Betta fish are one of the most beautiful freshwater fish available for aquariums. These hardy fish are also very easy to care for. Because of this, they are quite popular among beginner aquarists as well as the seasoned hobbyist.
Bettas come in many varieties and vibrant colors, as well as different shaped tails. The male Bettas are especially decorative, having more vivid colors and longer, flowing fins than the female Bettas.
Several factors contribute to the Betta’s lifespan. But in general, they live for an average of three years.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In The Wild?
In their natural habitat, you can find Bettas in the shallow freshwater of rice paddies, streams, canals, and even ponds. Originally from Thailand and Cambodia, Bettas have gradually made their way to countries such as Malaysia, Brazil, and Singapore thanks to human introduction.
Bettas don’t live as long in their natural habitat as they do in captivity where they are being taken care of. Polluted water is a significant factor in the lifespan of a Betta, destroying their plants and food sources. They have made the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species because of the excessive exposure to pollution, as well as the loss of their natural habitat in Thailand due to farming development and expansions.
Another factor that affects males, in particular, is their highly aggressive and territorial natures. In fact, they were nicknamed ‘Siamese Fighting Fish’ for this reason. When other males come into a male Betta’s space, they will start fighting, which can decrease their lifespan significantly, if not immediately.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live (In Captivity)?
When you go to the pet store to buy a Betta, you will usually find females around six months old, and males around one-year-old, which is around the time when the male’s fins and colors have matured. This should be taken into consideration when figuring out how long a Betta lives in captivity.
When you properly care for your Betta, giving them a nice sized tank with clean water to live in, they will live an average of three years but have been known to live up to five years old in perfect conditions.
It should be noted that females can live a little bit longer than male Bettas. However, the females aren’t as popular as the males because they aren’t as flamboyant in color and finnage.
How to Increase Your Betta’s Lifespan
Giving your Bettas a fighting chance for a relatively long and healthy lifespan of four to five years isn’t that hard. In fact, with a little effort, it can be quite simple.
Buy A Healthy Betta
The first thing you want to do is start with a healthy Betta:
- Avoid the cups – Avoid buying your Bettas from a place that has them living in a cup. It’s cruel. You want to buy a healthy Betta that is in a tank with other fish, and you want to make sure that the other fish look healthy as well.
- Vibrant colors – Avoid pale Bettas. You want to look for vibrant colors unless you are buying a white Betta. A Betta’s coloring will start to dull when they are sick and aren’t being fed properly.
- Clear Eyes – Avoid Bettas with bulging or cloudy eyes. This is a sign of possible bacterial infections and eye issues.
- No Wounds – Avoid buying a Betta that has wounds on their bodies and fins. If the Betta’s fins are torn and ripped, it could be fin rot. Also, there is a possibility that the wounds on your Betta may become infected.
- Not Hiding – Avoid buying a Betta that is hiding from you or the other fish. They tend to hide when they are sick.
- Responsive – When you place your hand near or on the tank’s glass, most Bettas will respond by approaching the glass.
Preventing Fights Between Male Bettas
When male Bettas are in their natural habitat, they will compete for space with other males they may encounter. But, they will only fight briefly before one the males will back down and leave, finding a different territory to occupy.
However, when you place two male Bettas in a smaller tank, and they don’t have a safe place to escape to, they will fight until one of them dies. The females can be kept together, with caution. Just make sure the tank is large enough that they have enough space away from each other.
By keeping the males in separate aquariums, you are ensuring your Bettas have a safe environment. Bettas can be kept in a community tank with compatible fish such as Rasboras, Snails, Bristlenose Plecos, and Neon Tetras. In fact, Bettas and Rasboras coexist naturally in the wild.
Keep Bettas in Appropriate Tanks
Some pet stores will argue that Bettas are used to living in shallow waters in their natural habitats, so keeping them in tiny cups and fishbowls is acceptable. While they do live in shallow waters in the wild, that water goes on for miles and miles, giving them plenty of room to roam and play.
When it comes to the size of the tank your Betta will live in, bigger is always better. Keeping your Betta in anything smaller than a five-gallon tank is cruel, and your fish may suffer from depression, boredom, and even stress, which will lead to an unhealthy fish and shortened lifespan.
The water stability and tank conditions fluctuate more in smaller tanks, which can make your fish unhealthy. Also, if you plan to keep a sorority of female Bettas, you need a twenty-gallon tank, at least.
Use a Filter and a Heater
Although the Betta’s natural habitat is in streams, rice paddies, ponds, and canals, they can’t live in dirty, unheated waters. Due to the humid climate in Thailand, the pools of water they live in are naturally heated.
