Did you know that betta fish don’t survive for long in nature?
Predators make sure to keep their population in check. But the aquariums allow bettas to fully live out their natural life cycles.
The average lifespan of betta fish is around 3 to 5 years. In the twilight years of their life, they’re more vulnerable and need extra care.
You can tell a betta fish is dying of old age when its colors begin to fade or it develops curled fins and ragged tails.
Sleeping often and a white dot on the face are also signs that your betta is now old. If your fish has stopped making bubble nests and is not enthusiastic about food, it may be dying of old age.
The Siamese fighting fish is tiny but very intelligent. They can identify people, objects, and make associations with patterns.
Betta fish can and have formed bonds with their owners. The loss of a betta is painful because owners aren’t just losing a pet. It often means the loss of a source of love and comfort for owners.
How to Tell If Betta Fish is Dying of Old Age?
How long bettas live depends on a combination of their genetic makeup and environment. For instance, bettas in tanks with poor water quality won’t live for long.
You can often make out the age of betta fish based on its origins. Bettas from large chain stores usually live for six months to a year.
The size of bettas can also help you estimate their age. For instance, smaller betta fish are younger and can live for several years.
With that said, you really can’t fight biology. You can delay the inevitable by being consistent with water changes and providing good food.
Review your car regimen and revise it based on your betta’s health. In the section below, we’ll deep dive into signs of old age in bettas.
An older betta will show some or all of the following symptoms:
Colors Begin to Fade
Bettas are known for their dramatic colors. This is why they are prized by hobbyists. However, age brings about subtle changes in their appearance.
For example, you’ll notice their color loses its shine over time. It will fade into a dull, brown color.
Their iridescent appearance will fade into a muted shade. You’ll notice that a regular diet of color-rich formula does little to correct this issue.
There will come a time when you’ll only see a hint of their former color.
Bettas Stop Making Bubble Nests
Bettas are fond of making bubble nests, especially when they are full of youth. They make bubble nests every few weeks in hopes of mating with a female.
Most bettas will only make a few nests in a year. Some bettas will never make bubble nests but they’re still healthy.
As mentioned earlier, bettas are intelligent creatures with their own personality. No two bettas behave the same way, but their sex drive will deteriorate with time.
Once they’re past middle age, they’ll lose all interest. Fewer bubble nests are indicative of an aging betta that has lost interest in procreation.
Betta is Sleeping Too Often
Old age makes bettas sleep more often. It becomes harder for them to carry around all their weight.
They lose energy more easily and become lethargic, prompting more naps. By contrast, younger bettas love to explore their tank.
Young bettas will swim around and wiggle their tails for their human owners.
However, older bettas are more content with just lying about in their plants. It is worth pointing out that loss of activity is a gradual process.
If your betta suddenly loses interest and becomes lethargic, they’re probably ill.
Have Curled Fins and a Ragged Tail
The once stunning betta fish with perfect fins now has a worn-out, ragged appearance. Their fins are all curled up and ragged.
Much like hair loss at an older age, older bettas lose their fins. As bettas get older, their fins become twisted or frayed with time.
With that said, curling of fins may also occur due to a change in pH. Hard water can make the ends on fins curl up.
A White Dot that Appears and Disappears
Most experts are pretty sure that this is a sign of old age. You may think your betta has a case of the old ich, but it’s not.
Ich is when the fish has white dots all over its body.
But this lonesome white dot only appears on your betta’s face and then disappears later. The older your betta gets, the more appearances this mysterious white dot makes.
Don’t worry, the white dot is harmless but makes sure to check the water’s parameters.
The Betta Is Not Enthusiastic About Eating Food
Older bettas will only eat to survive. Their excitement at the prospects of a feeding frenzy will dwindle over time. They will also show less interest as their humans drop by to give them food.
Some older bettas may also start to lose their vision. In which case, they’ll miss their food very often. You’ll see more of their food sinking to the bottom of the tank.
You should be concerned about your betta’s health if they go for weeks without eating.
An obvious result of eating less often is the loss of weight. Older bettas are often slimmer than younger bettas because they don’t eat as often.
Caution: The Symptoms Will Appear Gradually
It should be noted that these symptoms of old age appear gradually. Old age is not an overnight process, and neither are the symptoms.
You can make an estimation of your betta’s age by looking at their fins. Longer fins are a sign that your betta is at least one year old.
Younger bettas should not have any of these symptoms unless they’re sick or stressed.
How to Care of an Older Betta Fish
Older bettas lose their vitality and ability to fight off disease. This makes it important for owners to be more vigilant with care instructions.
Be sure to check for ammonia, and nitrite levels in the tank. As a general rule, the tank should have at least 3 gallons of water. The bigger the tank, the better.
Betta fish will not survive in a tank that is cooler than 77 degrees. In addition, you’ll have to make sure the water parameters stay consistent.
Below are a few tweaks you can make to care for older bettas:
Lower the Water Level
The depth of water depends on how old your betta is. If you notice your betta resting on a leaf, the water should be 8 inches.
If the betta rests nearly all the time, the water should be 5 inches.
A lower depth of water makes it easier for bettas to breathe in the tank.
Increase the Temperature
It is recommended to increase the temperature in the 80 to 82 degree Fahrenheit range. This ensures the bettas are kept warm when they’re sleeping.
A higher temp also reduces the chance of getting ill.
Provides Tank Ornaments and Plants
Older bettas love to sleep and prefer to rest on live plants. So provide them with lots of comfortable spots such as taller plants.
Taller plants are better because they allow bettas to sleep closer to the surface.
Use Frozen Food
Older bettas don’t have good vision and will struggle to find food. In this case, you may have to introduce them to wet food.
These foods often have a strong odor that can attract bettas. The best choices for wet food are bloodworms and brine shrimp.
As a general rule, if you can smell the food, your betta will too.
Change the Water More Frequently
Bettas are hardy fish but they will not survive chemical changes in the water. A small spike in nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels can quickly kill bettas.
So make sure to keep the tank and water in pristine condition. Do not allow the nitrate levels to increase above 10ppm in the tank.
For best results, keep the nitrates under 5ppm.
Use Freshwater Salt More Often
Freshwater salt has been shown to keep diseases and infections at bay. It is often used by fish owners to protect fish with poor immune systems.
Bettas are prone to infections should have 1 tbsp per 5 gallons of the salt. This much salt won’t affect other organisms in the tank.
Pro tip: Dissolve freshwater salt in a container of water before adding it to the tank.
Older bettas that get sick likely won’t recover.
This is why you may have to use medication. Do keep in mind that most fish meds will harm your fish.
It is best to take the sick betta fish to a veterinarian for treatment.
Make Your Old Betta Comfortable
As your betta fish inches closer to death, you can make its journey more pleasant.
Help it with food, keep the water clean, and help it get to the surface.
Betta fish from chain stores likely don’t live very long due to poor living conditions. Try to buy betta fish from breeders because they often look after them.
Breeders will charge you more than chain stores but they know what they’re doing. These fish live in a good environment and will live long under your care.
As long as you take good care of your betta, it should live long.
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