Do Betta Fish Need a Lid on Their Tank?

Having the appropriate betta tank setup is essential for their safety and overall health.

But one of the most often neglected areas of a betta tank is the lid (as any experienced owner will tell you!).

An aquarium lid is a crucial component of any betta tank. Betta fish are excellent jumpers, and they’re known to jump right out of the tank water. A lid will protect your betta while also offering your aquarium environment several benefits. 

Learn more about why lids are important, their potential benefits, and how to choose the best one. 

do betta fish need a lid on their tank atf

Betta Fish Jumping

Betta fish are amazing jumpers. Sometimes, they even jump out of the tank!

There are various reasons for bettas jumping: 

  • Escape from predators
  • Search for a new habitat
  • Some diseases
  • General anxiety and stress

Your betta could die if it jumps out of the tank and no one’s around. 

Keeping a lid on your tank will prevent this from happening, saving your betta’s life. 

Natural Jumping Behavior in Betta Fish

There are two primary reasons why betta fish jump in their natural environments:

  • They’re trying to escape a predator. 
  • They’re seeking out new environments. 

When it comes to aquarium environments, bettas may jump for any number of reasons: 

Poor water quality.

It’s essential to keep the water conditions optimal for your betta. Additionally, the aquarium water needs to be free of ammonia and other toxins.

Learn the best water parameters for betta fish, and consider buying a low-flow tank filter. Keeping the tank water within optimal parameters will reduce the chances your betta will want to jump. 

Overcrowding or lack of space.

If your tank is too small, your betta will feel overcrowded. This may result in increased stress levels, which will make your betta more likely to jump.

It’s natural for bettas to jump from one habitat to another if something is amiss.

Another thing which can cause overcrowding is having too many decorations or plants in the tank. Learn about successful betta tank setup to give your betta the best level of care. 

Pursuit of a flying insect.

Sometimes, betta fish jump because they’re trying to catch something, such as a flying insect. This makes having a lid essential. It’s hard to fight instinct! 

Issues with the sleep cycle.

Both humans and betta fish follow a circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle.

If the betta’s sleep cycle becomes disturbed due to inadequate lighting conditions, for example, it will become stressed and disoriented. Either of these feelings may cause it to jump out of the tank. 

Jumping Incidents in Home Aquariums

When captive betta fish jump, they risk landing outside of their tank. This is very dangerous, as they might jump while no one is around and ultimately perish. 

Including a good-fitting lid in your betta fish tank setup is critical. With a lid in place, your betta cannot escape the tank when it jumps.

Tank Lid Types

betta fish lid type

Several types of fish tank covers are available, with the most popular being glass and mesh/screen lids. Learn more about each type below. 

Glass Lids

A glass lid is a great option for your betta fish tank but has drawbacks.


  • Visibility. Since glass lids are clear, they offer good visibility of your betta fish tank. This allows you to easily keep tabs on your betta and admire your aquaculture. 
  • Durability. Tempered glass is extremely durable, making it an optimal option for long-term use. Life is full of surprises; you never know what fate will befall your tank or its components. 
  • Heat retention. Glass is known for its strong heat retention capabilities. This is essential for betta keepers, as it helps them keep the water within the proper temperature range. Since bettas are tropical fish, they need very warm temperatures to thrive. Glass lids make it easier to achieve this. 


  • Heavy. Glass lids tend to be heavier than lids of other material types. This makes them more difficult to remove or transport. 
  • Price. Since tempered glass is so durable and heat retentive, it tends to be more expensive than other materials. 

Mesh or Screen Lids

Using a mesh or screen lid for your betta fish tank setup is another good option. 


  • Ventilation. Mesh lids offer fantastic ventilation, which is beneficial to betta aquariums. With better ventilation, the tank water will have higher levels of oxygen. Betta fish need oxygen for gaseous exchange purposes. 
  • Lighter weight. This type of lid is also lighter in weight than glass lids. As a result, it’s easier to lift off the tank and transport. This also makes it easier to perform general tank maintenance. 


