Even mild filter current can become a nuisance for a betta fish who have large heavy fins and are notoriously slow swimmers compared to other small aquarium fish. It can be challenging for betta keepers to find a balance between enough current to keep the water clean and cycling, yet gentile enough to allow their betta fish to swim comfortably and eat their food without it being washed away. Here are a few tips for getting the filter current just right in your betta tank.

Buy a filter with adjustable flow control.

In a perfect world we would all have the time to research the best equipment for our betta tanks. Most of the time this doesn’t happen, but in the off chance you are reading this and haven’t yet purchased your filter you can do yourself a favor and buy one that allows you to adjust the rate the water flows out of the filter.

Create a flow baffle.

If you can’t buy a filter with adjustable flow you can disperse the flow of water from the filter by making yourself a baffle. A baffle could be anything that blocks or redirects the water coming out of the filter. One easy way to create a baffle is to buy an inexpensive tank divider kit. It includes a mesh screen and attachment mechanisms. Cut the mesh the long way in a 1” to 2” strip and crate a small around the flow outlet fastening the mesh to the back wall.

A baffle is created by cutting up a tank divider.

Another popular method is to use a plastic soap dish or shower caddy with suction cups. Adhere the dish just below the water outlet so the water is slowed by the dish. You should never use anything that had held soap in a fish tank as it can be toxic to fish. If you try this method buy the soap dish new. It costs only a few dollars.

Block the filter intake.

Women’s pantyhose have been used for years by betta keepers to block the flow of water through the intake, thus reducing the current. Take a brand new pair of women’s hose and cut out the toe. Wrap the filter intake in the pantyhose and secure in place with rubber bands. This method also helps to reduce damage to fragile betta fins.

Create an Oasis

Another way to reduce the filter current is to decorate your aquarium with a variety of hiding places and thick foliage. Add a log, flower pot, drift wood or other décor to create a safe place your betta can hide from the current. Adding lots of full aquarium plants (real or synthetic) will also help to reduce the effects of the current. This not only helps your filter problem, it helps your betta feel more secure and makes for a beautiful aquarium to look at too.

Planted Aquarium with Driftwood | Photo by Saebaryo

Do you have some of your own ideas that we didn’t mention here? Please share your methods for reducing filter current in our comments section.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Bethanie Clayton says:

    My Betta fish can’t build his bubblnest because of the filter flow, even though it’s on it’s lowest. I now know to plant my aquarium more, thank you for the help Christie.F!:D

    • kirsten says:

      another option .. if the fish doesnt mind the current but its just upsetting his nest? look for what they call “feeding rings” they attach to the wall of the tank and are MEANT to corral all the floating food in one place …
      well they are GREAT baffles to help a betta build his nest

      • Belinda says:

        This is genius! I’m new to betta’s and have had him for a little over a month and he loves making his nests! This would be a great idea!!!!

    • Jill says:

      I took a small plastic bottle cut the end off. ( mine was a container that held wrapped bullion) I then poked a hole in the side and hooked a suction cup to it. I put two silk leaves in it and suctioned it to the opposite side of my filter with the top of at water level. My beta loves it. He swims around a bit and likes other areas but this is definitely his place and he defends it from any curious fish bystander. It gives him a place to hangout with out the current.

  2. lyanne says:

    Does it matter what kind of rubber bands I use??
    Also, my betta is getting like clear type tips on his fins some with black tips, why is that? Is it something serious? Can I prevent it from happening? There’s nothing wrong with him, he’s a great eater, I make him exercise, he flares when I put a mirror in front of him, very curious about everything that’s in his tank.always swimming, I just. Don’t get it… when I got him his fins were discolored, now he has darker fins with more color and those black tips… please help!!!

    • bettaman says:

      the more you make him flare the stronger his colours will develop
      it’s all about hormones.
      If he flares to much to often he can blow his fins ( this is where the webbing tears and the egdes erode and get raggy)
      also don’t subject him to strong lighting their eyesight isn’t adapted to it and weird colour changes can happen due to stress (always swimming is a sign of this). get some almond leaf and put a bit in the tank and change it out when it goes very dark brown. This stuff calms bettas and colours the water a bit. (essential ingredient in betta keeping)

      • Ltraine says:

        You definitely also want to do a water check to ensure that your nitrate and ammonia levels are at 0ppm. your beta may be beginning to show signs of fin rot which, if dealt with early on isnt a problem but can become a serious problem if ignored

