Betta fish originated from the tropical countries of Southeast Asia specifically in Thailand. Thailand is known before as Siam hence they also call betta Siamese Fighting Fish.
Knowing that the climate in that region is tropical, this question always comes up: “Can betta fish live in cold water?” And is it the best water to use for betta fish? Let’s discuss this and hopefully understand its effects on a betta fish.
How long can betta fish live in cold water?
A betta can live its usual lifespan of 3 to 5 years in a fish tank with a temperature range of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 to 21 degrees Celsius but it is very prone to disease.
What does cold water do to betta fish?
A new betta fish placed in cold water will not die instantly. When exposed to cold water below 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 to 26 degrees Celsius they may experience temperature shock and will exhibit signs such as lethargy and lack of appetite at first.
Hans-Werner Lissmann did a study in 1932 on the attack-response of Betta Splendens also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. He published his findings entitled The environment of the fighting fish (Betta splendens Regan).
Betta fish are territorial and they flare their gills and fan their fins when they see other betta fish. They mimicked it by showing an image of a betta fish. He noted that the frequency of the attack-response of a betta fish at a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius is higher than at a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius despite showing the same stimulus. This shows that at lower temperatures betta fish will do its best to conserve energy.
If the betta fish’s metabolism slows down, it can affect its immune system and its capacity to fight diseases. This gives parasitic microorganisms a chance to invade your betta fish. Fin rot disease and ich are the most common.
Your betta will also lose its appetite. This can lead to more problems such as constipation and bloating. Long-term effects such as dropsy will develop. Dropsy is the process of fluid building up inside a fish mostly associated with organ failure.
You can prevent this by giving your betta fish a suitable environment in which it can thrive. Have an accurate aquarium thermometer so you are always aware of the temperature in your betta fish’s tank.
This also takes us to another part of the hobby which is doing water change for your betta fish tank. Make sure that the water you are adding during water changes will not send your betta fish into temperature shock. This happens when the temperature of the water you are adding to its tank is too cold or too warm. One way of making sure that your new water has a temperature near the water of your betta fish’s tank is also by checking it with a thermometer.
It is best to purchase thermometers that have actual contact with the water of your betta fish’s tank. External thermometers that stick to the glass of your fish tank may have an inaccurate reading. This may be because of the thickness of the glass of your aquarium or the different temperature of the air surrounding your betta fish tank.
Related: Can Betta Fish Live in Tap Water?
How cold is too cold for a betta?
If the temperature goes lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 degrees Celsius, then your betta fish will die in a few hours because their bodily functions will stop. This is like an induced coma done when they euthenize a fish. The water’s temperature needs to go near freezing point and the fish falls asleep and dies.
The optimal temperature that Betta fish need and at which they will surely thrive ranges from 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 to 26 degrees Celsius. Having an aquarium at this temperature range is a hobbyist’s responsibility to give a healthy and happy existence to a betta fish.
Using an aquarium heater is the best option to provide the preferred temperature for your betta fish. It is a safe idea to set the temperature to 79 degrees Fahrenheit of 26 degrees Celsius. But, we recommend to set the temperature at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius if you are planning to breed betta fish. This temperature will induce a male betta fish and a female betta fish to spawn.
You can keep the water temperature constant by using an aquarium heater. Are you worried about overheating your betta fish’s tank? Do not worry because we have a few examples of aquarium heaters with built in thermostats. These detect if it reaches the desired temperature of the water and then shuts off the heater. When the water cools by a degree then the heater turns back on.
Make sure that your heater is suited to the volume of your betta fish’s tank. You can also consider setting up your fish tank in a room that doesn’t get too cold. The recommended wattage may not be enough if the room gets too cold.
Your betta can live for around 3 to 5 years and it would be great if it lives a happy and healthy life in your care. Give your betta fish the best environment for it to thrive by using a submersible aquarium heater and monitoring temperature with an accurate aquarium thermometer.