Wondering how often you should feed a betta fish? This guide is for you!
How often you feed your betta depends on the type of diet you have chosen for him. Also, you have to consider whether the pet betta is healthy. A sick betta will not eat much.
The dietary needs of bettas also depend on age and gender. Younger betta fish have a higher metabolic rate, although they cannot eat much at a go.
Ideally, betta fish should be fed twice a day; once in the morning and again in the evening. However, this may change depending on special circumstances. For example, some adult betta fish make do with one heavy meal daily. On the other hand, baby betta fish eat smaller servings and should be fed more than twice daily.
Healthy betta fish eat between 4 and 12 pellets per day, depending on the age and gender of the fish.
Ensure that your betta finishes his meal within five minutes of giving it to him. This is because pellets that stay longer than this in water are likely to start rotting and become a health hazard.
Don’t give your fish all these pellets at once, but keep serving in bits as he clears them.
Preparing to Feed Your Betta Fish
To understand how often and how much you should feed your betta, you need to make the right meal choice.
Betta fish have a high metabolic rate because of their tropical lands ancestry. Therefore, they need foods rich in calories to keep up with their lifestyle of swimming, playing, breeding, and flaring.
Big bettas have a long fin, which requires considerable energy to maintain and move along. As such, your betta fish needs to be fed well.
Bettas in the wild thrive on carnivorous diets of insects and insect larvae. This tells you that bettas are essentially carnivorous.
However, wild bettas can also be fed betta pellets and betta flakes. Most of these foods are made of about 65% animal protein and 35% plant protein.
In as much as you can, avoid feeding your betta plants and plant extracts directly. Instead, opt for high-quality commercial products fortified to promote good health in your pet fish.
How much you feed your betta also depends on pellet size. Unfortunately, betta pellets are not of the same size. As such, it’s crucial you keenly follow the instructions provided by the manufacturers.
More important, you need to understand your betta’s needs and personality. Every betta fish is unique, and you need to know how best to handle yours.
Commercial betta food products should not be kept for more than 6 months.
If your betta has not finished this food by this time, you should discard the product because it is no longer beneficial.
Some betta fish products expire around this time, and it would be harmful to your pet to continue feeding him these products.
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
As noted earlier, how much you feed your betta depends on age and gender. Other factors that come into play include how healthy this fish is.
If your betta fish is recovering from a health mishap, it may not eat as much or as often as a healthy betta.
You’ll have to be more patient with his feeding habits as you nurse him back to health. You’ll have to feed this betta smaller but more frequent meals, topped with his favorite treats.
Healthy bettas thrive on meat-based ingredients. So your betta fish will be happy if you can provide him with meat-based products and little of anything else.
This is true to the evolutionary nature of bettas since they are carnivores.
Elderly bettas cannot eat a lot in one sitting. This is not unusual, considering that the metabolic rate of geriatric animals (including humans) slows down.
Also, the capacity of baby bettas is small. Although they have a high metabolic rate, they can’t eat big meals in one sitting.
As such, baby bettas need to be fed smaller meals – but more frequently.
Adult bettas thrive on two meals of protein-based fish food. However, avoid feeding your betta more than two meals, which could introduce health complications.
You should realize that some bettas keep feeding as long as the food is available. This is an evolutionary habit betta fish get from their wild ancestry.
Wild bettas may not have enough to eat, and their next meal is never guaranteed. As such, they eat as much as possible whenever food is available.
What’s the Best Betta Food?
The best betta food consists of protein ingredients. So take care that you don’t purchase fishmeal instead of the actual meat ingredients.
Also, consider that betta fish feed at the tank’s surface. As such, the food you provide for them should not sink too fast to the bottom, as your betta may not get to them in good time.
Here are some of the best betta food diets used by keepers:
Live Insects and Insect Larvae
Bettas thrive on insects and insect larvae they catch in rivers, ponds, and marshes. Without a doubt, fresh insects are your betta’s favorite meal.
Count yourself lucky if you live around a good supplier of fresh insects and insect larvae. This is because not every betta fish keeper is that fortunate.
Some have to have these insects shipped from other regions. Such keepers are content to use live insects and insect larvae as treats for their betta pets.
A way around this challenge is to grow your own insect colony. This is not hard to accomplish if you know how to go about it.
You just need a few insect eggs and breed them under the right conditions. Before long, you’ll have an ample supply of insects and insect larvae for your betta fish.
Frozen Betta Fish Food
These insects and insect larvae are kept frozen until they are needed to feed the betta fish.
Frozen foods have the same nutritional value as live insects. Therefore, you need to thaw this food before feeding it to your fish.
This is because bettas don’t eat frozen food as it would mess up their temperature levels. Warm the frozen insects for about 15 to 20 minutes until they thaw.
Then allow the meal to sit for 10 minutes before dropping it in manageable pieces into the tank.
Food that remains after your betta is full should be discarded. For this reason, only the food you know your pet will finish.
Betta Pellets Fish Food
Betta pellets are a good choice of food for your betta fish. If your source is credible, you’ll get meat-based pellets fortified to make your pet betta strong and healthy.
