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[Answered] Do Betta Fish Need Rocks In Their Tank?

do betta fish need rocks in their tank

A betta fish is a relatively low-maintenance aquarium fish. However, it is of utmost importance that the setting up of the betta tank is appropriately done. There are various aspects of a betta tank that need to be fulfilled before actually adding the betta fish. For instance, do betta fish need rocks in their tanks?

Betta fish do not explicitly need rocks or gravel in their tanks to answer the question. Although betta fish do not necessarily demand gravel or rocks in their tank, some substrate needs to be added to the tank. This does not mean that you cannot add rocks to your betta tank. Gravel is the most commonly used substrate for betta fish as it is pretty easy to maintain and is generally recommended for beginners.

Why Is A Tank Substrate Necessary?

Before discussing further gravel as a substrate for betta tanks, let us first discuss the rationale behind the idea that a substrate is necessary for a betta tank. Betta fish are born aggressors and are particularly hostile against their kind.

A tank substrate becomes essential as it blocks any sort of reflection of the betta fish in the aquarium glass. Betta fish tend to get stressed out on seeing their own reflection as they interpret their image as another betta fish. This causes the betta fish to flare and, over time, get stressed.

However, sometimes showing your betta fish their reflection is beneficial as it suppresses boredom and promotes the instincts of the betta fish. Constant flaring may stress out your betta fish which is harmful to your betta in the long run.

There are other reasons why a tank substrate is necessary for a betta tank. Tank substrate also aids in trapping uneaten and leftover food of your betta fish. This, in turn, promotes the healthy growth of specific bacterial groups that is beneficial for the tank environment.

Another reason why a tank substrate becomes necessary is subject to the individual fish owners. Some people add tank substrate just because it looks good in the tank. Substrates like gravel are also available in different colors. Thus, the substrate also serves as a decor for your tank.

We have discussed the importance of adding a suitable substrate to a betta tank. Now the question arises, which substrate to use? Do betta fish need rocks in their tanks?

Do Betta Fish Need Rocks In Their Tank?

Now the question arises, do betta fish need rocks in their tank? Gravel is undoubtedly a fine contender for tank substrate for betta fish. However, it is not a necessity. Gravel is considered to be a suitable substrate, especially for beginners.

This is mainly because of gravel’s low maintenance. Gravel is relatively easy to set up in the tank, and after set up, it is also relatively easy to clean. Gravel also blocks any sort of reflection of the betta fish on the aquarium surface, thereby preventing any unnecessary stress in your betta fish.

Ideally, it is recommended that you put at least 1 to 2 inches of gravel in your tank. However, if you plan to add aquatic plants to your tank, a deeper gravel foundation is advisable. The only thing to keep in mind while adding gravel to your tank is maintaining a constant water flow.

Only a healthy water flow between the substrate can assure good bacterial growth in the tank. If you are getting small gravel, you should make a shallow foundation. On the other hand, larger gravel corresponds to a deeper foundation.

Without a proper water flow, the trapped uneaten betta food will start decaying and rot without any bacterial interference. There are as such no specifications for good gravel. By adjusting the way you add the substrate, you can avoid any discrepancies that may arise otherwise.

So, do betta fish need rocks in their tank? They do not “need” it, but gravel is undoubtedly an excellent choice for a substrate for your betta tank. Having discussed gravel as a betta tank substrate, let us move towards some other alternatives to gravel.

Other Tank Substrates For Betta Fish

As we have already answered whether betta fish need rocks in their tank, we may now highlight some of the other suitable substrates for a betta tank. There are two practical and feasible alternatives to gravel for a tank substrate.

You may use either tile or sand as a tank substrate. Each has its pros and cons. Let us highlight some key points about each of these substrates to help you get a clear idea.


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– Blocks any reflection of the betta– Relatively more difficult to clean
– Promotes healthy bacterial growth– If ingested, it can cause impaction in betta
– Ensures good water flow


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– Blocks any reflection of the betta– Does not promote bacterial growth
– Very easy to clean– Generally suitable only for short-finned bettas
– Looks good in a tank

Either of these substrates can be used without any hesitation. They both have something to offer to their users. To sum up, sand is more of a traditional substrate and traps fish waste, while tile is generally used in big tanks and for those fish that tend to get quite messy.

FAQs On Do Betta Fish Need Rocks In Their Tank

How often should I clean aquarium gravel?

You should clean the gravel and change some of your tank water at least once a week. This ensures that the water quality is maintained and ammonia and nitrates levels are kept in check.

Do betta fish like playing with rocks?

Betta fish have shown strange behavior from time to time, like burrowing themselves in the rocks. This does not necessarily mean that your betta likes doing it. Such behavior may also be caused due to certain illnesses or bacterial infections.

What color gravel is best for betta fish?

Black color gravel is generally advisable as it brings out the bright colors of your betta fish. Dark-colored substrates contrast nicely with betta fish.

Final Thoughts

Do betta fish need rocks in their tank? Betta fish do not necessarily need gravel as tank substrate. However, it is considered the most feasible among the three recommended substrates as it is straightforward to maintain, comes in different colors, and looks good overall.