My Fish Was Only 6 Months Old And She Died Aging Betta Fish

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Aging Betta Fish

In nature, aging Betta splendens would quickly succumb to predators but in the hobby aquarium they often live much longer than their wild counterparts. If we are lucky we will see our fish live out their whole lives and eventually succumb to natural causes. Before that time approaches you may notice your betta showing signs of aging, many of which are seen in humans.

The average lifespan of bettas varies from 2 to 5 years. How long they live tends to be related to a combination of genes and environment. Bettas that are exposed to stressors such as poor water quality are likely to not live as long as those that are kept in good conditions on a regular basis. Depending on where you buy your baits you can often tell how old your fish are. Breeders will definitely know the age of their betas and Ma&Pa fish stores may know less as well. If you buy yours from a large chain store you will often be buying fish that are already 6 months to a year old. Sometimes size can give you an estimate. I have noticed smaller and more similar betas coming out of stores like PetCo and PetSmart in recent years.

Little research has been done on aging aquarium fish. Until some formal studies are done we only have our own opinions. It is important to first understand that there is a learning curve involved in the aquarium hobby and every specific fish species. I often hear new keepers admit that the death of the betta was old age even when the fish was only 2 years old. I admit that I blamed the death of my first betta in college on old age even though I was only 11 months old. If I knew then what I know now I would have thought that the unheated, half-gallon bowl, changed with water from time to time, might have had something to do with it. If your betta is 2 years old and suddenly up it was probably environmental, not old age.

Signs of aging appear slowly. If your betta grows suddenly or loses color over a few days or weeks it may be a sign of disease. If the symptoms are very gradual and your attempts at treatment seem to be stalling your betta may be getting old. For me, several symptoms were increasing over several months before I realized that my bet was probably in his senior years.

Okay, let’s assume that your betta is really getting on in years. What are some of the symptoms you may notice? There are a number of physical changes that may occur. In particular, its color can change significantly or significantly over time and eventually become very dull and even brown. Iridescent colors may fade completely leaving a very vague or muted shadow behind. Despite regular feeding you may notice that the fish is getting thinner and even bony. The individual scales may be more prominent and the betta may shed its scales more often. You may have noticed the occasional white, acne-like spot on your fish in the past. These are very common among betas and do not seem to cause any harm. Older betas may develop these more often.

Chronic fin rot may occur. This loss of fish tends to last forever and does not improve with medication or changes in water parameters. It can develop even in the best water conditions. One of the most common physical signs of aging in betas is vision loss. You may find that your betta often lunges for food and misses or recognizes movement outside the tank as it used to. Some betas develop what can only be described as cataracts. When you look at the eyes you may see a filmy coating covering much of the eyeball which is also common in aging people.

Behavioral symptoms also manifest themselves in aging betas. Lethargy is probably the most obvious. Young, healthy betas should be very active, exploring their tanks and scavenging for humans. Older betans often lay in the plants or on the bottom of the tank most of the day. Again, this should be a gradual slow down in activity levels. A betta may have an illness that develops suddenly. Older betas may not show the same enthusiasm for food as they used to. They may show less interest in their people or stop their “wiggle dances” altogether. The resistance to ignition may also decrease over time. A betta who used to put on a show for other males or his own reflection may not show up with the effort he once did. Both males and females can become much more aggressive as they get past their reproductive years.

Since older fish may be less able to fight disease and more prone to illness than younger ones, it is important to be vigilant and take the appropriate precautions to keep them healthy. Being consistent with water changes and providing a nutritious diet will help extend your betta’s life.

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