You will also need a filter for your tank to keep the water conditions healthy for your Betta. They do not do well in unfiltered and dirty water. The filter will keep the water clean while converting nitrite and ammonia buildup into less toxic compounds, as well as aerating the water. Routine water changes need to occur frequently to remove nitrate buildup.
Provide Them with a Good Diet
A Betta’s diet is essential to a healthy growth rate, coloring, and lifespan. In the wild, Bettas tend to be carnivores. They love to eat insects. When you keep Bettas in an aquarium, live foods are an excellent source of fat and protein.
Supplement the live foods with quality pellets, flake food, and even frozen food. Choosing specially formulated foods that have protein listed as the main ingredient will ensure your Bettas receive the highest nutritional commercial food available. Avoid foods that have a lot of filler foods. Your Betta’s digestive tracts aren’t able to process the fillers very well.
You can also make homemade Betta food yourself. Doing so will ensure they will receive the highest amount of protein available. Blood worms, as well as brine shrimp, mix well together.
Do not overfeed your Bettas. Overfeeding can cause bloating or constipation, which can harm their swim bladder. Your Bettas won’t be able to swim, which could cause them to die if they are not treated. You only want to feed your Bettas two times a day for two minutes, removing any leftover uneaten food from the tank.
Use Plants to Provide Oxygen
Including plants in your tank’s setup will enrich your Betta’s environment by increasing the oxygen. It also mimics their natural habitat, which will bring out their natural behavior.
Being carnivores, your Bettas won’t use the plants as a food source. Putting plants in your Betta’s tank will provide them with the necessary hiding spots needed to maintain the peace in your tank, which is essential if you have more than one female.
Three of the most popular plants used in Betta tanks are:
- Java Moss is an excellent medium for aquascaping and growing carpet walls. It is also quite easy to care for.
- The Java Fern is ideal for your Betta tank. It only grows around eight inches tall and won’t overrun your tank. Anacharis grows quickly and will survive in different environments. It is also very easy to care for and difficult to kill.
Keep the Tank Entertaining
A happy fish is a healthy fish. Keep your fish from becoming bored and depressed, and they will live longer. A bored and depressed Betta will begin biting its own tail.
Keep your Betta entertained by placing decorations and toys in their tank. Creating an underwater jungle in a section of your tank is sure to entertain your Betta.
Adding other fish to the tank with your Betta will ensure that your Betta will not get bored and depressed. Make sure that the other fish are compatible with your Bettas before adding them to your tank.
Keep the Tank Clean
Make sure that your Betta’s tank stays clean as well as keeping it filtered. You can avoid bacteria growth as well as diseases when you keep the tank clean and well maintained.
A dirty tank will foster diseases such as dropsy and fin rot. You will need to do a 10-15% water change each week. Be sure to vacuum the gravel when cleaning the tank and changing out the water every week.
When feeding your Betta, remove any food that hasn’t been eaten after two minutes are up. You will also need to monitor the ammonia levels on a regular basis, making sure that they do not rise to an unhealthy level.
FAQs About Bettas
Still have questions? Here are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding Bettas.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Live Without Food?
While your Betta can possibly survive for fourteen days without food, you should never let them go that long without feeding them. The stress and lack of nutrition will drastically weaken their immune system. If they do survive, when you begin to feed them again, there is the possibility that they will suffer from other illnesses.
Four days is the maximum amount of time you can leave your Betta without food and not risk its health.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live in a Bowl?
If you are keeping a Betta in a small bowl that is three gallons or less, and the bowl is unfiltered and unheated, your fish will only live about a year.
However, if the bowl is over five gallons, has plenty of plants and decorations, and is heated and filtered, your Betta can live up to five years.
How Long Can Betta Fish Live in a 1 Gallon Tank?
Keeping your Betta in a small one-gallon tank will shorten its lifespan significantly. Your Betta probably will not live over a year in that kind of environment. And if they do live longer than that, they will be bored, depressed, and eventually unhealthy.
How Old is the Oldest Betta Fish?
There is a rumor that a Betta fish that was kept in a laboratory under perfect conditions lived for ten years. However, there is not any evidence to support these claims.
When you invest the time and money in your Betta, you can rest assured that your Betta will live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Buying the right tank size and filling it with plants and decorations will keep your Betta stress-free and happy, especially if you add compatible fish to the tank, as well.
Feeding them a proper, well-balanced diet full of protein, fat, and the occasional live food, as well as maintaining a clean, filtered, and heated tank, will also ensure success in keeping your Bettas healthy.