Lifespan Of A Betta Fish In Captivity – A Betta Fish Care Guide

Lifespan of a betta fish in captivity

Anyone would agree that the Betta fish is sensational in the aquarium world. The graceful swimming and the vast range of beautiful color they come with is extraordinary. However, suppose you plan to get one of them or several for your home aquarium tank. In that case, you need to equip yourself with some necessary information about Bettas, such as the care guide, the lifespan of a betta fish in captivity, betta fish tank mates. 

As much they fit perfectly in any indoor setup and would always compliment the room, anyone would want to know how long this vivacious Betta fish would last with them. You will find these beauties in tight spaces more often in the actual store or online store; this means small containers with still water. 

And as much they are surviving in such conditions, it’s not for long. Therefore, don’t make the same mistake when you buy this fish. With that keeping in mind, the following article, “Lifespan of a Betta Fish in Captivity,” is all that you need. Within it, you can learn how long this fish will last with you and under what conditions. 

Also, you will get general facts about Betta fish in captivity and the wild. Moreover, you are provided with the best tips for enhancing the lifespan of this vivacious fish. Further, if anything unclear, FAQs will clear your doubts at the end of this article. 

Let us continue reading, Lifespan of a Betta Fish in Captivity:

Betta Fish an Overview:

Description Category
Family Osphronemidae
Scientific name Betta Splendens
Origin Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam
Type Fresh Water
Color Form Blue, Electric Blue, Black, White, Copper, Green, Purple, and more
Difficulty Easy
Breeding Moderate
Max. Size 2.4 to 3.1 inches (6 to 8 centimeters)
Life span 3 to 5 years
Temperament Peaceful to aggressive
Diet Omnivores, predominantly carnivores
Minimum Tank Size 5 gallon (20 liters)
Temperature 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C)
Acidity 6.5 to 7.5 pH
Hardness 3 – 4 dGH (<166.7 ppm)
Nitrate <20 ppm
Ammonia & Nitrite 0

Species Origin:

Betta Splendens, the Siamese fighting fish, also commonly known as Betta, is a freshwater fish from Thailand and widely present in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam. It is one of 73 species in the genus Betta.

The origin of the Siamese fighting fish is associated with Thailand’s ancient name, and the natives refer to them as Pla Kat, meaning fighting fish. They are the most popular and widely available among Betta’s family in the world of the aquarium. Betta, the Siamese fighting fish, is the national aquatic animal of Thailand.

Bettas live in the still waters of paddy fields, flooded regions, canals, shallow pools, and slow-moving waters. Since the early 19th century, some sources say even earlier than the 19th century.

Loss of natural habitat and modification in the terrain is significantly detrimental to the wild population. Also, selective breeding for ornamental purposes is harming the genetic integrity of the wild population.

Siamese Fighting Fish – Physical Appearance:

Betta fish in the wild

If you have searched for Siamese or Bettas to land on this page, you already know how dazzling this fighting fish’s appearance. Their vibrant colors are the reason for the popularity of the species in the aquarium trade.

The Siamese Fighting Fish, on average 3 inches (7.5 to 8 cms) long. Betta has thin, transparent plates of overlapped scales the same as the tiles roof. These overlapped scales protect Betta from injuring themselves and also helps in gliding through the water smoothly. Betta fish scales are covered with a slimy layer to give them additional protection from infections and parasites. The scales are transparent without any pigmentation; the vibrant colors of Betta comes from the pigment cells called chromatophores of its skin. 

The pigments of Bettas gives red, blue, green, and yellow, and it shines through its transparent scales.
In the Wild, bettas do not have the vibrant colors of royal blue, green, bright red, etc. The dazzling colors that we see in the aquarium trade come from years of selective breeding. The top colors in demand are royal blue, red, black, and yellow.
They have an upturned mouth, which suggests that they are top feeders; they scoop their food from the water’s surface. Bettas have one caudal fin, one dorsal fin, two pelvic fins, one anal fin, and two pectoral fins.
When they are young, it isn’t easy to distinguish from the male species to the females. However, as they grow to adulthood, the males have more intricate colors and large fins, whereas females have comparatively smaller fins and less vibrant colors. Females are most likely more active than the males of the species.
Behavior and Temperament of Bettas:

Bettas are territorial by nature; hence, consider the tank’s size before housing two males or two females in one tank. The males tend to attack each other; most time, it results in the death of one or both males in a tank with a minimum of hiding places; the females have the same tendency as the males to one another in a smaller space.  