Be sure to source for micro-sized pellets. You’d not want to feed your betta pellets too big to choke him.
Also, oversized pellets are too heavy and quickly sink to the bottom of the tank.
How many pellets you feed your betta fish depends on some factors. For example, what’s its age and gender?
Generally speaking, baby bettas should be fed between 3 and 6 pellets per day. But, of course, the frequency of feeding this baby will have to increase because of his high metabolic rate.
So, although a baby betta may not eat a lot, he compensates by eating 2 or 3 meals a day. Fry are fed even more meals because of their metabolic needs.
Adult bettas need about 5 to 12 pellets per day. So if you’re feeding your betta fish once a day, the meal will have to be heavy – about 7 or 8 pellets.
If you feed the fish twice daily, you can divide each meal into 5 or 6 pellets.
Very active bettas can take up to 8 pellets per meal. Therefore, these animals expend a lot of energy in their activities, which has to be rapidly replenished.
Freeze-Dried Betta Food
Freeze-dried foods are not as nutritious or tasty as live or frozen foods. Also, freeze-dried foods lack essential minerals and ingredients that would make your betta’s life better and healthier.
Most betta fish find it hard to digest and absorb free-dried foods. As such, this should be one of your last options regarding the betta diet.
It ranks in the same category as betta flakes. Like betta flakes, freeze-dried foods present a serious choking hazard.
Betta Flakes Fish Food
This is the last food item you should feed your betta. Although betta fish do eat flakes, this item is more disadvantageous than beneficial to betta fish and other tropical fish species.
It’s hard to get the right size to fit in your betta’s mouth. If the flakes crumble into small pieces, they rapidly sink to the bottom of the tank.
If the pieces are too big, they get stuck in your betta’s mouth, and he may choke to death. This is more so because flakes become sticky when they come into contact with water.
Although some keepers feed their betta fish flakes, avoid it if you can. It should be at the very bottom of your best betta food options.
Betta Food Treats
Different bettas have different choices of treats. A treat is a food item that your betta food finds tasty and enjoyable, and can have plenty of it.
Avoid giving your betta fish too many treats because most treats may not have the health benefits you need in your fish.
What Does a Baby Betta Feed On?
A baby betta needs a protein-rich diet, just like its parents. You should make this diet diverse and interesting.
Among the things you can feed your baby betta are live insects and insect larvae such as tubifex worms, black worms, bloodworms, white worms, and mosquito larvae.
Baby bettas also do well when fed frozen foods such as frozen brine shrimp. Also, consider feeding this animal pellets it can comfortably handle.
Betta fry feed more frequently than adult bettas. Because they are fast-growing, fry need more fat and protein content than adults.
Also, baby bettas have a higher metabolic rate. This means their energy requirements are higher than those of adults.
While adult bettas should be fed twice a day, feeding the baby bettas about 4 times a day is advisable.
This is more so considering that baby bettas cannot consume much food in one meal.
The good news is that baby bettas are not so choosy in their diet. They can live on any baby fish food until they are 9 months old.
Why Overfeeding Your Betta Fish is Dangerous
To stay happy and healthy, your betta fish should always have enough to eat. However, it is easy to over-feed this fish considering its huge appetite.
Most betta fish keep eating as long as the food is available. So don’t be tempted to give your pet betta more than it should consume.
Over-feeding your betta comes with its set of problems.
Overfeeding Causes Health Issues
An overfed fish is more likely to have a bloated stomach than one that is not. The problem with over-feeding your pet betta is that this animal won’t know when it’s had enough.
It will keep eating to the point of serious illness or death.
Over-feeding Creates Toxic Waste
Giving your betta fish too much food creates toxic waste that may be hard to control.
As leftover food accumulates in the tank, it rots and produces dangerous chemicals such as nitrates and ammonia.
Contributes to Algae Build-up
Decomposing food supports the growth of dangerous organisms such as black beard algae. Algae and other hazardous microorganisms change the balance and stability of the tank environment.
They mess up the lives of the betta fish and its tank mates, plants, and other beneficial organisms in the tank.
Can You Give Human Food to Betta Fish?
To feed your betta fish human food, the food must have betta-friendly nutrients. This is the only way you’ll maintain your pet betta’s health, strength, and vivacity.
Never replace betta food with human food. If anything, you can only use human food as a supplement or a treat.
Human Foods Your Betta Can Eat
Here’s a look at some human foods you can feed your pet betta fish:
Shrimp and Tuna
Your betta fish will relish a meal of fresh, raw shrimp and tuna. Make sure that the shrimp is not seasoned. The tuna should not have too much commercial oil.
This meal is best served to your betta fish boiled, and with the outer skin removed. Your pet will enjoy a number of soft, boiled kernels.
Mango should be used as a delicacy or treat to be fed to your betta fish once or twice every two weeks.
However, take care not to leave mangoes in the tank, as this can be fatal. Instead, remove any mango leftovers from the tank within 20 minutes of feeding it to the fish.
Your betta fish will be happy to receive soft cucumbers, lettuce, and spinach meal. Slice these vegetables into small pieces that your betta fish can handle efficiently.
