How long do betta fish live? The answer really depends. A wild betta isn’t going to live as long as a captive betta. And a betta in a 1-gallon tank won’t live nearly as long as a betta in a 10-gallon tank.
Keep reading to find out how long bettas live and more importantly, how to give your betta the happiest life possible!
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In Captivity?
Betta fish live between 3-5 years in captivity. However, on average they’re going to live for about 3 years.
You have to remember, in a lot of cases, they were raised in an environment that’s very detrimental to their health. Especially if you bought them from a shop that keeps them in plastic cups. This can have a drastic effect on their health and life.
And if you’re wondering how long female bettas can live for, it’s normally a few months longer than males.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In The Wild?
Betta’s will live for roughly 2 years in their natural environment. Or that’s what the general consensus is anyway.
A betta in the wild lives a much more stressful life than a betta in your tank. They’re going to have to search for food every day, sometimes going days without. They’ll also have to fight other Siamese fighting fish they come across, and lastly, they’re always going to be searching for a mate.
There’s no denying that they live a more free life, however, that comes with a cost to their lifespan.
Unfortunately, due to high amounts of pollution in their habitats, their lifespans are also decreasing. In fact, they’re now on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
How Long Can A Betta Fish Live Without Food?
The maximum amount of time a betta can live without food is around 14 days. However, you shouldn’t EVER let them go this long without food.
Even if they survive, their immune system is going to be extremely weak due to the lack of nutrition and stress. Even if you start feeding them, there’s still a good chance they’re going to suffer from some sort of illness.
The most amount of time you can leave your betta without feeding him is 4 days. Any more than that and you’re going to risk his health.
How Can You Help Your Betta Live Longer?
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your betta live longer. And if you follow all of the ideas below, you’re going to give your betta the best chance of survival.
Make Sure You Buy A Healthy Betta
If you’ve already got your betta, then you may want to skip this one (unless you’re planning on buying more). However, if you’re still looking for a betta, here’s how you can check for healthy ones.
Signs of a healthy betta include the following.
Unless you choose a betta that’s white your betta should have bright coloring. If a betta is pale it’s an indication that they aren’t very healthy. It also shows that they aren’t being fed properly as well.
Also, make sure your betta doesn’t have any wounds. If you notice a betta’s fins are ripped or torn it’s often a sign of fin rot. And if it’s not fin rot they could be biting their own tail.
Lastly, even if it’s neither of those things, wounds on your betta can become infected quickly. Especially if your betta is stressed. And if you’re taking them home you’re increasing their stress levels.
Make sure your betta’s eyes are clear and not cloudy or bulging. If they are cloudy or bulging it’s a sign of eye issues, as well as a bacterial infection. So make sure the betta you pick has nice, clear eyes.
They’re Not Hiding
Your betta shouldn’t be hiding from other fish. This is often a sign that your betta is sick. Because they know they’re weak, they’re trying to stay away from other fish as they feel threatened.
They’ll Respond To You
While not every betta does this, it’s a very good sign when a betta reacts to you putting your hand near their tank. If they come up to it or come to figure out what it is, then it’s normally a sign they’re healthy.
Avoid Bettas In Cups
Lastly, make sure you’re avoiding bettas in cups. Even though a lot of places store them like this it’s very cruel. If they’re willing to treat their bettas like this so blatantly, imagine what else they might be doing.
Instead, buy a betta that’s in a tank with other fish and make sure all the fish in the tank look healthy!
Keep Them In A Big Tank
Contrary to what you may have heard, bettas cannot leave in a 1 or 2-gallon tank. They need a minimum of 5 gallons to live happily and healthily. And bigger is always better.
If you want your betta to live as long as possible make sure you’ve added them to a tank that’s at least 5 gallons. (Here are all the reasons your betta needs to be in a big tank.)
(If you want to upgrade your tank check out the best 5-gallon tanks for bettas.)
And females are going to need even more. If you’re going to keep a sorority of female bettas you’re going to need at least 20 gallons.
You may have heard that bettas are used to living in shallow water in the wild. This is true, however, even though the water is shallow it goes on for miles and miles.
Make Sure You Have A Heater
A heater is essential for almost every tank. Bettas have quite strict requirements when it comes to the temperature of their tank. Ideally, you should keep the tank between 78-80°F, However, they can survive in anything between 76-82°F.
If you don’t the temperature becomes too hot or too cold your betta will get temperature shock, which is going to stress their immune system.
Make Sure You Have A Filter
As well as keeping your tank heated, you’ll need to keep it filtered too. A filter is going to help remove all of the ammonia and other toxins from the water. It’s also going to help remove debris which floats around making the tank look cleaner.
If you don’t have a filter you’d need to perform water changes much more often. This is going to stress your betta out, which in turn could decrease his lifespan.
