How Long Do Betta Fish Live? (+ How to Prolong Your Betta’s Life)

Wondering how long do betta fish live? This guide is for you!

How long a betta fish lives depends on a number of factors. For example, have its dietary and environmental conditions been met? What about its likes and dislikes?

Under the right living conditions, a betta fish lives for 3 to 4 years. Most bettas in captivity live to a ripe old age, unlike their counterparts in the wild, whose life is shorter. A betta fish needs to be cared for properly to live to its full potential.

How Long Does a Betta Fish Live in the Wild?

Away from the relative safety and security of human homes, bettas are prone to suffer under the vagaries of nature.

Life in the wild is not a walk in the park for the betta fish. The food supply is uncertain, and natural predators and bolder and more readily available.

Also, the living conditions in the wild are not ideal for the delicate betta. All these, combined with the fact that bettas are naturally aggressive, make the life of this fish relatively short.

You can expect a betta born and bred in the wild to live for a maximum of two years. And this would be a giant leap for this animal, considering all the perils it has to face and side-step in the course of its life.

The waters in the wild are polluted, and the conditions tend to fluctuate a lot.

As such, the betta fish is constantly subjected to stress, anxiety, and life-shortening experiences, making it a marvel for this animal to see its second birthday.

However, this is not to say that bettas in the wild are doomed to fail and die. On the contrary, evolutionary instincts have taught bettas to survive under harsh conditions.

They have learned to put up with the dried puddles in their natural habitats in Thailand, Malaysian, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Brazil.

Unfortunately, what they do is survive; they can hardly thrive under poisoned fields and polluted waters.


How Long Does a Betta Fish Live in Captivity?

Under the right conditions, bettas in captivity are expected to live for 3 to 5 years.

The relative safety, comfort, and security of sheltered life make it possible for the better fish to enjoy their full life expectancy.

However, this is only possible if you keep your eyes open for the many dangers that can shorten your betta’s life.

Its living conditions should be at an optimum level at all times. Your betta should be fed good, nutritious food, and the environmental conditions should be just right.

How Long Does a Betta Fish Live in a Fishbowl?

Most sellers of betta fish package them in bowls and cups. Unfortunately, the water in these containers is insufficient to keep your betta fish alive.

Because of the restricting nature of cups and fishbowls, you can expect a betta in these containers to live for a maximum of 1 year.

How Long Does a Betta Fish Live Without Food?

Betta fish can go for up to 15 days without eating. However, this is not to say that you should allow them to go for this long without food.

Bettas should be fed once or twice every day. The young ones should never be fed less than twice because they can’t eat much food in one session.

However, you may feed the adults once a day since they can eat a lot in one sitting. Making them fast one day a week is also a good idea to help unclog their digestive systems.

If you plan to go for an extended vacation, make arrangements to have your betta fed in your absence.

How to Prolong Your Betta Fish’s Life?

#1 – Buy a Healthy Betta Fish

This step is very important if you plan to buy your first betta or add to your stock. But, of course, how long your betta lives depends on the kind of fish it is.

It’s easier to prolong the life of a healthy, genetically sound betta than one from weak stock.

Here are the signs that indicate your betta is healthy and generically strong:

Bright Colors

Bettas are known for their bright, shining colors. If the betta you’re eyeing is pale or sickly dull, it has medical or genetic issues.

No Wounds

The betta’s fins and skin should be intact. If they are torn or ripped, this is a disaster for trouble.

Wounds on bettas are likely to fester and cause more severe infections.

Clear Eyes

You’ll know the betta fish has eye issues if the eyes are bulging or cloudy. A healthy betta has clear eyes.

They Are Vibrant

A betta likes swimming while displaying its radiant colors. If the betta you’re looking at is hiding, this is a red flag.

They’re Responsive

Most bettas respond when you put your hand near the tank. A sick betta will be no-responsive to this gesture.

#2 – Avoid Bettas in Bowls and Cups

If the betta has been living in a cup or fishbowl for some time, its health has already been compromised.

Bettas need about 3 gallons of water to live a long healthy life.

A betta subjected to life in a cup has missed a lot of proper growing, and its health could be on a downward spiral.

Bettas in a cup are unlikely to live beyond their first-year birthday.

#3 – Proper Nutrition

Bettas are carnivores that thrive on insects and insect larvae. They like their meals live, frozen, or feed-dried.

Be keen to feed your betta fish protein-rich foods if you want to prolong its life. Proteins contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which the betta relies on to fuel its various activities.

The best food for your betta fish includes bloodworms, daphnia, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and Mysis shrimp.

Also, feed this fish properly. For example, give it floating food because bettas enjoy feeding from the surface.

Invest in good, properly sourced betta flakes and betta pellets if you don’t have access to live food.

Proper nutrition entails that you feed your betta once or twice a day. So don’t let this fish go for too long without food.

Because they are ravenous eaters, avoid the temptation to overfeed your betta.

Over-feeding opens a can of unique health complications that you’ll find challenging to deal with.

#4 –Proper Tank Size

Betta fish will do poorly when forced to live in cramped, confined spaces. To prolong your betta’s life, keep it in a 3 to 5-gallon tank.