In Thailand, people breed Siamese Fighting Fish capable of fighting for hours; it’s just against nature; in the Wild, the fight between the two males might last for a few minutes.

They are social animals suitable for a community tank; at the same time, they are territorial, especially after being isolated or during mating time.

When you see intense body colors, enlargement of fins and opening of gill covers is either the sign of aggressiveness or a game to attract the female. 

Bettas seem to do well in captivity; most people find them fascinated by their aggression when the fish exhibits the most vibrant color.


What’s the average lifespan of a Betta Fish?

Three years is the average lifespan of betta fish, either it’s in the wild or captivity. Like in most aquarium fishes, you would expect Bettas to thrive better in their natural habitat than in captivity, but with Betta the opposite is true. 

Betta fish in captivity thrives and lives a year or two longer than in the wild. However, this is true only when certain conditions are fulfilled under confinement, which we will learn about in this article, among other essential things. 

What’s the lifespan of a Betta Fish in Captivity?

Betta Fish lifespan in captivity tends to vary depending on their living condition. Under normal conditions with a stable food supply and right living conditions, they would last for three years. Betta would last for 4 to 5 years if they are very comfortable. 

However, if their living conditions are low and lack the recommended parameters, it will be a miracle if it lasts even for a year. That said, their living conditions play a critical when it comes to the lifespan of this fish. Further, there are other essential factors like the age you need to consider. 

Make sure to purchase young bettas for them to last with you longer. And secondly, do not forget to check their living state at the pet store. Are they living in a healthy environment with a stable supply of food, well-circulated air, and ample space to swim around comfortably? 

If you find them in small cups and tired plastic bags, think twice before buying one. Such living conditions have a drastic impact on the lifespan of Betta fish even when you move them to a better surrounding. It is especially true if they have been living in such a state for a longer time. 

What’s the lifespan of a Betta Fish in the Wild?

In the wild Betta, Fish lifespan is shorter as compared to in captivity. It is believed that they live up to 2 years. However, this might be due to the harsh living conditions in their natural environment. For starters, they have to put up with the unforgiving weather and water conditions.

They have to continuously evade predators, considering the wild affair of eating and be eaten. The constant stress to escape the predator impacts on their lifespan. 

Further, finding food is not an easy task, with many other living creatures competing for the same food. The fish have to move around every day searching for food, and sometimes they may have to starve for several days in a row. But that’s not all; they have to defend themselves during territorial fights with their kinds. 

Through the fights, some get severely injured, and this affects their health as well as lifespan. But also, you can’t deny that they have complete freedom and space to enjoy as compared to living in a tank, however large the tank may be. 

Moreover, today with the polluted environment in which they live has a considerable impact on further shrinking the lifespan. 

How can you lengthen the lifespan of a Betta Fish in Captivity? 

Betta Fish in a tank

If you are wondering how to prolong the lifespan of your Betta fish? Well! You may follow the measures listed below:

Tank size:

Even though they are kept in cup-sized spaces at the store, Betta doesn’t appreciate tight spaces. Thus, you would want to provide them with a reasonably large fish tank where they can thrive without stress. And as such, the minimum tank size you can keep this fish is one gallon. 

However, this volume is still small for this fish to feel comfortable. 

So, if you have space and resources to get a bigger fish tank, please do so. 

The optimal volume of the fish tank they will appreciate most is a five-gallons. A five-gallon tank will provide a Betta Fish with a space to live freely and thrive. So, if you want to enhance your Betta’s lifespan, then a five-gallon tank is what you should get. You would also like to remember that the other tank mates need their space too.

Filtration System:

Even though you will find these beauties in plastic packages or containers, they also need a proper fish tank. Therefore, you do not want them to live in their filth as this could affect their health and shorten their lifespan. And as such, you would like to get them a proper fish tank with a Betta filter to keep their environment clean. With this, Betta will live longer and attain their full potential.
The best filtration system for Betta is the sponge filtration system. It is easy to set-up a sponge filter and allows both biological and mechanical filtration. They are perfect for fine and filmy Betta with the air pump producing bubbles through the sponge while drawing water. This filter helps to maintain an adequate level of dissolved oxygen in the tank. Sponge filters are the best up to 10-gallon tank with virtually producing no risk to Betta or any other small fish from inlet/outlet suction.
The next best option would hang-on-back filter called HOB; they are ideal for a 5-10 gallon tank or even larger tanks. HOB filter comes with an adjustable flow rate, and they are easy to maintain and do not take up any space in the tank. Just remember to get a pre-filter bush or a sponge for the inlet and outlet of the filter.

