Can betta fish live in saltwater?

In this post, we will answer the question “Can betta fish live in saltwater?”. We will also discuss these fish environmental requirements. 

Can betta fish live in saltwater?

Because the betta fish is a freshwater species, it is not able to survive in a salty environment. Salt is sometimes added to betta water by some breeders in order to kill skin diseases that can develop in the fish. 

Freshwater bony fish exhibit osmoregulation. 

Fish living in freshwater are in a hypotonic environment as compared to those living in saltwater. This indicates that the concentration of solutes within the animal’s body is greater than the concentration of solutes in the surrounding environment. If the fish did not have an osmoregulation mechanism, they would have to drink water until the concentrations were balanced, which could result in the fish’s death if the concentrations were not balanced. 

The mechanisms included in these fish ensure that the presence of water has no effect on their ability to carry out their activities. When it comes to freshwater fish, water enters through the gills as well as the essential salts; however, the water entry is compensated for by the expulsion of this material through the very dilute urine that is made by the highly effective kidneys of the fish. 

Betta fish in its natural habitat 

It is believed that Betta originated in Southeast Asia, where they thrive in warm water. Water characteristics vary extremely little in their natural environment, especially temperature, which makes them ideal for aquatic life. 

Betta fish can be found in the wild in huge wetlands, rice paddies, small lakes, and large rivers such as the Mekong River. They can also be found in large wetlands, rice paddies, and small lakes. 

In their native habitat, Betta splendens (or wild Betta fish, as some prefer to call it) have a more straight colour (brown) that mixes in with their surroundings, and their fins have hues of blue and red that blend in with their surroundings. They are both smaller and less aggressive than their domestic counterparts of the same species. 

Betta fish are territorial and can survive in waters with low oxygen levels because they can breathe atmospheric air through organs called labyrinths, which allow the air to pass very close to the bloodstream, allowing oxygen to be exchanged with the blood through diffusion. Betta fish are found in freshwater and brackish water. 

Because they have labyrinth organs, Betta fish can make full use of them during times of drought or poor water quality, allowing them to temporarily adapt to their harsh habitat. 

Betta fish tank specificities

The first step toward improving the quality of life for your Beta fish is to select the appropriate aquarium. In spite of numerous discussions and differing viewpoints from breeders all over the world about the appropriate aquarium size, having an aquarium of at least five gallons is recommended. 

The development of fat and atrophy in Betta fish kept in tiny aquariums can have a significant impact on their quality of life and development within the aquarium, and can even result in death within the first two years of keeping them. 

Cavophagy is another issue that can arise with Betta fish kept in small aquariums. This is the self-mutilation of the caudal fin induced by stress brought on by confinement and is particularly prevalent in tropical fish. Infections generated by wounds have a direct impact on the health of the fish. 

Despite its small size, the Betta is a highly active fish that, in the wild, roam a large area with plenty of freedom to expand, patrolling its entire region in search of invaders. 

This behaviour reminds us that Betta fish do not like small spaces and that it is, therefore, critical to providing them with an aquarium that is the smallest size that is appropriate for their quality of life. 

It is recommended that you read another article I wrote on how to set up an aquarium for Betta fish if you haven’t done so already or if your tank is small.

Water parameters

As previously said in this piece, Betta fish can survive in waters with low oxygen levels; however, this does not excuse us from providing them with improved water quality; after all, you’ll want your fish to live as long as possible in good health. 

When it comes to keeping Betta fish, water is essential. The use of a high-quality water conditioner is critical for the elimination of chlorine, chloramine, and harmful metals from drinking water. 

It is critical to maintaining the water quality with the correct parameters, so it is important to constantly monitor the parameters. 

The pH of the water must be between 6.5 and 7.0 in order to function properly. Fish can adjust to an alkaline pH environment, but this should be done gradually to avoid drastic changes in the pH. The fact that some species, such as the Crowntail, have their fins stunted and curled in water with an alkaline pH is worth emphasizing. 

Aquarium care and upkeep 

In order for an aquarium to be effective, its water conditions must be consistent from one tank to the next. It is your responsibility to guarantee that they are all kept within a reasonable range (at all times). 

Any abrupt or lengthy change has the potential to cause sickness. Because of this, it is in your best interests to keep water conditions consistent and healthy. 

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. One of the most beneficial habits you can form is to measure the parameters of your water every few weeks. 

It’s also a good habit to perform regular health checks on your fish every time you feed them. Check to see that all of the equipment is in working order, that the water temperature is correct, and that the fish are in good health. 

Renovating the water system is still another extremely crucial component of upkeep. Consider the possibility of being trapped in a room with the windows closed for a week or two, breathing the same air. 

In their natural environment, fish rely on natural circulation to keep them healthy and alive. When you go to the aquarium, you play the part of nature. It is necessary to replace around 25% of the water in the tank on a weekly basis in order to maintain stable conditions.


In this post, we answered the question “Can betta fish live in saltwater?”. We also discussed these fish environmental requirements.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us in a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can betta fish live in saltwater

How long can bettas stay in saltwater?

Maintain the concentration of the salt solution in which your betta fish is swimming for four to five days. If there is no improvement in the fish’s condition after many days, you can increase the concentration to Stage 2 concentrations.

Can you convert saltwater fish to freshwater?

If you choose to convert your saltwater aquarium to a freshwater aquarium, allow yourself plenty of time to discover new homes for your saltwater fish, coral, and plants. A freshwater aquarium cannot support the survival of saltwater fish and plants.

Which is easier saltwater or freshwater aquarium?

Freshwater tanks, on the whole, are less complicated to maintain and pose fewer dangers. Aside from that, freshwater tanks are less expensive to maintain than saltwater ones. Most freshwater tanks contain fish such as cichlids, betta fish, and tetras fish, among other species.

Can you convert saltwater fish to freshwater?

In the event that you choose to convert your saltwater aquarium to a freshwater aquarium, allow yourself plenty of time to discover new homes for your saltwater fish, coral, and plants. A freshwater aquarium cannot support the survival of saltwater fish and plants.

Does my fish feel thirsty?

Your fish does not appear to be thirsty because it is consuming metabolic water. Despite this, saltwater fish consume large amounts of water, not to quench their thirst, but to control their osmotic balance.

How do fish drink water?

After swallowing the water, the fish’s mouth closes, and the extremely small bones (operculum) plug the gills, causing the fish to die. The pressure created by this causes the water to be pushed to the gill filaments, which are responsible for the fish’s respiration. Following this procedure, the fish opens its mouth once more and expel the water.


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Cao, Q., Gu, J., Wang, D., Liang, F., Zhang, H., Li, X., & Yin, S. (2018). Physiological mechanism of osmoregulatory adaptation in anguillid eels. Fish physiology and biochemistry, 44(2), 423-433.

Tipsmark, C. K., Sørensen, K. J., & Madsen, S. S. (2010). Aquaporin expression dynamics in osmoregulatory tissues of Atlantic salmon during smoltification and seawater acclimation. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(3), 368-379.

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