How Long Do Betta Fish Live?: Care Tips To Prolong Betta Life

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Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 11, 2024
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When you enter a pet store, it’s difficult not to be captivated by the striking appearance of Siamese fighting fish. Given their worldwide popularity, many people often ask, “How long will my betta live?” To address this, we have put together a comprehensive guide exploring the life expectancy of betta fish, the factors that influence their lifespan, and advice on how to prolong your betta’s life.

Article Summary

  • Betta fish in their natural habitat have a shorter lifespan of about 2 years due to a more stressful environment.
  • Common causes of betta fish death include poor environmental conditions, unclean water, bad tankmates, small tank size, sudden changes, ammonia poisoning, and overfeeding.
  • Tips for prolonging betta fish life include selecting healthy fish, maintaining excellent tank conditions, providing enrichment in the tank, choosing suitable tank mates, and avoiding excessive breeding.

How long do betta fish live?

The average lifespan of betta fish can range from 2-5 years and is directly related to the environmental conditions of your betta fish tank. Most betta fish live for 3 years after being bought from a local pet store.

Can bettas live for 10 years?

While your betta’s life expectancy is 2-5 years it’s not uncommon for a healthy betta fish to live 6 years, and some have even been known to live up to 10 years (though rare!). A betta fish’s lifespan is directly dependent on the fish’s health when it enters your tank and tank conditions.

How long do betta fish live in the wild?

In their natural habitat betta lifespan tends to only be about 2 years long. This is because they live in a more stressful and aggressive environment that usually doesn’t have fresh water.

How long betta fish live in captivity

Betta Fish in a Tank
Betta Fish in a Tank

How long your betta fish’s life will depend on the environment you keep it in. These are tropical fish and require an aquarium heater, treated tap water, appropriate lighting, and excellent filtration. One of the leading causes of early death in betta fish is having small tanks for your fish. Many pet stores sell kits for bettas that include a one-gallon tank, when in fact bettas need a much larger tank.

In a properly sized tank, your betta fish will grow properly to live a long and happy life, but in a tiny tank, your betta will likely experience poor water quality leading to diseases such as fin rot or swim bladder disorder and early death.

How long do male betta fish live

There is no difference between the female and male betta fish life span, as long as they are placed in similar environments each betta fish will live a healthy life.

How long do female betta fish live

Female bettas live the same length of time as males, but it often seems like they live a few months longer. This is because the pet store will sell male bettas when they’re fully mature (7 months to 1 year) to ensure that their tails have vibrant coloring which usually sells better. On the other hand females are usually sold around 6 months of age.

How long do betta fish live without food

Betta fish can survive for 10 to 12 days without any food, however, that doesn’t mean you should withhold food from your betta fish as this will be detrimental to the betta’s health and lead to starvation. Keep in mind that this estimate is based on the tank having the perfect conditions and having a healthy fish prior to leaving.

What kills betta fish?

Betta Fish Swimming In a Planted Tank
Betta Fish Swimming In a Planted Tank

The most common cause of early betta death is having a poor environment. They live longer when the proper betta water parameters are observed. For example, since bettas are tropical fish the water temperature of your tank should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Other causes of a poor tank environment include unclean water, bad tankmates, a small tank, sudden changes, ammonia poisoning, and overfeeding.

Things that affect betta fish lifespan

There are a few factors that can affect your betta’s lifespan, but none so much as a clean tank. Poor environmental conditions are one of the most common causes of death for bettas.


Genetics do play a part in betta’s lifespan, however, to get any information regarding your betta’s genetics you have to buy from a breeder that can tell you the history of their parents.


There is some speculation in the aquarium community that the red and blue veil tail bettas live the longest because they have not been selectively bred as much as other varieties and are closer to their original ancestors.


How old your betta is when you buy it will vary from different sources. If you buy a new fish from a breeder they will likely be able to tell you the exact age of your pet betta fish, if you buy from a store this might be a bit harder. Most stores sell pet fish when they’re between 6 months and 1 year old.