Green peas are loaded with fiber and other important nutrients. Feeding your betta fish a green peas diet helps alleviate constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues.
Remove any leftover peas within 30 minutes, because they can produce toxins if allowed to decompose in the water.
Human Foods You Should Not Feed Your Betta Fish
Here’s a look at some human food you should not feed your pet betta fish:
Being an acidic food item, citrus fruits will mess up the pH level in your betta’s tanks. As a result, the water will become more acidic, seriously compromising your pet’s health and overall wellbeing.
Your betta fish cannot survive entirely on plant-based foods. Bettas are carnivorous animals and do best with meat-based diets.
Bettas should not be fed roots as this will lead to starvation due to a lack of protein.
Bettas, in their natural setting, thrive on insects and insect larvae. So, if you think of providing meat for this animal, think along these lines.
Meat from farm animals is too high in fat to be suitable for your betta. Therefore, avoid meat from chicken, cows, pigs, and other farm-based meats.
These will only make your betta’s life miserable and short.
Fish adds no value to your betta fish. If anything, it makes things worse in the betta tank by promoting algae growth and other dangerous microorganisms.
Why Won’t My Betta Fish Eat?
Betta keepers get worried when their betta fish refuses to eat. And there are valid reasons you should be concerned when your pet betta won’t eat.
Here are some reasons betta fish shun food:
You’re Overfeeding Your Betta
A betta’s stomach is relatively small, really. There’s so much this organ can hold before it starts bloating, and your betta becomes uncomfortable.
The problem starts when you feed your pet too much. Unfortunately, you probably don’t stick to the feeding times, giving this animal too much food in every meal.
It gets to a point your betta fish cannot take any more; try as it might. But, unfortunately, this might open the door to a raft of health complications.
Your Betta Fish is Picky
Your pet may refuse to eat because it doesn’t like a specific diet. This will likely happen if you have recently changed your betta diet arrangements.
This fish will keep ignoring the food until you give it back its favorite diet.
The Betta Fish is New
New betta fish often feel lost, confused, and disoriented. Give him time to get his bearing
if you have just brought in a new betta.
He may not want to see you or the food you put into the tank until he familiarizes himself with his new home.
With time, your betta will be more comfortable and receptive to your food offers.
Feeding Your Betta Fish When on Vacation
Although betta fish can stay for up to 14 days without food, they should not go for more than a day without eating.
Betta fish should ideally be fed twice a day. However, you can set aside one day weekly for fasting. Fasting allows your betta’s digestive system to unclog and clear.
If you plan to take a vacation, you can make arrangements for your betta to get its food in one of three ways:
- Ask a trusted friend or relative to feed your betta in your absence. Ensure this person knows how to go about this.
- Use a timed vacation feeder to drop a specified amount of fish food into the tank at particular times.
- Put a betta food block into the tank. The food in the blood dissipates slowly, keeping your betta well-nourished as you enjoy your holiday.
Many betta keepers prefer to use a vacation feeder for its convenience. A vacation feeder can be set to serve for 2 days, a week, and 2 weeks.
It works by releasing pre-arranged food blocks into the tank. Once this block comes into contact with the water, it dissolves, slowly releasing food to your pet betta.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long can a betta fish go without food?
Bettas can go for up to 14 or 15 days without food. However, making your betta go for a couple of days without food is torture on the fish.
Ensure your betta fish is well-fed, whether you are around or away on vacation.
Is betta food in the wild better than home food?
Arguably, betta fish in the wild have access to the best foods. They thrive on insects and insect larvae richly found in rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes.
However, wild bettas cannot afford to be choosy even when the food is compromised. Captive betta fish get better food if they are under a responsible keeper.
For this reason, captive betta fish have a longer lifespan than their wild counterparts.
Are tropical flakes good for betta fish?
It would be wrong to feed tropical flakes to your betta fish because this food does not have the nutrients your pet needs.
For example, the protein level in tropical flakes is negligible. As such, your betta fish would starve feeding on this food.
Does fasting help my betta fish?
If you have been feeding your fish consistently and are in good health, making it fast once a week is a good idea.
Weekly fasting is a good remedy for constipation and bloating. It unclogs the digestive system and allows the betta fish to continue feeding normally.
What happens when my betta goes for a week without food?
Betta fish get severely affected when they’re not given proper nutrition. For example, some betta fish cannot resume regular feeding if they’re made to go for 4 days.
Their digestive system shuts down, and they’ll come down with illness and might die. As such, you must stick to your pet’s feeding schedule.
Can I feed my betta fish goldfish food?
Bettas and goldfish share some food items. Your betta can eat goldfish food if it can digest it. However, replacing your betta’s food with any other food is not a good idea.
Get acquainted with your betta’s anatomy to understand how often and how much you should feed this fish.
Different bettas have different feeding needs, and it’s best you know yours. Generally speaking, however, a betta fish should be fed about 5-12 pellets, each the size of the betta’s eyeball.
Also, it has been widely accepted that bettas should be fed once or twice a day – but fry can be fed more times because their stomachs are tiny.