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How Long Do Betta Fish Live And Other Top Questions For Aquarists

The question people ask before they buy their first betta fish is, “How long do betta fish live?” On average, betta fish live between three and five years. However, there have been reported cases of bettas living upwards of nine years in captivity. 

How Long Do Betta Fish Live And Other Top Questions For Aquarists

If you’re wondering where do betta fish come from, then look no further than their original name. Thailand, formally known as Siam, is the country of origin for betta fish. The species also comes from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. 

The origins of the betta fish can be traced back to mid 19th century. British ichthyologist Charles Tate Regan gave the species its name, “Betta Splendens,” the Latin term for “beautiful warrior.” Betta fish found their way into Europe during the 1890s and arrived in San Francisco in 1910.

When realizing how much are betta fish, people are surprised when they learn that they are some of the cheapest fish on the market worldwide. The average betta fish, like the Veiltail or Halfmoon, cost between $5 and $12. A premier betta fish, like the Koi Betta, usually sells for $18. Those willing to spend a little more will buy the White Dragon Crown betta fish which cost anywhere between $60 and $90.

For the aquarists with expensive tastes, exotic pet stores in Asia sell betta fish upwards of $1,000. Rare betta fish with exotic colors sell for $1,200 each. 

Bettas were once considered starter fish, but that has since changed. The fish have suffered from widespread neglect due to a lack of education and fish awareness. Although bettas don’t require the same maintenance as other aquarium breeds, they need care and treatment to ensure that they live healthy lives. 

Curious onlookers will always ask how big do betta fish get? Well, the average size of a betta fish is 2.5 inches. 

Betta fish feature bright colors and have plume-like fins that precede their moniker, the “Jewel of the Orient.” The most common betta fish are orange, red, green, black, and royal blue.

Betta fish can hold more oxygen than their aquarium counterparts which helps them to remain submerged longer and at lower water depths.

Interestingly, bettas can hold more oxygen than their aquarium counterparts which helps them to remain submerged longer and at lower water depths.

Betta fish are often mistreated, thus preventing them from living longer. Previously, it was believed that betta fish thrived in small, unfiltered containers with tiny plants for them to eat. Today, we know this was entirely false.

In Southeast Asia, betta fish live in low-oxygen and shallow marsh water regions. Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium discovered that small containers or bowls are harmful to betta fish. The species do not solely rely on surface air or oxygenated water.  

The misconception was that betta fish didn’t require a combination of two oxygen sources, one from their water habitat and the other from surface air. But if betta fish are denied both, they will not live long. 

Betta fish need places to hide behind so they can protect themselves from marine predators. In their natural habitats, they seek refuge by hiding behind objects like rocks or plants, which ensures longer lifespans. 

At pet retail stores, when betta fish are displayed closely together for extended periods, such conditions create undue stress, negatively impacting their health and cutting their lives short. In 2016, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began campaigning against selling betta fish to convince consumers not to buy them.  

Betta fish need to live in warm water that is heated between 76 and 81 degrees. Pet fish and aquarium retailers are routinely guilty of mistreating betta fish by keeping their stores at lower, air-conditioned temperatures. 

Fish retailers have also changed the way they showcase betta fish. In the past, betta fish would be displayed next to each other in a small container on store shelves. 

Today, commercial pet retailers won’t sell betta fish to those they suspect couldn’t care for them properly. 

Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish?

Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish

Due to the territorial nature of the betta fish, people often ask, “Can betta fish live with other fish?” Well, the answer is yes, they can. However, and oddly enough, betta fish cannot live with each other, and under any circumstances.  If you’re wondering can male and female betta fish live together? This would a big no-no as male and female bettas should never share the same aquarium. 

The second concern among newcomers is determining what fish can live with bettas. For example, a betta fish can live with Ember Tetras fish, as the species is a schooling breed that usually swims in the middle of tanks. 

