Betta Quarantine Tank 101: How To Setup For Success

Have you got a plan for when your betta gets sick? As much as you wish it won’t happen at some point it will. And if you don’t have a betta quarantine tank ready to go, then it will end up in disaster. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about betta quarantine tanks. And when the time comes you’ll be confident you can treat your betta effectively!

What Is A Quarantine Tank?

A quarantine tank is a tank used for two things. Treating sick fish and isolating new fish. They can be broken down when not in use, and they don’t have to be as fancy as your main tank. However, you do need to make sure that your fish is going to feel safe and comfortable when placed in a quarantine tank.

How To Set Up A Quarantine Tank

There are a number of steps you’re going to need to take to set up your quarantine tank. However, they are extremely straightforward, and you won’t have a problem setting them up.

  1. Place your aquarium on a flat surface. Make sure it’s somewhere temperature and light won’t fluctuate constantly. And if it’s possible place the tank somewhere quiet.
  2. The next step is going to vary slightly depending on the reason you’re adding a fish to a quarantine tank.
    • If your betta is being added because you’ve just bought it and you’re quarantining for safety then follow this step. Add 50% conditioned tap water to your quarantine tank, and 50% water from your aquarium. Doing this will mean your betta won’t have to go through the stress of being in shop water, quarantine water and then your aquarium water in a short amount of time.
    • If you’re quarantining your betta because they’re sick then it’s normally best to fill your quarantine tank to the top with conditioned water.
  3. After this, it’s time to add your filter and heater. Before adding your betta to the tank you should ensure that the water is the same temperature as your main aquarium.
  4. If you’re using the quarantine tank for a betta you’ve just bought, and not one that is sick, then you should use one of the filter sponges from your main tank. This will introduce the same bacteria in your aquarium to the quarantine tank for your betta to get used too.
  5. If you plan on using a quarantine tank to heal a fish then avoid using a filter sponge, or only use one that you don’t mind losing. The harsh chemicals are going to kill all the bacteria in the tank anyway.
  6. During this time you should also add some hiding places for your betta. Use fake silk plants and caves they can hide in. Make sure there’s nothing for them to cut themselves on and that there are no sharp edges. The last thing you need is to weaken your bettas immune system more.
  7. When your tank is up to the right temperature it’s time to add your betta. But don’t just plonk him in their straight away. Put him in a bag with some of the water from your main aquarium and float him in your quarantine tank for 15 minutes.


If you have a filter in your quarantine tank then you’re only going to need to do a partial water change. 25% every 72 hours should be enough. If you’re not using a filter then you’re going to have to do a complete water change daily. Place your betta in a bag with some quarantine tank water in it. Add new conditioned water to your quarantine tank and bring the temperature back up. Once that’s done acclimatize your betta again. (Float the bag in your quarantine tank for 15 minutes before releasing your betta.)

How Big Should A Quarantine Tank Be?

If you plan on using a quarantine tank, bigger is better. Because a bigger tank is less likely to have water fluctuations. And if something does go wrong it’s going to take longer for it to occur. For example, it’ll take longer for a bigger tank to cool down. The minimum sized tank you should use as a quarantine tank is 10 gallons, but 15 to 20 gallons is much better.

How Long Should You Keep Your Betta In A Quarantine Tank?

How long you should keep your betta in a quarantine tank really depends on the reason they’re in there in the first place. If it’s because you’re:

Introducing New Fish

If you plan on introducing your betta to an already established tank, or any other fish, you should quarantine them for 2-4 weeks. In this amount of time, you’ll be able to monitor them and notice if there are any signs of disease or infection.

Quarantining Sick Fish

If you need to quarantine a sick fish then it may have to stay in the tank anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. Of course, this is all going to depend on what they’re suffering from and how long it’s going to take to cure. The most important thing to remember is that if you’re using a strong medicine,r continue treatment to the end. If you end treatment to quickly you risk the bacteria, parasite or fungus becoming resistant.

Betta Quarantine Tank 101

What Equipment Does A Quarantine Tank Need?

To make your quarantine tank as effective as possible you’re going to need the following equipment.

  • Heater
  • Filter
  • Air bubbler
  • Hiding Places
  • Light

The most important piece of equipment you’re going to need is a heater. Without a heater, you can’t effectively keep your tank at the desired temperature. With a lot of sicknesses, you have to keep the temperature higher than normal.

Depending on the type of medication you’re using you’ll also need an air bubbler. A lot of medicine can remove oxygen from the water which is going to suffocate your betta. An air bubbler eliminates this.

And obviously when your betta is stressed he’s going to want places to hide. Hiding places such as plants or caves are going to make your betta feel more secure, reducing stress and keeping their immune system strong.

Some people believe that it’s possible to get away with not having some of the equipment. In fact, I often get asked two questions.

Does A Quarantine Tank Need A Filter?

The truth is a quarantine tank doesn’t necessarily need a filter, depending on its size. However, without a filter, you’re going to have to do a LOT more work. And you’re potentially going to stress your betta out more. Because instead of doing a partial water change you’ll have to do a complete water change. And in smaller tanks, it would have to be a complete water change every day.

Does A Quarantine Tank Need A Light?

