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How long do betta fish live? This is a question that many people have, and it is a topic of much debate. Some people say that bettas can live for up to five years, while others say that they only live for two or three. So, what is the truth? How long do betta fish live?
Betta fish typically live for between 2 and 5 years, although they can live longer and have been reported to live as long as 6 to 10 years in captivity. There are many factors at play when looking at a betta’s lifespan.
It is also helpful to ask your betta’s age when you purchase at a pet store, as they are usually 6-12 months old when sold.
In this short article, we will explore the lifespan of betta fish and find out how long they really do live and some tips on keeping your betta fish healthy!
Betta Fish Lifespan In The Wild & Captivity
The average lifespan of betta fish can almost double depending on whether they live in the wild or captivity.
You may be surprised to learn that betta fish will often live longer in captivity, and there are many good reasons for this.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In The Wild
In the wild, betta fish only live for two years on average due to the many dangers they face, such as predators, diseases, and a lack of food.
The natural habitat of betta fish can be quite harsh. They live in murky water with very little food, and they are constantly at risk of being eaten by predators.
Betta fish are also very aggressive toward their own species, which is why they are also called Siamese fighting fish, and fights can often become fatal due to injuries sustained. Betta fish will also become aggressive toward any fish that invades their territory.
It’s no wonder that their lifespan is so short in the wild!
How Long Do Betta Fish Live As Pets
As pets, betta fish typically live around three to five years, and sometimes even longer. The main reason for this difference is that bettas in captivity do not have to worry about predators, diseases, or other aggressive betta fish, and they are usually well-fed.
When kept as pets, you will need to provide your betta fish with a healthy tank size, a good diet, and you should watch out for the onset of illness and diseases.
Although betta fish can join a community tank, pet betta fish are usually better off away from other fish. You also shouldn’t add other betta fish to the same tank unless you want a fight to start between these fighting fish.
The only times you should have more than one betta in a tank is if you are breeding, or you have a betta sorority tank. A betta sorority is when you keep several females, and this is possible because there are less aggressive than their male counterparts. Even sorority tanks are difficult to keep and you will need plenty of space for it to work.
If you decide you want to mix your betta with other fish, you should research which species are most compatible and hope that fighting doesn’t occur. Young betta fish are often better introduced to a community tank as they will not be sexually mature and, therefore, less territorial and aggressive.
Betta Fish Food For A Healthy Diet
Betta fish are omnivores, which means they will eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of small insects, crustaceans, and zooplankton in the wild.
As pets, you can feed these tropical freshwater fish various foods such as pellets, flakes, live food, frozen food, and vegetables. I recommend using a mix of all these different types.
Some favorite foods for betta fish are:
- Brine shrimp
It would be best if you also offered them a variety of vegetables such as:
Betta fish love to eat, and they will often beg for food even when they are not hungry. You should only feed them whatever they can consume in two minutes, twice a day.
Overfeeding your betta fish can lead to health problems such as swim bladder disease and obesity, so it is essential to stick to this feeding schedule.
You can find a variety of fish food at pet stores locally or online.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A 1 Gallon Tank
It is unlikely that a betta fish will live longer than 1-2 years in a 1 gallon tank. Many people wrongly believe that bettas do not need much space and live happily in a tiny fish bowl their whole life, but this is not the case.
Betta fish can be pretty active and need space to swim around and explore. A 1 gallon tank is too small for a betta fish, and it will cause them great stress, which can lead to a shortened lifespan. A tank this small can also stunt growth, stopping your betta reaching it’s full size.
Keeping a 1 gallon tank clean is challenging, and the small space will be sensitive to outside temperature fluctuations. Small bodies of water will react quickly to a build-up of waste, throwing off the water parameters such as the pH, ammonia levels, and nitrite levels, causing further stress to your betta.
Fitting a heater or filter to a 1 gallon fish tank is not usually possible, although some do come with them built into the housing.
If you want to help your betta fish live longer, I would recommend a tank of between 5 and 10 gallons which will solve all of the issues above and provide enough space to add some plants and ornaments. Betta’s love to hide away when stressed or sleeping, so they will appreciate these additions.
Plants also benefit by helping to oxygenate your tank while removing nitrates and other chemicals.
I have written a guide about choosing the best size betta tank: How Big Should A Betta Fish Tank Be (The ultimate guide).
Signs Of A Healthy Betta Fish
It’s always good to see your betta fish looking healthy as it lets you know that you are doing things right, and they are likely going to live a longer life.
So what are the signs of a healthy betta fish?
- Vibrant colors – Betta fish have some of the most beautiful fins out of all freshwater tropical fish, and those bright, vibrant colors are a definite sign of good health.
- Fins that are not shredded – If your betta’s fins look a little tattered, it could be a sign of fin rot, a common disease in bettas.
- A healthy appetite – A good appetite is another sign that your betta fish is in good health and feeling comfortable in their environment.