Water Change:

Even though the filtration system maintains the fish tank clean, you still need to change periodical water change. You can approach this in two ways: either change the entire water or swap it with 25-50%. Both have their advantage; a complete change of water is recommended in the case of any disease or parasite attack; partial water change is a good idea to keep the bio-media intact for the nitrogen cycle and, in turn, better filtration.

Regular water testing:

Is the water pH conducive for your fish to thrive? You can tell when the pH, temperature, hardness, and nitrates are beyond normal through regular water testing with a test kit.

With a regular water test, you can determine how much water to replace, or a complete change of water is necessary, or adjust any other water parameters that are not conducive to your Betta. 

Moreover, it will help you keep the Ammonia and Nitrite at a level 0 in the water as both these elements are poisonous to any aqua-life, including the delicate Betta.

Regulate Water Temperature

Be careful not to freeze your Betta to death. You need a temperature regulator or a tank heater to maintain the water temperature warm. The optimum temperature this Fish will appreciate to live for long is 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C).

Get a bigger tank if you add another fish:

The five gallons fish tank provides optimal living space for only one Betta fish. Therefore, if you want to add one more Betta or any other species as a tank mate, you will need to get a fish tank accordingly. Having a spacious tank is necessary for your Betta Fish to live its optimal age.


Feeding Betta is crucial, you don’t want to starve them, and neither should you overfeed them. Overfeeding leads to constipation, and this is a health problem for Betta. 

The best types of food for Betta are live or frozen brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, etc. Also, you can feed them with high-quality commercial Betta Fish food. Always remember Bettas are surface feeders; it’s better to buy floating flakes and pellets than the one which sinks to the bottom or middle level. In this connection, even if you are feeding sinking pellets for your other bottom feeders and middle-level dwellers, you will notice that the Betta will catch them while it is slipping through the water.

Feeding twice a day with small feeds is suitable for both You and the Fish to get a routine. Providing them once in the morning and once in the evening gives 12 hours meal cycle. 

Uneaten food is the number one cause of pollution in the fish tank. Hence, remove uneaten food after every feed. Have a 3 minutes rule; feed only the amount that your fish can eat in 3 minutes.
When you are changing water, make sure to clean up leftovers at the bottom of the tank in the substrate.

Tank-Decorations and Plants:

Betta can tell from a dull to a lively tank. So if you want your Betta to live longer, incorporate live plants such as Anubias Nana, Java fern, Java moss, Anacharis, etc. Also, include rocks and tunnels in the fish tank. You would want to avoid any decors with protruding and sharp edges and decors made of Iron as it rusts and can harm the gorgeous fins.

A well-decorated tank with lots of live plants, rocks, and tunnels will keep them busy, happy, joyful, and enthusiastic with various places to explore.

How Long Can Betta Fish Live Without Food?   

 If you are always busy and tend to be forgetful, then Betta as pets will suit you. They can withstand up to two weeks of starvation. This period is enough for you to remember you have a pet that needs your attention. However, it doesn’t mean the Fish will be happy during that period. 

They will be stressed, which might affect their health and lifespan even though they will make it. This adaptation is due to the state of their natural habitat in the wild. In dry seasons, the food is often scarce, and they would starve for several days before finding the next meal. 

However, don’t starve it that long or even close to a week. Feed the Bettas once in a while and avoid over-feeding them. They can handle one or two day’s starvation without getting affected health-wise. 

Alternatively, you can also get one of the automatic fish feeders with the timer in it. On this note, remember feeding is not just food alone; when you feed them yourself, you develop a contact as with any other pet; it more than nourishing the body but also nurturing something beyond physical. So, having an auto-feeder is a wise thing if you are a person who often travels, but from time to time, spending a little while with your pet keeps them stress-free and happy.

Signs that your Betta fish is healthy or unhealthy? 

