Betta fish are one of the most popular freshwater fish people get for their homes. The vivid colors, long fins, and great personalities are what people love about them. But how long do betta fish live actually? What are some of the factors that contribute to their lifespan, and most importantly, do betta fish die easily?
How Long Do Betta Fish Live in Captivity?
The average lifespan of betta fish in a bowl is around 3 years, provided that they are cared for properly and have enough room in their tank. However, this does not mean that you will have your fish for 3 years. Most male bettas are actually sold when they are between 6 and 12 months old, which is the time when they develop their fins and males get their colors.
There is also a difference between males and females. Even though males have bright colors (which is why most people get them), the female betta fish lifespan tends to be a few months longer. Additionally, it’s not that uncommon for betta fish to have longer lives. With great conditions and care, they can live for 4 or even 5 years.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live in the Wild?
When living in the wild, betta fish tend to inhabit shallow freshwaters like streams, ponds, canals, and rice paddies. They can be found mostly in Thailand and Cambodia, but they have also spread to areas such as Brazil, Singapore, and Malaysia.
What comes as a surprise is that the average lifespan of bettas in their natural habitat is shorter than when kept in captivity. Because their waters are polluted and not regulated like in a fish tank, wild betta fish have a reduced lifespan. Their food resources are often destroyed in polluted waters, which can additionally reduce their lifespan.
There is also one more factor that contributes to the shorter lifespan of wild betta fish. Originally, they are named “Siamese Fighting Fish” because of their aggressive and very territorial attitude towards other fish. In the wild, betta fish are exposed to males from other species, which can cause a lot of fighting they wouldn’t have in captivity (if kept in a tank of their own). Because there is an increased chance of betta fighting, most males can die earlier than expected.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Live Without Food
Betta fish, both in captivity and in the wild, can live up to 14 days without food. Although some fasting is recommended when planning a diet for bettas, keeping them without food for two weeks is not recommended. However, it also important not to overfeed them. Overeating can cause problems for their digestive tract, while in some cases they might not even eat the excess food.
If you plan on leaving for a day or two, they can go without food. If you plan on going on a vacation, you should not leave them without food, so you should find someone to feed them.
How to Increase Your Bettas Lifespan
When getting a companion for your tank, you need to know how to take care of a betta fish. How long do bettas live depends on their care, and by knowing how to properly care for a betta fish you can extend their lifespan. And having a happy betta fish will benefit you as well. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing to get a Betta.
Buying a Healthy Betta
Picking a healthy betta fish is very important. Apart from going to a reputable and reliable store, you should also look at several factors when picking your betta fish. If the betta has a pale color, it can indicate that the fish has not had proper care, which can shorten their life. A ripped and torn fin, bulging eyes, and other injuries they have on their bodies are also a big indicator of an illness or lack of care.
You need to look for a fish that has a bright color and clear eyes, doesn’t have any injuries or scratches, and one that will respond or react to the hand that is placed on the tank.
Get an Appropriate Tank Size
Once purchased, you will get your betta in a small 1-gallon tank or even a cup, but that does not mean you should keep them there. A betta fish needs a 5-gallon tank in order to have enough space to live and swim. With a proper environment, they might turn out to be the longest living fish in your betta fish tank.
Make Sure to Keep Males Separate
Since bettas are prone to fighting, you should consider keeping males separate in tanks to make sure your fish have the longest and happiest life they can. You can place the males in their own tank or in a community tank that has compatible species, like Rasboras. These two species have a long history of coexisting without any fighting, but you can also put them with Loaches, Neon tetras, and Bristlenose Plecos.
Have Good Diet for Your Betta Fish
The ideal feeding schedule for betta fish should look like this:
- Monday – 2-4 fish pellets for bettas should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Tuesday – 2-3 pieces of living, frozen, or even freeze-dried food should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Wednesday – 2-4 fish pellets for bettas should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Thursday – 2-4 fish pellets for bettas should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Friday – 2-3 pieces of living, frozen, or even freeze-dried food should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Saturday – 2-4 fish pellets for bettas should be given 1 or 2 times during the day
- Sunday – It’s best for bettas to fast so they can have digestive regularity
Put a Heater and a Filter
Their natural habitat is in Thailand waters, which have naturally higher temperatures because of their climate. When keeping a betta in captivity, it is important to recreate that environment with a heater. The ideal betta fish water temperature should be around 75-80°F.
Apart from having an aquarium heater, you will also need to get a filter to keep their waters clean. The filter will regularly clean their water, by converting the nitrite and ammonia buildups into a less harmful compound, while keeping the tank’s water aerated. However, it is still necessary to regularly change their water and properly clean a fishbowl.
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Add Plants for More Oxygen
In order to create a great and comfortable environment and extend the lifespan of your betta fish, you should also include some plants. Having plants won’t be beneficial for their dietary needs since they will only nibble on them. But, plants will increase the levels of oxygen in the water, which will enrich the environment, improve their life quality, and replicate their habitat. Plants will also give them plenty of hiding spots, which is great for females.
You can add any of the following plants:
- Java Fern
- Java Moss
The average betta lifespan is 3 years in captivity, which is usually longer than when they live in their natural habitat. Because of the polluted waters, bettas will survive longer in your care than in the wild. However, you can also increase their lifespan by providing a suitable environment for your bettas, giving them enough space, adding the necessary equipment to their tank, planning a diet for the week, and making sure that their water is changed and bowls cleaned.