Betta Fish Life Span (And How to Make Your Betta Live Longer!)

The typical betta fish life span is 2 to 3 years.  However, it is not uncommon for well cared for bettas in an aquarium to live to 5+ years with scattered reports of them living to nearly 10 years.

Betta fish in the wild live for about 2 years. However, conditions in the wild are much harsher than they are in your aquarium. They don’t to contend with with larger predators. There is no looking for food. And the stress level is all around much higher in the wild.

In an aquarium, you are able to give a betta a much more comfortable life. They don’t need to worry about larger fish and animals trying to eat them. They have a consistent (and healthy) source of food. And finally, they have a consistent and reliable environment that reduces overall stress and improves all around health.

How to Make Your Betta Live Longer

Buying your Fish

Your tasks for a betta with a long life starts before you even buy your fish.  As you are shopping for your fish, there are several items that you should be looking for in a fish that will contribute to its health and therefore life span.

By Daniella Vereeken (Flickr: Joep's Fish on Holiday with me) [CC BY 2.0]
By Daniella Vereeken (Flickr: Joep’s Fish on Holiday with me) [CC BY 2.0]

Alert and Active

First, the fish should be alert and active. It should react to you when you walk up to it.  If you move your hands around the fish, it should follow. A fish that’s inactive and unalert is often stressed to the point where it’s unhealthy.

If you see fish that are floating on the surface (even if they are moving), it’s best to avoid them.

Damaged Fins

Also, any bettas with fins that are jagged and damaged should also be avoided. They may have been the victim of another fish nipping. Or maybe their water parameters and tank are less than desirable.

Either way, a fish with damaged fins is already sick and under stress. You’re starting off from behind and have some catching up to do just to get your fish healthy.

Fish Size

One other thing to look for is the fish size.  Larger fish are typically older and smaller fish are typically younger.  So if you buy a smaller fish, you increase the chances of buying a younger fish.  And a younger fish should have a longer time with you than an older fish.

Current Aquarium/Tank

Lots of pet stores and fish stores keep their betta fish in very small cups. This is a less than ideal environment (to say the least!) and often leads to stress and disease which negatively impacts the overall health and lifespan of the betta fish.

If you can find a pet store or fish store that keep their bettas in larger tanks, this usually results in a much healthier fish.

Water Quality

As with any other fish, maintaining proper water parameters in your aquarium is critical for the health and longevity of your fish.

The aquarium water temperature should be in the upper 70s F. If your house/office isn’t warm enough to maintain this temperature, then you will need an aquarium heater.

Your tank should be fully cycled before adding any new fish.  This will ensure that the ammonia and nitrites are removed from the tank.  As typical with a cycled tank, the nitrates need to be removed through water changes.  Which brings us to our next component, tank maintenance.

You should conform to a standard basic tank maintenance schedule.  This includes weekly water changes, routine cleanings, and checking that all of your equipment is running properly.

Healthy Diet

The final component to increasing your betta fish’s life span is a proper diet. Betta fish are carnivores and require a high protein diet.  This means typical fish flakes won’t cut it.

What to Feed your Betta Fish to Make them Live Longer?

Betta fish need a diet consisting of a variety of different foods.  Normal fish flakes are typically too low in protein to provide any nutrition to a betta.

There are three main sources of food that bettas seem to thrive on.  They are bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms. All of these are readily available at any fish store and online.  The freeze dried versions will last for years. Simply rotate through these at each feeding and your betta will be happy and healthy.

How Much to Feed your Betta Fish to Help them Live Longer?

Betta fish should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. They should be fed as much as they can eat in about 2 minutes, no more, no less. Overfeeding leads to poor water parameters.  Underfeeding leaves your fish hungry.