Betta fish live for approximately three years, depending on how well you care for the fish. Illness and poor care will lead to bettas dying sooner.
This article will discuss the factors that can affect a betta’s lifespan, and how you can make sure your fish lives a comfortable life for as long as possible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Betta Fish Lifespan
The average lifespan of a betta fish is three years. Males and females live for the same length of time, but you may find that your male bettas die first. Captive males die earlier because male bettas are allowed to mature before they’re sold.
Selling older males ensures their colors are fully vibrant and their fins are long and flowing. Most male bettas are sold at one year old. Females, on the other hand, are sold at around six months old.
Captive bettas can live longer than bettas in the wild, as long as they’re properly cared for. In fact, there have been cases of captive bettas living from 6 to 10 years.
Bettas in the wild face much harsher conditions than a pet betta will find in a tank. Natural predators and other factors mean that wild bettas are not expected to have a long lifespan.
Of course, poor living conditions will lead to your bettas dying faster. Fighting, overfeeding, and small tank sizes can all influence your betta’s lifespan.
Preventing Fights Between Male Betta Fish
Male bettas can’t be kept in the same tank under any circumstances. Bettas are also known as Siamese fighting fish, due to their aggression and territorial behavior. Even in a large tank, two male bettas will fight to the death. Fighting also stresses the fish, shortening their lifespans.
In large enough tanks, male bettas can be kept with a group of females, but never with just one female. The male will bully the single female, and may even attack her.
It’s recommended to watch the tank when you first introduce your male and female bettas, in case of any aggression. Some bettas are more aggressive and territorial than others. Females can also be aggressive. If you have more than one male betta, you’ll need more than one tank.
A single male betta will be quite happy by itself in a tank. Bettas aren’t shoaling fish, and don’t necessarily need tankmates. Alternatively, you could keep one female in a tank, or a sorority (five or more female bettas).
Creating The Right Betta Tank Setup
You may have seen pictures of bettas kept in small tanks, or even vases. This is bad for the bettas and will lead to your fish dying early, no matter how pretty they might look.
The minimum tank size for a betta is 5 gallons, with 10 gallons and upwards preferred. If you only have a 5-gallon tank, you can only keep a single betta. Overcrowding a tank will lead to aggression and poor water quality.
When you set up your tank, make sure you have a good filtration system to keep the water clean. You’ll need to regularly change the tank’s water, with a minimum of 15% water changes every week.
Clean water will reduce the chance of your betta getting sick. Poor water conditions can even cause aggression in bettas. Live plants can add more oxygen to the water, and also help to maintain good water quality. You should also add toys, decorations, and hiding places to the tank to give your betta an enjoyable environment to live in.
If you do decide to add tank mates, it’s important to choose the right kind of fish. Additionally, make sure there’s plenty of room in the tank for your new fish, and include hiding places.
Some small fish are known as “fin-nippers,” and will try to bite a betta’s long fins. This can lead to injury, fin rot, and other infections in your betta. Don’t choose these fish as your betta’s tank makes.
Tips to Help Your Betta Fish Live Longer
Every fish owner wants their pet to live as long as possible. Fish can be tricky to take care of, and new aquarium owners often have misconceptions about what their fish need.
Overfeeding fish and keeping fish in tanks that are too small are common problems. The classic goldfish bowl is not suitable for goldfish, or any fish, just as tiny vases are completely unsuitable for bettas.
Let’s discuss a few tips and tricks to pamper your bettas and help them to live long, happy lives.
Many fish owners make the mistake of overfeeding their fish. It’s recommended to feed your fish only once a day (although this may differ depending on the species and age of your fish). Aim to provide enough food for your fish to eat within three minutes.
Many fish are greedy, and will constantly scour their tank for more food. Fish owners shouldn’t worry that their fish is hungry and feed them again.
Bettas can be picky eaters. Commercial tropical fish foods may not provide the right nutrition for your bettas — and the fish might not eat it.
Brine shrimp, bloodworms, and specially designed betta food can help your fish get the nutrition they need. Bettas are carnivores and love to eat insects and larvae.
Keep the Males Apart
Male bettas shouldn’t be kept in the same tank. Very aggressive or territorial bettas can become angry just at the sight of another male.
If your betta is aggressive, keep other males in different tanks, out of sight. It’s also a good idea to keep your fish tank away from mirrors.
Regulate Water Temperature
The ideal water temperature for bettas is between 75 and 79°F. Bettas are tropical fish and need warm, balanced water.
Water that’s too cold or too hot will have an impact on your betta’s health. Cold water leads to bettas becoming miserable, lethargic, and ill, and hot water can be just as dangerous.
A good water heater should keep the tank water warm. However, be careful not to overheat small tanks. For small, 5-gallon tanks, you might not need a heater at all. To be safe, use a tank thermometer to monitor the water temperature. Keep your tank out of direct sunlight (which can cause it to overheat) and away from drafts (which can chill the water).
Give Your Bettas Access to Surface Air
Bettas are labyrinth fish, which means they can breathe oxygen from the air and the water. In fact, bettas can even stay alive out of water for short periods.
Your bettas will need access to the surface of the tank to breathe. This is another reason why vases and small tanks with fitted lids aren’t good — your betta simply won’t get enough oxygen.
Watch your Bettas for Illness or Injury
In spite of your best efforts, your betta may still become ill. A betta’s long fins are susceptible to injury, especially if its tankmates have a habit of fin nipping.
Keep a close eye on your fish for any signs of injury or illness. White or colored patches on their body or fins could indicate disease, growths, or discoloration. Ragged or bleeding fins indicate injury, and the wounds could become infected if the tank water isn’t clean enough.
Changes in behavior can also indicate that your fish isn’t healthy. If your bettas are lethargic, refuse to eat, or lay in the bottom of the tank, there could be something wrong. The sooner you identify any health problems in your bettas, the sooner you can treat them.
Betta Fish Life Expectancy: Key Takeaways
Fish care is more complicated than many new fish owners think. For your bettas to live long, healthy lives, here’s what you need to do:
- Keep the males apart. It’s best to keep males and females apart, too
- Choose a suitable tank size and filtration system
- Keep the tank clean and maintain good water quality
- Regulate the water temperature
- Provide plenty of decorations and hiding places for your betta
- Choose the right tank mates
- Treat any illness or injuries immediately
While the average lifespan of a betta is around three years, well-cared-for bettas can live for around six years or more.