Can Betta Live in Cold Water?

Betta fish are widely known and popular for their brightly colored fins.

However, on the other hand, they are also one of those fish who don’t live very long. On average, they survive for about three to five years.

One of the biggest factors affecting their lifespan is their living conditions, and this includes the water temperature.

A lot of people make the mistake of placing betta fish in room temperature water, which is not great for them. So, then do you place them in cold water? Keep reading to find out.

Understanding Where Betta Fish Come From

Betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish, and they are usually found in the fresh waters of Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and a few other countries.

Most of these places enjoy tropical weather. This means that betta fish usually thrive in warmer temperatures.

As such, even in captivity, they prefer slightly warmer temperatures in their tank. Even if they were bred in captivity, it does not change the fact that betta fish are cold-blooded creatures by nature.

Therefore, again, they prefer their surroundings to be at a higher temperature to keep their body warm and energetic.

The ideal temperature for betta fish is between 76- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, betta fish are the most comfortable.

They can maintain a healthy metabolism and move around energetically. All this helps them live a long in your captivity.

What Happens if You Place Betta in Cold or Too Hot Water?

Most pet shops often market betta fish to be very easy to keep.

As a result, people who buy betta fish as pets think that they simply have to place them in a small bowl at room temperature, and that’s it.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Sure, betta fish are easy to keep as pets, but they do require some care, especially if you want them to live long.

Keeping Betta Fish at Room Temperature

Most people think that room temperature water is okay for betta fish as it is not too cold and not too hot either. However, this is where they go wrong. As mentioned earlier, the ideal temperature for betta fish is between 76- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit.

At the same time, the room temperature at most places is around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. While you might think that this is not much of a difference, for creatures as small as betta fish, this temperature gap can feel significant.

Even at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the water can feel quite cold for the betta fish, affecting their comfort level in the water and, subsequently, their lifespan. Besides that, room temperature does not always remain the same.

As you move into the colder months, the water will also grow colder, and perhaps in the peak of summer, the water might even go higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The betta fish is a tough species of fish.

They will adapt to whatever temperature you place them in. However, the question is for how long. Living in undesirable water temperatures will definitely affect their health and lifespan.

Keeping Betta Fish in Cold Water

Anything below 74 degrees Fahrenheit starts feeling cold to the betta fish. Therefore, if you are keeping them in water that is even colder than room temperature, it will feel incredibly cold to the betta fish.

Cold water can be very dangerous for betta fish.

For starters, the lower temperature will cause their metabolism to slow down. They will start eating less and less. As their metabolism slows down and energy levels drop, they won’t move around as much.

They will start hovering at the bottom of the tank to try and get some warmth there.

Most people, when they see their betta fish being inactive, they think their fish has become lazy. However, it could be because of the water instead. It might be the cold temperature causing them to behave that way.

Besides that, cold water also affects the fish’s immune system.

Their immune system will weaken, leaving them exposed to a number of diseases. They can contract fungal, bacterial, and even parasitic infections that could seriously hurt their health.

Sometimes, some betta fish can also develop Popeye disease. This is a life-threatening disease for betta fish as various underlying illnesses can cause their eyes to bulge and protrude from their sockets.

Furthermore, since their metabolism has slowed down, the betta fish don’t need that much oxygen or find it hard to consume oxygen in the cold water.

All this does not mean that your betta fish will die. It will survive in the cold water as well. However, it will be more prone to developing different conditions, which can then affect its lifespan.

Keeping Betta Fish in Hot Water

Just as too cold water is dangerous for betta fish, so is too hot water. Anything above 85 degrees Fahrenheit feels too hot for betta fish, so you have to try to keep the water temperature below that.

Similar to how cold water slows everything down for betta fish and makes them lethargic, hot water does just the opposite.

It makes them overly active and hyper.

Staying in a water tank that rapidly fluctuates between extreme temperatures makes the fish go through temperature shock, which is not good for their body or health.

The high temperature of the water can accelerate the metabolism of betta fish. They will eat more and become very active in the tank. They will swim and move around a lot in a hyper state to match their increased metabolism.

Moreover, after all that activity, they will also need more oxygen. Hot water usually holds less dissolved oxygen than cold water.

As a result, the betta fish will constantly come to the surface of the water to breathe in oxygen.

As compared to the effects of living in cold water, these hot water effects may not seem that severe. However, these are also dangerous for the fish. Hot water can also significantly shorten the lifespan of your betta fish.

How to Maintain Ideal Water Temperatures in Your Betta Fish Tank?

Now that you know what temperate is best for betta fish, as well as what happens if you go over or under that range, it is time to see how you can maintain that ideal water temperature. The best way is to install a small heater in your water tank.

There are various models and sizes of water tank heaters out there.

You can choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. Most heaters will have an automatic regulating sensor. Basically, you can install this in the tank and set it to the desired temperature.

Once the water reaches that temperature, the heater will turn off on its own without you having to constantly monitor it or turn it down. After that, depending on the outside temperatures or season, you can adjust the temperature of the water accordingly.

Most water heaters have the ability to maintain temperatures between 68 and 88-degrees Fahrenheit.

What if the Water Gets Too Hot?

As mentioned, hot water is as dangerous for betta fish as too cold water. That’s why you always need to keep a close eye on the betta fish, its activities, its eating pattern, the tank conditions, and water temperature.

If the water starts getting too hot, don’t turn off the heater right away.

This will drop the temperatures suddenly and drastically, causing the fish to experience a temperature shock.

Instead, turn the heater down, little by little. You can also try floating some ice packs or placing a small fan beside the tank to help it cool down.

How Else Can You Provide Ideal Water Conditions for Your Betta Fish?

Water temperature is just one of the factors you need to consider. Besides that, there’s a lot more work to be done to ensure that your betta fish is happy and thriving in their water tank.

Along with a heater, it’s a good idea to add a filter to your water tank as well. This keeps the water clean of toxic buildup, ammonia, and other nasty particles that fish don’t like.

Moreover, it aerates the water so that your fish can easily breathe without going to the surface all the time.

If you don’t add a filter, you will need to manually change and clean the water yourself frequently. Other than that, the water tank should have plenty of plants and decorations to satisfy the inquisitive side of betta fish.


When you get a betta fish, you will quickly find yourself getting attached to the beautiful creature.

As a result, you will want it to survive for as long as possible, and this will only happen when you provide it with the optimal living conditions.

This includes a large tank, keeping other betta fish separate, providing plenty of plants in the tank, adding a filter, and finally, maintaining the right water temperature.

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