Updated on 2018-02-03 – Owning betta fish seems to be getting more and more popular these days. It’s probably because of how beautiful they are compared to other freshwater fish, and how easy they are to maintain, at least in my opinion. While an average betta fish lives for about 3 years in captivity, bettas lifespan can be significantly increased provided that you take care of certain important things. In fact, some people have achieved much longer than that, but you need to make sure that they have the best environment possible if you want to increase the chances.
Can Bettas Lifespan Be Improved?
Yes, there are ways to improve the odds of your betta living a longer life than usual. Below are the top 6 factors that can affect your betta’s chance of survival:
The breeding process has a significant role in determining the betta fish life span. Provided that your fish was not used for the purpose of breeding or spawning, it should be able to have a longer life span than the average two years. Try to find out as much as you can about the betta you are planning on buying. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from the breeder or pet store you are buying the betta fish from. The more you know about it’s history, the better.
For example, one important question you need to ask the pet store owner is the age of the betta you are about to buy. How old is the fish? Some stores try to sell their bettas as soon as possible, while others leave their bettas to mature before they are sold so that their colorful fins can entice their customers. If you are buying a male betta, chances are it is probably over a year old already. A female may be sold at six months old. Once you know how old they are, then you can deduct the time it has spent in the store from the life expectancy of about two to three years and you’ll know how long you can expect to have them. If you can get a younger fish, you may be able to enjoy your betta’s company for longer.
You also need to ask about the genetics of the fish. Does the fish have any history of diseases or other infestation? This can significantly reduce the life expectancy of your betta. Most reputable stores will not sell you a genetically deficient fish, however it is still good to know the history of the fish so that you can make preparations for any eventual problems that could arise in the future. Your best chance of keeping your betta fish for more than three years is to buy a young healthy fish from a reputable pet store. (More on that later).
Another important factor that defines the life span of your betta fish is the strain that it was put through at the pet store where they were being held waiting for their new owner. A lot of stores that you can buy betta fish from fail to meet the basic requirements of the fish, so it is important that you consider the strain that it may have been put through before you buy him or her. Do some research on the pet store where you plan on purchasing your betta from to make sure you are buying from a reputable place.
For example, before buying a betta fish, check out the surroundings of the pet shop. Is it clean? Are the staff courteous? How do they treat the animals? (Without being creepy, keep an eye on the employees to see how well they treat the animals in general). Also, you need to critically assess the betta before you spend your hard-earned money. Check out the body of the fish for any abnormalities. Don’t buy a fish that appears pale because that could be a sign of disease. Also, look out for injuries and sores on the body of the fish. It could be due to fights, and these create an easy entry for pests and diseases which invariably reduces the life expectancy of the fish. Don’t buy a fish with bulging eyes. A healthy betta should have clear eyes. Check for signs of damage to the fins. Don’t buy a betta with torn or ragged fins. Additionally, a betta fish should respond whenever you place your hand on its tank. If the fish is slow to respond or not looking active, it probably is not healthy and won’t last long no matter the care and attention you provide for it.
It’s widely known that the bigger the aquarium, the better the chances of increasing your betta fish life span. The more the space that it is given, the longer it is going to live. As per the research studies, it has been claimed that in order to increase the lifespan of the betta fish, it is ideal to keep it in 5 gallons of water at the very least. Any smaller than that and you are taking a risk in losing your betta at a younger age.
With regard to the tank, having a larger tank will actually be better for maintaining the ideal temperature. Larger tanks are better able to maintain a set temperature, which makes it a lot easier for you to regulate the water quality. Smaller tanks fluctuate in their temperature far too rapidly and because of their size, it makes it really challenging for you to use a heater in the water without causing harm to the fish.
There is no argument over the fact that betta fish depend on the quality of diet that they are being provided as well. One thing you can control is the amount of food you give him or her. Avoid over feeding since it may lead to obesity and an earlier than expected death. Recommended food for betta fish include pellets, blood worms, and brine shrimp.
Using the right food can add to several years to the lifespan of your fish. These fish are tropical so naturally tropical fish food flakes are acceptable. However, they are carnivorous and absolutely require protein rich meaty food. Understand that tropical fish flakes are plant-based so they will not contain the nutrients and proteins that are found in meat. They will not hurt your fish but they could cause bloating if you only feed them tropical fish food flakes. In their natural environment it is quite common for them to eat almost anything they can find including smaller fish, insects, mosquitoes, and worms.
As a fish owner, one common problem you might run into is seeing your fish spit out its food. The biggest reason that they spit out food is simply because the pieces are too big. Most of the time once they spit it out, they will go back and break off smaller pieces. If you see this happening a lot, you can try to break up the pellets or the food before you put it in the tank. If you are feeding your fish frozen or freeze-dried blood worms it might be beneficial to put them in a small cup with some of the tank water to soften up the worms. Understand that sometimes the fish are simply finicky because it is a texture issue.
If you just brought your fish home they might not eat anything the first week. This is fairly typical because they are adjusting to their new home. In other cases, they may eat too much and become constipated. If they stop eating, but have previously been eating regularly, try fasting for one day in their feeding schedule. This could help with constipation caused by over eating. You can also feed them the inside of a pea if they are showing signs of constipation or bloating.
The condition of the water that your betta lives also plays a major role in determining betta fish life span. Don’t forget to clean the water at least once per week. If you aren’t sure how to do this and what’s involved, we covered the details in our post called How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank.
The temperature is extremely important. I can’t stress this fact enough. You need to make sure you find the right size tank, have a good heater and thermometer, make any changes to the temperature slowly, keep the water at the perfect pH balance, use the right type of water for your betta, and add aquarium salt. The ideal temperature is between 78° and 80° F (25.5° and 26.5 C). Any temperature beyond this can cause a variety of health problems. Too low a temperature can cause their metabolism to slow down and will lead them to a variety of diseases and a lethargic lifestyle. If the temperature is too high, it will boost their metabolism and cause their bodies to age more quickly.
Keep Males in Separate Tanks
Bettas are called Siamese Fighting Fish for a good reason. Male bettas are fiercely territorial and would become aggressive and fight any intruder that comes into their territory. If you plan to keep more than one male Betta, you are going to cause a lot of friction if they are kept in the same tank. So do not do it. During these epic fights, bettas will injure each other, and this can reduce their lifespan. Some people use betta condos to separate their male bettas in one tank, but this step may not be effective because it is believed that bettas become stressed in the presence of another male, and this may affect their quality of life. If you can, it’s better to keep your male bettas in separate tanks altogether to avoid incessant territorial fights that could reduce their life expectancy. You can also avoid all these problems by keeping a single male as this will reduce the cost of maintenance.
Some people believe that the type of betta can be a factor in determining how long it will live. For instance, it’s believed by many that the crown tail and half moon can live longer compared to the rest. However, there is no scientific proof behind this. As you can see, there are lots of factors that can affect the lifespan of bettas. Although there is no guarantee in life, if you keep these factors in mind when buying and caring for your betta, it should live a long and plentiful life!
Before you go, we highly recommend that you check out our Betta Fish Starter Kit section. There is always something good on sale.
Updated on 2018-02-03 – I noticed that this post was lacking details in some of the sections so I spent some time going through each section and adding more useful information. I also added a new section on male betta fish.