Guest contributor: Peter Hartono
The life span of betta fish is highly dependent on several important factors that include genetics, environment, and diet. When given proper care, the average life span of bettas is about 3 years, however it is not unusual for a betta to live longer than 3 years. When conditions are right, your pet can live as long as 5-6 years.
Bettas are quite sensitive to environmental factors that may increase their susceptibility to disease or parasites. These factors include poor water quality, inappropriate housing, inadequate diet, or even accidents.
The need to recreate an ecosystem that mimics the natural habitat of betta fish can never be overemphasized. Although this can be quite tricky, this is not impossible. Regular testing of water parameters and cycling your tank will significantly increase your betta’s chances of survival.
The ideal size for betta is a 5-gallon tank. Although you can see hobbyists keeping bettas in smaller tanks, the smaller size makes it favorable to temperature fluctuations and higher ammonia concentration. Thus, a bigger tank means better filtration, better water quality, stable water temperatures, and a more comfortable environment for your betta.
Poor quality is the most important reason for bettas to get sick and die. If you’re keeping bettas in bowls which are less than 5 gallons, you need to make 50% water changes at least twice a week to preserve water quality. When removing water, make sure you get the dirtiest half by also removing leftover food or fish poop that has accumulated on the tank’s bottom or in the substrate.
If you have installed a quality tank filter, you don’t have to worry so much about doing water changes as often if the tank has no filter. This may not be an option in smaller tanks, thus you need to conduct twice a week water changes, at the minimum. Also, some bettas hate the water flow created by filters in their tank, thus conducting frequent water changes is your key to promoting your pet’s longevity.
Note on water change: Water change ought to be done once a week, regardless of tank size. And every time you do water change, it should only be around 10-25% tank size as going beyond 25% may cause stress to animal who lives in the tank.
Proper nutrition is essential for your betta’s health and well-being. The closest thing that you can give them to mimic their diet in the wild includes live and frozen foods. Just make sure that these foods are free from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites.
Bettas are voracious carnivores, although there are those that are super finicky eaters. Bettas thrive well when fed a variety of quality high protein food that may include frozen bloodworms, good quality pellets, and frozen brine shrimp. You can also give live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or glassworms.
A full betta meal includes only 3-4 bloodworms. Overfeeding may result in more health problems than underfeeding your bettas.
Although you may have less control over your betta’s genetics, purchasing from a reputable breeder will ensure that your pets have greater resistance to infection. Since fish breeders care for their reputation, they make it a point to give you only the best and healthiest of their stock.
About the Author:
Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic- a proud Australian company that offers homegrown aquatic plants and aquarium supplies carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra. To find out more of their exciting offers and promotions check out their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter at @justaquatic.
Thank you Peter. I can always count on you for great articles on all things aquatic.
On a side note to my readers, I think these fish are absolutely stunning. What does break my heart though is going into a pet store and seeing them living in little tiny fish bowls. Some are bordering on drinking glasses. To me that's cruel. So for those interested in becoming "betta fish mommies", I really encourage you to give them a large enough environment to enjoy their little betta lives in.