How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

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.

Betta Fish Lifespan

Betta fish swimming in decorated aquarium

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.

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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

Crowntail Betta swimming in dark tank

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

Betta Fish swimming in planted tank

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.

Docile, bottom-feeding fish, like corydoras, are the best tank mates for bettas. Never choose colorful fish with flowing fins, as male bettas might confuse the fish for another male and attack.

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

Male Bettas displaying colors

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.

Proper Nutrition

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

betta fish eating at surface of water

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.

About Robert 462 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.

57 Comments

  1. Carolyn Beier says:

    I have a Crowntail Male Betta Fish. Purchased 9/8/18. His in a 3.5gallon tank.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Carolyn, we always recommend keeping Bettas in a minimum tank of 5 gallons. Thanks, Robert

      • allen says:

        Hi I feel so guilty that I started with a 0.5 gallon tank that says for Betta fish. So I bought 4 of them. Now I find out this is not enough room for a Betta Male. Why does Pet Smart sell these? Anyway I don’t have room for 4 five gallon tanks. I have bought 3 gallon tanks. Have not change there homes yet after reading this. I have all the fresh food for them and plants and some places to hid. I just hate setting these up for them to die in. I just hate that they will die in a year in a small tank of 3.5. Allen

        • Carla Fuger says:

          I’ve had my male beta 4 years in a fish bowl. He reacts to me when I feed him. I don’t use filters or heat. I clean the bowl regularly. He’s doing just fine. I had one before this that also lived a long time. They need no special treatment. Feed, clean and love them is all that is needed.

          • Mahi says:

            This is probably just luck, but I still do not recommend a small bowl. Betta fish deserve more than this.

        • I’ve had a betta for almost 3 years in this exact “betta tank” and he’s doing fine. Leaf hammock a must!

      • kyndra says:

        my male betta has lived in a 10 gallon tank alone (with the exception of a cleaner fish) for 2 years now :))

  2. Ashley Graham says:

    My fish just died about 25 minutes ago. I was thinking of getting another. Mine was in a 1.5 gal tank and lived about a year and a half in my care. I will take all this into consideration to make sure my new fish lives longer.

  3. Lynn says:

    Good morning, we were given a male Betta two years ago in one of those tiny cups. We immediately bought him a five gallon tank with heater filter etc. I’m wondering what life span might be as he still appears very healthy and active?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Lynn, it’s hard to determine how his lifespan will have been affected, all you can do is provide him with the best possible conditions now and moving forward. Thanks, Robert

  4. Kristina says:

    We have noticed our beta doesn’t seem to be doing to well. Is there a way to help make our beta better?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Kristina, if you follow all the tips in this article you should start to see a difference. When you say he doesn’t seem to be well, can you expand on that? Does he have an physical symptoms? Thanks, Robert

  5. Carina says:

    Our Betta fish just died after 5 1/2 years. I think it is not so much about the size of the tank (5 gallon), it’s keeping their lives interesting too. We switched tanks 3 times. (The air filters kept breaking and we couldn’t find a replacements that would work so would have to buy a new tank. Also being the only pet for my two children we changed plants, and stones. But the hiding place rock thing with a hollow area would never change. We tried adding zebra fish and he was not a fan and hid more. He had a new lease on life when they died.
    Today is day one for our new Mustard Tail. <3

    • tropicalfishguy says:

      i went with the fluval sucks water over conner then flows through aqua ball then to a 10Gallon this tank is distilled water therefor into the shop vac container fliter my 55 gallon had betta and albino plecko as also 35 baby african chilids, this tank showed me to make the rock wall many places to hide. all fish lived about 4.5- 5yrs, power was out for 4 days due 2 blizzard as that then once it came on i shored it out. cost was $ 675- 755

  6. Jacqueline Bradshaw says:

    My betta fish has raggedy looking fins,they used to be long and flowing. What have I done wrong? And will they grow back. He is in a 28 litre planted tank with a snail for company.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Jacqueline, if it possible that the Betta has fin rot? This disease starts off with ragged looking fins. If this is what it is, perform a 50% water change and use medication to treat your tank. You’ll be able to pick up medication from your local fish store. Thanks, Robert

