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Betta Fish Life Expectancy: How Long Do They Live?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

How long do betta fish live? The average betta fish can live 2-5 years. However, you must remember to take good care of them for maximum life expectancy.

Overall betta fish really are easy to take care of and make exceptional pets. They are colorful, can be territorial (males), and bring excitement to any aquarium. It’s no wonder they are one of the most popular freshwater fish pets today.

Betta Fish Life Expectancy
Betta Fish

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

Most betta fish live in captivity as someone’s pet. Betta fish are living in the wild, but they tend to live for about two years. The average lifespan for betta fish living in captivity is 2 to 5 years.

There are, of course, factors that determine your betta fish’s lifespan. These factors include food, tank maintenance, whether or not they have roommates, and more.

Let’s take a look at each of these so that you can provide the best aquarium environment for your betta fish.

Taking Care of a Betta Fish

Many people enjoy betta fish as a pet because taking care of them is pretty straightforward. But they are not entirely hands-off. Betta fish owners need to maintain the aquarium or tank, feed their betta fish properly, and even entertain their betta fish.

Owners should also know that there are differences in temperament between male and female betta fish. While you can keep two betta fish in the same aquarium, they cannot both be males. Two male betta fish will battle for dominance, and you will ultimately lose one of them.

If you have several female betta fish, the recommended number to keep in a single tank is 4 to 6; female betta fish do very well living together and are known as a ‘sorority.’

Keeping in mind that you can’t have male betta fish living together, but you can keep females together, let’s take a look at how to care for your betta fish so they live a long and happy life.

Aquarium Quality & Maintenance:

The aquarium is an essential element in a betta fish’s lifespan. The bigger the tank, the better your betta fish will thrive and survive.

Although many pet owners like to keep betta fish in a small bowl or vase, this is not the ideal environment for betta fish. The water in a small bowl is not regulated, and there is not enough going on to stimulate your fish.

A 5-gallon aquarium with a filter and heater is the best tank environment for a betta fish. Bettas are tropical fish and require water temperatures between 75°F and 80°F. The heater helps to maintain these temperatures and will extend the lifespan of your betta fish.

Regular cleaning of the tank is also required, although you don’t want a sterile aquarium. Betta fish thrive on some bacteria in the water. Occasionally introducing live plants to the tank will help to maintain optimum water quality for your betta fish.

Food for Betta Fish:

Betta fish food is not your average fish food. You can leave those average flakes for the goldfish. (Speaking of goldfish, betta fish are not good tank-mates with goldfish. In fact, there are only a few freshwater animals that do well living with betta fish.)

But back to the food. Betta fish are carnivorous and in the wild eat insects. So it only makes sense to feed your betta fish in captivity the same diet. Although it may be difficult to hunt wild insects for your betta fish, there is betta fish food available in most pet stores that are the perfect combination of protein and fat.

Or you can make homemade betta fish food with ingredients such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. No matter what you feed your pet betta fish, a healthy diet is a key factor for betta fish life expectancy. Feed them well (about two times a day) and they will live a long time.

Exercise and Entertainment:

Giving your betta fish something to do is a great way to prolong its life. Exercise and entertainment is very beneficial for betta fish longevity.

We’re not talking about going and getting a treadmill for your betta fish. But you can adjust the filter settings on the tank to occasionally provide a bit of current. Bettas don’t like strong currents, but something to give them exercise every now and then can be extremely beneficial. The current gives them something to swim against and acts somewhat like a treadmill.

Another source of entertainment is hunting for their food. If your tank is large enough, consider adding some bloodworms and let them enjoy chasing them down. Their delicious meal is just an added bonus.

Tips to Extend Betta Fish Lifespan

Although it’s never certain how long betta fish live, you can expect between 2 to 5 years of enjoyment with your pet betta. The oldest betta fish on record lived ten years so it is possible to extend a betta’s lifespan.

When you purchase your betta fish you will want to ask about its age and gender. This will help to determine its expected lifespan and whether you can pair it with other bettas. (Remember, two male bettas should not live together).

Here are some quick tips for taking care of your betta fish so that it will live long and prosper:

  • Create a quality living environment – bettas need large spaces at the proper temperature.
  • Add living plants to the tank to help with environmental needs and water quality
  • Occasionally adjust the filter – but not too much or too often – to provide exercise opportunities
  • Provide exceptional nutritional elements to their diet, including live insects for them to hunt
Betta Fish
About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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