Betta Fish Care

Should I Put My Betta In a Hospital Tank?

When you buy a Betta fish, you are probably excited to become the owner of a new pet and not think about what could go wrong.

Betta fish, like all animals and humans, can get sick. The diagnostic process can be a bit tricky in fish, and the symptoms in Betta fish are often the same for curable and incurable diseases. 

It is quite difficult to find an experienced veterinarian who specializes in fish diseases. However, that doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to take the best possible care of our fish pet.

Betta fish often get sick from stress and inadequate conditions in the aquarium. It is important to notice in time and to move Betta to the quarantine aquarium, i.e. Hospital Tank.

What Is A Hospital Tank?

Essentially, it is an additional, separate aquarium, whose purpose is to isolate a fish that you suspect or know is sick. The hospital tank is important because it is easier for you to observe the behavior, the progression of the symptoms of the disease, or to monitor the progress of the cure during medication treatment. Hospital tank is also used during the adjustment to a new environment or after the mating, when it is necessary to remove female Betta.

The size of a hospital tank is generally 2.5 – 5 gallons. You can buy fully equipped hospital tanks in specialized stores; with heater, filter, and accessories such as lid and decorations.

Depending on the money you are willing to spend, you can improvise to make a hospital tank yourself, but it will cost you more and it will take more time to set everything up properly.

Similar to a regular aquarium – all conditions in a hospital tank must be the best possible. If you have consulted a veterinarian who is an expert in fish Betta, follow his instructions. 

Is A Hospital Tank A Waste Of Money?

No it’s not. Of course, provided you are the responsible owner of the Betta fish.

Betta fish have an average lifespan of 3 years. In the best case 5 years. Diseases are sometimes a sign of the end of life, or old age. It is often the case, however, that Betta fish intended for widespread sale are breeded in low-quality Betta fish farms. Small aquariums, often cups or bowls where they are grown plus bad synthetic food – in the early period of life Betta fish can significantly shorten their lifespan.

Many Betta fish do survive these conditions, but are very sensitive to stress and literally every change is a shock to them. It often happens that careful and responsible owners of Betta fish buy just such a fish, which, despite good care and a quality aquarium, quickly gets sick and unfortunately dies.

Betta fish are generally specific and because of their character, so they are relatively “hard to manage” pets. However, they are infinitely beautiful and interesting and will undoubtedly give true fans a lot of happiness. So, if you really care about your Betta fish, you will also have a hospital tank.

Especially if you have an aquarium with several species of fish – a hospital tank is a “must have”.

How Do I Know If I Should Put Betta Fish In A Hospital Tank?

Regular inspection of Betta fish’s body will save you a lot of time, money and nerves. This primarily means that from the first time you have a Betta fish; you follow its movement and take notes.

How Do I Know If I Should Put Betta Fish In A Hospital Tank

This is the easiest way to notice when something is wrong and when your pet is not behaving as usual than normal. No matter which disease it is – most of them have similar or the same symptoms.

Sometimes it is not a disease, but a problem with the aquarium, filter, heater or water temperature. That is exactly why the hospital tank serves you – to remove doubts and find out what exactly the problem is.

Here are a few situations when you should react quickly and put your Betta in a hospital tank:

  • If Betta behaves lethargically for more than three days, refuses food and seems somehow lost; it is possible that has an infection, but also that the water current has been disturbed or water is somehow polluted. Check filters, heater and analyze water for nitrates and ammonia.
  • If Betta is bloated. This is a typical sign of constipation, but also of other serious diseases. Place the Betta in a hospital tank and do not give food for one day. If bloating persists consult a veterinarian. 
  • Constantly hiding or floating on surfaces. This is often a sign of polluted water, so Betta looks for places where it is cleanest, near the filter or on the surface. Put the Betta in the hospital tank and examine the filter and other equipment.
  • If you plan to put Betta fish in an aquarium where other fish species are; gradually getting Betta used to the new conditions and the water in the aquarium, you can do it in the Hospital tank. 
  •  Betta has lost color and body looks deformed, with a distorted spine. This is usually a sign of an advanced illness and that there is no help for your Betty. You can transfer fish to a hospital tank and euthanize him, or let Betta die on its own in as comfortable conditions as possible.

