How long does a Betta fish live?

In this post, we will answer the question “How long does a Betta fish live?”. We will also discuss some factors that may affect the Betta fish life expectancy, such as tank conditions and diseases.

How long does a Betta fish live?

Betta fish can live up to 5 years if the tank characteristics and conditions are good enough and the Betta is not suffering from any disease. When choosing the aquarium for your Betta fish, the minimum size is 5 gallons of water, however, keep in mind that the bigger the space, the better for your Betta fish. Also, choosing a Betta fish tankmate is a challenging task, as aggressive tankmates may also reduce the Betta fish life.

Good conditions include appropriate diet, water changes, and controlled water parameters, such as temperature. Water changes should remove around 20 to 30% of the tank water weekly. Additionally to the environmental conditions, the disease may also affect the Betta fish life expectancy. 

Do Betta fish do well with other fish?

Bettas are called “fighting fish” because they are quite territorial. They live alone and insist on having their own space. Leaving two males together is a fight for sure.

At many times, Betta Fish rejects even the females of their lineage. Therefore, breeding needs to be done very carefully, leaving the animals together for a short time.

How to know if the Betta fish is old?

A common feature in aging Betta fish is the curved spine. Over the years, the fish no longer has a straight spine and starts to have a curved back. Their colours may also become less vivid and more faded with the years.

What is the ideal diet for a Betta fish?

Bettas are primarily carnivores, feasting on insects in the wild. The best way to mimic their natural diet is to buy high-quality Betta fish pellets or flakes. You can supplement the pellets and flakes by using frozen, freeze-dried or live foods, such as peanut beetle larvae and brine shrimp.

What is the ideal water temperature for Betta fish?

Each fish species have specific needs regarding a suitable ecosystem to survive and thrive. Placing a fish in an unsuitable condition could be very harmful and reduce their life expectancy.

Betta fish prefer temperatures between 76 and 82 °F. This is because their immune system and metabolism work best in warmer temperature ranges as they are original from tropical waters. Also, some diseases tend to develop better in colder water.

How to tell if Betta is sick?

Diseases may also affect your Betta fish life length. Some signs that your Betta fish is sick involve physical and behavioural aspects. That is why it is good to observe possible changes to keep your friend healthy. Some of these signs are:

·      Lack of appetite;

·      White spots spread over their body;

·      Longer than usual stays at the bottom of the aquarium;

·      Holes or tears in the fins;

·      Faded colours;

·      Stays on the surface of the aquarium, as if they were always looking for air.

As much as the Betta fish is a tough and easy to care fish, do not ignore any changes, whether behavioural or physical. If you notice anything out of the conventional, take your Betta fish to a specialist veterinarian for further examination.

Under favourable conditions, Betta fish are resistant to most pathogens, however, when subjected to stressful conditions, this resistance can be affected. After suffering some stress, the Betta fish’s immune system is suppressed, leading to a drop in resistance, which favours the proliferation of opportunistic pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, resulting in diseases and mortality.

The first signs of illnesses are usually non-specific. The lack of appetite, the loss of colour, and the shrinkage of the fins are present in practically all the diseases that affect the Betta fish. Some diseases are more frequent, occurring more in the winter season, when the water temperature in aquariums is lower.

Fungal diseases

– Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a histophagous ciliated protozoan that feeds on epithelial cells and red blood cells. Normally, they parasitize the skin, fins, and gills, but occasionally they are present in the cornea, mouth, and oesophageal epithelium. It is considered one of the most frequent and most pathogenic Betta fish, with high mortality rates. Contaminated fish show loss of appetite and become restless, scraping their bodies on the bottom and glass. Their fins are usually shrunk and small white dots can be seen on the fins and body. This disease is popularly known as white spot disease;

– Oodinium (Oodinium ocelatum) is a protozoan, flagellate, with a cycle similar to that of the ich, being able to encyst in the substrate. It has an explosive spread in tanks, generally affecting all fish and leading to obstruction of the gills and damage to their fins. Contaminated fish show loss of appetite, breathing difficulties, closed fins scraping the aquarium glass and bottom. The fish are covered by a fine mesh of tiny dots, as if they were covered in talcum powder, giving the impression of velvet. It is popularly known as velvet disease. It is one of the most devastating diseases of Betta fingerlings.

– Saprolegniosis (Saprolegnia sp.) is identified by its white or light grey mycelial growth with a cotton-like appearance. It can be present in the eggs, gills, mouth, and epithelial tissue of Betta fish, usually after some previous injury. It is popularly called cotton swab disease because the hyphae of these fungi grow out of the fish’s body in such a way that they look like clumps of cotton. In Betta fish, the incidence of this disease is relatively high, especially during the breeding season. Some females who, during mating, have suffered some type of injury caused by the male may develop saprolegniosis. Their eggs can also be affected; as prevention, some breeders use antifungal agents in the breeding tank water.

Bacterial diseases

Some symptoms, such as exophthalmos, hydrops, necrotic fins, ulcerative, and haemorrhagic lesions in Betta fish suggest that it is a potential bacterial infection. Some of the most common bacterial diseases are:

– Exophthalmos (pop-eye) usually occurs in Betta fish that inhabit waters with poor quality and without temperature control. It can occur due to some trauma and may be associated with other clinical signs, such as hydrops. The fish’s eyes appear swollen and dull. It is considered an easily treatable condition and can be treated through partial water changes and the use of antibiotics such as tetracycline. When diagnosed late, the fish can lose the affected eye.

– Hydrops occurs when there is fluid retention in the coelomic cavity, muscles and skin of Betta fish, which can lead to paralysis of affected organs. The fish is unable to eliminate water from the body and has a bulging belly and ruffled scales. It is one of the diseases most feared by aquarists because it is very difficult to treat.

– Finger necrosis occurs mostly in young Betta fish subjected to stressful situations, such as temperature variations, excess ammonia and organic matter in the water. The Betta fish fins turn white and fall apart. When diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, the prognosis is good, and reconstruction of the affected fins may occur.


In this post, we answered the question “How long does a Betta fish live?”. We also discussed some factors that may affect the Betta fish life expectancy, such as tank conditions and diseases.

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How long does a betta fish live?

How long can a Betta fish live in an aquarium?

A Betta fish can live for 3 to 5 years in captivity in ideal conditions. When the required minimum conditions are not followed, the Betta fish may die very quickly.

How to know the age of a Betta fish?

A common characteristic to assess when aging a Betta fish is to look for a curved spine. Over the years, the pet no longer has a straight spine and starts to have a curved back. Their colours may also become less vivid with the aging process.

Why do Betta fish die so fast?

When in inappropriate conditions, Betta fish can die very fast due to ammonia poisoning or drowning from lack of oxygen, these are two of the most common causes of Betta fish death in aquariums. 

Is it normal for Betta fish to stand still?

It is normal to find the Betta fish standing still in the aquarium sometimes, but we recommend observing the usual behaviour of your Betta fish to detect any weird behaviour.

What happens when the Betta fish is at the bottom of the aquarium?

The Betta fish can be resting at the bottom of the tank. However, it is important to observe and look for other signals as this behaviour could also be a disease. Some of the most common are ich and swim bladder disorders.

Why is my Betta fish breathing on the surface?

Your Betta fish can be breathing at the surface for several reasons, from poor water quality to overcrowded tanks and lack of water aeration.


Song, M. (2006). Caring for Betta Fish. Lulu. com.

Young, T., & Bone, J. (2021). A better life for betta fish. Every Child, 27(2), 8-10.