Examine their fin and scales to ensure they are free from damage. Further, observe their behavior. When they are healthy, they are active, especially when you approach the tank; if you have an adult male fish, check whether they are bright and attractive. Dullness and inactivity is a sign of illness or unhealthy Betta. 

Betta Fish Tank Mates:

Betta Fish Tank Mates

Betta Fish or Siamese Fighting Fish is a social animal; they can live in a community tank. Their reputation for being aggressive is not that black and white. A male Betta will be aggressive towards other male Bettas. Betta is not the only aggressive Aquarium Fish; other fish can be much more aggressive like cichlids such as Jack Dempsey are pretty aggressive fish.

However, while considering the tank mates for Bettas or Betta for a community tank, you would want to consider the temperaments and required parameters for each of the tank mates. The characters, behavior, and water parameters need to matter when they share a habitat.

Female Bettas are more conducive in a community tank; however, they are not as attractive as the male bettas. Bettas attacks if bitten by fin nippers such as angelfish or red-tail sharks. It would be best to avoid larger fish than Bettas or the ones with large flowing fins, such as certain types of goldfish: Ryukin, Oranda goldfish, Fantail goldfish, etc.

Some of the best tank mates for Bettas are some of the bottom and middle-level dwellers such as Cory Catfish, Guppies, Ghost Shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp, Neon, Ember Tetras, Cardinal Tetra, Kuhli Loaches, Harlequin Rasboras, Malaysian Trumpet Snail, Celestial Pearl Danios, Pleco, White Cloud Minnows, Platies, etc.

For female Bettas, you can also consider Clown loach, Panda cory, Gold tetra, Red Eye Tetra, Mosquito Rasboras, etc.

There are several other tank mates with which Betta can live a peaceful and healthy life. Choosing the right tank mates must keep the Betta active and vibrant to live a longer life.

A wrap-up – Lifespan of a Betta Fish in Captivity: 

Now you know that the Lifespan of a Betta Fish in captivity is longer as compared to when it’s in the wild. So, if you were planning to get one for your house or office, you have at least three years to enjoy its beauty. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it longer. With the above tips on how to lengthen a Betta fish’s lifespan in captivity, you can now stay with it for an extra one or two years. 

Just ensure that you don’t neglect any of the caring tips. And for those who love to keep pets but are too busy to care for them, Betta fish is an excellent pick. It can take on a few blows of neglect and yet remain healthy. However, don’t over neglect if you want to keep them for several years. 


Q. what’s the lifespan of a Betta Fish in a fishbowl?

Provided the bowl holds three gallons of water or less, unfiltered, and has no heating source, your fish lifespan will be about a year. Thus, you need to provide the commendable conditions outlined above to lengthen the lifespan of your Betta. 

Q. What’s the age of the oldest Betta fish?

It’s hard to tell due to the absence of official records or documentation. It’s also a challenge to determine the exact age of a Betta fish by merely looking at it. But according to reports, there is a Betta fish that has survived for around ten years. Yes, it’s remarkable! 

Q. But how can you determine the age of this Fish?

There are several factors to consider to determine the age of the Fish. There is no exact way to establish the actual age, but you can estimate it through an educative guess. It involves assessing several critical features of this organism that changes with various stages of its lifecycle. And at the top of our list is the size of the Fish. 

Three inches (7.5-8 cms) is the maximum size your Betta fish will attain in adulthood. Meanwhile, you should not include the length of the tail while measuring. Any Betta fish that’s below 1.5 inches is probably a juvenile. Another factor is the fins of this Fish. The best-looking Betta Fish are in their adulthood or close to maturity. 

So if your Betta is about 2-3 inches (5 to 8 cms) long with feathery, beautiful, long fins, chances are it’s an adult. However, if the feathery fins are shorter, not good-looking, and its length is less than 1.5 inches, you have a young Betta fish. 

On the other hand, female Betta fish feathery fins are smaller as compared to their male counterparts. Nevertheless, they grow longer as they age but to the extent of surpassing their male counterparts. And if you want to determine the sex of the Betta Fish, read the labels on the package they come with from the store. 

If you still can’t tell between a younger and an older Betta fish, examine the colors as the last confirmation. In adulthood, the long and feathery fins are vibrant, but they are dull and subdued while remaining long and feathery when it ages. Older Bettas are less active and often hide when someone approaches to have a closer look through the tank. 

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