Bettas or the Siamese fighting fish are perhaps one of the most misunderstood fishes available in the freshwater hobby. It exhibits colors that are unknown in the freshwater world.
In fact, some of them have colors brilliant enough to put many of their saltwater counterparts to shame. However, one trouble people often run into when keeping these beautiful fish is the inability to keep them alive and thriving for a reasonably long period of time. As such, it is only natural to wonder “How long do betta fish live?”
This is something that has a lot of misinformation around it. So, let us unravel the true facts surrounding this question and try to answer it as precisely as possible while also looking at the different things you can do to ensure that your Betta lives for as long as it is really supposed to.
How Long Do Bettas Live?
The first thing to understand is that the Betta fish available in the aquarium trade is quite different from the ones found in the wild.
The ones available in the hobby are selectively bred through many generations to provide different colors and fin shapes. This does make them quite attractive to look at but it also makes them genetically weaker.
This, in turn, makes them quite susceptible to diseases and infections. As such, the exact lifespan of your Betta will depend on the particular fish you have. On average, Bettas can live for between 3 – 5 years. However, there have been rare accounts of some Bettas living for up to 10 years.
Factors that Shorten Betta Fish Lifespan:
A Betta that is surviving is quite different from one that is thriving. Just because a Betta can survive in less than ideal conditions for a decently long time, it does not mean that it will live long. There are a lot of factors that can cause your Betta to die prematurely and here are some of them.
Age when purchased As alluded to earlier, one of the primary reasons Bettas are so popular is because of their looks. Therefore, these fish are only sold when they are fully mature. This is especially the case when it comes to male Bettas as it often takes a year for them to develop their full coloration and fins. This means that in most cases, your fish only has a year or two at best left to live from the day it is bought.
Tank conditions This factor is completely in your hands. From the very outset, it is important to understand that betta fish need just as much space and good tank conditions as any other fish.
It is best for fishkeepers to keep their fish in an aquarium that is similar to their habitat of origin. In the wilderness, betta fish live in blackwater habitats. It’s, therefore, a good idea to build a blackwater aquarium for your betta fish. Typically, blackwater is created through the use of Indian almond leaves or extracts.
Since they can supplement their respiration by directly breathing in air, they can stay alive longer than other fish even when the tank condition deteriorates but this does not mean that they should be kept in bowls and jars with little to no filtration or aeration. A single Betta should have at least 2.5 gallons of aquarium space all to itself. The water should be reasonably aerated and a well-established filtration system should be in place.
The fish store or dealer This might not be obvious at first but it is perhaps the biggest deciding factor when it comes to the life expectancy of a Betta. A reputed dealer or fish shop will get their fish from good breeders which means that they will be healthy from the outset. They won’t be quite as susceptible to diseases and they will be sold when young which will allow you to get a longer time of companionship with the Betta.
Exercise Like most living organisms, Bettas have a higher life expectancy when they get some exercise. This is quite easy to achieve in an aquarium. All you have to do is make sure that that there is a gentle flow. Bettas will get enough exercise swimming against this flow. Just ensure that it isn’t so strong that the fish gets stressed out.
Tankmates Bettas are aptly named the fighting fish. Males typically will fight each other to death if kept together. Females can be kept with males and even then, there can be some aggression. If you plan to keep a Betta in a community tank then ensure that its tankmates are docile and not the fin-nipping kind that will shred its delicate fins.
Treatment of Illnesses It is just how life progresses. Even if you do everything perfectly, Bettas can and will get sick. How you deal with the sickness will decide if your Betta will live to see another day. Always keep medication on hand and consult a vet at the first sign of trouble.
Steps you can take to improve betta fish life expectancy:
Keeping Bettas should not feel like the roll of a dice.
You can do a few things to make sure that they live for as long as it is possible. It all begins with choosing the right fish store or dealer. Get your fish in person and choose one that has brilliant coloration with no damage to its fins. Its eyes should not droop, there should not be any visible injuries and it should be generally active. The display tank that it is housed in should also be clean and should not have other dead or dying fish in it.
Once you have chosen a healthy fish make sure that it is transported safely. Acclimate it to your tank properly. If possible, quarantine it for a couple of weeks. From then on, it is all about regular upkeep and monitoring. Do regular maintenance on its tank and keep a close eye for any signs of trouble. If there are any, deal with it as quickly and as effectively as possible.
Most Bettas die prematurely because of some form of neglect. This mostly stems from a lack of correct information that makes people wrongly assume that these fish are impervious to a lot of the things that are harmful to most other fish. Hopefully, by now you should be equipped with the necessary know-how to ensure that your Betta fish lives a long and stress-free life as any pet should.