Keep The Tank Clean
As well as keeping the tank filtered, you should also make sure you’re keeping the tank clean. A clean tank is going to reduce the chance of disease and bacteria growing. diseases like fin rot and dropsy are much more common in a dirty tank.
To keep the tank clean, make sure you’re vacuuming the gravel as well as changing the water every week. When you’re changing the water the amount to change will depend on the tank. However, normally 10-15% a week is going to be enough.
You should also be checking the ammonia levels regularly to make sure they’re not too high.
Check out this full guide on how to clean your betta’s tank.
Lastly, if your betta hasn’t eaten their food after a couple of minutes, you should remove it from the tank. This is one easy way to keep on top of your tank remaining clean.
Make Sure Their Getting Enough Exercise
Just like all animals, your betta is going to need exercise. Even though they’re swimming, sometimes this isn’t enough. After all, how often do you see your betta floating around doing nothing?
There are a few great ways you can give your betta exercise. One way is to add live food to his tank. All the chasing he’s going to do will work wonders for his health.
Secondly, you can also try showing him a mirror. If you let him see a mirror he’ll begin flaring and acting aggressively. However, make sure you don’t do this for too long. (Find out more about why bettas like mirrors.)
A more passive approach is to change the flow rate on your bettas filter. It shouldn’t be too strong because they hate a strong current. However, a small flow will give them something to swim against.
Keep The Tank Entertaining
One way to keep your betta alive longer is to reduce the chance of boredom and depression. Both of which can result in your betta biting his own tail.
To do this make sure there are lots of things in his tank to keep him entertained. Plants and decorations are the easiest way to do this. You should turn parts of your tank into an underwater jungle. (check out the best plants for bettas.)
However, one of the BEST ways I know to make sure your betta never becomes bored or depressed is to add other fish to his tank. (If you didn’t know that bettas could live with other fish, well they can! Check out the Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide to find out more!)
Make Sure They’re Getting A Balanced Diet
Are you providing your betta with high-quality food and a balanced diet? If not, then you’re going to be affecting his lifespan.
When you’re feeding your betta, make sure you’re not giving him the same food every day. You should be giving him a mix of live food, and high-quality betta pellets. (Check out the best food for bettas.)
When you’re feeding your betta food, try to avoid anything that’s high in plants and fat. Daphnia is a great choice for them, however, bloodworm should only be given to them a treat (contrary to what you might have heard.)
Avoid Putting Males Together
This is one of the more obvious ones. Make sure you never put two bettas together.
While people have done it in the past, it’s EXTREMELY rare that it works and you’re going to need a VERY big tank to do it effectively (150 gallons or bigger).
And even with all this the temperaments of both bettas still, need to be extremely peaceful.
As well as not keeping them together, you want to make sure they can’t see each other either. Just being able to see another male betta will cause them to become extremely aggressive and try to attack.
If you follow all of this you’re going to give your betta the best chance possible for living a long, happy life.
Other Related Questions
Here are some of the more commonly asked questions about helping a betta live a long life.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A Bowl?
In a standard (3 gallons or less) unheated, unfiltered bowl, a betta will probably only live for around a year.
However, if you’re keeping your betta in a bowl which is a good size, filtered and heated, then they’ll potentially be able to live for 5 years.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live In 1 Gallon Tank?
Most bettas won’t make it past a year in a 1-gallon tank. While there are always exceptions to the rule, in the vast vast amount of cases, the chances of a long life are extremely slim.
And even if they do live for a long time, it’s going to be an extremely unhappy life.
Other Ways To Increase Their Lifespan
Lastly, here are some quick tips to keep your alive for a long time.
- Make sure you have a cover on your tank as they are known to jump, and in a lot of cases, they’ve jumped out of people’s tanks. They’ll dry out extremely quickly, and even if you’ve put them back in time, the damage from the fall will often be fatal.
- Always use a water conditioner when adding new water to the tank. Chlorine and other chemicals in tap water are fatal to bettas.
- If you have floating plants make sure your betta has access to the surface. The main way they get oxygen is by breathing air, so they’ll need to be able to get to the surface to do this.
As you can see, a lot of care goes into keeping your betta alive for a long time. However, it’s definitely worth it!
Now you know on average bettas can live for 3 years, however, it’s not uncommon for them to live up to 5!
Here’s a quick recap of all the things you need to remember.
- You can help your betta live longer by keeping them in a big tank, making sure it’s heated and filtered, keeping the tank clean, ensuring they get enough exercise, keeping the tank entertaining, giving them a balanced diet, and not putting males together.
- If you’re keeping your betta in a small bowl or one-gallon tank they aren’t going to live for very long.
- To further increase their lifespan make sure you put a lid on your tank, use water conditioner and make sure they have room to breathe.
- Betta’s can go 14 days without food, however, it’s incredibly cruel and dangerous and they should never go more than 4 days.
Taking care of your Betta can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Click here to read an article with everything you need to know about Betta fish care.