How to Clean Fish Tank After Betta Dies

How to Clean Fish Tank After Betta Dies

There is nothing more heartbreaking for a fish tank owner than to see your favorite Betta fish-floating belly up or lying lifeless in your aquarium.

Whether you are a newbie or an elite aquarist, fish death happens all the time. It might be a natural death, an underlying disease, or cleanliness issues.

Although fish death can be emotional, you need to be proactive to prevent other fish from dying hence understanding how to clean fish tank after betta dies.

How to Clean Fish Tank After Betta Dies- Step by Step Process

bokeh shot of blue and orange fish
Betta Fish

Here are the steps to follow when cleaning a fish tank after a Betta fish death.

Some of the essential items to have in stock include:

  • Algae pad
  • Siphon and a special bucket
  • Thermometer
  • Test kit to check the water pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels
  • Bleach solution

1. Remove the Fish Immediately

The first thing to do immediately after you spot a dead betta fish is to remove the corpse, examine the dead body, and take the necessary steps based on your analysis.

If it appears like a natural death, a thorough cleaning might not be needed. However, if the corpse indicates an internal infection, you may require to change the water and clean the interior parts thoroughly.

2. Scrub the Tank

Use an algae pad to rub along the tank and eliminate any algae buildup sticking to the wall. You can use a blade to scrape out stubborn spots. Avoid using scrubbers from your kitchen sink since they might contain harmful detergent residues.

Always use a separate scrubbing pad for cleaning the fish tank. The perfect moment to carry out this step is after removing 10-20% of the water from the tank.

Read: Do betta fish play with their food?

white and orange fish in water
Betta fish

3. Test the Water Quality

If your Betta fish died a natural death, changing the water might not be necessary. Just ensure you do the routine 10-20% water change weekly to keep other fish healthy.

However, if you suspect the death was caused by an infection or water contamination, conduct a quick test. Based on the results, you can change 25-50% of the water on the tank and test again.

Note: A 100% water change is rare and often not recommended since it may lead to environmental shock to the other surviving fish. However, if the water fails the quality test even after a 75% change, you may consider replacing the whole water.

4. Remove Wastes

Open the siphon and direct the infected water into a special bucket to replace the poor-quality water.

Next, take a gravel vacuum and force it through the gravel to suck out the debris, fish wastes, dirt, spoiled food, and germs. If your fish tank has a sand substrate, avoid using a gravel vacuum. Instead, run your finger to eliminate any dirt or debris trapped beneath the sand.

Since Betta fish are quite delicate, cover the vacuum with a clean stocking to minimize its intensity. Nevertheless, the mesh should be large enough to suck up the waste.

Read: What antibiotic treats Popeye in Betta fish

5. Clean Decorations

It’s a good idea not to have too many decorations in your fish tank to offer adequate space for your fish to swim around.

When a Betta fish dies, you should clean the interior declarations by wiping them with a never-used soft-bristled toothbrush or an algae pad. Avoid using a detergent or soap since they contain chemicals harmful to your fish.

If, for some reason, you are unable to clean decorations in a large fish tank, remove them from the tank and soak them in a 10% bleach solution for about 15 minutes. Before putting them back into the tank, run hot water to eliminate any traces of bleach from the decorations.

6. Change the Water

Replace the old water in the tank with fresh, treated tap water.

Make sure the water temperature in the tank is uniform since a significant temperature change can make other healthy Betta fish sick. If the tap water contains some metal traces, use bottled or distilled water to be on the safe side.

If your Betta fish died from a disease or infection, add a little amount of aquarium salt to the freshwater to prevent diseases and increase the lifespan of other fish. Wait for some hours to allow the water to cool down and become squeaky clean.

Avoid using cleaning agents since they can mask problems that require immediate attention.

7. Change the Filter (If Necessary)

After a Betta fish death, it can be good to replace the filter cartridge to ensure there is no risk of infection. The useful bacteria often live under the gravel, so there is no harm in replacing the filter.

Read: Are King betta and Giant Betta the same?

FAQs About Cleaning Fish Tank After Betta Fish Dies

What Happens If I Fail to Remove the Dead Betta Fish from the Tank?

If you fail to immediately remove the dead Betta fish, the corpse will decompose and pollute the warm, bacteria-laden water.

If your Betta fish died due to an infection or disease, you wouldn’t want other fish to eat its body parts. So, take action immediately before it causes a health danger for other fish in the tank.

Do Betta Fish Float or Sink in the Tank When They Die?

Considering they probably have oxygen in their bodies, dead Betta fish may initially float in the water. This can also occur if the current is strong enough to make them start rising to the top and keep them at a certain height in the tank.

However, they will eventually end up somewhere on the bottom, and if the fish is tiny enough, it might be sucked by the filtrate intake.

Why Do Betta Die After Cleaning the Fish Tank?

Fish dying after cleaning the tank often happens to aquarium hobby beginners. If you use any harmful product to clean your fish tank, it will probably kill your Bettas.

Depending on the hardiness of your Betta fish, they can only withstand so many chemicals or other harmful ingredients before they succumb. Always use products that are aquarium safe to clean your fish tank.

When cleaning the filter, use water from the aquarium your Bettas are in, or if you are an expert and have a sick tank running all through, you can use that water as well.

As an aquarium owner, learning how to clean your fish tank after a Betta fish deathcan make you a better fish keeper. However, the most important thing is to remove the dead fish immediately after you spot it.

You don’t have to take radical measures immediately. Investigate and see what proper actions you can take to bring back the normalcy of your fish tank.

Read: Betta fish laying on bottom of tank not moving


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