The answer to the question, “do betta fish need a lid on their tank,” is a resounding YES.
Betta fish can jump out of their containers especially when the water surface is very near the rim of the tank.
Betta fish are very curious creatures and they have evolved to be agile jumpers. Betta fish in the wild are known to hop from one puddle to another in search of water levels which are more suitable.
They can stay in small amounts of water to survive during the hot summer season but can jump when the water level becomes too low or when they no longer feel comfortable where they are.
Do betta tanks need lids?
Having a lid on your betta fish tank will prevent your betta fish from jumping out of the tank. This will save you from the unfortunate situations other fish keepers have experienced with tanks without a cover. This will also protect your betta fish from other household pets such as curious cats.
Another advantage of having a lid is that it will prevent too much evaporation of water. Too much evaporation will increase the concentration of dissolved organic matter in your betta fish tank. You can remedy this by topping up the lost water and through water changes which should be a part of your routine maintenance.
So, do betta fish need a lid on their tank? The answer is it has its advantages and disadvantages.
Having a lid on top of your betta fish tank will also help keep the temperature of your aquarium constantly. Remember that betta fish prefer the tropical temperature range. Having a lid will create fewer temperature fluctuations and will lessen the work needed to be done by your aquarium heater.
The disadvantage of having a lid on your betta fish tank is that it can block off light coming from your light source. Some lids are manufactured with built-in light but these usually aren’t enough to provide the light requirements of more high-tech plants. This gives the hobbyist fewer options of plants since only the low-tech plants can survive with the stock lighting.
Simple aquariums have glass lids made to cover most of the opening of the aquarium but leaving an inch to provide air circulation. Glass lids will let more light pass through compared to plastic lids. Glass lids also provide protection and safety as a barrier between the light source and the water in your fish tank.
Can betta fish live in a closed container?
Betta fish need oxygen to breathe and keeping them in a totally sealed container for a lengthy period is not a great idea. Transporting a betta fish from the local fish store to your home requires a closed container.
An example is aerated and sealed plastic bags with water. A betta fish will not survive in such a container once they use the oxygen up.
An aquarium lid will not completely seal the opening of your fish tank because there will still be vents and cut-outs so that air can still enter the tank. This will let a continuous supply of oxygen and will let gas exchange to occur.
They made the lids available for aquariums in such a way that air can still pass through small gaps while preventing your fish from escaping from the tank.
How do you make a homemade fish tank lid?
If your tank didn’t come with a lid then you can make a homemade fish tank lid. Measure the length and width of your fish tank and note this.
One option is to purchase a polycarbonate plastic sheet and cut it with a utility knife. If your fish tank has its opening with only the rim of the glass exposed then you will need to consider adding a centimeter more to the measurement of the tank’s opening. This will let the polycarbonate sheet to rest on the margins of the tank. Cut out a slot to let any air tubing and wires that need to come into your tank. If you are using a hang on back filter, then cut out an area for the filter too.
There is also a product that can support a homemade lid.
BCP 6pcs Clear Color Acrylic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Cover Clip Support Holder,6mm by Broadway-style can support materials such as glass, acrylic sheet, or styrofoam.
Make sure that your aquarium’s glass thickness is compatible with the size being sold.
There are other sizes available online for thicker and bigger sized tanks. Deciding what material to use is also crucial. Glass looks more aesthetic but you need to have it cut or purchase a set of glass cutting tools, acrylic sheets are not as transparent as glass, and styrofoam doesn’t look very appealing.
Another option to prevent your betta fish from jumping out of the aquarium is by using a mesh. There are DIY kits that use mesh material such as Innovative Marine DIY SafeScreen Mesh Screen Kit.
You can bypass all the hassle of making a lid by buying ready-made aquarium covers. If it fits the measurement of your tank, then this is something you can consider.
A ready-made glass lid such as the Aqueon Versa Hinged Glass Aquarium Top looks sleek and clean but it doesn’t come with light fixtures.
This is a superb choice if you have purchased a separate light fixture for your tank.
An example of a hood available online would be the Tetra LED Aquarium Hood.
This comes with light fixtures installed and will prevent your betta from jumping out. It has cut-outs to let airline tubes and wires to pass through into the tank. The light included with the hood can support low-tech plants that do not require too bright lights.
There are plenty of ready-made aquarium kits that come with a cover. Examples are Aqueon’s 10 Gallon Fish Tank Aquarium LED Kit which comes with a hood with light inside.
Fluval’s Spec V 5 Gallon Aquarium Kit also has a glass cover included.
If you decide not to put a lid on your fish tank, then you should make sure that the water surface is far from the rim of the tank. Purchasing a cover will enhance the look of your fish tank and keep your betta fish safe by not letting it jump and dry out on the floor.