  • Less heat retention. Unlike glass, mesh does not have good heat retention properties. This means you’ll have to be extra careful about monitoring the water temperature. Consider buying an aquarium heater to ensure proper temperatures. 

Custom or DIY Lids

Another option is to make your own aquarium lid. This way, you’ll end up with a lid customized for your tank and preferences.

Consider these options: 

  • Buy a DIY kit: Using a kit ensures you have all the necessary items, along with directions. This will give you a more streamlined, blueprinted process. However, it will take away some of your freedom in terms of design. 
  • Make your own design: This option will give you full creative authority over your lid-making project. It will be less straightforward but let you create a custom lid for your tank. In some cases, this option may be cheaper than buying a kit. 

There are various DIY fish tank lid ideas out there for every common lid material. 

Toxic Lid Materials

betta lid toxic materials

Avoid toxic materials and substances when shopping for or creating a tank lid. Toxins can lower the water quality and subject your betta to the most common betta fish diseases

Metal Components

Avoid buying or using lids with metal components. 

Metal is prone to rusting, and rust particles can leach into the water. While very low levels of rust are unlikely to harm your betta, higher levels may be detrimental to its health. 

Some metals, such as heavy metals, are also toxic to bettas. If these toxins leech into the water, they can make your betta sick. 

Treated or Painted Materials

Always ensure your lid has not been treated or painted with toxic substances. 

These substances can contaminate the water, causing your betta to fall ill. 

Choosing the Right Lid for Your Tank

Choosing the best lid for your betta fish tank setup is essential. Consider the following factors: 

  • Heat retention: Lids with good heat retention properties are ideal for most betta aquariums. Betta fish thrive in aquatic environments with warmer water temperatures. Heat-retentive lids trap heat inside the aquarium, helping you keep the temps warm with less effort.
  • Ventilation: A successful betta fish tank will have well-oxygenated water. Due to their labyrinth organ, bettas require frequent gas exchange. This means they need to breathe oxygen at the surface of the water. Proper ventilation ensures your betta’s comfort by providing them with low oxygen levels in the water. This way, they have to come to the surface less often. 
  • Weight: Ensure your betta tank lid is not too heavy. If you struggle to lift or move it, consider a lighter-weight option. As mentioned, glass lids tend to be heavier than mesh lids. Finding the optimal lid weight will make things like tank cleaning and maintenance much easier. 
  • Durability: The lid you choose should be durable. Check the materials it’s made from, and opt for reputable brands known for durable products. Generally, glass lids are more durable than mesh lids.

Ventilation and Air Exchange In Betta Fish

Good ventilation is a key component of a successful betta fish tank. This is because bettas have a special organ requiring gas exchange. 

Importance of Oxygen Supply for Betta Fish

This special organ in betta fish is called the labyrinth organ. The labyrinth organ becomes larger with a lack of oxygen and smaller with more oxygen.

For this reason, common betta behavior includes swimming to the water surface to get oxygen. 

Keep your betta comfortable by keeping the aquarium well-ventilated.

Doing so will provide your betta with trace amounts of oxygen in the water. This way, they don’t have to swim to the surface as often. 

Additionally, sick bettas may need higher oxygen levels in the water. Ill bettas, especially those with dropsy or swim bladder disease, struggle to swim at all.

In this case, consider placing an air stone or bubbler in the tank. These items will produce more oxygen, keeping your sick betta more comfortable. 

Ensuring Proper Ventilation in a Lidded Tank

Proper ventilation is a major concern for betta owners due to its importance. Luckily, there are ways to ensure your betta tank gets adequate ventilation. 

  • Choose the best lid design: Mesh lids tend to provide much better ventilation than glass lids. The holes in its surface allow air to pass through, oxygenating the water. Lids made of glass or other materials may be suitable, but always consider their ventilation properties. 
  • Maintain a healthy water surface: If you fail to maintain your tank, it may allow a biofilm to form on the water surface. This biofilm keeps oxygen from entering the water. It also makes it more difficult for your betta to get it from the surface. There are a few different ways to keep the water surface healthy:

Lighting and Live Plants

If you have a planted aquarium, having adequate lighting is important. 

