How To Tell If a Betta Fish Is Dying Of Old Age? [5 Signs]

The lifespan of a betta fish varies depending on how well it is taken care of. 

A betta fish’s general life expectancy can be anywhere from 2-3 years old to 4-5 years old with how often the owner feeds and changes water, how much light exposure they get, how clean their tank is, and how long they are exposed to air bubbles. 

If your betta fish has reached its expected age or beyond then it might be time for you to start noticing symptoms that indicate that the fish is nearing death. 

This article will discuss how to tell if a betta fish is dying of old age by identifying 5 symptoms.

5 Signs Your Betta Fish Is Dying Of Old Age?

It’s a natures truth that living things tend to survive until they die – including our precious betta fish. 

There are certain symptoms that your pet is dying of old age or it’s just about to go on the next phase in its life cycle which you should observe closely.

Bettas are considered old at about five years of age under proper care. There are several signs that your betta fish is dying of old age.

These 5 symptoms will help you to identify if your betta fish is dying of old age:

Swim Pattern

Changes in how a betta fish swims may be observed as a first symptom of dying, especially if you have had your pet for quite some time. 

Old age bettas have difficulties swimming and would require more breaks from the routine. In addition, older bettas seem to tire easier as they do not exhibit as much stamina as young bettas.

Clamped Fins and Labored Breathing

Clamped fins and labored breathing are common symptoms of dying betta fish, mostly due to old age related issues such as obesity or having too much inactive time. 

You should definitely take your pet to a vet if you observe these symptoms as they can be signs of a serious condition such as bacterial infection or the onset of terminal disease.

Weight Loss and Slim Body Shape

Bettas suffer from weight loss and lose their body shape as they begin to enter the terminal stage in life. The reason for this is due to how betta fish are designed – they have no scales so they are usually sensitive to changes in protein intake.

As an old betta fish will have problems eating, it can cause some weight loss, which is how you’ll know if your fish is dying of old age.

Lethargy and Inactivity

Lethargy and inactivity could be one of the most obvious symptoms of old age, as it is how you’ll be able to tell that your betta fish is no longer an active swimmer.

Older bettas can suffer from lethargy due to old age or having contracted a terminal disease, thus becoming more inactive and less responsive to their surroundings. If your pet doesn’t show signs of recovery after some time, you should definitely consult a vet.

Loss of Co-ordination

As your betta fish begins to lose its co-ordination in how it swims and how it moves around, you can assume that they are either sick or on their way out. 

They loss co-ordination in how they swim because their sense of hearing and sight are slowly degrading, which can lead to loss of appetite.

If you observe these symptoms, we recommend that you bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible for a check-up.

How To Identify a Betta Fish Age?

Betta fish age is relatively hard to determine because how long a betta fish lives depends on how well you take care of the pet. While the minimum age for mos bettta is usually stated as 1 to 2 years, how long these fish live depends on how well you care for them.

Picture of an aged betta

One way to identify the age of your betta fish is by their teeth. As they grow older, the teeth at the bottom jaw tend to curve upward or downward.

The younger the betta, the straighter the teeth. Another way to determine how old your betta is by how long its fins are.

Bettas under 1 year of age often have very long tails and less webbing between their fingers.

Also when knowing how old a betta fish is , it helps to understand how fast these fish grow . In one month, a fry betta fish can grow as long as 2 cm.

This means that in one year, they can grow up to 13 cm which is an average adult size.

What Does an Old Betta Fish Look Like?

It’s really hard seeing your betta getting old. The thing is that betta fish have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years.

After that, their health slowly declines until they finally die from old age.

You might not know what an older betta looks like since it’s natural for them to grow old and weaker with time.

You can tell your betta is in its last days before it passes away by looking closely at its behavior and physical appearance.

You may also notice that its color will start to fade.

This is common in many fish species. Their bodies will go back to their natural colors; the only thing that remains are the markings or fins, which last longer than any other part of their body.

You also need to check its scales closely. If you notice there are some scales coming off easily, it’s a sign that it’s old.

What Does a Dying Betta Fish Look Like?

When a betta fish is dying, how do you know?

What does a dying fish look like?

1. The fish lays on his side, breathing rapidly.

If the betta is gasping for air, that’s not good.

Betta are tough fish! When they are about to die, they have something to say about it.

Sometimes when a fish is sick it will just stop swimming and float on its side.

2. Lethargy is another indicator that your pet isn’t feeling well.

Betta move around a lot, but if they don’t swim for an extended period of time, you should take him to a vet soon.

A healthy, adult betta will swim around all day long.

