If you are passionate about aquariums and Betta fish are among the species you keep, you may have wondered at some point: How long does a Betta fish live as a pet?
Well, Betta fish kept as pets live 2-5 years when properly cared for. Sometimes they can live even longer. With luck and smart decisions, they can reach 5 years and maybe longer. In this article, I will go over some ways to help your Betta fish live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
There are many reasons why Betta fish die too early. Some of these reasons are beyond our control and it is important to realize that even if we do all things right, Betta fish can still die faster than we want them to. However, our actions play a direct role in the longevity and quality of the life of a fish.
Here are some things you can do to help your Betta fish live longer:
One of the persistent myths about Betta fish is that they prefer small aquariums. There is no reason for this to be true. Because of their unique physiology, Betta fish can survive in small, polluted bodies of water more than most fish. However, this does not mean that it is the ideal environment for them. Like any other fish, Betta needs space to swim and explore.
The ideal is an aquarium of 18-20 l or even larger for a single fish, 35l being even better. Bowls and small aquariums require more frequent water changes and they also lack some features that I will talk about later in this article. If you want your fish to live as long as possible, give it the right home.
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Did you know that Betta is a tropical fish? This means that when we hold them in unheated bowls and aquariums, the water is often too cold for them. You should maintain a water temperature between 24-27°C, 25.5°C being the ideal temperature.
It may seem unimportant because Betta can survive at lower temperatures, but every time we keep fish out of their comfort zone, we cause them constant stress. Stress leads to illness, and illness can lead to death.
A filter is very helpful to keep the water clean in an aquarium. Although we wouldn’t call it a “must-have” in an aquarium with a Betta fish, if your Betta lives alone, you have living plants, and you regularly change the water, it’s a feature that can only help you.
Choose quality pellets as the main source of food for the fish and feed it according to the instructions. Betta Pisces can and will eat ordinary flakes for tropical fish but it is best to provide them with food made especially for Betta fish. Bettas are carnivores and their food contains a higher percentage of protein.
Live and frozen food, defrosted in the aquarium water, can serve as an occasional treat. Consider foods such as leeches, tubifex worms, shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and mosquito larvae.
Overeating is at the top of the list of reasons why fish die too early. The stomach of a Betta has the size of its eye. Unconsumed food is deposited on the bottom of the aquarium and decomposes, soiling the water. Anything that goes into the fish has to come out. Fish that are full up to the gills create more residue in their aquariums.
Overeating leads to many diseases in Betta fish, some caused by dirty water and others due to physiological problems of overeating. If this worries you, it’s okay to schedule a “fasting day” per week for your fish.
One way to combat this is to establish and follow a thorough aquarium maintenance program. This should include:
The frequency and exact methods you will use will depend on the size of the aquarium, whether you have live plants and how many fish you keep in the aquarium. With a single betta in a 20L aquarium with a filter, you will need to change about 30% of the water weekly, clean the gravel weekly, and thoroughly clean once a month.
Even if you keep up with aquarium maintenance, how do you know if the water is safe for your fish? The only correct way is to test it with a freshwater test kit. It is simple to use, fast and accurate. These regular measurements can help you ensure the quality of your aquarium water.
The ideal parameters of water would be:
Because Betta fish have long, flowing fins, you must be careful when choosing the decor for their aquariums. Broken swimmers and damaged scales can become infected and cause premature death. Living plants are wonderful if you can maintain them. It is also good if you choose artificial plants but find some without sharp edges that could break the fins of the fish.
Ideally, you should never remove Betta fish from its aquarium. However, if you need to get it out of there for some reason, do it carefully. Do not catch him with a net, as its fins can get tangled and damaged. Instead, remove it with a safe aquarium container.
Being a jumping fish is important to make sure that the aquarium has a solid lid.
If you find your fish on the floor, put it back into the aquarium as soon as possible. Bettas are Anabantidae which means they can breathe air over water when necessary so they have a higher chance of survival than most fish.
In most cases, Betta fish are best kept with their kind. However, many people want to grow them along with other fish. This is actually possible, sometimes. The Siamese “fighter fish”, as the Betta fish is also called, will not necessarily attack all other fish in an aquarium. In fact, Betta fish have a much higher chance of being disturbed instead of being the aggressor.
If you buy a healthy Betta fish from the beginning, it has a much higher chance of living a long life. Avoid shops that keep dozens of Bettas stacked in small containers. This not only gives you a greater chance of getting a healthy fish, but it’s a more ethical way to buy a betta.
In the wild, Betta can live for several years. Like most animals, wild betta fish have shorter lives than their captive counterparts. With predators and other environmental problems to solve, wild betta fish have a rather hard life.
Although you don’t give it the best chance for a long life by holding the fish in a bowl, it can still live for a few years before illness and stress can reach in.
A 3-4L container is better than a bowl, but it is still not ideal. In both cases, you don’t know how long a Betta will survive. Like humans, some can live in poor environments until old age.
Most fish can survive a week or more without food, but it is not recommended. Do not allow a betta to be fed at less than 48 hours.
Yes, Betta fish sleep. You might see it resting on gravel or a plant leaf and thinking about what is worse, but it can be sleeping.
There are some factors that are beyond your control regarding a Betta fish’s lifespan. Some fish have congenital conditions, but the care you give them plays a major role in the lifespan of a betta and can make a big difference.
The point is that you can follow exactly the advice in this article and yet your fish may die early. Some may totally ignore my advice and yet their fish might live to be 5 years old.