  7. Maria says:

    How many litres are in a 5 gallon tank? thank you.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Maria, 18-19 litres. Thanks, Robert

  8. Kristen Calzada says:

    Our Betta is going on 5 years and currently not looking well, pale and always on the bottom of the tank. What can we do keep him alive longer if possible? He is in a 3 gallon tank and has been since we got him.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Kristen, if you follow all the tips in this article you may be able to extend his lifespan slightly, however they typically only live for an average of 3 years, so he’s done well! Thanks, Robert

      • Ella says:

        We have a betta fish and he has lived for about two years in a ten gallon tank with two other fish. He always seems fine, but one of his eyes is bigger then the other one and it’s bulging. He also used to have torn fins but he doesn’t anymore. What should I do about the eye? Thanks.

  9. Josie says:

    Hi, I’ve been feeding my beta mosquito larvae and he’s been very active since I started doing that, and gotten bigger too.. Is one type of insect enough or do you think they require a variety?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Josie, I always recommend feeding a good variety of food. You can still feed him mosquito larvae once a day, and for the other feed, give him a different food. Thanks, Robert

  10. Dana Cook says:

    I work in a day care center-about 1 1/2 years ago each classroom was given a beta as a class pet. Along with a tiny bowl. My daughter had tank-I think its 3 gallons- that she had in her college dorm that she no longer needed so I “inherited “ it. My classroom is the only one with the original beta. I’m also the only one with a live plant.

    • Alicia says:

      What live plants do you have in your tank? I want to get my son a betta fish and would rather have a live plant than a plastic one. Thanks!

  11. Fran McKeever says:

    I keep reading, “At least a 5 gallon tank”. What is the largest tank you can keep a betta in?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Fran, there isn’t really a largest tank size. The bigger the better. In the wild, these fish have miles and miles of water to swim in. Thanks, Robert

    • Cheryl says:

      As large as you want. You can keep one betta in a 300 gallon tank if you so wish.

  12. Lori says:

    We have had our betta named Dave for 2 1/2 years, I did not know any of this until now, and will remember this when I do get another one.With that being said, he is in a small tank on my kitchen table, I use distilled water and change it weekly, feed him 3 times a day, small amounts with food made for betas, that helps with health and enhancing his color and he still is doing great ?

  13. Raymond says:

    I haven’t heard of this previously but I got a 50 gallon tank with fish already in the previous owner said that the 4 yoyo loaches killed his male Siamese fighter because he tried going in the yo yo loaches hole is this true ?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Raymond, it all comes down to the specific fish’s personalities. Most Yoyo Loaches are ideal tankmates for Betta fish, and they aren’t usually aggressive, however I have heard stories before of them attacking Betta fish. Thanks, Robert

  14. Laura Sievert says:

    My college daughter brought home a white Betta named Ghost and asked if we’d keep it. We did, but it’s tail and fins got shorter and shorter and we thought they were being damaged by the plastic plants he liked to sleep in. So I bought him a live plant and only then started doing some research. We came to find out he had fin rot and treated his water immediately. Wow – what a difference. It turned out he was only a ghost of himself. His fins and tail started growing practically the day we started treating him and his personality blossomed. We now have a really handsome, friendly, and social guy who swims and plays and comes to the side to “talk” to us any time we stop by. So glad we figured him out before it was too late!

  15. Deanna says:

    I have a male beta named Eros and he used to be really active and happy swimming and playing and attacking his food. We’ve had him about a month and now he’s less active I tried switching his tank and changing it around . He just like to lay on the bottom or at the top on his plants . He’s not showing any other symptoms , his fins seem to be fine . He can float on top or stay on the bottom so it’s not swim bladder. He just doesn’t do much and when I feed him he seems completely uninteretested. I tried flakes I tried beta pelllets and blood worms , no change in his interest. He used to attack any food that entered. Any advice ?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Deanna, here are a few things to consider: is he in a large enough tank? The minimum size we recommend is 5 gallons. Did you allow the tank to complete the nitrogen cycle before you added your Betta? Have you tested the water parameters? The ammonia and nitrite levels need to be at zero and the nitrate levels should be low. If all of the above are met, are you carrying out partial water changes on a weekly basis? Thanks, Robert

