Can Betta Fish Live in Cold Water?

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Betta fish are definitely one of the most popular pet fish around the world today. They look amazing, with their magnificently colored tails. On top of that, they are quite small and have a reputation of being low-maintenance pets. But does that mean that Betta fish can live in cold water, too?

Even if they do not require a lot of space or attention from their owners, placing them in a bowl filled with water at room temperature is definitely not a good idea.

Bettas are tropical fish, which means they can’t live in cold water. Betta fish are quite sensitive to low temperatures and can significantly affect their health if the water temperature stays below 70 °F (21 °C) for a longer period.

In the wild, bettas can be found mostly in Asia, among slow-moving streams of shallow marshes and ponds, where the water temperature is warm and relative stable.

Betta Fish Water Temperature

Betta fish love spending their lives in water which imitates well the conditions of their natural habitats, ranging ideally from 76 to 86 °F (25-30 °C).

Such temperature levels are slightly above standard room temperatures, but they do require such ranges to live a long, normal and happy life. And not only, as they additionally require quite a lot of plants in their tanks, too.

Plant-filled tanks with warm water will recreate their ideal natural environmental conditions and will, consequentially, ensure a strong metabolism to your fish pets.

How Long Can Betta Fish Survive in Cold Water?

The answer to such a question depends entirely on how cold the water is. However, generally speaking, it is known that Betta fish can survive from 3 to up to 6 months in room-temperature water.

If you compare such brief period to their usual lifespan in captivity, which goes from 3 to 5 years, a few months of life seem like an extremely short period of time. Right?

In lower water temperatures, betta fish are more prompt to diseases and their metabolism also slows down significantly.

Will Cold Water Kill Betta Fish?

Being a tropical fish, cold water can surely kill Bettas. Perhaps not immediately, but cold water will lead to the death of your Betta pets eventually.

Proper temperature levels of the water in which they live in ensures for Betta fish to have a healthy metabolism. That is why anything that is outside of such levels can seriously damage their metabolism over time.

They will soon start looking quite lethargic and lazy and, as a consequence, will not be able to digest enough food quantities. Adding to that, their immune system can drop significantly when in cold water, making them less resistant to various infections.

Can Betta Fish Get Sick from Cold Water?

Here, the answer is extremely simple: yes, Betta fish can surely get sick from cold water. And not only, but cold water can eventually bring to their death, too.

First of all, keeping your pet fish into cold water means that it will (sooner or later) have a weakened immune system. Same as for humans, a weak immune system leads to all kinds of infections and illnesses.

For instance, fish are extremely fragile when it comes to protecting themselves from bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections. If your pet is spending days in cold water, it certainly means that they will get sick. Maybe not the same day, but they will, eventually.

Another health problematic issue occurs when they stop eating normal amounts of food, due to their tank water being too cold. Some fish may survive with no issue in room-temperature waters, but this is not the case with tropical fish like Bettas.

They need warm water, among many other reasons, to get the right quantities of oxygen from it. When placed into the water that is too cold for them, Betta fish will not be able to collect enough oxygen, which will make them become extremely sleepy and unable to feed properly.

An ultimately dangerous sickness that is often caused by poor water conditions is the Popeye disease. This involves fish getting really swollen and cloudy eyes. If you notice such a condition in your pet fish, it probably means that their eyes protrude abnormally from their sockets and that they are already seriously affected by an infection.

All water temperatures which are below the ideal ones can lead to serious health complications of your colorful tiny pets, so please do make sure that right levels are provided at all times.

Betta Fish Cold-Water Shock Symptoms

Sometimes, when water temperatures are lower from tropical levels, Betta fish can fall into a cold-water shock. This temperature shock can cause a lot of stress to your fish.

Such state can be spotted at an early stage and save their life, so it is crucially important for owners to know how to recognize the symptoms. Acting quickly in such situations can save your pet’s life.

Seeing your fish spending time at the bottom of the tank can often be a sign of a cold-water shock. Indeed, when deprived from suitable water temperatures, Bettas will often rest at the bottom of the tank. The reason is quite simple here: they do not have enough energy to swim up.

However, the most obvious symptoms are two: lethargy and coma. Fish which are in a too-cold environment are not able of moving normally, so will often seem sleepy. Unlike humans, tropical fish cannot warm themselves up by moving, but rather collect heath from their environment.

That is why seeing your pet fish swimming less and less is a clear sign that they are not getting enough warmth from the water. Ultimately, fish that are being too long in cold water can fall into a coma.

This often looks quite similar to them being dead, so please make sure your pets are alive by warming their water first.

Wrapping Up

Many owners have similar experiences when heading to buy their next Betta fish. For instance, they often get their new pets in a small, decorative bowl, filled with room-temperature water. However, this does not mean that they should be left in such bowl for a long time, as Betta fish cannot live in cold water.

Providing ideal water temperature levels is essential. This ensures a normal metabolism functioning, as well as the right levels of oxygen that Betta fish need to survive. A simple heater is not too much of an investment, but it will certainly provide a healthier life to your fish.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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