A 5-gallon tank provides your betta with enough space to swim, play, hide, and rest. Basically, this is what makes a betta’s life worthwhile.

Although bettas live in shallow waters in the wild, the water is in plenty and spreads for miles.

This tells you that this fish needs ample water supplies to be happy and healthy. You’ll need even more water if you intend to keep a sorority of females.

Think of 20-gallon tanks or more.

#5 – Have a Heater

Bettas react negatively to temperature fluctuations. If the temperature goes too low, the metabolic rate drops, and this fish cannot carry out most of its physical and physiological activities.

Low temperatures make the betta lethargic and unable to move, eat, or function. This severely curtails the quality of this animal’s life.

To prevent your betta from facing this fate, install a good quality heater to monitor and regulate the water temperature.

You’ll also have to install a separate thermometer to constantly check on the condition of the water. The thermometer acts as a powerful backup to ascertain the temperatures shown by the heater.

#6 – Install Filters

The betta fish tank should not only be well heated, but well filtered, as well. Filtration gets rid of toxins and unwanted material from the water.

These include floating debris that impedes the free movement of your fish. Also, regularly check the ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank to ensure they don’t build up dangerously.

When the tank is clean and toxin-free, your betta fish grows happy and healthy. It lives a stress-free life and responds well to food.

#7 – Regularly Clean the Tank

Cleaning the tank regularly protects your betta fish from diseases such as dropsy and fin rot. However, a dirty tank can harbor a lot of unwanted elements that can risk your betta’s life.

You can keep the tank clean by vacuuming the gravel and changing the water once or twice a week, depending on how busy the aquarium is.

You may have to transfer the betta fish to another tank to thoroughly clean his home.

This will allow you to completely drain the tank and clean everything, including the equipment installed in the aquarium.

Cleaning of the tank should also be a continuous process. If you see anything out of place, don’t wait for the weekly cleaning routine to remove it.

For example, if your betta has not eaten its food for a number of minutes, get rid of that food before its starts rotting inside the tank.

Creating a Healthy Tank Environment

  • Maintain a pH level of between 6 and 7
  • Use an aquarium heater to auto-regulate temperature
  • Temperatures should be between 240 C and 280 C (750 F and 820 F)
  • Clean the water using a purifier
  • Keep a lid on your betta tank to protect the fish and prevent them from jumping out.
  • Provide at least 3 gallons of water for your betta fish
  • Feed your betta a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Provide enough plants and hiding places in the tank
  • Change at least 25% of the water weekly
  • Tank mates should be docile and friendly

#8 – Give Your Bettas Exercise

Like humans, bettas need exercise to stay healthy. However, the swimming this fish does daily may not be enough.

You can motivate your betta fish to take up exercise in a number of ways. For example, you can activate the filters to create a larger current in the tank.

This will keep your betta occupied swimming against the current. However, ensure that the currents are not too strong because bettas don’t do so well in turbulent waters.

Also, you can use a mirror to activate the fighting instinct in your betta fish. When the betta looks into the mirror, it interprets this as competition and will flare in readiness for a showdown.

But don’t do this for long or often. And it should certainly not be done if the betta lives in a community tank.

#9 – Keep the Betta Fish Entertained

Your betta fish will live longer if he is not stressed or bored. By keeping him entertained, you make his life worthwhile.

You’ll know your betta is bored or depressed if it starts biting its own tail or remaining hidden and out of sight.

Make the tank interesting and entertaining using plants and decorations. Turn parts of the tank into an underwater jungle.

Also, you could introduce your betta to some tank mates to keep him occupied.

#10 – Quality Betta Fish Care Products

You’ll turn to your local or online pet shop whenever you need an item for your betta fish. From food to medication and salts, your betta deserves the best.

A responsible pet parent does not cut corners when it comes to the care of their pet. To prolong the life of your betta fish, go for tried and tested products.

You can rely on product ratings, customer reviews, and advice from your vet to know which products are best for your betta fish.

Food items should nourish your fish, boost its immunity, and improve its color.

Be keen to purchase products suitable for your fish’s age and gender.

Also, consult your vet before buying medication. Your vet’s input is invaluable in helping you breed a healthy, well-balanced betta fish.

Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?

Bettas do very well on their own; they prefer solitary lives. However, being an aggressive, territorial fish, your betta is unlikely to get lonely and start looking for a tank mate.

However, this fish is meant to bring you happiness. Therefore, if you have been worried that your betta fish is lonely (which he is not!), you can introduce him to a suitable tank mate.

Take care as you go about this because bettas’ compatibility with other fish species is minimal. Betta fish are as picky as they are aggressive.

Choose a docile, friendly species that will not threaten your betta. Such species include rasboras, cory catfish, guppies, and neon tetras.

Also, ensure you equip the tank with enough plants and hiding places to distract whenever the betta fish wants to get hostile.


Undoubtedly, you can do much to prolong your betta’s life. But remember, your betta fish is not meant to merely survive as it would in the wild.

Under your care, this fish should thrive and live to its full 4 to 5 years. This is possible if you are vigilant and keen about every aspect of its life.

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