" Fishkeeping forever is supported by its readers. Please assume all links are affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of our links we make a small commission from Amazon. It helps us pay for the running of this website . Thank you! "
orange betta

How Long Do Betta Fish Live? 3 Simple Ways To Increase Lifespan

Betta fish or Siamese fighting fish are one of the most widely kept and loved tropical fish. Often seen in smaller containers and even bags (Not recommended), these stunning fish are prized throughout the world, but how long do they live and what is the lifespan of a Betta fish?

Let’s take a look in more detail at the Betta fish and see not only how long they live but also the 3 simple steps you can take to ensure they live a long and happy life.

How long do betta fish live? Given the best aquarium conditions and a good diet, the Betta Fish (Betta splendens) which are part of the Gourami family can live on average 3-5 years. Often sold at around 6-12 months you can expect to keep one for around 2-4 years.

betta fish
Bettas colors start to develop from 6 months onwards and are at their best at 12 months

Can You Help Your Betta Fish Live Longer?

Like most living creatures that we keep as pets, we have a duty of care to ensure they have everything they need to thrive.

We need to ensure they have the very best water conditions, food and chemistry to replicate the conditions they would find in the natural habitat

DID YOU KNOW? The oldest reported Betta Fish came from Japan and is said to have lived for 9 years!

Going the extra mile when it comes to feeding your Betta Fish could make the difference and extend their lifespan. I bet the Betta fish that lived for 9 years wasn’t just fed flake food all its life.

Why Is Their Lifespan So Short?

Because Betta fish come from the Gourami family their natural lifespan isn’t long at all. Most Gouramis will only live for 6 years.

In an aquarium, the lifespan of a Betta fish is longer than in the wild. Because betta fish are labyrinth fish, they will often swim near the top of the water which makes them easy prey for birds and other predator fish.

In an aquarium, we can control their environment and the tank mates they live with making it a safer place to live.

There is also no risk of water pollution in an aquarium (well, hopefully not).

In the wild, the males are not separated from each other and fights often occur. Hence, their common name Siamese Fighting Fish. This has an effect on population numbers and lifespan.

Betta Fish

Where Do Betta Fish Come From?

Betta fish are native to native to Thailand, Cambodia and more recently to parts of Brazil, Malaysia and Singapore. Due to wild release of pets and natural species breeding.

Their natural habitats are shallow riverbeds, canals and streams and rice paddies.

Bettas were first kept in captivity in Thailand (formerly Siam) over 150 years ago. They were kept as fighting fish to gamble with and bet on. It became so popular that the King of Siam starting taxing them.

FUN FACT: Children collected Bettas from the rice paddies and started keeping them in jars to watch them fight. Betting then became common place. Hence their name, Siamese fighting fish.

The fish was named Betta meaning “beautiful warrior” by Charles Tate Regan who renamed them Betta splendens from their original scientific name of Macropodus pugnax.

They first came into the public eye in the 1890s when they first appeared in France and Germany and later arrived in the United States in 1910.

For more Betta History click here.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live? 3 Simple Ways To Increase Lifespan 1
Bettas can be found in Rice Paddies all over Malaysia and Thailand

3 Ways To Increase Betta Fish Lifespan

There are a number of things you can do to extend and improve the lifespan of your Betta Fish. We have narrowed it down to the three most important in our opinion.

These are simple steps you can take to improve the conditions your Betta fish live in captivity and will help your Betta to try and beat the world record age of 9 years!

1. Water volume and conditions

You will often see that Betta fish live in small containers and even jars. Siamese fighting fish possess a specialized labyrinth organ on the top of their head which allows them to take in surface air, and this supplements oxygen in the water.

They cannot survive on surface air alone (they also need oxygen in the water) but it is a necessary form of oxygenation – without surface air oxygen they can drown and die.

Learn how to spot low oxygen in a fish tank here!

These fish are often displayed in small tanks or jars in-store due to the fact that males fight and cannot be kept in the same aquarium. It is not possible for stores to have a tank for every Betta so they keep them in small display tanks.

This is not a longterm environment and oxygen and freshwater is replaced daily. In the home aquarium, you should consider keeping females and a single Male in your aquarium.

Provide the same water conditions and chemistry that you would for any other tropical fish. Do not treat them with any less respect. The perfect water conditions are listed below. Provide your Betta fish with the correct water parameters and they will live for at least 3-4 years

Scientific NameBetta splendens
Family NameBelontiidae
TemperamentPeaceful-Unless 2 males are being kept together
Care LevelEasy
Color Assorted
OriginCaptive-Bred
Size3"
Water Conditions75-86° F, KH 0-25, pH 6.0-8.0
DietCarnivore
BreedingEasy
Tank LevelSwims at all levels but mid-top mostly
Ideal FoodsBetta colour enhancing Flake foods, mini betta pellets, Live foods
JumpersNo
Ideal First Fish?Yes, hardy, inexpensive and easy to feed
CostFrom$5 -$60

2. Diet

The perfect diet for a Betta fish consists of dried flake foods, freeze-dried meaty food and live foods.

