Betta fish are fulfilling, easy-going pets to own. While they only live between 2-4 years, is it possible for your aquatic friend to come back to life before they cross over to the fish tank in the sky?
Unfortunate as it is, the chances of your betta fish, or any other aquatic animal, coming back to life after death are virtually impossible. However, if you find your betta near death or in respiratory distress, you might be able to nurse it back to health with proper fast action.
Read our guide to understand why betta fish are unlikely to bounce back from the afterlife, what signs a dying fish will give you, what action(s) you can take to help it, and more!
Can Betta Fish Die And Come Back To Life?
You may have heard stories about people reviving their recently passed dogs and cats, mainly during instances of choking. Sadly, the bodily systems of fish, including betta fish, don’t allow techniques like CPR to bring them back after they’ve truly passed on.
During sleep, betta fish cease movement, and their breathing may slow to almost undetectable rates. Spotting a fish in this state can be easily confused for them being dead, and watching them start moving afterward can be misinterpreted as them “coming back to life.”
Your fish might even play dead, which is common behavior in bettas. But as we know, sleep and play are far from death. When a betta fish is truly about to pass away, it will give you a number of signs that it’s near the end of its journey.
How Do You Know When A Betta Fish Is About To Die?
When near death, a betta fish will show multiple of the following symptoms in conjunction with one another:
Loss of Color
Betta fish are known for their bright, bold patterns and colors. During times of stress, illness, and old age, these colors can fade and look pale or muted. If you notice your fish suddenly losing color, it’s important to keep a close eye on it.
Sleeping more often than usual is a very clear indicator that something is wrong with your betta. While it’s normal for your betta to take short, semi-frequent naps during the day, sleeping for long periods of time (without interest in eating or swimming) is uncommon.
Low Swimming Activity
As fish, swimming is a way to relieve stress and have fun. When your betta no longer shows interest in swimming or it no longer has the energy to do so, it’s an indicator of sickness or old age.
Spotting your fish lying on its side can cause concern for any fish owner. However, this behavior can be caused by inappropriate tank conditions or even just sleep, so make sure to do a thorough check before jumping to any conclusions regarding their health.
If your once sociable fish starts partaking in episodes of self-isolation or hiding in its environment when it comes time to feed, this is behavior to take note of. When paired with lethargy and other symptoms, this is almost always a sign that your fish is nearing the end of its life.
Most living creatures will experience a lack of appetite when they’re near passing, and betta fish are no exception. Although, we do recommend thinking back to see if their food aversion is due to diet or environmental change, as stress can inhibit hunger as well.
Can You Save A Betta Fish From Dying?
There are a number of instances in which swift action can save your betta from an untimely death. Specifically, when your betta has jumped out of their tank. In cases like this, slowly reintroduce water back into its gills with your fingers or a pipette, and place your pet into a small container of water to reacclimate it.
If your betta is dying due to illness, it’s important that you keep a stash of medicine handy to treat it as quickly as possible. One of the main culprits for poor health in your fish is its tank environment, so make sure you’re keeping your fish in livable, healthy conditions to prevent chances of sickness.
Finding a reputable veterinarian that specializes in aquatic animals can also ensure the health of your fish. They’ll be able to spot potential issues faster and guide you through their road back to health. Regrettably, if their health issues are due to age, there isn’t much you can do but offer them comfort before their passing.
What To Do After Betta Fish Dies?
Should your betta have been living in its tank with others, make sure to test the conditions of your tank to confirm it isn’t the root of the problem. While popular opinion, it’s actually unnecessary to deep clean the tank after the passing of a fishy friend.
Though you may have seen it in TV shows time and time again, it’s not advisable to flush your fish down the toilet. You could be introducing bacteria to the waterways and that is far from sanitary. Though unceremonious, simply disposing of your fish in the garbage is more acceptable.
For those with kids, or if you think your pet deserves a more dignified sendoff, burying your fish in the backyard can make for a very sweet goodbye. You can choose between burying just the body or wrapping it in a biodegradable material, like a newspaper. Dig a deeper grave to account for curious animals.
The life of your betta fish is extra fragile, and unfortunately, they won’t be able to bounce back if they’ve truly passed on. But now, you’ll be able to distinguish when your betta is nearing the end of its lifespan, and you’re armed with the tips and tricks to potentially nurse them back to health.