Water Quality

To keep your betta fish healthy you should keep your tank clean and in the best condition possible. This means removing uneaten food, regular betta water change, using a water conditioner if you add distilled water or tap water to the tank, and maintaining proper water temperature.

Tank Size

To keep your betta fish happy you should have a minimum tank size of 5 gallons. While they can live in smaller tanks they will not thrive. Your tank should also contain a heater and filtration system as well as an enriching environment containing objects such as plastic plants, varieties of live plants, or betta toys to encourage stimulation and lead to a long life.


In the wild bettas live in shallow puddles and have developed lung-like organs that allow them to gulp air from the surface. This has earned them the name of labyrinth fish.

If you have baby bettas you can keep them in a 2 or 3-gallon tank (1 per tank!), but watch for aggression, and transfer them to other tanks as soon as any aggression signs appear.


While feeding your betta fish a rich and varied diet will improve their coloring it will also lengthen their lifespan. Ensuring that you are providing proper nutrition and protein through fish food is one of the most important aspects of fish keeping. Betta fish food can come in the form of fresh, frozen, or commercially available options such as brine shrimp, betta pellets, and blood worms. If you run out of betta fish food you can consider feeding them food from your fridge or pantry like boiled unshelled peas and raw shrimp.

Betta Fish with Snail Tankmate
Betta Fish with Snail Tankmate

Tank mates

Keeping other fish in the same tank as your betta fish can be tough, it’s the same even when keeping them with other bettas. They’re called the fighting fish for a reason! Some freshwater fish that we recommend as betta tank mates include:

  1. Mystery Snails – great for cleaning up uneaten food and algae in your betta fish tank.
  2. Ghost Shrimp – an easy-to-care-for and peaceful companion that will clean your tank at the same time.
  3. Clown Plecos – a peaceful fish that will stay out of your betta’s way as it swims along the bottom and sides of the tank. They have tough skin in case a young betta fish gets curious about their new friends.
  4. Kuhli Loach – very docile and prone to hiding these fish will stay out of your betta’s way. However, they need a minimum of 20 gallons.


When adding any fish to your tank be sure that you have taken into account the amount of tank space they need.

Diseases that shorten betta fish life

Common betta diseases include fin and tail rot, ammonia poisoning, dropsy, ich/ick, and parasitic infections.

For bacterial infections such as dropsy, fin, and tail rot, and ich you can treat them with anti-bacterial medicine and isolation. Preventive care includes keeping living conditions clean and using aquarium salt.

For parasitic infections treatments such as Bettafix or FishZole are most effective. You should isolate the affected fish to ensure that community members are not infected.

Other diseases such as ammonia poisoning require immediate removal of your betta from the environment and recycling of the tank, while also using Indian almond leaves to treat your betta’s slime coat and soothe the irritation.


You can use aquarium salt as preventive care for your betta but don’t make a habit out of it as it can change your tank pH levels by making them more alkaline (basic) and potentially causing your fish to be stressed and even die.

Tips to prolong betta fish life

To ensure your betta fish’s life is long and happy here are a few tips and tricks.

  1. When you get your betta fish look for any signs of diseases. Try to buy a fish that looks healthy, has full and long fins, and is active. If buying from a breeder be sure to ask about the age of the fish and any genetic history of the parents
  2. Provide excellent tank conditions including a tank of 5+ gallons, a heater, a filter, proper lighting, and frequent tank water changes.
  3. Equip your tank with decor to encourage enrichment and exercise. Having a leaf hammock, caves, live plants, proper substrate, and other decor will allow your betta fish new environments to explore. Some owners even have betta toys or even add plastic cups to their tanks for a new hiding or sleeping place.
  4. Choose the proper tank mates for your betta fish. This includes not keeping male bettas together as they will display aggression.
  5. If choosing to breed do not breed bettas more than a few times or else it will reduce their lifespan. Breeding requires a large energy output for your females.


Fish keeping can be intimidating and comes with a lot of questions, but by following these tips, and providing proper living conditions your betta should have no trouble living a healthy and happy life.

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