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How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

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When deciding if you want to get a betta fish as a pet it is very important to consider how long betta fish live. They certainly don’t live as long as the most popular house pets, cats and dogs, but there are ways to extend the lifespan of your pet betta fish, so that you can enjoy them for as long as possible. So, how long do betta fish live, and how can I help my betta fish live longer?

What Are Betta Fish?

Bettas are freshwater fish that are highly sought after for their colorful bodies and ornate, flowy fins and tails. The native range of betta fish extends from Thailand into Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam. While in these parts of the world, bettas have been domesticated for hundreds of years, in the United States, betta fish have been kept as pets for about 100 years. 

Betta fish are often referred to as bettas, Siamese fighting fish, labyrinth fish, Japanese fishing fish, and, simply, fighting fish. The fighting fish names come directly from the territorial nature of these fish. In fact, Betta splendens translates to “splendid warrior.” Labyrinth fish comes from the fact that bettas have an organ that is similar to a lung called the labyrminth organ. This organ allows fish to breathe air which is an adaptation that allows bettas to live and thrive in their native habitat.

Pet bettas (mainly Betta splendens) come in a variety of breeds which are mainly named for their tail shape. These types include Combtail (also called Half Sun), Crowntail, Delta, Doubletail, Fantail (also called Roundtail), Feathertail (also called Rosetail), Halfmoon, Plakat, and Veiltail. Some fancy types are Copper, Dumbo, Galaxy Koi, Giants, and Hellboy. Wild bettas, like Betta imbellis, are also becoming very popular as pets.

While there are many different species of betta fish, the most common in the world of pet bettas is Betta splendens. No matter the species, all betta come from the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Chordata, the class: Actinopterygii, the order Perciformes, the Suborder Anabantoidei, the family Osphronemidae and the genus Betta.

6 Tips to Extend the Lifespan of a Betta Fish

  1. CLEAN WATER. This is the number one most important tip for caring for any pet fish! Yes, bettas can often put up with small, dirty containers with no filtration system, but is this good for them? Heck, no! If you choose a tank with a filtration system this will reduce how often you need to clean your betta’s aquarium. (Avoid filtration systems with strong currents.) You can get test strips to test for ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate so you know when it is time to clean your betta’s tank. But otherwise, how often you need to clean your betta’s aquarium depends on many factors. Say, you have a single betta in a five gallon tank with a filtration system, you may only need to clean the tank every couple of weeks. The same size tank with no filtration should be cleaned at least once weekly. (These recommendations are for 50% water changes using a siphon to get the debris from the bottom of the tank)
  2. Water temperature for betta fish, betta fish are tropical fish so their water should be heated. The ideal temperature range for bettas is 76 to 81 degrees fahrenheit which is about 24.5 – 27.5 degrees celsius. This is the range that basic aquarium heaters maintain.
  3. Appropriate size tank. How big of a tank does a betta fish need? Yes, bettas can live in smaller tanks, but larger tanks keep them healthier by allowing for more exercise and a cleaner environment. We recommend at least 1 gallon per inch of fish. Most betta fish are between 2 and 3 inches at maturity, so choose at least a 2.5 gallon aquarium for optimal results. You cannot have a tank that is too large, however, you should avoid tanks that are too deep.
  4. Aquarium depth. Because bettas come to the water surface to breathe air fairly often, it is ideal to have a tank that isn’t too deep. This mainly applies to larger tanks that are deeper than about 12 inches. Of course, you can also add some decor and plants that your betta can hang out on so they don’t have to travel all the way from the bottom to the top too if you’d like to have a deeper tank. (My older betta loves resting in her floating log.) But, in general, choose aquariums that are wider rather than taller. This is especially important as you fish ages; it just makes their lives easier which can obviously extend their lifespan.
  5. Premium food. Choose premium high-protein betta pellets for the base of your fish’s diet and supplement with other healthy live, frozen, or prepared food choices for betta fish.
  6. Skip the pet store. Opt for well-bred bettas from betta fish breeders and suppliers that take good care of their bettas. While not every pet store has over-bred or poorly bred bettas, many do because these fish are cheaper for them to buy and sell to you at low prices. Also, pet store fish are often older, on average around 6 months to a year old, but you can get bettas that are only a couple months old from a breeder.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live in the Wild?

