Wondering what betta fish eat? This guide is for you!
The best way to make your betta happy and healthy is to provide it with the best food possible. So what is the best food for your betta?
This would have to be the food this fish would enjoy in its natural habitat.
In the wild, bettas thrive on protein-rich foods such as insect larvae and insects. Therefore, the best food you can give your betta has to be a recreation of the natural foods bettas enjoy in their natural settings. Importantly, these foods should provide this fish with all its nutritional needs.
Try to base your betta’s diet on proteins instead of plants as much as possible. It would help to keep in mind that your little friend is a carnivore, not an omnivore.
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
Being carnivores, the betta diet should mainly comprise protein-rich foods. However, a close look at what this fish eats in the wild reveals that worms, tiny fish, insect larvae, insects, and crustaceans are its delicacy.
These foods can easily be recreated in the home aquarium with servings of foods like betta pellets, betta flakes, brine shrimps, bloodworms, and tubifex worms.
Other betta-friendly home-based foods include Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae.
How Often Should You Feed Your Betta Fish?
Betta fish can be voracious eaters – they sometimes keep eating as long as they see food in the tank.
This is a result of thousands of years of evolutionary habit. In the wild, bettas have to eat whenever they see food because they are not guaranteed their next meal.
As such, you need to take care not to overfeed your little water friend. It is recommended to feed your betta fish twice a day.
A good morning and an evening meal are enough to keep your betta healthy and happy. As long as the meals are mostly protein-based, your betta fish will radiate robust health.
However, feeding your adult betta one substantial daily meal would not be a bad idea.
While this is not appropriate for baby bettas, adult bettas can take one meal because they eat more food per session.
Also, experts advise fasting your adult betta at least once a week. This means putting them on a no-food day every 7 days to prevent constipation.
Fasting allows the betta to clear all undigested foods from the system. It unclogs the digestive system and negates any effect of over-feeding.
Don’t fear that the one-day fast will starve your betta. Bettas are hardy animals and can go for up to 15 days without food.
Actually, your concern should be more on over-feeding your betta rather than starving them!
How Much Should You Feed Your Betta Fish?
Like humans, betta feeding should be done in moderation. Too much or too little food will counter your efforts and best intentions for this little animal.
We have established that you should feed your betta once or twice a day. Pay close attention to how much food you give your betta per feeding session.
Essentially, the amount of food your betta eats per feeding time depends on age, gender, and betta type.
For most bettas, 3 medium-sized pellets should be enough. This, given twice a day, is enough to energize your betta.
Also, 2 pieces of any frozen or freeze-dried medium-sized insects per meal are okay.
The critical thing to remember is to avoid over-feeding your fish. The thing about bettas is that they keep eating as long as the food is presented to them.
Equally importantly, take care not to put too much food in the tank at once. Most of these foods will either settle at the bottom of the tank or remain floating as leftovers.
Food leftovers are hazardous because they contribute to the build-up of ammonia, nitrites, and other toxins.
To avoid this, make it a habit to regularly empty your betta’s fish tank and clean it. This will not remove leftover food particles, but rid the tank of other wastes.
Do not allow food particles to start rotting in the tank, which is detrimental to your fish’s health.
How to Feed Your Betta Fish
Betta fish are some of the easiest pets to feed. You just need to drop their food pellets on the water’s surface, and the fish will gobble them up as they fall through the water column.
Bettas are also good hunters and scavengers, so to speak. They spend considerable time looking for food at the bottom of the tank and behind the plants and decorations.
This habit can be dangerous because your betta fish will likely feed on food leftovers that have settled at the bottom of the tank.
Food leftovers in a watery environment decay pretty fast. So if your betta fish keeps feeding on these, it won’t be long before your start seeing signs of disease and infection in your beloved pet.
This is why you should not put too much food in the tank at once. It’s also why you should regularly change the water and clean the tank to eliminate such waste.
What Are the Best Types of Betta Food?
To make your betta happy, provide him with foods that replicate the kind of diet he’d enjoy in the wild.
Also, offer your little friend various options to keep him interested in the food. It will also benefit choosy eaters.
Here’s a look at some of the best foods for your betta fish:
These are the foods your betta would eat were it in the wild and not a captive in the home tank. They are mostly insect larvae and insects.
Mosquito larvae are one of betta fish’s most favorite foods in the wild. As such, your betta fish at home will readily take to this meal.
This food is readily available in live and online pet shops in most parts of the world. You can also start your own mosquito larvae breeding a culture where you’ll harvest them whenever necessary.
Of course, starting a breeder culture means you should have enough time or dedicated personnel to tend to it.
In the wild, bloodworms are available in plenty. In addition, betta fish in the wild are more likely to feed on bloodworms than any other meal.
This insect larva is readily available and inexpensive.
Because of their high iron content, bloodworms have a reddish appearance. They are also rich in protein and minerals.
Most bettas also consider this insect larva a delicacy. So this is a good choice of food even for picky eaters.
Your betta will enjoy chasing after the bloodworms as they wiggle in the water. They are not only good nourishment, but they also awaken your betta’s primal hunting instincts.
The only downside to this diet is that it lacks essential amino acids. As such, you can’t make it your betta’s main food diet.
