How to Transfer Betta Fish From Cup to Tank Safely and Easily

While most people know they have to set up a tank and purchase proper supplies for keeping a betta fish, fewer are familiar with how to transfer betta fish from cup to tank safely. Of course, there are a few means of doing this, and some methods work better than others.

Betta fish boast some of the most beautiful fins and colors in the fish world, but it’s essential to follow best practices when owning this species. One of the most common misconceptions is that you can keep bettas in a simple bowl, but this is not the case. 

Betta Fish Tank Parameters

Before adding the betta fish to its new home, let’s review the tank specifications to ensure you’re putting your new pet in a safe place: (We are assuming that you are transferring a new betta into your tank. The same principles apply even if you are doing the transfer as part of cleaning your betta tank.)

  • Size: Contrary to popular belief, bettas need at least a five-gallon tank to thrive.
  • Heating: Bettas live in warm areas in the wild. A heater helps regulate temperature. 
  • Filtration: A filter helps to keep the water clean.
  • Tank Mates: Bettas do best on their own but can be incorporated into tanks with other companions. When doing so, be careful not to introduce water from the cup to your tank.

Method One: No Method

While this isn’t the best way to transfer bettas, the option is available to put your fish into its new home. Of course, this approach isn’t ideal, especially as quickly moving a fish from one temperature to another causes shock. 

If you must take this path, allow your betta’s cup to sit in the room for as long as possible. Doing so lets the cup of water come to room temperature, reducing the risk of shock. 

However, even if you bring the cup and bowl as close in temperature as possible, there are still reasons not to dump pet store water into your pristine tank. After all, there is the risk of introducing unwanted detritus or contaminating your water with ich. If you do opt for this method, you’ll want to transfer the fish to the tank using a net. 

Method Two: Floating the Bag

The second method with the right idea but imperfect in practice is floating the bag. It involves placing the bag, or cup that your fish arrived in the tank. This technique might be harder to perform if your new betta was purchased in a cup, but it can still work with modifications. 

You’ll want to float the bag or clip the cup, so it sits in the water. The theory behind this technique is that the vessel holding the fish placed in the water helps the temperature equalize. After some time, the fish can be transferred to a tank using a net to avoid contamination between your tank and the pet store water. 

Techniques: Open Bag and Pierced Bag

Modified versions of the floating bag methods are also used. The open bag method is the same as listed above, with slight modifications. As the bag or cup floats, gradually add tank water to the vessel. The idea is to introduce the fish to the new parameters of the tank slowly and then make the transfer via a net. 

The pierced bag method follows a similar approach but might be the hardest to modify for a cup. You can make either small holes in the bag or one large one before adding the vessel to the tank. 

Small holes allow for water transfer between the tank and the cup. The large hole has a similar premise, except its dimensions should be sufficient for your betta to swim through. Doing so allows your betta to choose when to start exploring its new home. 


When using methods that introduce pet store water directly to the tank, consider the quality of the water you’re adding. Water at pet stores can contain pathogens like bacteria or parasites, primarily when large numbers of fish are together. 

While this is less of a problem with bettas kept individually, consider that the small amount of water is where it’s been living for some time. Waste produced by your fish may throw off the balance of your perfectly maintained tank.

Overall, the float method might be more effective than doing nothing at all, but for the best results, try dripline acclamation. 

How to Transfer Betta Fish from Cup to Tank | Woman feeding beta fish in an aquarium at home.

Method Three: Dripline Acclamation – Recommended

Dripline acclamation incorporates water from the tank slowly into your betta’s cup. Although this process can be done by hand, setting up a dripline regulates the speed helping your fish to acclimate gradually.   

How to Transfer Betta Fish From Cup to Tank Using Dripline Acclamation

Several steps are required for this method, as well as airline tubing and other optional equipment. 

  1. Remove excess water from the betta’s cup or bag. Also, consider using a different holding container if you won’t have room to double the volume of water in it. 
  2. Place the vessel holding the betta lower than the tank’s water level.
  3. Take your 3/16” airline tubing and place one end in the tank. Some fishkeepers use equipment to secure this line, but it isn’t necessary. 
  4. To start the stream of water, suck gently on the opposite end of the tube. Be careful not to ingest any tank water in the process. 
  5. Slow the stream of water either by using control mechanisms or simply tying the tubing into knots. Adding a valve to the end of the tubing can help regulate the process. Make sure the tubing allows only a few drips per second, and add it to your betta’s cup. 
  6. Wait until the water in the vessel doubles in volume. The process should take at least a half hour, though some keepers wait longer. 
  7. Add your fish to the tank without transferring any water into the vessel. 

The acclamation drip method allows the best means for your betta to adjust to the temperature and other parameters of your tank without the risk of adding contaminated water. For this reason, dripline acclamation is the preferred way to transfer betta fish from tank to cup. 


Bettas may be known as a low-maintenance fish species, but they still require proper care and consideration. Our tips on how to transfer betta fish from cup to tank will prevent stress and help your new fish pet acclimate well to its new home.

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