The Bristlenose Plecos are also compatible with betta fish. You’ll need to take into consideration that the Bristlenose can grow 7 inches in length, so make sure your aquarium is big enough. 

Betta fish can also live with Clown Pleco fish. They have a reputation for being loners as they usually keep to themselves, so you won’t have to worry about them threatening your betta fish.

The Harlequin Rasboras are another popular living companion for bettas as they are a peaceful shoaling fish. Bettas can live with the Glass Catfish and the Corydoras Catfish, as both are non-aggressive bottom feeders. 

Betta fish need an environment that will allow them the freedom to explore. Plastic decorations and ornaments may seem like logical ideas, but some items have sharp edges that can lacerate and scratch their fins. 

Betta Fish Aquarium
found on reddit

You may not be aware, but the betta fish sold at pet stores are usually male. Female betta fish aren’t sold in stores and need to be specially ordered. 

Male bettas have long, flowing, colorful fins that make them desirable. Female bettas are traditionally unique for hobbyists trying to breed them because they are smaller and have some color in their fins but aren’t nearly as bright. 

The ideal tank for betta fish would be one where they couldn’t see wall-to-wall across the width of your aquarium but had enough room to explore. A secure lid is also required, especially with small containers, as you want to prevent your betta fish from jumping out of its fish tank.

Before releasing betta fish into your aquarium, make sure your tank system has been up and running for 48 hours. Also, as betta fish are natural jumpers, a lid must be secured over the tank. 

Betta fish require minimal lighting and have an aversion toward well-lit environments. Adjustable lights are recommended while plants and decorations provide betta fish with enough shade.

How To Take Care Of A Betta Fish

How To Take Care Of A Betta Fish

Expert guidelines are readily available on how to take care of a betta fish. It is recommended that betta fish live in 5-gallon glass or plastic tanks. Minimum tank sizes for betta fish should be no less than 2.5 gallons.

Do not use tap water as it contains harmful chemicals like chlorine and chloramine, and various heavy metals that can hurt your betta fish. If tap water is your sole option, ensure it is dechlorinated and tested before releasing the betta fish in your tank.  

Bottled water is a popular alternative as it is free of harmful chemicals. Distilled water is not recommended due to its lack of essential minerals required to maintain proper fish health.  

The water in betta fish tanks should be replaced incrementally. With unfiltered systems, at least one-third of the water should be changed every three to four days. In filtered aquariums, water should be replaced every two to four weeks, and each time you should only change 25 percent of the water. Also, filter cartridges should be switched monthly. 

WARNING: When adding new water and removing old water, do not change 100 percent of your tank’s water simultaneously.

Learning How To Care For A Betta Fish 

Learning How To Care For A Betta Fish

Ask any professional aquarist and they will readily admit that learning how to care for a betta fish should be your first priority. Betta fish are strong but also delicate. They can contract illnesses if your aquarium isn’t clean and healthy. 

Aquarists worldwide understand that the most effective way to safeguard betta fish from illnesses is to practice responsible fishkeeping habits. It important that you know how to clean a betta fish tank as a healthy aquarium is the best disease prevention method available. 

For example, a common betta fish disease is Ich, which is caused by parasites. The most noticeable symptom includes tiny white dots on the body and fins. In the early stages, if you observe a betta fish rubbing against their aquarium decorations, it’s because they are trying to remove the parasites from their body. 

Another common illness is dropsy, otherwise known as “pineconing.” This occurs when fluid accumulates in the skin tissue and body cavities. A betta fish suffering dropsy it will retain fluids and become bloated. Their bodies will swell, and their scales will stand out, resembling a tiny pinecone. Dropsy betta fish will remain close to the water’s surface because it will require more oxygen, and their appetite will disappear.  

Fin rot or tail rot, otherwise known as “melt,” is the most prevalent disease among betta fish. Disease symptoms will reveal themselves on the tail or fins and include red or black coloration along the edges. 