  3. bettaman says:

    best output baffle is to get a tube and insert it into gravel
    (one of those self start siphon sets gives you 2 if you pull it apart). put the filter outflow into the top of the tube and let gravity do the work for you.
    if you want you can drill a hole in the side and insert an airstone, all surface disturbance is contained within the tube and you can control outflow simply by pushing the tube deeper into the gravel or by heaping more gravel around the base.( different gravel sizes can be layered as well with bigger pieces closer to the tube moving to finer stones on top.
    don’t knock it till you try it. (full bore filtering with no current or surface disturbance with the bonus of aeration.)
    cheers all.

  4. lyanne says:

    I figured out that his fins are growing. And girl, he’s a looker!! Lol everything is fine now, except there’s a white dot where it seems to be his anus, and and a bloated belly, I’m feeding him (freshwater ((4 varieties of food))multi-pack- which, It says includes bloodworms, brine shrimp, watercress, Cyclops, and daphnia-er something like that ) once a day, i dont give him alot though, and a piece of pea every week , why is he like that??

    • jeanette says:

      I read on another site that peas are bad for their dogie strive system. Don’t know if true so you might research it.

      • jeanette says:

        Sorry that should read digestive system!

    • Robert Schwartz says:

      Should be feeding 2x a day. Same amount but half at each feeding.

    • Cee says:

      Unsure how long ago this was posted, but it sounds to me like your betta might actually be a girl! Girl bettas have that white dot for egg laying, and on a high protein diet like you’re feeding, girls sometimes form eggs and stay gravid (thus looking bloated) for extended periods so they can be ready in case a mate comes along.

  5. e says:

    We just got a male betta as the sole tenant for a 3-gallon Marineland Eclipse tank. I put a pagoda-style tank decoration under where the outflow is, thinking that the betta can either hang out on the other side of the tank, or inside the pagoda (as the roof would diffuse the current).
    He seems to like swimming directly into the current for a few seconds at a time, though. Is that normal or does it mean he’s stressed out about something?

    • Connie Stanford says:

      I just purchasea a 2.5 gal tank with a filter and a beautiful male betta. He also swims into the current. looks to be intentional. He is swimming everywhere. I have a cave at the bottom he goes in it too. However his food has been wisked away by the current. It floats for a while on top but he isn’t eating it yet. He also goes against where the water is sucked into the filter and stops there for a while then swims on. Is he happy or anoied by the water current?

      • Zoe says:

        I have a betta in a 2.5 gallon tank as well, and he also intentionally swims against the current! Sometimes he’ll wrap his fins (or whole body) around the filter uptake, too, and then swim away a few seconds later. It injured his tail and I gave him BettaFix. I’m not sure how much it helped, but it did improve his appetite (which had been waning). He’s stopped wrapping himself around the filter uptake as often, so I suspect that he enjoyed it. (I mean, he’s capable of avoiding it.) I’m also pretty sure that he enjoys the current — he’ll only eat if I drop his food into the current, and then chases it around.

      • Maddie says:

        Only feed your Betta once every three of four days. They are naturally acustom to small feedings. To block a current use a plant or a rod. Place the rod touching the filter. The water will travel down the rod. ( You can also use a stick) Also don’t freak out if your Betta doesn’t have much color. Its probably is a female.

  6. madeline says:

    My betta scraped his dorsel fin on fake plant (which i removed and replaced) I gave him Bettafix for a week which helped but it did not completly heal. He now spends his time next to the filter in his 5 gallon Aqueon tank. It’s making his fins tear so his condition is worsening.He is less active and is not eating very much,he’s usually a pig. I just recently cleaned his tank and started him back on bettafix but that doesn’t keep him away from the filter! I’m running out of solutions, PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

    • jeanette says:

      I have the same tank and my fish does the same thing. Put a silk plant in front of it and poke some of the larger leaves into the vents. It is softer and blocks him from getting too close.
      I also got a tall plastic plant and wove fish line in and out around the plant stems keeping the stems close together. I buried the bottom into the gravel right in front of the water flow valve, tucked the plant right up next to the water flow. It immediately adjusted the force of the water and Freddy started swimming on that side of the tank.

    • Joesph says:

      The best remedy to possibly resign to is turning off your filter and doing water changes pretty often until your beta’s fins get much more better. Then I would put some live plants on top to cover up the filters power so that the beta’s fins do not worsen.