Once again this really depends. If you’re not aware already bettas need a certain amount of light and dark every day. In fact, in this article, you can read all about why it’s so important for bettas to have darkness and light. However, if you think that your betta is going to get adequate light throughout the day (at least 8 hours) then you may be able to avoid using a light.


What Are The Benefits Of Using A Quarantine Tank?

Having a betta quarantine tank is great for so many different reasons. Some reasons you may already know, and some you may not have even thought of yet.

Stop Other Fish Getting Infected

Obviously, one of the biggest benefits of using a quarantine tank is that if you’re housing your betta with any other fish they aren’t going to get infected. As soon as you remove a sick fish from your main tank you’re going to cut the chances of other fish becoming sick.

You’re Not Going To Treat Fish That Aren’t Sick

If you treat fish that aren’t sick you may notice some negative effects. First of all, your other fish are more likely to become stressed, weakening their immune system.

You Can Observe Your Fish

Sometimes you can’t be sure whether your fish is sick or not. And if you’re like me you love having a lot of plants and hiding places for your fish. While you can normally find your betta at the top of the tank, if he’s in a tank with other fish then he may hide. Putting them in a quarantine tank makes it a lot easier to find them.

You Can Feed Your Fish In A Controlled Manner

If your betta has tank mates you know that they’re not the fastest swimmers. This means no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to give your betta enough food. This is especially common in new bettas who have never had to eat their food quickly before. By placing them in a quarantine tank you can train them to eat quicker.

Should You Make Your Quarantine Tank Permanent Or Emergency?

You may not know this already, but a lot of people keep their quarantine tank running all year. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. It’s also possible to only get it out in an emergency.

Permanent Quarantine Tank Info

A permanent quarantine tank is one that you’re going to keep set up all year. Obviously, the biggest benefit to this is that if your betta gets sick you don’t have to waste any time. However, the downside is that a permanent quarantine tank is going to require maintenance throughout the year. For example, you’re going to have to perform water changes every so often as well as remove any algae that are building up.

I’d recommend a permanent quarantine tank if you’re housing your betta with other fish. If you’re adding new fish to your main tank having a constant quarantine tank is going to save you a lot of time and hassle.

And you don’t have to keep your quarantine tank empty all the time. You can keep hardy fish in there such as plecos and if you need to quarantine your betta or any other fish simply move the plecos to your main tank.

Emergency Quarantine Tank Info

An emergency quarantine tank is going to be for you if you don’t want to use it all the time. The biggest benefit of an emergency tank is that you don’t have to maintain it all year round. If you plan on keeping your betta isolated then this is definitely the tank you should go for in my opinion.

However, be warned that when you’re using an emergency quarantine tank it isn’t going to be as stable as an established tank. If you don’t add a filter sponge from your main tank into it there’s not going to be any bacteria, to begin with. Which means nothing will remove the bioload caused by your sick betta.

What Should You Do With A Quarantine Tank When It’s Not In Use?

If you don’t plan on using your quarantine tank permanently then you may be wondering what to do with it when it’s not in use. The most important thing to do is wash and disinfect it thoroughly as well as making sure you rinse it as well. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Completely empty the tank of water. Collect as much of the substrate as you can and place it in a container.
  2. Once there’s no water or gravel left in the tank place all your equipment into your quarantine tank.
  3. Fill the tank back up with water and add 1 teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of water.
  4. Once you’ve done this begin scrubbing your tank and all the equipment you used with a rag.
  5. If you plan on keeping your substrate make sure you leave it in boiling water to kill any bacteria. And remember you shouldn’t boil gravel and sand instead you should add it to already boiled water.
  6. Once you’ve cleaned everything empty your tank and replace the water.
  7. Once again use your cloth to clean any bleach off the tank and equipment before emptying the tank again.
  8. And the most important part. Make sure that you give everything enough time to dry naturally. I like to leave my tank for 3-5 days to make sure all the water has dried up.
  9. Once you’ve done this saran wrap everything up and put it away.
  10. Remember to throw away any filter media that were used in your quarantine tank.

Check out this helpful video:

Has This Betta Quarantine Tank Guide Helped?

After reading this you should have all the knowledge necessary to maintain your own betta quarantine tank. Here are some of the key points to take away from this article.

  • The two most common reasons to use a quarantine tank are for separating sick fish from healthy ones and monitoring new fish.
  • Some of the biggest benefits of using a quarantine tank are reducing infection rate in other fish, controlled feeding, and not damaging your main tank with medication.
  • You can have a permanent quarantine tank or an emergency quarantine tank. Permanent tanks are set up all year and are more stable but also more effort. Emergency tanks are set up when necessary and aren’t as much effort, but also aren’t as stable.
  • If your quarantine tank isn’t in use you should disinfect it completely and make sure that it’s completely air dried before using saran wrap to cover it.
Tropical Fish A-Z

About the author

Hey there! I'm Antonio, the passionate owner and chief editor of Betta Care Fish Guide. With over half a decade of hands-on experience, I've become your go-to expert for all things betta and tropical fish.

Over the past 5 years, I've not only kept bettas and other tropical fish but also connected with a diverse network of hobbyists, seasoned fishkeepers, and even veterinarians.

Now, I want to help other beginner fish keepers who had the same questions as me when they were just starting out! So they can save themselves a ton of time and keep their fish happy and healthy!

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