  16. Toad says:

    I’m gonna get a new betta this weekend. My 15-gallon tank has been sitting with zero fish for over a year and a half. So the new fish will have a mansion of a tank all to himself. I bought a new heater that arrived yesterday. My previous one only extended down about half the length of the tank (it’s a tall tank). So the top was warm and the bottom was cold (until summer). So of course, my previous bettas liked hanging out at the top. This new heater is one of those 78+/-2°F constant temp heaters that can be put at the very bottom. After 24 hours of being in my tank, my thermometer is reading right around 76°F which hasn’t changed since soon after I dropped it in. Now that winter is coming, I would imagine this temp is what the betta will get pretty much all the time until the weather warms up.

    So apparently, 76°F is at the bottom of the specified betta range. Not ideal but not bad. Perhaps a benefit of this somewhat cool temperature is that the betta’s metabolism won’t speed up and it could mean a longer life? But he may not be all that frisky until summer temperatures arrive, which is a bit of a drag. But maybe he’ll surprise me.

    My question: Are there increased odds of diseases occurring at 76°F? I don’t plan on adding other fish.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hello, your Betta fish will be fine at that temperature. As long as it stays within the recommended temp, that’s fine. It’s when it is lower or higher than this that there are increased chances of disease or stress. Thanks, Robert

      • Toad says:

        Good to hear, Robert. I ended up getting a little galaxy koi betta last Saturday. He is very active at 76° and charges all over the tank like a maniac. He has already built a very impressive bubble nest and is adding to it as I type. I did add six neon tetras the day after I got him because one small fish in the big tank looked sorta ridiculous. He mostly leaves them alone, choosing instead to focus his aggression on his own reflection.

  17. Eric Brittain says:

    Hey i have a betta and i bought it at Petsmart and I have it in a 1 gallon tank and it has lived for 4 years as of Easter 2020 so they can live in a 1 gallon tank cause mine has lived in a 1 gallon tank for 4 years. Also when i bought it it was a baby that lives in my room and i feed it everyday with no heater and no filter with no plants

  18. Erin says:

    I wish I had read about betta’s when I had received one. Turns out, I was doing EVERYTHING wrong. We got a betta named Bob, from a friend that wasn’t able to take him with them when they moved. The tank they gave us was half a gallon, no filter and no aerator(??) And told me to feed him 3 pellets every other day!!! I’m aghast at how poor his environment was and not surprised now that he was dead when I went to change his tank water this morning. He was alive yesterday.

    Next time, we commit to proper care of our fish.

  19. Dylan Tatta says:

    I have a Crowntail Red Betta in a 10 gallon tank with an albino catfish. The catfish is very very active. Constantly swimming around the tank. But my Betta just sits in 1 spot all day. Than today he did the same but in another spot. When I first got him hed always chill at the top of the tank. Now hes always resting at the bottom. I know their not always active and like to be lazy. But is there something wrong? Is he feeling threatened by the catfish? Is he sick? I put 4-5 betta pellets in the tank twice a day. I’m new to owning fish. I’d like to have my Betta live as long as possible. I also know they like to hide. Should I be concerned??

  20. Linda joicy says:

    We are super lucky, because 4 years ago we bought two bettas and bought a kit which included 2 one half gallon fish bowls that had a plastic divider with a light that we could change from white to blue. These little guys have eaten betta pellets since we got them. We don’t have filters or live plants. I usually changed their water once a month, now I find out have been doing everything wrong! Thank heaven my little bettas didn’t know that! LOL.

  21. Djvyctori says:

    Hello, I have two Bettas. One is a male Veiltail and the other is a Black Orchid. They have very different personalities. The Black Orchid is more active and friendly from the beginning. The Veiltail took some warming up, but he is doing better with interacting with me. They both have a snail buddy. The Black Orchid is always around his snail buddy as it has grown feathers, but the Veiltail is more on a “loner” type.