A perfect balance of vitamin-enhanced dried foods and fresh live foods such as bloodworms will ensure your Betta has all the nutrients and vitamins they need to thrive.

A poor diet is the quickest way to shorten your Bettas lifespan. No one would want to live on one type of food for their whole life, Right? So, why should your Betta?

bloodworms
Betta fish love live Bloodworms

There are a number of specialist Betta foods on the market. Some have been designed to bring out their colors and some to provide the best possible vitamins to ensure your Betta lives a long life. We highly recommend Hikari Betta Gold Mini Pellets which contains Stabilized Vitamin C which supports their immune system and promotes a long, healthy life and freeze-dried Bloodworms from Tetra.

3. Keep males separate

Males should always be keep away from other males or inevitably fighting will break out and they often fight to the death.

One male can be kept with many females in a community aquarium without concern. Females are less pretty and don’t have the large colorful fins like the males and are therefore less popular.

Females don’t fight. Only the male species will fight with each other.

Keeping one male per aquarium is a good way to ensure they have no other siamese fighting fish to worry about.

Betta fish with their long fins are susceptible to being nipped by other fish. They stand out in the aquarium with their colorful fins and are therefore an easy target by others. Despite their common name ‘fighting fish’, they often don’t stand up to other predators in the aquarium and can suffer from bullies.

Add one male to a peaceful community aquarium and you’ll be giving them the best chance of a long and happy life.

How To Increase The Lifespan Of A Betta Fish

When you visit your local aquarium store and see the many different varieties on show (over 78 varieties are commonly available), they are already 1 year old.

On average you will not see a Betta fish for sale less than 1-year-old. This is due to the fact that younger than 1 year they don’t display all their beauty. Therefore stores can’t sell them as easily.

So Bettas are bred in captivity and grown until they are one year old and start to display their true beauty. Unfortunately for us buyers that’s almost 20% of their lifespan gone.

If you want to ensure you get the longest lifespan from your Betta you should look to buy privately from a breeder and buy them young. That way you get at least an extra 6-12 months of enjoyment.

Suitable Aquariums

As mentioned before Betta are seen to be kept in smaller display tanks or even jars.

We highly recommend you keep your Betta in a community aquarium with other fish or at least in an aquarium 5 gallons or more.

Ideally we like to see a male and female in a larger mixed community aquarium but if you just want to keep one stunning male then at least provide them with a spacious aquarium to enjoy.

My son has one male and several community fish in an aquarium similar to that below and it looks stunning. It is planted and has some floating plants. His Betta is often seen not moving which scares him. But it’s just his male building a bubble nest underneath the floating plants like many Betta do. Don’t panic!

fluval fish tank

You will see lots of fancy-looking aquariums online labeled as ‘Betta Fish Tanks’ but look at the water volume. Most are very small and will require you to make regular water changes to ensure your Betta has the best water conditions possible.

In very small aquariums it is difficult to control and monitor the water parameters. An aquarium of 5 Gallons or bigger like the one above is easier to keep and look after.

Read our article: Best aquariums for children here!

Which Live Longer – Males Or Females?

Female Betta fish live longer than males but only by a few months. Female Bettas live longer both in captivity and in the wild.

They lack the long fins of the males and attract less attention from predators. By 12 months male fish have fully developed fins and colors and from this point on are more vulnerable.

female betta
Female Bettas are lovely fish but not as prized as males

F.A.Q

  • Which live longer male Betta or female? Females but only by a few months.
  • What’s the best age to show a male betta? At 12-24 month they are at their best coloration and fin size
  • How much do Betta fish cost? Between $12 for an average Betta from a pet store. A championship quality show Betta can cost as much as $1500
  • Which color Bettas are the rarest? Purple Bettas are extremely rare and expensive to purchase.
  • What’s the most expensive Betta ever sold? $1500 USD. It sold via an online Facebook auction and was a Thai-colored plakat betta.
  • What size tank do Betta’s need? 5 Gallon plus is our recommendation.

Conclusion: Betta Fish Lifespan

To ensure your Betta or Siamese fighting fish has the best life and lives to a ripe old age, simply give them the best of everything.

The best possible aquarium, the best possible water parameters suitable for these fish and definitely the best possible food.

Treat your Betta as good as you can and you have every chance your betta will outlive many of the fish in your aquarium.

You never know, you may end up with a prize-winning fish worth $1500!