Will Your Betta Survive Out Of The Water?

In most cases, a betta fish can live about one to two hours out of the water if the fish is kept moist.

As pet owners, we try our best to give our pets, fish included, a happy and healthy life. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen, leaving us asking questions. If your betta fish jumps out of the tank, or you suffer a leak in your tank, you may be left asking, how long can a betta fish live out of water?

I recently had the horrible experience of walking down to my living room to find that my betta tank cracked and found my betta without water. Although my fish didn’t have water, I managed to save him just in time, allowing the betta to survive.

This experience left me asking, “What happens with betta fish jumping out of the tank” and “how long can a betta out of water survive?” Below, let’s take a closer look at this incredible fish to understand just how long a betta fish can live out of water.

Can Betta Survive Out of Water?

The truth is that a betta may be able to survive some time outside the tank but ultimately will die if left out of water. Bettas are like any fish and must have oxygen to survive. Like other fish, they use their gills to pull oxygen out of the water. A betta requires about 5ppm of oxygen mixed within its water to live a happy and healthy life.

However, unlike a typical fish, a betta can survive longer out of the water, due to an evolutionary development adding an extra organ called the labyrinth to its gills.

Different conditions will determine how long your fish will survive outside the water. Colder climates and environments will allow your fish to live longer. If your fish doesn’t flop and flail out of the water, it may be able to keep valuable energy that could make the difference in keeping it alive.

How Do Betta Breath?

A betta is a special type of fish with an advanced respiratory system. Compared to other fish, they are comfortable living by the water’s surface, gulping air from the surface. Like other fish, bettas use their gills to filter oxygen from the water. The gills help the fish pull in and absorb the oxygen, allowing it to live in an aquatic world. Unlike some fish, betta have a specially developed organ called a labyrinth which may help them survive longer than other fish, even without water.

What Is a Labyrinth?

Betta fish are labyrinth fish, meaning they are capable of breathing oxygen that comes from the atmosphere in addition to the oxygen it pulls from the water. For a betta, the labyrinth is a small organ that is found inside the gills. This special organ may explain why it is common to find fish swimming near the water’s surface.

Is The Labyrinth Organ Common in Fish?

Only about six dozen different fish have the labyrinth organ. That makes it very uncommon. The bulk share of fish species that have this organ is gourami and betta fish. The vast majority of fish with the labyrinth organ live in highly acidic water, hot climates, or areas with a lower amount of oxygen in the water. It is believed that the labyrinth organ was developed to allow these fish to survive, in less than ideal environments.

Can a Betta Jump Out of the Tank?

Jumping is a natural behavior for fish, and betta fish are no different. It is quite natural to see a fish jumping and is often observed in the wild. Fish may jump as they spawn, and certain tropical fish will jump as they catch insects landing on the water’s surface. Scientists are still trying to determine why a fish may jump, but it is entirely possible to watch your betta jump out of the tank.

Why Would Your Betta Jump Out Of The Tank?

There are many theories on why a betta may choose to jump out of the tank. Some scientists believe that jumping may be an attempt to find better quality oxygen, especially if the oxygen in the tank dips below 5 ppm. Others believe that jumping may be a way to help remove parasites from the fish’s body. Still, others simply agree that a betta jumps because it can. It’s common to see adult betta fish jump more often than juveniles. This behavior may be because their body and muscular system are more developed.

How Can I Eliminate My Betta’s Jumping?

Thinking of your fish jumping out of your tank is frightening, but there are ways to help prevent your betta from jumping. Make sure that you keep your fish’s environment stable with highly oxygenated water at a stable temperature. Keep contaminants like nitrates, nitrites, and phosphates to a minimum and practice good maintenance and water care. Be sure to install a net or mesh lid to the surface of your betta’s tank. This protection may make a difference when it comes to keeping your betta fish alive.

If your fish is prone to jumping, consider where your fish will land. A betta may have a better survival rate if it lands on a soft surface than a hard surface. Be sure to have easy access around the entire tank so that you can safely and quickly retrieve your betta fish if it does jump out of the tank.

How Do I Know If My Fish Is Alright?

Finding your fish outside the tank can be alarming and troubling, but if you act quickly enough, you will be able to save your fish. After putting your fish back in the tank, be sure to observe your betta closely. Be sure to look for troubling signs that may indicate the end is near for your fish. Some signs that your fish is dying include discoloration on the fish’s body or fins, or strange movements as it tries to swim. Additionally, your fish may be lethargic or refuse to swim at all. After putting your fish back into the tank, try to give your fish something to eat. A fish with a healthy appetite has a good prognosis.


Your betta is a hardy fish that can survive longer than other fish outside the aquarium. Prevent your fish from jumping out of the tank by providing a clean and healthy environment. Have a mesh or a lid on the tak surface and you will be fine. A betta is a wonderful fish and a great pet to own.

If you want to learn more about Betta’s behavior, advice, and tips, please visit our collection of Betta Tips Articles.

About the author

Hi, I am Alex.
My passion is aquariums. I am especially drawn to betta fish. I love experimenting, learning, researching, and writing about them.

You can find the articles I wrote here

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