It is always sad to see a pet age and eventually die, even fish. Knowing the signs of aging for your Betta fish can help you prepare yourself and your beloved fish for the end stages of life, making sure they are as comfortable as possible in their last days.
But how do you know what the signs are, and how can you make the tank more comfortable for your fish? We have the best care tips and red flags to look for when caring for an aging Betta fish. Read on to find out about signs your betta fish is dying.
Betta fish can get sick, just like us humans do. There are a few telltale signs that your fish is ill.
The most common symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Behavioral changes
- Weight loss
These, too, are signs of an aging Betta fish, so it is important to look out for any other signs that could show aging rather than illness in Betta Fish and ways to treat it.
Sadly, even in fish, death is unavoidable. Dying from old age is, however, a good sign as it shows that your Betta fish had the best treatment while in its younger years. The average life expectancy of a Betta fish is between 3 and 5 years, with the signs of aging setting in around this time.
These are the top 8 signs that your Betta fish is nearing the end of its life:
1. Change in behavior
Betta fish are curious about what is going on in the world outside their tanks. They are also known for their “wiggle dance.” If any of this behavior suddenly changes, it is most likely caused by old age.
2. “Age” spots
Just as humans develop liver spots, so too do Betta fish develop a mysterious white dot on their head that appears and disappears rather suddenly, popping up in another area on the head a short while later. There is no known cause for the appearance of these spots, but it is considered an age spot.
3. Fading of colors and fraying of fins
Betta fish are known for their vibrant colors and beautiful fan-like tails. One of the first signs of aging in these fish is when their colors start to dull, and their tails begin looking ragged and frayed.
4. Lethargy, changes in breathing patterns, and slower reactions
Fish are known to swim around their tank or aquarium all day, only sleeping when it is dark. For the Betta fish, signs of sleeping more than usual, slower reaction times to food and outside stimuli, and general lethargy are signs of old age creeping in. You might also notice that your Betta fish’s breathing patterns have changed, increasing as it breathes faster.
5. An end to bubble nests
The male Betta fish build bubble nests to attract females to mate with them. A sure sign of aging is when the males no longer build these nests. This also signals that the fish is beyond past breeding age. Note that there are some males that do not build bubble nests at all.
6. Weight loss
An aversion to food or weight loss while still eating are both signs of aging in Betta fish. As the fish ages, its metabolism slows down, requiring less food to sustain its energy.
7. Poor eyesight
As the Betta fish ages, its eyesight deteriorates to where they can no longer see any activity outside their tanks. You may also notice cataracts starting to form on one or both eyes.
8. Loss of scales or a hunchback
Aging Betta fish develop a hump on their back that might be very subtle or could be large and noticeable. Another sign of aging in Betta fish is the loss of scales.
While no one can prevent aging or death, there are certain things you can do to make life more comfortable for your Betta fish once it reaches the end stages of life.
- Lower the water level: Betta fish rise to the surface to breathe. Lowering the water level would decrease the distance they need to swim to get fresh air, but it should never be so low that there is not proper water filtration.
- Adjust the temperature of your tank water: The optimum water temperature for Betta fish is between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Older fish would do better in water that is between 81 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping them warm while they nap.
- Increase the number of plants in the tank: Betta fish tend to sleep more than usual as they age. Add in taller ones for the fish to sleep closer to the surface, allowing them to breathe more comfortably.
- Switch to wet foods: Wet foods produce a stronger odor that even blind Betta fish would smell. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, beef heart, and even wet cat food are good foods to give an aging Betta fish.
- Change the tank water more frequently, and consider using freshwater aquarium salt: Salt can help prevent disease and infection-causing bacteria from building up. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. Changing the water more frequently is also essential to ensure the optimum levels of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites.
While we all wish our pets could live forever, there comes a time when it is time to say goodbye and prepare them for the end stages of life. Knowing the signs of aging, as we have listed above, can help you know for sure and ensure that you can give your fish friend a comfortable last few days of life.
For any medical-related issues, it is always best to take your fish to a vet that has knowledge in treating fish, ensuring they get the best possible care no matter what stage of life they may be in.
Aquarist & Writer 22+ Years