how to acclimate betta fish

How to Acclimate Betta Fish: Methods and Guidelines

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When you buy a new betta fish, it’s so exciting! You can’t wait to bring your new fishy friend home and get him settled into his new home.

But wait!

You can’t simply tip your betta out of his plastic bag straight into your aquarium! Instead, you must go through the correct process to acclimate your new pet.

By acclimating your betta, you give him time to adjust to the new water chemistry in your tank, which is essential in preventing stress.

Read this helpful guide to learn how to correctly acclimate your betta using either the drop or float method.

Why Should You Acclimate Your Betta Fish?

Betta fish are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, and the fish become stressed if the water chemistry and temperature are unsuitable or fluctuate wildly.

Stress negatively impacts the fish’s immune system, leaving it open to attack by parasites or disease, and can even kill your precious pet.

The water in which your tropical fish is packaged will probably have different parameters than that in your home aquarium. So, it’s crucial that the betta is acclimated properly when introducing him to his new home.

The acclimation process allows the fish to adjust to the different aquarium water parameters in his new home, avoiding stress and helping your betta to settle in.

Note that you must begin acclimating your betta fish as soon as you get him home.

How To Acclimate Your Betta Fish

When it comes to introducing your new betta fish to his new home, two scenarios might apply.

Adding Your Betta to a Community Tank

If you have an established community tank, you’ll need to begin acclimating your betta by quarantining him for two to four weeks. This allows you to monitor your purchase for any signs of diseases or parasites he might be bringing with him and helps protect your other fish from potential health hazards.

If you don’t bother with the quarantine period, you risk introducing common diseases to your aquarium and potentially losing your healthy fish.

Adding Your Betta to a Brand New Tank!

If you’re just starting on your fish-keeping journey and have a brand-new betta tank, you must be sure that the tank is fully cycled before introducing any fish.

Don’t rush out and buy your betta until the nitrogen cycle is complete!

The cycling process from scratch generally takes between two weeks and a couple of months. During that time, you must check the water every day until the ammonia and nitrite levels are zero and nitrates are 20 ppm or less.

Do not add any fish to the tank until those levels are stable! If you put fish into the tank before it’s ready, you risk causing an ammonia spike that could kill your fish.

Check out this in-depth article to learn how to set up and cycle a new fish tank!

Before You Start …

If you’re buying your betta fish from a fish store, your new pet will likely be given to you in a plastic bag or cup.

Even a ride home in your car can result in bumps and temperature changes that will stress your fish.

Try to avoid making unnecessary stops en route home with your new pet, and, if possible, take a box with you.

If you don’t have a suitable container, ask for a cardboard pet carrier. Obviously, your betta can’t ride in a cardboard box, but if you put his cup or bag inside it and pad it well with an old T-shirt or similar, the water temperature should stay relatively stable.

Stress-Free Environment

Betta fish can be very susceptible to stress, and there are a few steps you can take to prevent that.

Keep your fish tank lights turned off. Bright lights are highly stressful for your betta, and a dark aquarium allows your fish to settle into his new home without being dazzled. Don’t worry if you have living aquatic plants; a few hours of darkness won’t harm them.

Acclimation Methods

So, how do you acclimate your betta fish?

There are two popular acclimation methods; the float and drop methods.

Let’s start with my favorite technique, the float method.

Float Acclimation Method

I personally always use this acclimation method when introducing new livestock to my fish tanks, and it works very well with betta fish.

This is a simple, hassle-free way to acclimate your betta, and it doesn’t take too long to achieve.

Water Temperature

Bettas can be highly sensitive to water temperature and fluctuations. The betta’s labyrinth organ can be damaged if the water temperature is radically different from that of the room in which the tank is placed.

So, one of the most important aspects of acclimating your betta fish is ensuring that the water in which the fish is transported is the same as that in his new aquarium home.

If you tip your betta straight into the tank, it’s highly likely he will suffer from temperature shock, which could kill your new pet.

You can avoid temperature variation by floating the sealed transport bag in your aquarium for at least 15 minutes until the water temperatures have equalized.

Don’t leave the bag floating for over an hour! If the fish is kept in the sealed bag for too long, he might suffocate. In addition, ammonia from fish waste could rise to dangerous levels that could harm your betta.

Water Acclimation

After 15 minutes of floating the sealed bag in the aquarium water, use scissors to cut it open as close to the top as you can.

Fold over the top edge of the bag to around an inch or two to create an air pocket that stops the bag from sinking. Alternatively, use an algae clip or a peg to fix the bag to the tank side.

Add Tank Water To The Betta’s Bag

Next, add ¼ to ½ of a cup of tank water to the plastic bag. I usually use ¼ of a cup for small bags and ½ a cup for larger ones.

