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10 DIY Betta Fish Tank Set Up Ideas You Can Create Today (With Pictures)

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley


As one of the most popular freshwater fish, Betta fish can be spotted in a variety of setups. Oftentimes, they are kept in small cups in stores, but once you take your Betta home, it should be in a tank that is at least 5 gallons.

Although they typically are kept alone, Bettas like to have plenty of space to move around, as well as plants that provide space to rest. The options of how you set up your Betta’s tank are essentially endless, but there are a handful of DIY solutions you can try to make the perfect home for your new fish.

The 10 DIY Betta Fish Tank Set Up Ideas

1. DIY Basic Setup by aquarium co-op

DIY Beautiful Betta Fish Tank
Image Credit: aquarium co-op
Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, aquarium hood/lid, aquarium light, gentle filtration system, tank heater, gravel/sand, smooth-edged décor, live plants
Tools: Aquascaping tools, aquarium siphon
Difficulty Level: Easy

If you’re looking for the most basic Betta fish tank setup out there, then here are the basics of how to set up a Betta’s tank in a way that is simple but still provides a healthy environment for the fish. The materials you’ll need are simple and available at any pet store that sells fish supplies.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you’ll have a tank set up for your Betta in no time flat. Just make sure to read up on how to cycle your tank before you bring your fish home. This will ensure the water is healthy and safe for your new fish friend.

2. DIY Low-Tech Planted Tank by Buceplant

DIY Low Tech Planted Tank for a Betta Fish
Image Credit: Buceplant
Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, driftwood, smooth-edged stones, plant-growth substrate, live plants, gentle filtration system, tank heater
Tools: Aquascaping tools, aquarium siphon, large pot or bucket
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Many people want to keep a planted tank but are overwhelmed at the thought of having to provide lots of care to aquarium plants. This low-tech planted tank option is a great way to bring live plants into your Betta’s tank without having to put in a ton of extra effort to keep the plants healthy.

The key to this setup is choosing an aquarium substrate that is designed to support plant growth. You may also choose to invest in aquarium plant food if you are planning to keep plants that are not planted into the substrate, like Java Fern. When bringing in driftwood, you may need to soak or boil the wood before adding it to the tank to prevent floating.

3. The DIY Aquascape by SerpaDesign

Materials: Aquarium glass, driftwood, smooth-edged stones, substrate, live plants, leaf litter, gentle filtration system, tank heater
Tools: Aquascaping tools, aquarium silicone, aquarium siphon
Difficulty Level: Difficult

Sometimes, you may struggle to find the perfect tank to meet your needs. If you’re struggling to find the right tank, you can make your own from scratch. This DIY aquascape project is difficult and time-consuming, and ensuring the tank is properly put together and sealed is essential to ensuring you don’t come home one day to a wet floor and dead fish.

If you feel like you have the ability to pull this off, though, then you have the freedom to build a tank to fit your space and your vision. Adding in driftwood, smooth-edged stones, and live plants will bring the whole thing together.

Leaf litter, like Catappa leaves and Alder cones, can be added to the tank to enhance the tank’s natural beauty, as well as to increase the quality of the water. The tannins in leaf litter can help keep your Betta fish healthy.

4. DIY Floating Plants Set Up by Fish For Thought

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, smooth-edged stones, driftwood, live plants, substrate, gentle filtration system, tank heater
Tools: Aquascaping tools, aquarium siphon
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Betta fish love spending time relaxing in roots and on leaves, so adding floating plants is a great option for your new Betta tank. This set up including floating plants will allow your Betta plenty of space to rest, as well as a feeling of security and comfort.

While adding a variety of live plants is advisable, floating plants tend to be extraordinarily easy to care for, making them a dream for beginner aquarium plant keepers. If you choose to only use floating plants, then you can use any substrate of your choice since you won’t have to be concerned with keeping rooted plants alive. Choosing smooth-edged stones and driftwood will keep your Betta’s delicate fins safe from injuries.

5. DIY Lucky Bamboo Tank by Regis Aquatics

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, tank heater, substrate, gentle filtration system, live bamboo plants
Tools: Aquarium siphon
Difficulty Level: Easy

If you want to keep things extremely simple when it comes to live plants, then a lucky bamboo tank should be a top pick. Bamboo is easy to care for, likes lots of water, and can survive partially submerged. It will live a long time, grow quickly, and sprout leaves. Sometimes, those leaves will sprout underwater, providing your Betta with resting spots.

Ideally, you’ll have a variety of live plants in your Betta’s tank, but if you have a brown thumb and you’re looking for something that is easy to keep alive, few plants can match bamboo.