How To Properly Set Up A Hospital Tank?

Place it in a quiet, stable and not too bright and noisy place. Next, adjust the heater and filter. Since the hospital tank is also used during the process of getting the Betta fish used to new conditions, and not only when it is sick – depending on that, adjust the hospital tank.

If it is a process of adjustment, add 50% of water from the main aquarium to the hospital tank, and add the rest to the new, clean water.

Also, use a sponge from the aquarium in which you plan to put the fish. This will gradually create the same conditions as in the main aquarium, and Betta will have enough time to get used to it. In this way, Betta will avoid the shock of the new environment and Betta’s immune system will not react violently. Let the new Betta be here for 2-4 weeks.

During that time, it should get used to it, and if it happens to be ill, it will show certain symptoms. This process protects the new Betta, but also other fish species you already have in the main aquarium.

If you put Betta in a hospital tank, because it is sick or suspected of having the disease, do not use the same sponge or any other object as in the main aquarium. This way you provide your pet hospital conditions.  

You can also insert artificial plants and objects in the hospital tank. It will help Betta to relax and rest. Medicines are often aggressive, so they can kill good bacteria. Therefore, make sure that nothing is sharp or rough, because you do not want Betta to get further injured during the treatment.

So, when you put Betta to a hospital tank to cure or observe – always first put fish in a bag containing water from the main aquarium. Let it be in the bag for 15 minutes, and then release it. You guessed it. Betta will be less stressed and scared that way.

If you have a hospital tank without a filter, you will have to change the water every day. Also, you will have to put the fish in a bag every time. If you have a filter it is enough to replace 25 percent of the water every 72 hours.

Hospital Tank Accessories

The Hospital Tank must have a heater and filter. These are the basics. The process of healing or adjustment should be as similar as possible to the normal life of a Betta fish.  This means that the water temperature must be between 78 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the treatment of some diseases, the water temperature must be higher, and you will best regulate that with a heater. Often the drugs and chemicals given to sick Betta fish are water pollutants, which can in no way contribute to healing; moreover, it can kill a Betta fish. That is why it is good to have an air bubbler that prevents the elimination of oxygen from the water, which is needed by Betta fish.

Light is not always crucial in a hospital tank; only if you have not placed it in a place where there is no natural light. You should know that Betta needs 5-8 hours of complete darkness a day, and if the hospital tank doesn’t have access to natural light, buy an aquarium light and adjust it to Betta fish needs.

Don’t forget the plants and decorations, but always make sure they are made of soft, preferably silk materials.

How Do I maintain A Hospital Tank When I’m Not Using It? 

If you have finished the treatment or adjustment process for Betta Fish and you no longer need a hospital tank – the first thing you will do is to disinfect it thoroughly. 

Replace the water in which the Betta fish was and pour a new one in which you will add 1 teaspoon of bleach, per gallon of water. After that, use a special cloth to clean all the used equipment, as well as the hospital tank itself.

After washing everything thoroughly – rinse until you are sure that you have washed all the bleach. After that, leave everything to dry for 3-5 days. You can also expose them to the sun, and then shelter in a safe place. Dispose of all disposable parts, rags and sponges. Sand decorations can be washed in boiled water, 2-3 times.


Hospital Tank is a great choice for proper and careful care of Betta fish. You won’t always need it, but it can serve in many situations and save your fish’s life.  So, yes, you should use a Hospital Tank for your Betta. 

Please, for the sake of your Betta, always do research and if not sure consult someone who is. Once, when you learn everything, hospital tank set up will be very simple. Basically, it’s just important that you use it properly.