    I do not change their water “EVER”… however, I pour treated water into their tanks as the water level drops and I allow the filter to do the work. I have at least two live plants in each tank. I am afraid if I take them out and place them in new water they won’t be happy. The plants are creating a vast amount of algae that I keep under control. I wish I could upload pictures to show.
    One is in a 1 gallon and the other is in a 2.5 and they both are thriving. So, I agree that the tank size is not necessarily the reason they die. They both have plants that cover the tank in a great proportion and they love to hide in them. Eventually, I will get them bigger tanks, but right now I do not want to disturb their environment. I have had them for about a year now. I love my fish.

    • PAUL says:

      You should be changing water. The filter just removes solids . The water wild build up ammonia and eventually kill your fish.

  22. McCrea says:

    Can I just get some clarification by “5 gallon” is that the US liquid gallon or the Imperial gallon? Thanks in advance.

  23. Meghadri Mukherjee says:

    I got 15 female betta and 1 male betta in a 15 gallon tank, and it’s been more than a year I had set up the tank. All the fishes are happy as the full tank in planted along with some dragon rock structure with a little drift wood. I got CO2 also.

  24. Mae says:

    My sweet little guy died today. He was about 3 years old. I will get another one. I’m sad though. He had a sweet personality. I never had a heater and was told I didn’t need one. I do have a filter and light.

  25. zayna omer says:

    hi I wanted to know I recently got a 2.5-gallon tank but it was expensive so should I keep the tank for 6 months and get a new tank for my betta? pls, respond!

  26. Elfina says:

    My betta fish got really sick a few months ago and now has digestive problems. Does this shorten his life?

  27. Elfina says:

    My betta fish got really sick a few months ago and now has digestive problems.
    Will this shorten his life?

  28. Sharon Wright says:

    My granddaughter gave me my beta. I just call him fishy. I have had him three years at Christmas. I keep him in a 2.5 gal bowl with a filter. He had two plants that came with him. The plants look really nice in his bowl. I clean his bowl around once a month. I get him water at the fish store. I feed him twice a day. I was hoping he would live longer than three years. I think he is happy. He makes me happy.

  29. Lynn says:

    Based on your article I’m doing nearly everything wrong for my Betta. He’s in a 1.5 gal fishbowl, no filter or heater and I don’t get the water cleaned near as often as suggested. I’ve had him for 6 years now and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy him. I’ve had others that didn’t live near as long but did have one other Betta that lived to just over 5 yrs old. Luck of the pick maybe, but I’ve had very good luck with my Bettas. (I also have a Koi pond with Koi, Goldfish and a Catfish…love my fish!)

  30. Kathy says:

    I plan on getting a betta probably a veil tail or similar. I love them and I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading all I can. I have a 20 gallon aquarium. I have river rock that I’m going to use as substrate and artificial plants until the spring when I will get live plants. I live in Northern Canada so I don’t want my plants to be DOA. Also I have a filter and a heater for my aquarium.

  31. Ross says:

    I have 3 bettas in 3 different aquascape tanks. All well planted. The first betta I got has such a cool personality. He litterally acts excited when I come sit at my desk. I can put my finger in the water and he comes up and rubs on my finger. My other 2 are completely different. One has Molly tanknmates that he hangs around with and my 3rd is alone and likes to hide in the plants.

  32. Xnysmokie says:

    I know it’s highly unusual but our Beta (George) has been in a bowl, and died today. We’ve had him for 5 years (not counting the 1 year before he was sold. He got high quality food (protein without a lot of filler) but water formulated for betas, completely changed once a month. He had round smooth stones on bottom, he’d nap there but as soon as I was up he swam to me. Ate his food and danced for me, if a fish can be “loveable” he was. 6 years adding the year before sold vivid colors. Very long fins etc. again, unusual from what you say but we were lucky

  33. rk says:

    The tank in the picture with the girl feeding the betta is smaller than a gallon. Why would you insist on a min 5 gallon tank but use that picture in this article?

    • Robert says:

      Hi RK,
      Thank you for pointing out this mistake. I’ve updated the picture to be more accurate to our recommendations.
      -Robert

  34. John says:

    October 2018 got a beta. We keep it in a 2.5 gal tank with snails and shrimp. Lots of plants for him to hide in and hunt the shrimp. I do 50% water changes about once a month using distilled water, Apart from the occasional shrimp, his main food is beta pellets with 38% raw protein. He’s always very active in the evenings after eating.

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