My girlfriend has a betta fish that’s called Orka which is the Dutch translation of Killer Whale. She’s had him for about a year now and recently we started to wonder how old bettas can become.
The average lifespan of a betta fish is 3 years old. With the right care and some luck individual fish can become almost twice as old. Keep betta fish healthy by providing a balanced diet, good water parameters and enough swimming space. Buy betta fish from a reputable store that has strong fish.
Now you know the short answer, but there’s more to this. In this article I’ll explain how old bettas get and what you can do to make sure your betta fish lives a long and healthy life. Keep reading and let’s dive straight in!
How Long Does Betta Fish Live When Kept in Captivity?
As described earlier, the average lifespan of betta fish is about three years, but it might not be accurate in your case. The very reason is that when you are going to purchase this fish, it might already be a year old. It only gives you a keeping lifespan of about two years or so. Try to buy your fish from a healthy pet shop and make sure that it isn’t pale because it might depict disease signs.
In captivity, this fish’s lifespan remains the same, which is three years, provided these are kept with proper care, and water conditions are properly regulated. As described earlier, you might get the fish that is a year old already, which leaves you with only two years with the fish. Males are sold when they are mature and about a year old, and females can be purchased when they are over 6 months old.
You can extend the lifespan of betta fish to about 4-5 years if you provide them with near-perfect tank conditions.
How Long Can You Expect Bettas to Live in the Wild?
The native land for this fish is Cambodia and Thailand, and these are likely to live in ponds, streams, rice paddies, and canals. Other regions such as Brazil, Singapore, and Malaysia enjoy this fish because it got introduced by humans.
The lifespan of betta fish is expected to be short in this case because the water conditions are not optimum or standardized, as in the case of the fish tank. The water can get easily polluted, which affects the plants and crops and deteriorates the health of betta fish.
Considering the wild situation, males get exposed to other males, and their chances of becoming aggressive get solid too. This is why the fish got its other name: Siamese fighting fish. This is because of their highly territorial nature and exhibiting intense aggression.
Males can attack each other out of the ordinary, and if the scaling or blowing is harsh, then it can result in early death. Therefore the wild situation is not that favorable for betta fish and should be regulated more with help from government and wildlife associations.
How to Increase the Average Lifespan of Your Betta Fish?
Now you have a clear perspective of how long these fish live in both wild and in controlled conditions, let’s consider some factors using which you can increase your fish’s lifespan. Using the advice provided below, you are likely to increase your fish’s life and keep them healthy for an extended period.
Always buy healthy fish.
It would help if you always considered buying fish from an authentic dealer betta or not because this way, you can personally confirm that the fish is in good shape and health. Buying fish from a reputed store is the key to ensuring that your fish is healthy and free from disease. Following are a few warning signs that you should be looking out to and refrain from buying betta if any of these is present;
- Pale in color
- Ripped or torn fins
- Eyes that are bulging
- Injuries or various scratches etched throughout the body.
Consider the fish with the following quality parameters;
- Should have a bright and vibrant color
- Eyes should be clear.
- Should provide with some response when you try to interact with it
As mentioned earlier, the fish that you are going to buy from a store is already going to be older, so why not ask for its official age? This way, you will confirm the original age and what you can expect in terms of the lifespan.
Use appropriately sized tanks.
When you try to buy your very own betta fish from a fish shop, you will notice that these get sold in small cups and males in tiny 1-gallon tanks. There is a reason for separating each fish because males can become hostile and start putting out an aggressive behavior towards others. Just because betta fish come in cups or 1-gallon tank, it doesn’t mean that it is an appropriate size, to begin with.
The assumption proposed by various aquarists that these fish live in shallow water bodies; thus, a small tank is appropriate for them is simply not true. To complete the comparison, the water bodies these fish live in might be shallow but run for miles, which means that there is plenty of space to roam freely from each other. This is done to decrease the chances of the fight and escaping each other’s territorial space.
The minimum tank size you should go for shouldn’t be less than 5 gallons. On the other hand, if you consider adding the female fish into the mix, it is best if you have a larger tank. To be sure about the correct container size that you should be getting, consider the number of fish you will be keeping.
Separate the males already
As you already know that males are likely to show hostile behavior; that is why it is advised to keep them separate at all times. The nickname for these fish goes by Siamese fighting fish, resulting from an extensive breeding practice done on wild varieties to create fighting fish.
Like cockfighting, the bettas are still used in various parts of Thailand for entertainment, and it has become a common sport. If two males try to fight it off, then eventually, one of them will give out of the competition and buzz off to find a separate territory. However, this is applicable only for large tanks; in small tanks, these male fish might even fight till death.
The very reason is that they don’t have enough space to escape. On the other hand, female fish is not that aggressive and can be kept together provided they have some territory to claim as their own.
The best thing to do is keep male fish in separate tanks or even in tanks of their own to ensure that they have a chance at a longer and happier life. Community tanks can also be used to keep male betta fish, but these should be kept with their compatible species, such as Rasboras. Because both the betta and Rasboras can co-exist in the wild, that is why they have a chance at staying together. Other compatible partners can include; Neon tetras, Loaches, Bristlenose Plecos, and Snails.
Install a heater and a filter too
Many common misconceptions exist among professionals, and one of them is that this fish can live in rice paddies, so there is no need to clean water or provide heat. This is not true and, as a myth, should be debunked. The water temperature in Thailand, where this fish is abundantly present, gets regulated and warm through the sun; that is why you should consider using a heater in the tank. The average temperature should be between 75-80 degrees.
The filter is also recommended because muddy or otherwise dirty water is not suitable for their growth. The filter is essential as it will clean the water and help you convert the ammonia and nitrate buildup into less complicated substances, and it also helps keep the water aerated.
Continue changing the water regularly as it will increase the chances of your fish, getting a fresh and cleaner supply of water.
Choosing a nutritious and healthy diet
Eventually, to ensure that betta fish‘s lifespan can be increased, consider feeding them a healthy, nutritious, and wholesome diet. The diet you are feeding them affects growth, color, and lifespan.
As the fish mostly lives in shallow water, thus is comfortable eating insects and all these things. But if you can’t find a live diet for your fish, then other healthy alternatives can be used. A quality pellet, frozen food, or flake food can be used, but the best thing you can do is choose something specifically developed for bettas.
Final Betta Tip
The average shelf life you get for this fish is around two years, but you can considerably increase this span if you provide them with controlled and nurturing conditions. Choosing the tank’s right size, keeping males apart, and focusing on wholesome food is the key to ensure their longevity.