Do Betta Fish Need A Lid On Their Tank? (Solved!)

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Over the last 20 years or so, I have kept countless Bettas in my fish room. I have kept Betta’s as sole specimens in 10-gallon aquariums and as part of much larger community aquariums with various Tetras, catfish, and other fish. 

On more than one occasion I have tried the ‘open-top’ tank for my Betta’s.  Sadly, the one thing I learned from keeping Betta’s in an open-top tank is they should always have a lid. 

Betta’s are well known for jumping out of their aquariums, and as such should always be kept in aquariums with lids.  Having a lid on a Betta aquarium also helps prevent contaminants from entering the tank which may cause an oily protein film to form on the surface and reduce evaporation.

What are the benefits of having a lid on a Betta tank?​

There are many benefits to having a tight-fitting lid on a Betta aquarium. These include;

  • Stops Betta from jumping out
  • Reduces evaporation
  • Prevent things from falling into the tank
  • Provides somewhere for a light
  • Prevents splashing from fish or filter

Stops Betta’s jumping out

Betta’s are well known for jumping out of their aquariums. Over the years, on more than one occasion, I have walked into my fish room to discover a much loved Betta laying on the floor.  Sometimes I have managed to get the Betta back into the water in time, and sometimes I haven’t.

If for no other reason, make sure you have a lid on your Betta’s aquarium because at some point or another your Betta will leap out of their aquarium.

Reduces evaporation

Any aquarium that is left open-topped will suffer from evaporation.  Water evaporating from an aquarium will need to be replaced on a regular basis.  ‘Topping up’ soon becomes a chore and, for anyone living in a hard water area, means a white, limescale band forms around the top of the aquarium which looks unsightly and can be hard to remove.

Preventing things from falling into the aquarium

Things falling into an aquarium may seem like a trivial reason to have a lid, but speaking as someone who has knocked a $200 light into an aquarium, destroying it completely,  believe me, it is a real problem. 

A lid also prevents environmental contaminants such as dust, room freshener sprays, and deodorants from entering the aquarium. 

These kinds of contaminants not only contribute to an oily film forming on the surface of the aquarium, but they can also prove fatal in the case of bug sprays and other insecticides. 

Somewhere to place a light

Betta fish look better when illuminated from above, and live aquatic plants certainly need proper light to grow.  Having a lid provides the location for that light to sit.

Whilst I agree you can purchase ‘clip-on’ lights for lidless aquariums, these lights tend to be flimsy and easily knocked into the aquarium.

Prevents water splashing from a fish or the filter

Open top tanks have no barrier to prevent water from being splashed out of the aquarium, either by the fish themselves or by a filter returning water to the tank. 

Much like with evaporation, water being continually splashed will need to be topped up, plus, if the water is splashing in the same place day after day, it can cause puddles to form around your tank, ruining a table or the flooring.

My Final Thoughts on ‘Do Betta Fish Need a Lid?’

I do understand the argument about how good an open-top aquarium looks.  The lights shimmering on the water surface, the sense of movement it brings to a room, and the thoroughly modern look the tank has.  However, 30 years of fish keeping tells me that an open-top Betta tank is just an opportunity to come home to find your Betta dried up on the floor.  

Believe me, from personal experience, a Betta can and will jump from their aquarium given the chance.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James