Light Requirements for Live Plants in a Betta Tank

Aquatic plants undergo photosynthesis, just like other plants. This means they require lighting. Photosynthesis allows for plants’ green color, and it results in lusher plants. 

Betta fish tend to prefer low to moderate levels of lighting. Consider getting aquatic plants with similar lighting needs. Here are some ideas for you: 

  • Anubias
  • Amazon frogbit
  • Java moss
  • Water sprite
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii

Compatibility of Lids and Lighting Systems

Ensure your tank, lid, and lighting solution are compatible with each other. 

The light can shine through from above if you’re using a glass or acrylic lid. This is because the light will penetrate through the material right to the water.

In this case, consider hanging lights above the tank. 

If you’re using a mesh or screen lid, you might have to attach a lighting solution to it.

Some lids have lights pre-installed for convenience. But if yours doesn’t, you have options:

  • Clip-on lights: Some aquarium lights are designed to clip onto the edge of the tank. Usually, they have a long “gooseneck.” This allows you to change the light’s angle and proximity to the water and is a convenient and effective option. 
  • In-hood lights: These are lights you install inside the lid itself. They’re usually LED lights, which are popular for their low energy consumption. This option will take some work, but most lights will have installation instructions. 

Temperature and Evaporation

betta lid evaporation

Temperature and evaporation are crucial aspects of your tank. 

Maintaining Stable Water Temperature

Betta fish prefer warmer waters, so stabilizing the tank water temps is important.

Betta splendens, the most common betta variety, thrives in temperatures from 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-27° C)

One way to ensure stable water temperatures is to use a tank lid. Glass lids, in particular, do a wonderful job of retaining heat.

This heat retention prevents the water from cooling off, which could stress out your betta.

Reducing Evaporation

Water evaporation is a natural process occuring in warmer temperatures. 

It has the chance to be harmful to your bettas.

Water evaporation reduces water levels but leaves behind any ammonia in the water. This increases the potency of toxins in the water. 

A lid helps maintain stable temperatures, helping reduce evaporation. 

Alternative Solutions To Betta Lids

Not a fan of aquarium lids? Consider one of these options. 

Tank Design Modifications

Modify the tank to prevent your betta from jumping out: 

  • Lower the water level
  • Add tall plants or decorations

Environmental Enrichment

Bettas are more likely to jump when they’re stressed. This means creating a more suitable environment may help: 

  • Make sure the tank is big enough
  • Provide hiding spots
  • Add visual barriers, such as plants
  • Use water conditioner for better water quality

Lid Safety Precautions

Keep these tips in mind to keep your betta safe. 

Opening the Lid for Feeding or Maintenance

Unless your lid has a dedicated hole for feeding, you’ll need to take it off to feed your fish. This usually won’t cause any problems. Just remember to secure the lid after feeding. 

Maintenance may be more difficult. It’s essential to keep the betta calm and secure while you’re cleaning the tank.

Consider scooping your betta out of the tank using a cup or fishnet and placing it in a separate, secured bowl or tank. This will keep it out of harm’s way. 

Before cleaning or maintaining the tank, ensure your betta is calm. These are common signs of stress to watch for: 

  • Flashing
  • Hiding
  • Aggression toward tank mates
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

If your betta is showing these signs, be extra careful when removing the lid. 

Regular Inspections for Damage or Wear

Check your lid often for signs of damage or wear, such as the following: 

  • Cracks
  • Gaps
  • Frayed edges

If the lid is damaged, either repair it or get a new one. Damaged lids may allow your betta to escape or cause safety hazards. 

Keep A Lid On It!

Since bettas are known jumpers, having a lid on your tank is important. Glass and mesh lids are both great options to consider. 

It’s also important to be careful about the materials and substances used in the lid. Some metals and paints are toxic to fish and can leech into the water. 

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Wesley Oaks has a background in web publishing and decided to combine his skillset with his enjoyment of betta fish. When he isn’t working behind the scenes for Betta Fish Bay, he’s homeschooling his kids and soaking up quality family time.

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