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How long do Petsmart bettas live?

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular pet choice and often one of the first fish people get when starting an aquarium. Petsmart is a major pet retailer that sells betta fish, marketing them in small cups and vases. This leads many people to wonder – how long do Petsmart bettas live when kept in these inadequate habitats?

The sad truth is that bettas sold at Petsmart and other major retailers often live short, unhappy lives due to the poor conditions they are kept in. However, with proper care and an appropriate aquarium setup, bettas can live 2-4 years or even longer. Here’s an overview of betta lifespan and how to maximize your Petsmart betta’s health and longevity:

Typical Lifespan of Pet Store Bettas

Bettas are tropical fish native to the rice paddies and slow-moving streams of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. In the wild, they can live 4-6 years. However, bettas sold in pet stores often live dramatically shorter lives, averaging just 9-18 months according to research.

There are several reasons pet store bettas tend to have shorter lifespans:

Stressful Living Conditions

In pet stores, bettas are often kept in tiny cups or containers holding just a few ounces of water. They have little space to swim and are placed near other male bettas, stressing them out. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and makes bettas prone to disease.

Poor Water Quality

The tiny containers bettas live in have frequent water changes, but still often have high levels of ammonia and nitrites from fish waste. This exposure to toxins impacts their health and shortens their lifespan.


Many betta fish sold in stores are excessively inbred to enhance desired traits like long, flowing fins. But inbreeding increases susceptibility to genetic diseases and defects.

Improper Care After Purchase

Pet stores market bettas as an easy fish that can live in tiny tanks or bowls. But this improper housing continues the cycle of stress, exposure to toxins, and health problems. Most people are simply unaware of bettas’ actual care needs.

The combination of stressful living conditions in pet stores combined with improper care once purchased leads to an average lifespan of just 9-18 months in pet store bettas.

How Long Do Petsmart Bettas Live?

Specifically looking at Petsmart bettas, their lifespan falls within that 9-18 month average. Some reports suggest Petsmart bettas live 6-12 months on average, less than the typical pet store betta.

This shorter lifespan of Petsmart bettas may be attributed to:

– High volumes of betta fish stocked and sold leading to cramped conditions

– Less specialized care than small pet stores provide

– Purchasing very young fish that are bred rapidly in fish farms

– Marketing bettas in inappropriate tanks like mini bowls

– New betta owners unaware how to properly care for them

While Petsmart provides general care instructions for bettas, their lifespan is ultimately dependent on how the owner keeps them. With proper housing and care, they can surpass the typical Petsmart betta lifespan.

Ideal Tank Size for Bettas

One key to maximizing your betta’s lifespan is providing an appropriate sized tank:

Minimum Tank Size

– 5 gallons

This provides adequate horizontal swimming space. Anything smaller can stunt growth and cause stress.

Ideal Tank Size

– 10-20 gallons

A larger tank gives them more room to explore and is easier to heat, filter, and clean. It also dilutes toxins and wastes.

Sorority Tanks

– 20-30 gallons

If housing multiple female bettas, a 20-30 gallon tank allows them to establish their own territories.

Community Tanks

– 20+ gallons

When adding tankmates like small rasboras, tetras or corydoras catfish, choose at least a 20 gallon tank to provide adequate space.

Tank Size Type of Housing
5 gallons Minimum for lone betta
10-20 gallons Ideal for lone betta
20-30 gallons For betta sorority
20+ gallons For betta community tank

Optimal Betta Care for Long Lifespans

In addition to a appropriately sized tank, the following care guidelines will maximize your betta’s lifespan:

Proper Filtration

Bettas need gentle filtration like a low flow sponge filter that doesn’t disturb their long fins. Good filtration removes waste and keeps water clean.

Heated Tank

Bettas need water between 76-82°F. A submersible heater with a thermostat maintains a healthy temperature range.

Live Plants

Live plants like Anubias, Java Fern and Amazon Sword remove toxins, add oxygen, and provide places for them to rest and explore.

Hiding Spots

Caves, logs and other hides reduce stress levels. Make sure hide openings don’t trap long fins.

Proper Diet

Feed a high quality betta pellet, like Fluval Bug Bites, alternating with frozen or live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp for variety.

Routine Water Changes

Change 25-50% of the water weekly to remove waste, replacing it with clean, pre-treated water to maintain water quality.

Following this proper care can help your Petsmart betta fish live a long, healthy life of 2-4 years or more, closer to their natural lifespan. Avoiding small tanks, dirty water and improper feeding found in pet stores will help maximize longevity.

Signs of a Healthy Betta

How do you know if your betta fish is thriving? Here are key signs of good health:

– Bright, vivid colors

– Responsive when you approach

– Active swimming habits exploring tank

– Good appetite at feeding times

– Flaring gills when flaring display

– No fin clamping or color fading

– No spots, lesions or velvet-like gold dusting

Seeing these behaviors indicate your Petsmart betta is enjoying good health and water conditions. Immediately address any symptoms like clamped fins, appetite loss or lethargy.

Common Betta Fish Diseases

Even with excellent care, bettas may encounter health issues that can impact lifespan. Watch for these common diseases:

Fin Rot

Bacteria infection causing frayed, red-tipped fins. Treat with antibiotics like Tetracycline, frequent water changes and stress reduction.


Parasitic infection that causes small white spots resembling salt grains. Raise tank temperature and use Ich medicine containing malachite green or copper.

Velvet Disease

Another parasite causing a faint yellow-gold dusting on skin and fins. Treat with medications like Malachite Green, Copper Sulfate or Acriflavine.

Swim Bladder Disorder

Difficulty swimming, floating or staying upright. Fix water quality and feed daphnia or thawed frozen peas to relieve constipation.


Bacterial infection where scales pinecone out from fluid retention. Unfortunately this is often fatal once swollen. Improve water conditions to prevent.

With prompt treatment, bettas can recover from many of these illnesses. Prevent diseases by reducing stress, feeding well and maintaining excellent water quality.

Life Stages of Betta Fish

Understanding betta life stages helps provide the best care as they mature:


– 0-3 months old

– Tiny, about 5-12 mm long

– Live off protein-rich infusoria until big enough for brine shrimp or micropellets

Young Juveniles

– 3-5 months old

– Actively growing, will start developing fins

– Transition to betta pellets and live foods


– 5-7 months old

– Reach close to full size around 6 cm long

– Finish maturing finnage and colors


– 7+ months old

– Full grown around 6-7 cm long

– Active and curious

– Appetite levels stable

Knowing your betta’s age and life stage helps tailor care to their needs during maturation and adulthood. Pay extra attention to water condition while rapidly growing.


While Petsmart bettas typically live just 6-18 months, with the proper tank size, heating, filtration diet and care, they can exceed 4 years. Avoid small tanks, upgrade to 5 gallons or larger, stay diligent on water changes, and treat any diseases promptly. Following these best practices maximizes the lifespan and health of betta fish. With excellent care, your Petsmart betta can thrive and live well beyond the average expectancy.