Keep adding water every few minutes until the plastic back is almost full.

Tip Some of the Water Into a Bucket

When the bag is full, take it from the betta aquarium and tip around half the water into a bucket, being careful not to frighten your betta.

Re-float the Bag

Put the bag back into the aquarium.

Slowly add around ½ cup of tank water to the bag every few minutes until the bag is full again. That gets rid of most of the original dirty water that the bag contained and further acclimates the new betta.

Empty the Bag

Once the bag is full, you can remove it from the aquarium and pour away as much of the water as possible into the bucket, taking care not to alarm your new betta.

Add Your Betta to the Tank!

Now, you can finally add your new betta buddy to your aquarium!

Take the bag by the bottom corner and slowly set it in the water. Tilt the bag so that the betta can swim out into the tank.

Pour any remaining water in the bag into the bucket and dispose of it rather than putting it back into the fish tank.

Drip Acclimation Method

For the drip acclimation procedure, you’ll need a length of airline and an air valve. Alternatively, you could purchase a commercially produced drip acclimation kit.

Although this is a safe acclimation method, it is time-consuming and slow.

  1. Discard the excess water from your betta fish’s container until the container is around 50% full.
  2. For this acclimation method to work, your tank needs to be higher than the bag or cup since the power of gravity causes the tank water to drip into the bag.
  3. Fasten a knot in the center of the airline tubing to control the flow and keep it slow and steady.
  4. Put one end of the tubing into the aquarium water, using tape if necessary to hold it in place.
  5. Suck carefully on the tube’s end as if drinking from a straw. As soon as the water begins flowing past the knot, take the tube out of your mouth and put it into the plastic bag or cup.
  6. The ideal drip rate is 1 drop every 1 or 2 seconds. If the rate is too fast, add another knot to the airline to further regulate the flow.
  7. Stop once you have a roughly 50% split of old and new water in the bag or cup.
  8. Now, you can introduce your betta to his new home!

Top Acclimation Tips

how to acclimate betta fish

Use these crucial bonus tips to help your betta acclimation process go smoothly!

Take Your Time

You want to get your gorgeous new fishy friend into his new home so that you can admire him. But you must not rush the acclimation process!

Give Your Betta Time to Settle In

Even if you take your time during the acclimation process, your betta might still show signs of stress for a week or so after putting him into his new tank.

Don’t panic if your betta’s colors fade slightly or he doesn’t seem interested in food. That’s perfectly normal and should improve after a few days to a week when your new pet has settled in.

Don’t Use a Fish Net

Although using a fish net might seem like a good idea, I never use one to transfer new fish. Pouring your betta into a net can damage the fish’s protective slime coat, leaving him susceptible to attack by parasites and diseases.

Instead, I always prefer to release my new fish directly from their bag.

Don’t Use An Airstone in the Bag

You must never put an airstone in the betta’s bag or cup during acclimation.

This can raise the water pH in the container too quickly, which exposes your betta to potentially harmful ammonia levels.

Lights Out!

As previously mentioned, you can minimize your betta’s stress levels by turning off the tank lights for a few hours once he’s been introduced to his new home.

Tank Mates

If you already have a few peaceful fish in your tank, it’s possible they could hassle the new arrival out of curiosity, stressing him out. You can help prevent that by feeding your existing livestock before introducing your betta.

Territorial fish can be kept occupied by establishing a new territory if you move decorations and plants around before your betta arrives.

Finally, if you have semi-aggressive fish in your collection, it can be a good idea to relocate them to a temporary breeding box or quarantine tank until your betta has settled in. That approach helps to protect your new fish until he finds his feet.


Here are the answers to some of your questions about acclimating betta fish.

Q: How Long Do Bettas Need to Acclimate?

A: The time it takes to acclimate a betta fish depends on your chosen acclimation method. The drip method can take up to an hour, whereas the float method is quicker, taking around 15 to 30 minutes.

Q: How Long After Cleaning Can I Put My Betta Fish in the Tank?

A: After cleaning your betta tank, you need to allow the water to get back to temperature, which usually takes around 10 minutes. Add a de-chlorinator to the tap water to make it safe for your fish before topping up your tank with fresh water.

Q: Can I Immediately Put My Betta Fish in a New Tank?

A: No! You must allow the tank to cycle fully before adding any fish. The nitrite and ammonia levels should be zero, and nitrates should be 20 ppm or less.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to acclimating your betta fish. If you did, please remember that sharing is caring, and hit the share button above!

You can use the float or drip methods to acclimate your betta. Both methods work well, although the drip method is much slower.

Remember to allow a new tank to fully cycle before introducing any fish, and quarantine new arrivals for at least two weeks before adding them to a mature tank.

Which acclimation method did you use for your new betta buddy? Tell us in the comments box below.

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