What is a filter baffle?
A filter baffle is a way of modifying a filter to ensure that the output/return rate doesn’t create too much of a current/disturbance in your aquarium. A baffle tends to be a guard modification of some kind that is placed in front of the output to absorb and dampen the water ejection.
Bettas are fish that don’t naturally fight against a current in the wild; they live in calm waters. Having a strong current in your aquarium can therefore stress your betta and worse, tire your fish to an unhealthy state. A strong output can also cause the surface water to break, which can make a betta fish uncomfortable and wary, causing it to surface less frequently for oxygen. Not surfacing enough for oxygen can be bad for a betta fish’s labyrinth organ.
It’s common for betta keepers to baffle their filters – it’s an easy modification and there are plenty of great tutorials online. There are many filters on the market that are great for bettas in most aspects, but have too strong an output. This applies to both filters that are built into aquariums (see some of our favourites here), and separate filtration units that you add to an existing tank. Baffling is a great way counteract this downside.
It’s worth mentioning that not EVERY filter needs a baffle. It depends on how and where the filter is positioned in the tank and, depending on the size of your aquarium, the output may not cause an unhealthy disturbance. Not every filter has a particularly high output to begin with, and some filters can be easily adjusted out of the box.
How to baffle
There are usually two methods of baffling a filter, and these differ depending on the standard output/return dynamic of the filter. There are two ways that a filtration unit will return water to the aquarium. It can either return through a nozzle, or it can trickle (somewhat like a waterfall) from a lip. Here are two photos to demonstrate the differences.
A homemade baffle isn’t expensive or hard to make. In fact, as demonstrated in this image, it can just be made from a plastic bottle cut into a particular shape. You can also use a cup, a piece of plastic, or even a sponge. When making a baffle, be sure to use a material that won’t affect the water quality. Aquatics companies don’t tend to make baffles, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy an ‘official’ one for your aquarium. However, they’re super easy to make – sometimes it may take a little bit of initiative and experimentation, but that will just make your betta setup even more unique. Trying to modify it for your filter may take a bit of thought but it shouldn’t be anything time-consuming. There’s an eBay user that even sells 3D printed baffles for a few specific filters and aquariums – pretty awesome if you want an aesthetically pleasing look.
Here are a few examples of filter baffles (click the thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo). If you’ve created your own baffle, we’d love to see it. Send us a photo and we’ll happily add it to the site.