How Long Do Betta Fish Live? Captivity & Wild

Betta fish are excellent pets. Their bright fins are a delight to look at, and the beautiful creatures are fairly easy to care for and maintain.

As a result, it is easy to get attached to your betta fish as well, and that might have you wondering how long they will stay with you.

While there are some fish species out there that can live up to 20 or even 40 years, your betta fish will not stay as your companion for that long.

Lifespan of Betta Fish in Captivity

On average, the lifespan of betta fish is somewhere from two to five years, depending on their gender, health, living conditions, etc.

However, this does not mean that the betta fish you just got from the store will survive for the next five years.

This is because most of the time, the betta fish you get from the store is already six to twelve months old.

In the case of male betta fish, they are usually sold at least a year after they are born, as it takes them that much time to fully mature and develops their beautiful fins with all their beautiful colors.

In comparison, female betta fish develop their bodies faster so they can be sold at the age of six months.

This means that if you get male betta fish from the store, it is likely to live for only two to four more years.

Similarly, a female betta fish will survive for six months longer.

However, as mentioned earlier, their lifespan depends on many factors such as their health and the tank conditions.

Therefore, if you get a healthy betta fish and keep it in the best conditions, there are chances that your betta fish lives for four, five, or even more years.

But, if your fish dies in about two years, don’t blame yourself for doing a bad job. These fish usually don’t have a long life span.

Lifespan of Betta Fish in the Wild

Betta fish tend to survive for an even shorter time in the wild (two to four years).

This is due to two reasons.

Water Conditions

Firstly, the fish don’t always have the best water or living conditions in the wild.

They usually live in shallow freshwaters like rice paddies, streams, and canals.

Some of these water bodies can dry up due to drought, killing all the aquatic life.

Similarly, sometimes the water can get polluted due to various reasons.

This can affect the quality of water, making it hard for the fish to thrive.

Moreover, the pollution can affect the plants, insects, and other sources of food for the betta fish, again making it hard to survive.

The water in such places isn’t regulated either, which further reduces the lifespan of the betta fish in the wild.

Aggressive Nature

The second reason why betta fish don’t live as long in the wild is their aggressive and territorial nature, specifically in males.

Betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish because of their aggressive nature and their tendency to fight with other males that encroach their territory.

In the wild, the fish are free to move wherever they want, and therefore, they are likely to cross paths with other males.

In such cases, the males usually fight, which can inflict damage on the weaker fish, reducing their lifespan.

Additionally, as more and more area is taken over for farming, industrial, or other human use, the natural habitat of the betta fish will continue to shrink.

This means less territory for each betta fish, more confrontation and fighting, and ultimately, more betta fish dying.

How to Ensure Your Betta Fish Lives for a Long Time

While it may seem that betta fish don’t survive for long, with the right care and some tips and tricks, you can ensure that your betta fish survives for five years or even longer.

Here’s how.

Get Young and Healthy Betta Fish

The first thing you need to do is to get a healthy betta fish. The healthier it is, the better are the chances of it surviving.

Sick fish naturally tend to have a shorter lifespan.

There are several ways to check the health of the fish before buying one.

For starters, try to buy the fish from reputable and good pet shops. They are bound to take good care of all the animals they are selling.

Next, see how the fish is moving. If the fish is actively swimming in the tank, it’s a good sign, indicating that it’s healthy.

Next, look at the color of the fish. Betta fish that have a pale color tend to be suffering from some disease.

Similarly, their eyes shouldn’t be bulging out either, as that can be another concerning sign.

You can also look for other signs on the fish’s body, such as torn or ragged fins, sores, injuries, that could indicate poor health.

Besides all that, if you want your betta fish to live as long as possible with you, try getting them as young as possible.

Ask the store to show you the youngest fish available, or you can contact breeders directly for a baby betta fish.

Keep Them in The Right Tank

People assume that since betta fish tend to come from shallow rice paddies, they can comfortably live in small bowls and tanks.

While they can live in small tanks, they won’t necessarily thrive there and have a shorter lifespan.

Therefore, keep betta fish in large tanks with at least five gallons of water.

Moreover, make sure the fish can easily go to the top for air as they breathe the surface air through their upturned mouths.

Avoid Placing Male Betta Fish Together

As mentioned earlier, the aggressive nature of betta fish, especially male betta fish, is one of the reasons why they don’t live as long in the wild.

If kept together in captivity, it can lead to the same results.

In fact, since water tanks at home tend to be even smaller, the chances of two male betta fish fighting are even greater.

Therefore, to keep your fish healthy and happy, keep the males in separate tanks.

In fact, avoid placing a female betta fish with a male one as well, except during mating time, as they can get aggressive with females, too.

Female betta fish can live with other females but if you do notice any fighting, consider separating them right away.

Avoid Overfeeding or Underfeeding the Betta Fish

Overfeeding is one of the leading causes of betta fish death.

However, it can be just as easy to starve your fish to death as well. Therefore, avoid overfeeding as well as underfeeding your betta fish.

Betta fish food containers usually mention the quantity of food and instructions on how to feed the fish properly.

Alternatively, you can also consult the fish store you bought the fish from to help you feed them in an appropriate manner.

Don’t drop the food according to the size of the tank.

This usually leads to overfeeding, fatty liver disease, and other problems that can shorten their lifespan.

Similarly, make sure you provide the fish with a balanced diet.

While they can consume plants, betta fish are carnivores, which means they prefer insects, insect larvae, and other such foods.

Ensure the Right Tank Conditions

You also need to have the best tank conditions.

This includes ensuring cleanliness, adding plants, maintaining the water temperature, and a lot more.

Clean Water

Again, just because betta fish can live in streams and ponds does not mean they can live in dirty, unregulated water tanks and aquariums.

These fish tend to develop fin rot when forced to live in dirty water, and this can significantly shorten their lifespan.

Therefore, make sure you add a filter in the tank which keeps the water clean.

Additionally, you should also maintain the tank yourself by replacing about ten to fifteen percent of the water with fresh water to avoid the buildup of nitrates and other harmful substances.

Water Temperature

Furthermore, make sure the water in the tank has the right temperature.

The ideal temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can invest in a good water heater to maintain the temperatures.

However, if you have a small tank, which you shouldn’t use in the first place, avoid installing any heater as it can quickly warm up the water to high temperatures, essentially cooking your fish.

Plants in the Tank

Lastly, make sure there are plenty of plants in the tank.

This is important for some fish species as it is their source of food.

However, when it comes to betta fish, plants can help increase the level of oxygen in the water, enriching the tank environment for happier and healthier fish.

In case you have multiple fish in the tank, the plants can provide good hiding spots as well.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been thinking of getting a pet fish, there’s no fish better than the betta fish.

They’re easy to maintain, beautiful to look at, and with a little care, you can enjoy around four or five healthy and happy years with them.

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