  7. Caitlin says:

    Depending on what type of filter you have, try placing one of these foam pre-filters over the intake. The foam reduces the suction so his fins can’t get stuck or torn. (It also works great for frogs and preventing the loss of fry).

  8. Ita says:

    Dear Christie F,
    I am so worried about my male veil-tail betta fish….I need help! First of all, I bought him from a PetCo and he was the most active one there, swimming in his little cup. It has been a little over 6mos. now and I recently noticed he has been VERY lethargic. He won’t swim around, never flares his fins. Only if I tap on his glass or shake the bowl will he stir. But after a few seconds of swimming, he’ll just float to the top or stay at the bottom, motionless. He lives in a 1gal fishbowl with no filtration, some fake plants, fake mini coral reef, and a heater. Twice I have found him floating on his side on a plant, and on one occasion he was at a diagonal angle at the top of his bowl. Other than that, he seems fine. I haven’t tested his Ammonia and pH levels (because my dad says he doesnt wanna buy a testing kit), but I do use Betta Water Conditioners and I have always assumed that it would soak up all the bad stuff.

  9. Ita says:

    So what worries me most is his behavior:
    -Never Flares Fins.
    -Never Swims Around Unless I Shake The Bowl Or Tap The Glass
    How do I fix it? I really want him active and flaring and showy again, just like he used to be. I am so worried right now and praying its nothing serious. . . . . . .WHAT SHOULD I DO??????
    Other Info: I clean his unfiltered fishbowl once a week. Sometimes I let it sit for two weeks. And for getting the right temp, we usually feel it by hand. I feed him Wardley’s Betta Pellets, six pellets a day, three days a week. ALSO: I am only 10 years old and I am worrying my head off.

    • Lyds_Betta says:

      If you have a water heater in that small of tank- without a thermometer, take it out! You are most likely toasting the poor guy. Bettas like a temp. of 70-80f. And if it is a small bowl, it usually hits around there without a heater. Heating a small tank like that, gets the temp up way to high for any fish!
      Also- Its good to do 25-50% water changed every week, and a full tank clean every week or week and a half for a tank that small.
      So, try to take the heater out if its to hot- and change half of the water. (mixing in the conditioner). Check him to see how he is doing, and then a week later do a full water change. Make sure you clean and rinse out his gravel and plants with warm tap water too!
      Good luck!

      • jeanette says:

        Mine is in a 5 gallon tank and I test his water every few days. If I don’t do a 25% water change every 3 days or so, the ammonia level gets too high. A week or two for a change isn’t enough. I test the temperature of the water with an instant read thermometer used for cooking. t is a great way to get an accurate reading.

    • Yorek says:

      Hey Ita,
      I know this might come a bit late, but Bettas require 5 gallons per fish!!, and a filter. If you read some articles on this website you will soon find what you can do to improve your bettas live. I would recomend that you get a 5 gallon aquarium kit, a heater that can be regulated ( they are expensive but quality counts), and some live plants. Also if you use tap water

      • Yorek says:

        continued: you use tap water make sure to use a dechlorinator of some sorts. this gets rid of the chlorine in the tap water. I hope this helps.

    • Biki says:

      How is your fish Ita? Did you know Petco will test your water for free if you bring them a small sample?
      Maybe you can invest in a thermometer so you know the temperature of the fresh water you’re using. Differences of just a few degrees between old and new water are very hard on fish. Also, your heater may be overheating the water since you have a small tank. The only way to know for sure is to measure the temperature.
      Hope all is well.

  10. Lyds_Betta says:

    Good Morning!
    I have had Roy for about 6 months now and he is doing well.
    I keep him in a 2.5 Gal tank, and was thinking about getting a filter for him. I do 25-50% water changes once a week, and clean his tank fully every week to week and a half. I have looked at a couple pet stores and they have a filter for up to 3Gal. I was just wondering if it is nessisary? I know it will help- but how much?
    Thanks so much!

  11. george says:

    what about blocking the filters output with a sponge? i dont want to block the filters input because then the filter wont be sucking in any debree or scrap food.

  12. mamarox says:

    Thank you for this wonderful website! We have a new tank, live plants and a very happy betta named Sushi. Actually, he’s Sushi II since Sushi the first died after 6 months in his very small, unheated bowl. I learned so much here and my son is now the happy keeper of a thriving betta.

