, they can stay around 2-4 hours. But with hot conditions, they can stay around 30 minutes as they will dry out.

Are air pumps bad for a betta?

Air pumps aren’t bad for bettas unless they are too powerful. Such air pumps create more water movements, and bettas prefer slow water flow.


Do bettas need air pumps? I’m sure you are satisfied with the answer given above to this question. Bettas are highly adapted fish that can live in less dissolved oxygen levels.

These labyrinth fishes have a unique organ that helps them gulp air from the water surface. Hence, the betta fish can use gills for gas exchange or labyrinth in poorly aerated tanks.

However, it’s best to purchase an oxygen pump as an aquarist. Even if your aquarium has enough oxygen due to water changes, plants, or filters, you should have a bubbler in case of an emergency. You need air pumps, especially when your fish are sick or under medication.

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