The Siamese Fighting Fish is a vibrantly colored freshwater species that looks extremely striking and dramatic in a home aquarium.
Also known as a ‘betta’ fish, the species lives for around three years in captivity and is known to respond to its owner’s presence.
While the oldest betta fish lived a staggering ten years, it’s extremely unusual for them to live this long when kept as domestic pets.
Improper breeding techniques and unsuitable living conditions in pet stores mean that many of these fish arrive in homes weak, underfed, or diseased and unlikely to live beyond two years.
Fortunately, this can be avoided if fish owners take time to properly research breeders and suppliers.
How to Recognize a Healthy Betta
When speaking to a trusted breeder of Siamese Fighting Fish, ask about the age of their fish.
With their captive lifespans being so short, it makes sense to ask how old your betta will be when it comes to you.
If it’s already one, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) to live for another three years in your care. If the breeder cannot give you an informed answer, consider looking elsewhere.
When your only option is to buy a Siamese Fighting Fish from a pet shop, look for these signs of a healthy fish.
Healthy bettas are brightly colored, and these colors aren’t patchy or paler in some areas than others. Overly pale fish are often diseased, so keep an eye out for this.
Healthy bettas have fully formed fins with no tears or ragged edges. Their eyes are clear and never bulging.
It should be noted protruding eyes are a healthy characteristic of some fish species.
Not all fish with bulging eyes are sick, however, bettas shouldn’t have ‘popeye’ as it indicates a bacterial infection.
Before you buy a Siamese Fighting Fish, study it closely. Check for pop eye, unexplained injuries, and sores on its body. Healthy bettas are very responsive and notice when a hand is placed on the glass of their aquarium.
Maximizing the Life of Your Siamese Fighting Fish
The best way to ensure your Siamese Fighting Fish lives an extremely long time is to provide him with proper care.
This means supplying a safe living habitat, a healthy diet, and a reasonable degree of mental stimulation in the form of plants, aquarium accessories, and ample space for exploring.
One common reason for a shortened lifespan is chronic overfeeding.
These fish should be fed once or twice per day, and each meal should consist of just 2 – 3 pellets or pieces of food.
Overfeeding is the primary cause of fatty liver disease in captive Siamese Fighting Fish.
The water in your aquarium must be cycled and replaced on a regular basis to ensure conditions remain clean and non-toxic.
In betta fish, unsightly ‘popeye’ occurs because there are too many bacteria in the water. Dirty water can quickly kill fish because potentially fatal concentrations of ammonia accumulate and cause their living environment to become poisonous.
Unsanitary tank conditions can kill a Siamese Fighting Fish surprisingly fast so always stick to a strict cleaning schedule.
Adding a pump filter to the aquarium is one way to reduce the need for weekly cleaning, however, you still need to cycle and replace the water.
Finally, keeping a male betta in separate aquariums is strongly recommended if you want to extend their lifespan.
Siamese Fighting Fish, males, in particular, can be very aggressive towards one another and will engage in fin nipping and fights.
Provided there is ample space and stimulation in his habitat, a male betta fish can thrive alone.