In the wild, betta fish live in rice patties, slow-moving streams, stagnant shallow ponds, and other similar aquatic environments. These environments are not ideal, but these tough tropical fish adapt to them. In their wild habitat betta fish live about 2 years. Obviously, conditions are more competitive and dangerous in their natural environment, so they tend to have a shorter lifespan in nature. 

How Long Do Betta Fish Live in Captivity?

In captivity, bettas typically live about 2 to 5 years, but they have been known to live up to TEN YEARS under ideal conditions! The better the care and breeding, the healthier your fish will be and the longer it is likely to live.

Who Long Do Betta Fish Live As A Pet?

Pet betta fish live on average about 3 years. Choosing a well-bred betta and caring for your pet fish considering the recommendations listed above can offer the best chance for a long-lived betta. 

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A 1 Gallon Tank?

We do not recommend the aquarium for your betta fish to be smaller than 2.5 gallons. A larger tank will allow your pet fish more exercise and room to move. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your fish won’t live to an average life expectancy if you follow the other care recommendations. However, it may not be easy to find a water heater appropriate for a 1 gallon tank. All this being said, a 1 gallon aquarium is a much better option than those tiny bowls pet stores sell for betta fish.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A 2.5 Gallon Tank?

A betta fish can easily meet a full life expectancy of 2 to 5 years in a 2.5 gallon aquarium with appropriate care.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A 3 Gallon Tank?

A three gallon tank is a reasonably sized aquarium for a single betta fish, and with proper care your betta can live even beyond an average lifespan. The average lifespan of a pet betta is about 3 years.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live In A 5 Gallon Tank?

A five gallon aquarium is an excellent sized tank for a single pet betta. Your fish is likely to thrive in this tank size, but your betta should also still receive the recommended care in order to live to 2 to 5 years of age.

How Long Do Male Betta Fish Live?

Female bettas may live longer than male betta fish. But the difference is typically only a few months. There are some differences of opinion about this, some believe it is only because female fish are typically sold younger than male fish.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live Without Food?

Wild Siamese fighting fish can easily go a week or two without eating. However, we would never allow our pet bettas to go that long without eating. If you are worried about leaving your betta alone for the weekend, you are probably good to go. A few days without food will most likely be fine for a majority of betta fish. However, for some fish it could induce stress. So, consider your bettas nature before deciding to leave them without food for days. One thing important to note is that skipping a day of feeding for bettas every once in a while (even once per week) can actually be beneficial for their digestive system. 

Do Betta Fish From Breeders Live Longer Than Pet Store Betta Fish?

Betta fish that come from responsible breeders are very likely to live longer than bettas you get from a pet store. This is because bettas are often over-bred and inbred when sold cheaply to pet stores or consumers. Bettas that are bred properly are bred with their health in mind as much as their beauty. 


Now you know all about the betta fish lifespan. Some great tips to extend your betta fish’s live are are: choose a young betta from a breeder instead of an older over-bred betta fish from a pet store, provide a god diet, water that is clean, dechlorinated, and heated, and a tank that is at least 2.5 gallons. If you provide these things, you know you are doing everything you can to extend how long your betta fish lives. Check out this blog on Betta Fish Care for more information about properly caring for your betta to extend their life. 


Recapping some other interesting facts about bettas and their lifespan – 

  • The size of your bettas aquarium can affect their quality of life and even their lifespan. Choose at least a 2.5 gallon aquarium for your pet betta.
  • Captive and pet bettas have a longer life expectancy than wild betta fish.
  • Female bettas seem to live slightly longer than male bettas, but only by a few months. 
  • Healthy betta fish can safely go a few days without food. In fact, allowing your fish to fast for 24 hours or so as often as weekly can be beneficial for your betta fish. 


You have the knowledge you need to get your pet fish! Shop betta fish for sale online now!


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