  13. Sandy says:

    I use a new sponge to block my water flow and I have had no problems. I also make my own sponge filters, which work very well for bettas:) and these are perfect for young fry in grow out tanks.

  14. livebettalive says:

    I raise my bettas in fish bowls. With/without a lily plant on top. I have had one that lived for almost four years this way! I don’t use anything ‘extra’. Feed two pebbles of Betta food daily and change/clean water weekly.
    I just use tap water, straight from the tap. Have city water. Have two bettas in separate bowls that are thriving with this method!
    You don’t HAVE to spend a bunch of money if you just want to enjoy watching them.
    Every couple weeks I put the bowls side by side so they can visit with each other too. Only do for about 5 minutes.
    Now, granted, I did have one Betta that couldn’t survive the tap water. But I just got another one that could!

    • Adam says:

      using tap water from a municipal source without using a water conditioner or at least “aging” the water to let the chlorine off gas is very irresponsible fish keeping. the chlorine present in the water literally burns the fish’s gills. please at least spend the $5 on API Tap Water Conditioner. one drop per gallon and a small bottle will treat 1,800+ gallons. treat your fish properly.

  15. Helen says:

    My Betta likes in a 10 litre nano tank, firstly I wanted to know if it’s too small for him? He’s been a little lathargic lately so I cleaned his tank out more regularly for a while and put him in a warmer position as the heater in his tank only seems to keep the water around 18 degrees in the winter and he does now seem happier. However, he sits in front of the holes which drain out to the filter which is shredding his fins and making them an odd shape and also makes the filter make this odd noise! Is there anything I can do to stop him from doing this? I’m worried that he’s going to ruin his fins if he keeps this up! Any help would be great.
    Many thanks

  16. Peneloppe says:

    I have a question, I have this glass fish like ornaments that are attached to a bubble to float. I wanted to decorate my Betta fishh tank with one of them but now I am wondering if it won’t stress my fishy thinking it is real????/

  17. Anonymous says:

    Yeah my betta Strawberry always gets
    blasted around the tank because of the
    filter, so I’ve just been leaving it off. Does
    anybody know a really gentle filter for him

    • Kim Davis says:

      I have a betta in a 5 gallon tank with heater and filter. We bought a tank divider (screen) and have the filter separated from the fish. It still filters the water but the strong current is behind the screen. We have the divider way to one side so the fish has as much room as possible.

    • Fish friend says:

      Whisper filter works well for Bettas they are gentle

    • Emma says:

      I see people cutting water bottles to direct the current I currently have the same issue

  18. Sylvie says:

    My new betta keeps getting kind of stuck in the intake of my Whisper filter! I had rubber banded some filter cartridge on the intake to reduce current, but sometimes he’s sitting near it and suddenly he’s stuck to it! He gets off again in a few seconds, but I’m worried that he might eventually get hurt! I have 2 otocinclus catfish in my ten gallon tank, so I can’t turn off the filter.

    • Tiwana says:

      Hi sylvie this is what both my bettas are doing. Unfortunately the filter has shredded their fins. They don’t seem to mind, but I do. I have stocking over it. If you don’t cut it too short, you won’t even need to add rubber bands…it pretty much slides over the intake and stays. The current is still an issue for me though. Hopefully this site can help us 😉

  19. Tiwana says:

    Help! My tetra whisper 10i filter is shredding my bettas fins. (2 bettas each in their own 5gal tank) I have stocking over the intake, but I need to somehow reduce the water flow/current. Please explain this quote from your 1st solution option::::Cut the mesh the long way in a 1” to 2” strip and crate a small around the flow outlet fastening the mesh to the back wall:::: it does not make sense to me. How do I “crate a small?” is there a word missing. Please help.

  20. Bella says:

    baffle the filter… use the mignon 60 from Azoo…can get this on Amazon.com… you can watch a youtube clip on making a baffle out of a water bottle. It works perfectly on my two tanks.

  21. Linda says:

    If you put a nylon stocking over the intake area of a filter, does that mean the debris will just collect on the stocking. You would then just clean the stocking instead of the filter.

  22. Savannah B. says:

    Hi! So the output current was extremely too strong for my betta. Yesterday I got another filter cartiridge yesterday to put over the output and I slowed the current down tremendously! BUT about an hour later I noticed the water getting cloudy and it keeps getting more and more cloudy. I’m afraid this is because I put that other filter cartiridge over the output. Any thoughts and/or advice?

