How Long Do Betta Fish Live

Aquariums, Fish

Last Updated - December 12, 2023

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Betta fish are one the most popular freshwater fish and a popular first-time fish owner choice.

The average betta fish lifespan for females and males is two to five years. However, this doesn't mean your betta fish can live even longer if you can provide the best environment possible.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In Captivity?

On average, a captive betta fish life span is three years, with female betta fish living a few months more than males. But typically, people purchase males due to their beautiful colors. However, if you keep your betta fish healthy and happy, it can live even longer.

If you brought betta fish from the local fish store, most likely, your fish is between 6 months to 1 year old. You can expect him to live for additional two years or more if you provide him with the perfect tank conditions and care.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In The Wild?

Wild betta fish typically have a shorter lifespan than those in captivity due to the nature of the element.

Male bettas, or 'Siamese fighting fish,' will be exposed to other male betta fish much more frequently in the wild. Male bettas are highly territorial fish and aggressive towards other fish that come into their space, which increases the chances of them getting into fights and increasing the chance of dying at an earlier age.

In addition, betta fish live in shallow freshwater ponds, streams, and canals. The water they live in can become polluted, destroying their food sources or losing their habitat due to expansion in farming and development.

The wild betta fish population is declining in nature and is a category on The IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species.

How to Increase Your Bettas Lifespan

There are ways you can make your betta fish live longer. Here are a few simple things you can do:

Buy A Healthy Betta Fish

To ensure your betta fish lives a long and healthy life, first, make sure you choose a healthy fish. Avoid buying fish that have the following factor:

  • Pale in color
  • Ripped or torn fins
  • Bulging eyes
  • Injuries or scratches on their body

Healthy betta fish should have the following:

  • Bright in color
  • Clear eyes
  • Responsive when you place your hand close to its environment

It is also worth asking the pet stores how old the fish actually are.

Right Size Tank

Most likely, you have purchased your betta fish in a cup or a tiny 1-gallon tank. This is only meant to temporarily hold your fish until it goes home with you to a bigger and better betta tank.

Betta fish require a minimum of a 5-gallon tank, and it's recommended that you avoid using a fishbowl. Fishbowls are too small to hold betta and will require regular water changes, and they also don't have room to allow you to put a heater or places for your fish to hide. 

If you plan to keep male and female bettas in a tank together, you will need a larger tank. Because male fish are very territorial, avoid placing two male betta fish in the same tank. If you consider adding another breed of fish into the tank, talk to your local pet store or veterinarian about which species are compatible with betta fish.

Filter and heater

A filter and a heater are essential for your tank, as they will keep the tank clean and keep your betta fish happy.

Bettas are tropical fish and will need warm water to thrive. In the wild, the water in Thailand is naturally heated, so it's important to keep your tank water temperature between 75-80°F. 

Clean water is essential, and you will need to use a filter. Betta fish are prone to fin rot if they aren't kept in clean water. Filtering the water will remove harmful compounds and keep your fish safe.

Avoid using tap water, as they contain chlorine and other chemicals that are fatal to bettas. If you are using tap water, be sure to treat it before adding your betta to its tank.

Aside from filtering water, a water conditioner and a touch of aquarium salt can kill and remove any bacteria, fungus, or parasite.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet plays a critical factor in increasing the lifespan of your betta fish. Along with lifespan, a balanced diet also affects their growth rate and color.

Betta fish are carnivores, and in the wild, they eat plenty of insects. If you can't get a hold of live foods, there are plenty of betta fish food you can use like quality pellet, frozen food, or flakes that are specifically formulated for Bettas. Live bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are the best choices as protein is vital to bettas. If you are purchasing pellets or flakes, be sure the first ingredient listed on the food is protein.

It is so easy to overfeed your pet fish, which can do more harm than good. Overfeeding betta fish can lead to bloating and cause swim bladder disorder, which can affect the swim bladder and cause them to be unable to swim and ultimately leads to death if not treated.

To avoid overfeeding your betta fish, only feed what your betta fish can eat within two minutes twice a day. Also, it's recommended that you have a regular feeding schedule.

Add Live Plants

Adding live plants into your setup can increase the tank's oxygen level and enriches the environment. Not to mention, it also replicates their natural environment so you can see their natural behaviors and provide them with hiding spots.

Some of the best plants to include in your Betta aquarium are:

  • Anacharis – This plant can survive in a wide range of conditions, grow quickly, and is almost impossible to kill.
  • Java Fern – This plant only grows to around 8 inches tall, so it won't completely overrun the tank.
  • Java Moss – This is great to grow carpet walls or achieve some aquascaping. It's also really easy to take care of.

Right Amount Of Stress

Bettas can easily become too stressed, which can dramatically lower their life expectancy. One big source of stress for both males and females is the breeding process. And sadly, breeding can cut the lifespan short.

Keep your betta's life calm and provide hiding places where it can rest without fear of being attacked.

Lastly, give you bettas the right amount of stimulation. Decors like live plants, shipwrecks, moss balls can provide stimulation to your bettas.

Want to learn more how to care for betta fish? Learn how to build the best betta fish tank

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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.