- Clear eyes – Betta’s eyes should be clear and not cloudy. If your betta’s eyes look a little cloudy, it could be a sign of an infection.
- Active swimming – Betta fish are known for their beautiful fins, but they are also excellent swimmers! If your betta is constantly swimming around their tank, it’s a good sign.
- Breathing normally – You will be able to see your betta’s gills moving as they breathe, and it should look smooth and not labored. If your betta is gasping for air, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
- Building a betta bubble nest – Betta fish are known for building bubble nests when they are ready to attract a mate, and this is another sign that they are happy and content in their surroundings.
If you notice any of the above signs, it’s a good indication that your betta fish is healthy and happy. If you are concerned about your betta’s health, please consult a veterinarian who will be able to give you more specific advice.
If you change your betta tank water frequently and provide a healthy diet, your betta fish should be happy and healthy.
You can read more about cleaning your betta tank and changing the water in the articles below:
Why Do Betta Fish Die Suddenly
Betta fish are prone to several serious illnesses that can cause them to die suddenly. However, when illness is caught in time, you can often provide treatments successfully.
Some illnesses that you need to look out for are:
- Fin Rot – Betta fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins and tail to rot away. Fin rot is often caused by dirty water and can be treated with antibiotics.
- Dropsy – Dropsy is a condition that causes the betta’s scales to stick out and can be fatal if left untreated. Dropsy is often caused by poor water quality or an infection and can be treated with antibiotics.
- Ich (White Spot) – Ich is a parasitic infection that causes white spots on a betta’s body. You can treat ich with various medications, but it is vital to catch it early.
- Swim Bladder Disease – Betta Swim bladder disease is a condition that prevents the betta from being able to swim correctly. Various things, including constipation, can cause swim bladder disease, and it can be treated with medication.
While these are some of the more common illnesses that can cause bettas to die suddenly, many other conditions can also be fatal.
There are often several symptoms that can indicate the onset of an illness, stress, and other health issues. The sooner you can identify a problem with your betta, the sooner you can fix it.
Some symptoms that can sometimes indicate poor health are:
- Fin curling or clamping – If you notice your betta fins clamped, or curling, it can sometimes be a sign of poor water quality, stress, or fin damage.
- Torn fins – If your betta fish has torn fins, this can also be caused by your betta fish rubbing against rocks or other sharp objects when parasites are present.
- Loss of appetite – A loss of appetite can sometimes be a sign of illness, stress, or constipation in betta fish.
- Floating upside down – If your betta starts floating upside down, it is often a sign of swim bladder disease.
- Sitting at the bottom of the tank – If your betta starts sitting at the bottom of its tank, it can sometimes be a sign of depression or illness.
- Betta Fish Swimming at the top of the tank – Although betta fish are able to take oxygen from above the surface, if your tank’s oxygen levels are completely normal, swimming at the surface may indicate that your betta is struggling to absorb the dissolved oxygen which is available to them.
- Stress stripes – Betta stress stripes are dark lines that run vertically along the betta’s body. Stress stripes can be a sign of stress or illness.
- A Bad Mood – If your betta is under the weather, it may show signs of stress, or your betta may appear angry. An angry betta fish will usually dart around the tank flaring its fins and gills.
If you notice any changes in your betta’s behavior or appearance, please consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Betta fish are beautiful creatures that can bring a lot of
Betta Fish Behavior Before Death
Some of the most common changes in behavior are:
- Increased lethargy – If your betta fish is suddenly spending more time at the bottom of the tank and appears to be less active, or you notice your betta sleeping more often, it may be a sign that death is near.
- Loss of appetite – A loss of appetite is often one of the first signs of something wrong with your betta fish.
- Hiding – If your betta fish starts hiding more often, it may signify that it is not feeling well.
- Color fading – It is common to witness the vibrant colors fade from a dying betta fish.
- Changes in swimming – If your betta fish’s swimming becomes erratic or has difficulty swimming, it may signify that death is near.
Many of the signs above can also show the onset of illness, but if your betta is old or you have recently treated your betta for disease, these signs suggest that your betta is close to death.
Keep your betta comfortable in a warm, clean tank and provide small amounts of food in case it is ready to eat, but not so much that it will rot and upset the water parameters.
Although betta fish have some little quirks in their care needs, it is generally easy to keep healthy fish that will enjoy a long life. Clean water and a good diet are essential to all fish, and betta fish are no different.
A small tank is not suitable for a betta fish, and it will drastically lower its potential life expectancy, so opt for a bigger tank. You could consider a 5 gallon tank a relatively small tank, but it is suitable for a single betta.
Keep your betta in separate tanks to avoid fighting. If you want to add your betta to a community tank, you will need a larger tank with plenty of room to avoid confrontations and lots of hiding spots.
Keep an eye on your betta’s general health to catch illness early and provide treatments quickly.
With care and attention, your betta fish should enjoy a long and happy life.