Mysis Shrimp/Opossum Shrimp
This food item is too large to be considered an actual shrimp. However, they are protein-laden, making them ideal for your betta.
They are a good nutrition option, especially if you want to gut-load your betta fish for any reason.
Mysis shrimp’s exoskeleton is rich in fiber, which helps your betta fish to digest and absorb protein.
The downside to this diet is that it is not as readily available as other live betta fish foods.
This diet is laden with proteins, vitamins, and other minerals. Since betta fish in the wild prey on this diet a lot, it will be a welcome addition to the tank.’
Brine shrimp are more readily available than the Mysis shrimp and are also a good alternative.
However, this particular food item is easily contaminated. Therefore, you need to take care that you source it only from reputable dealers, those who handle pet products with utmost care and hygiene.
Your betta fish’s first food choice should be live insects and insect larvae. This is because bettas survive entirely on these foods in the wild.
However, it is possible that you live in a region where live betta foods are not readily available. You could also want to protect your betta fish from poorly handled live foods.
Your next best option is frozen foods. These foods have most of the nutrients you’d find in live foods. You purchase them in cubes and keep them frozen until it’s time to feed them to your fish pet.
Take care not to drop frozen food into the water before thawing it. Frozen food may drastically change the water temperature if put in the tank unthawed.
Also, your betta will shun a meal that is too cold. As such, thaw this food and allow it to sit in the open air for about 15 minutes before feeding it to your fish.
Since frozen food comes in cubes, you must determine whether the cubes are the right size for your fish. Are they too big? You may have to dice them some more for your fish to swallow.
Remember, only defrost the amount of food you intend to feed your betta. Any excess amount should not be put back in the freezer as it’s likely to contain some pathogens due to exposure.
The third option for your betta food is freeze-dried food. We call this the third option because these foods do not give you the same nutritional value as live or frozen foods.
Unlike the other two types of foods above, freeze-dried foods have been dehydrated and added fillers.
Dehydration is done to ensure that the food stays stable during storage. However, the lack of moisture in any betta food can be dangerous in the long run.
Too many freeze-dried foods will constipate your betta and make it bloated. This food uses the betta’s moisture to expand, causing the fish to bloat.
Also, some of the fillers used in these foods pose a risk to your betta’s health.
For these reasons, you should avoid feeding your betta fish freeze-dried food.
However, if you don’t have any option, ensure that you soak them in mineral and vitamin solutions to make them more nutritious.
Freeze-dried foods should be used sparingly or not at all.
Do Betta Fish Eat Human Food?
Humans and bettas have a shared taste in some foods. For example, both eat fish – bettas love small fish, while humans enjoy any kind of fish.
Also, both humans and bettas love shrimp.
As to whether bettas can eat human food, they can. However, to feed or not to feed your betta human food is at your discretion.
Here are some human food items some keepers feed to their betta fish:
Betta fish are carnivores and will feed on small pieces of meat and chicken. However, before you jump into this idea, you should consider the pros and cons.
Also, remember that your betta has so many other viable options.
If offered, your betta will eat bread and wheat products. But why should you do this knowing that your fish is a carnivore?
The risks involved here are too great!
Acidic fruits are harmful to your betta’s health. Also, fruit leftovers in the tank will quickly mess up the environment conducive to betta’s growth and development.
This is a no-no!
Although bettas eat tuna and other small fish, it is too risky to give them this food. Consider the risks vs. the benefits.
Some vegetable items help deal with constipation and bloating. For example, a small piece of cucumber or lettuce may help.
However, vegetables should never be part of your betta’s regular diet.
Why Your Betta Refuses to Eat
- Your little friend is sick and has lost their appetite.
- Fluctuations in water temperature make the betta stressed and lose interest in food.
- Poor or inappropriate food choice makes the betta shun food
- The fish has been scavenging at the bottom of the tank for food leftovers – the tank needs cleaning.
- Constipation due to over-feeding
Why Does My Betta Spit Up Food?
Although this behavior can be alarming for new keepers, it is common. Bettas spit up their food to soften or break it up.
Seeing your betta fish do this tells you to break up its food into smaller pieces as you feed it.
It could also mean that your betta finds the food bland and uninteresting. This tells you to treat your betta or try a different type of food.
Don’t be too worried when your fish keeps spitting up food – unless this is accompanied by other alarming signs.
How Long Can My Betta Fish Go Without Food
Bettas can go for up to 15 days without food. However, this is not to say that you should allow your betta to go for this long without a meal.
As noted earlier, bettas should be fed about once or twice a day. Also, you can set aside one day per week for fasting, which allows your betta to de-congest the digestive system.
So, if you’re planning to go on vacation for any length of time, make arrangements on how your betta will be fed while you’re away.
Making your betta fish go for days without food weakens its immune system and shortens its life expectancy.
Betta fish are some of the easiest pets to feed because they are good eaters. However, because they eat such a wide range of foods, some people regard them as opportunistic feeders.
Don’t allow your betta’s great appetites to mislead you into over-feeding him or giving him just anything that comes your way.
Your betta’s diet should be carefully selected to ensure he maintains his health, bright colors, and good cheer.