  23. Qistina says:

    My betta is having a hard time swimming even tho I slowed down the current with adding more sponge. Is it because he has never used a filter before and when I got him he was living in a cup with no water flow. Should I just let him be to get used to the current?

  24. Guptra Bettahna says:

    Well I find putting an aquarium on sale at 55 % off would get me to buy one. The fact that I went to a major retail chain and they weren’t selling at 50 % off makes me realize that ‘aquariuming’ must not be worth it at the current prices. Do these stores think people are gonna pay a “not on sale” price of $84.99 for a 10 gallon Marineland aquarium kit. Get that price down to $39.99, PetSmart. $64.99 for an aquarium stand? It’s 4 pieces of wood man. $24.99 is all its worth. I’ll try to find one in someone’s garbage first. The replacement filter cartridges are like $1.50 each. Do you think a teenager can afford that on their $9 an hr salary. Looks like I gotta tell my kids their gonna have to share 1 betta fish in a 1.5 gal tank with decorations & food for $30 this year.

  25. Peace says:

    Thanks for these ideas. Can you share what’s the green material you had in the soap dish?
    I have live plants in my 5 gal tank and Im wondering if another here under the folter would be possible or is that green material something synthetic.

  26. M Matheny says:

    If you take the fluval part #103954 media filter strips and attach them to the marineland penguin series of filters outflow(*you will have to modify the lip a little by making holes on the side*) they’re high enough flow that they don’t stop the bio wheel or restrict the actual filtration/ flow rate for your tank. Really they could be used in allot of scenarios because they’re nice long strips and aren’t too thick. They’re not like a sponge and hold water they’re designed to just pass through. Also doubles as another bio media source so win win. I have a 75gph filter/pump running right now in a 10gal tank divided into 4sections. Water is as calm as a rain puddle

  27. Dawn Fern says:

    I had an amazing and curious all time favorite fish used to stare at filter intake until he cld figure a way to get up close and personal w it. I wld change barricades increasing the security as his intelligence developed but one day he got past the barracade suffered horrible suction death. I now use filter floss (the cottony stuff) to baffle not only the intake but the the side opposite the intake so my new betta of 10 months cannot squees behind filter, get trapped and die miserabley. Bothe fish love to jump nto output current for fun but it tares and blows out fins. Inchatted up a customer at lfs who suggested i take apart filter and cut small pieces off the impeller blades (the fan thingy) of my Aqueon 10. This slowed the current which was too strong for bettas even at its lowest setting. Slightly shortening impeller blades is maybe not as fun for fish but their fins r much healthier. I have 7g planted and the filter w above adjustments still keeps water crystal clear.

  28. Marlene Leonard says:

    My TopFin filter cartledge from Petsmart has a very gentle current flow. I too have a Betta that loves the slow current in my 2.5 gal tank, he has never attempted my intake and stays under, a good way under,
    the outflow.
    Does anyone have air pumps for air stones? The air stones output of bubbles are way to strong a current for my Betta. I thought I bought what was best,real small Unicliff nano pump but it had no controller for low to high, some say it does not matter their low is still too fast of a current.
    I too THANK YOU, to whom ever answered my plea for help by way of Google.8

  29. Mimi says:

    So about four hours ago i bought a new Crowntail Betta (the most active and one of the only ones i couldnt see illness on) to go into my fully cycled 10 gal tank with already has a temporary baby pleco in it (friend is moving her tank)
    Hes been in there for about two hours but hes been getting behind my filter and always staying in the back corner beaide the filter. I never really owned a Betta since im more into having my two 55 gal semi agressive tanks so im not sure if its only stress or if theres too much current for him?
    Im only wondering if its only temporary or ill need to fix the flow with a plant or something so hed be better.

  30. Heather says:

    I have read that putting fish floss in the top of the filter outflow will baffle the water output. It’s the cheap, white floss you get at petstores. You can also use the stuff used for sewing, same stuff. Make sure you rinse before you stuff it in!

  31. Haley says:

    I have a tank with a filter that sucks water up through the bottom and then spits it out the top. It’ also hooks to a bubble stone. My betta won’t build a bubble nest, but I want the water to stay clean. So I need to put a mesh around the bottom of the filter?

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