3. The final warning sign that your pet is about to die is when he doesn’t eat.

Bettas love food and if they don’t eat for a day or two, it’s time to take them to the doctor (or in this case, the fish vet). Healthy bettas will eat every day.

Is a 2-Year-Old Betta Old?

No, a two-year old betta fish is not old. 

Some breeders may consider a Betta fish older at 2 years of age, but that isn’t completely true.

Betta fish age is usually associated with its health condition, and how it responds to treatments. 

If your betta fish has been living in a healthy state for the past two years without any obvious signs of aging (i.e., skin deterioration, scales turning dull or pale), then you can still consider it as young. But if your betta fish has been showing signs of aging, it is already considered as an old fish.

Betta fish can live up to five years if properly cared for and housed in a healthy environment, but some can even live up to seven years. 

If you notice it is showing signs of aging, giving it a fast-track treatment as well as changing its environment could certainly help prolong its life and improve the quality of its living.

How Long Does It Take For a Betta Fish To Die?

There is not any specific time period of how long does it take for a betta fish to die. Old age is the most common cause of death in Betta splendens .

The bettas kept by aquarists are reported to live between three and six years. The oldest on record was nine years, but this is very rare.

It is also not uncommon for death to occur due to illness; this is also widely reported in the scientific literature. The natural lifespan of a betta is believed to be only two years.

It is important to note that in the wild, bettas live only a few months. A captive betta can easily reach its natural lifespan of two years in a home aquarium if properly cared for.

How Do Bettas Act When They Are Dying?

Honestly, betta doesn’t act any different when they are dying. But the problem is you won’t know if your betta fish is getting old, until it is too late.

So we recommend to check any of the symptoms discussed above and find out the root cause so you can take appropriate measures to prolong your betta life.

Don’t wait until the last moment, because your betta fish will only get worse.

How To Save an Old Age Betta From Dying?

To save an old age betta from dying, give him lots of love by interacting with him daily. This will provide him a sense of security and consequentially he may regain some of his health.

You should also have a separate tank for the betta, so that you can monitor how much ammonia is there in the water. The more ammonia is present in the water, more is the stress for the betta.

If you are giving food to your fish, make sure that you are feeding him nutritious food that has anti-oxidants in it. Also feed your old age betta with lot of vegetables, so that his immune system is strengthened to fight diseases.

Another thing to prevent an old age betta from dying is to change the water regularly.

These are things that are enough to prevent your old age betta from dying.

How To Take Care Of Old Age Betta Fish?

The right way you can take care of an old betta fish is to add a heater in the tank.

A betta fish temp should be about 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius.

You can add an aquarium thermometer to your tank so that you can check how hot it is.

Another way to take care of an old age betta fish is by adding oxygen bubbles. By adding oxygen bubbles, your betta fish will have a more comfortable environment.

Additionally, you can plant some oxygen bubbles in your tank or buy an aquarium with a pump so that you can circulate the water and promote a good flow.

You should also clean up the tank of an old age betta fish on a regular basis.

Take out all the dirt from the tank, wash the water-plant and decorate with new sand.

Also get rid of any decaying food from inside the betta fish tank.

In addition, you should feed your betta fish a high-quality diet every day to keep them healthy for a longer time.

You can add some vegetable or shrimp pellets in their bowl according to how much your betta fish eats.

You should also change the water of an old age betta at least twice per week, using bottled or filtered water to avoid chlorine and other impurities that may hurt your pet.

You can use a gravel cleaner to clean up all the dirt inside the tank.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

It is believed that a healthy betta fish can live up to 3-4 years. However, your betta fish will probably die before that age because of the poor living conditions.

This is an average life-span for a betta fish. If it lives in optimum condition with no problems, then chances are it might live longer than 4 years.

To make your betta live longer you must take care of it properly.

You have to ensure that the water in its tank is clean and fresh, the betta has enough food, and you shouldn’t overfeed it either.

The fact is that a lot of pet owners don’t know how to take care of a betta fish or simply just don’t want to put in any effort.

This results in the betta fish dying within a year of purchase.


In conclusion, Bettas should live for about 1-2 years. If you have a betta that is over 3 years old, it is considered an “old fish.”

You can identify if your betta fish is dying from old age by seeing if they are lethargic and not eating their food.

They usually do not swim around as much and stay at the bottom of their container.

You can also see that your fish is dying if they have clamped fins and do not open them, and if their scales are turning white and look like they’re falling off.

If you think your betta fish is dying from old age, it’s best to take the fish out of its tank or container and place it in a container to let it pass away.

You can also try putting your betta fish in hot water, as this will ease the death process for the fish, though be careful not to put them in boiling water because they are very sensitive creatures. 

Have you ever had to deal with an old dying fish? How did it go? Share in the comments!

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