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Ideal pH Level for Betta Fish (and How to Achieve it)

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

holding PH tests in front of freshwater aquarium

Probably the most important part of fish keeping is ensuring water quality stays high and water parameters stay at safe levels. All fish have specific water parameter needs, and pH is one of the most important aspects of that. The pH of the water can range from acidic to alkaline, and not all fish can survive at certain pH levels. Knowing the appropriate pH level for your Betta fish and how to achieve that pH level will help you keep your Betta fish safe and healthy.

What’s the Right pH Range for Betta Fish?

Betta fish do best when kept at a neutral pH of 7.0-7.5. They are tolerant of slightly acidic water as low as 6.5, though. The pH level of tap water, distilled water, and RODI water is usually right around 7.0, which makes maintaining a neutral pH relatively easy. However, the pH level of water, especially tap water, is variable by location. No matter what type of water you use for your Betta’s tank, you should have an idea of what the baseline pH is.

PH checking solution in aquarium tank
Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

How to Achieve the Ideal pH Level for Your Betta Fish During Water Changes

1. Check the pH

Using test strips or a liquid test kit, check the pH level of your tank and the water you intend to add to your tank. In a perfect world, these pH levels should be identical, but if they are within a range of less than 1 full point, then this difference is unlikely to disturb your fish.

2. Make adjustments

When it comes to adjusting the pH of the water you are planning to add to your tank, you have multiple options depending on what the pH of the new water is. If the pH level is acidic, you can use a pH increasing product. If it is too alkaline, you can use a pH decreasing product. Keep in mind that the higher the pH, the more alkaline the water is, and the lower the pH, the more acidic the water is. The simplest way to maintain the neutral pH that your Betta fish prefers, though, is to use a product intended to adjust pH to 7.0, regardless of the current level.

water checking
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

3. Recheck the pH

Once you’ve made adjustments to the pH, recheck the pH level. Some products require a wait time before they take full effect. It’s a good idea to make any adjustments to new tank water 12-24 hours before you intend to add it to the tank. This allows all products to take full effect and give you a chance to get an accurate pH reading of the new water.

4. Add to the tank

Once you’ve established that the new water’s pH matches the tank water’s pH, you’re ready to add the new water to the tank. Add new water in slowly to avoid any kind of shock and you’re all set!

5. Verify the pH (optional)

If you have concerns about the pH level potentially changing significantly before and after adding new water, you can recheck the pH of the tank after you’ve added the new water in. Most pH adjustment products can be safely added directly into a tank with a fish but follow all instructions with use.

measure the acidity and alkalinity of a solution of pH
Image Credit: Red Shadow, Shutterstock

What Other Products Help Adjust pH?

If you’re working to raise, lower, or maintain the pH in your fish’s tank, changes need to be made slowly. Even if your Betta fish is at an inappropriate pH level, you still need to make adjustments slowly. Rapid changes in pH levels can cause shock and death in fish, even if you are changing the pH to an appropriate level. There are multiple products you can purchase to help make slow adjustments to your pH level and to ensure your pH is maintained at a certain level. This is especially beneficial if your tap water or well water has a slightly acidic or alkaline pH.

Raising the pH:
  • Crushed coral
  • Baking soda
  • Dolomite gravel
  • Non-inert rocks
  • Calcium carbonate

Lowering the pH:
  • Driftwood
  • Cholla wood
  • Indian Almond/Catappa leaves
  • Peat
  • Barley straw

wave tropical divider

In Conclusion

You have lots of great options for controlling the pH level of your Betta’s aquarium! It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but you do need to have a few products on hand that allow you to monitor the pH and ensure that it is staying at the proper neutral level for your Betta. Slightly acidic water is acceptable, but it may be difficult to maintain acidic water at a safe pH for your Betta fish.

Routinely monitoring your water parameters, including pH, can help you know what direction to go in when it comes to maintaining your aquarium. The pH level is one of the most important aspects of tank care and understanding how to maintain it can keep your Betta fish safe and healthy. Ensure you follow all instructions on any products you use in your tank to alter the pH, and make sure you understand whether or not a product you put in your tank is inert. Non-inert products will alter the water pH, maybe significantly and maybe minorly, so understanding the effect that items in your tank may have on the pH will help you maintain a proper pH level.

Featured Image Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

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