6. DIY Aquarium Background by Steff J

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, clear plastic or vinyl, natural materials (bark, leaves, river rocks, etc.), aquarium-safe silicone
Tools: Box cutter or scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

This DIY aquarium background project is a fun way to customize the look of your tank. In the instructions, products collected from nature are used. If you go this route, make sure to fully clean everything before putting it in your tank.

Also, don’t forget that natural materials like bark and leaves will break down over time, so if you make a background from these types of items and put it inside your tank, it will need maintenance or replacing somewhat regularly. Natural materials, like leaves, can be quite healthy for your Betta, though, and this project will make their tank feel homier.

7. DIY Fiberglass Background by The King of DIY

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, fiberglass cloth, fiberglass resin, Styrofoam, spray foam, acetone, mixing bowls, Krylon fusion spray paint
Tools: Knives or box cutters, sandpaper, paint brushes
Difficulty Level: Difficult

If the last DIY background wasn’t quite what you were looking for, check out this DIY fiberglass aquarium background project. You can completely customize this project to match whatever idea you have in your head.

The benefit of using fiberglass and foam instead of rocks and cement, which many backgrounds are made from, is that the light weight of these products will displace less water volume. They will also likely hold up better over time, so you won’t have to remake the background every couple of years.

This project does require the use of materials many people are unfamiliar with, so it may be challenging for people who haven’t worked with things like resin and spray foam before.

8. DIY Underwater Bonsai Tree by MR DECOR

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, bonsai driftwood, Monte Carlo or other aquarium carpet plant, Flame moss or similar, super glue, sand, plant-supporting substrate
Tools: Aquascaping tools
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

This underwater bonsai tree project shows a beautiful and complete tank, but the star of the show is the bonsai tree covered in moss, giving it the appearance of a tree. With different colored substrates, you can create the illusion of a stream or a pool.

You can make the tree as full or sparse as you want, but make sure to cover or remove any sharp edges to keep your Betta fish safe. Bonsai driftwood can sometimes be difficult to come by in pet stores, but it’s usually available through online retailers and small aquatics shops.

9. DIY Potted Plants by Odin Aquatics

DIY Potted Aquarium Plants
Image Credit: Odin Aquatics
Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, tank heater, substrate, gentle filtration system, inert plant pots, live plants, plant weights
Tools: Aquascaping tools
Difficulty Level: Easy

Believe it or not, you can put potted plants in your Betta’s tank instead of going through the trouble of having a substrate. Potted plants have the advantage of being mobile and easy to access for care and maintenance. You can even add extra empty pots into your tank for your Betta to have an interesting and fun place to hang out. Just be sure to pick pots that are inert, which means they won’t leach chemicals into the water, like heavy metals or minerals. Terracotta pots are often the top choice, but plastic, glass, and acrylic are all acceptable choices, too.

10. DIY Super Mario Bros. Tank by Edward Phoenix

Materials: 5-gallon+ tank, tank heater, substrate, gentle filtration system, live bamboo plants, legos, plant weights
Tools: Aquarium siphon
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Did you grow up in the time of the original Nintendo? Then you’ll probably lose your mind over this Super Mario Bros. tank! This project uses Legos to build an entire Super Mario Bros. level in your tank. You may have trouble getting the Legos to stay in place, but plant weights can be used inside the bricks to help weigh down your creations.

This project can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. If you’re good with Legos, then this will probably take you at least a day to complete. If you’re a Lego novice, then be prepared to spend a few days putting all of these parts together.


Why Are Bowls Not Included?

You likely noticed that none of these DIY Betta tank ideas suggested the use of a fishbowl or vase. That’s because those environments are almost always inappropriate for a Betta to live in permanently. Bowls and vases don’t provide enough space, and they are rarely large enough to allow for a filtration system and heater.

While you likely know of Bettas that have lived out their lives in a bowl, this environment is prone to poor water quality, not to mention how stressful it can be for the fish to be crammed into a small space.

It’s recommended that you provide a Betta with at least 5 gallons of tank space in order for them to thrive. The larger the tank, the more space you’ll be allowed to add in décor, as well as a heater and filtration system.

aquarium plant divider

In Conclusion

Bettas are beautiful fish that are generally easy to care for, and you can get creative when putting together a tank for your Betta fish. Choose décor, substrate, and live plants that provide your fish with a safe, comfortable environment while also showing off your fish’s unique colors. There are a ton of options on the market for tank setup, even if you’re a beginner fish keeper or tend to kill any plants you touch.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: gogorilla, Shutterstock

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