Surprisingly, and as a testament to betta fish strength and resilience, betta fish can regenerate fin tissue that has been lost to “melt.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Betta Fish Eat? 

When people ask, “What do betta fish eat?” They should need to look any further than their natural habitats. Betta fish eat insects and insect larvae. However, in captivity, bettas require a balanced daily diet of pellets or flaked food.

How often do you feed a betta fish will depend on the aquarist. Betta fish should be given an amount of food that they can be consume entirely between three to five minutes and without anything leftover. 

When number-crunching on how much to feed betta fish, your annual food budget on average will range between $30 and $50. 

Betta fish have good eyesight in short distances. Although naturally near-sighted, betta fish have strong color vision and can discern between shapes. As betta fish thrive in still-water environments, their water isn’t clear and is often muddy, which limits their vision.

Betta fish are equipped with an extraordinary sense of both taste and smell. After dropping flakes or pellets into your aquarium, the betta fish food will dissolve, releasing chemicals that they can easily detect. Also, when you sprinkle food in your aquarium, a pressure wave is created that betta fish can sense. 

Not only can betta fish sense food; they can hear it as soon as it touches the water.  

How often should you feed betta fish?

The consensus among aquarium experts on how often should you feed betta fish has remained consistent for decades. Bettas should be fed once or twice daily for six straight days. On the seventh day of their feeding schedule, do not feed bettas fish anything. 

If you want to feed your betta fish a snack, make sure they’re high in protein. The preferred choice would be to feed betta fish live marine specimens, like bloodworms or brine shrimp, as they would give your betta fish something to catch. 

Those who do not know how often to feed betta fish run the risk of watching their fish contract Swim Bladder Disease (SBD). SBD affects the stomach and tail and can lead to bloating and constipation. 

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

New aquarists with busy travel schedules often ask how long can betta fish go without food? The heavy traveler, feeding their fish can be problematic. Fortunately, with betta fish, you won’t have to worry because they can survive without food for 14 days.

If betta fish fast for abnormal periods, make sure it doesn’t become a habit. As a rule, try not to leave your betta fish for long periods. 

Baby betta fish can only three days without food. Older, mature bettas have higher metabolism rates and can store food, which helps them survive if they’re not being regularly. 

Do Betta Fish Need A Heater?

As betta fish are tropical creatures, you’ve probably asked, “Do betta fish need a heater?” The temperature of your fish tank should be between 76° and 81°, and because most residential homes keep cooler indoor temperatures, a heater is recommended 

In cold water environments, betta fish will experience stress which increases their chances on contracting a disease, or worse. 

If your betta fish are in small tanks and you’re using a heater, make sure their water temperature doesn’t become too hot. Overheating could also prove fatal for your betta fish. 
Responsible fish owners will have a thermometer on hand to measure their tank water’s temperature, therefore heaters are strongly advised.  

Do Betta Fish Need A Filter?

Water quality is vital to the health of betta fish so they can enjoy healthy lives. With this notion, the question, “Do betta fish need a filter?” is understood among fish keepers worldwide. 

A low-flow filtration system is recommended as it cleans toxins from tank environments. Low-flow filter systems also help ensure betta fish will not be injured by filter suctions.  

Betta fish can survive in low oxygen environments, but this doesn’t mean water quality should be neglected. Toxin build-up is harmful to betta fish and will cause them to suffer.

Do Betta Fish Sleep?

One common question asked is do betta fish sleep? The answer, of course, is yes. Betta fish are primarily daylight marine creatures. However, they are known to take brief naps during the afternoons.


Betta fish are delicate yet powerful freshwater creatures and stand out among other fish. Colorful, beautiful, and aggressive, your aquarium will not be complete unless it features at least one betta fish. The betta fish is an aquarium addition for those who desire an intuitive connection with their fish collection. By following the standard aquarium procedures, betta fish can live long and healthy lives.

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.

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