“How Often Should I Feed My Betta Fish?” is a question often asked by hobby aquarists who are thinking of taking one of these incredibly beautiful fish as a pet.
In order for your betta fish to stay healthy, it must be fed the correct, nutritionally balanced diet. But what do betta fish eat? In this comprehensive guide, we tell you how much to feed a betta fish and give you all the information you need to give your new betta friend everything it needs to thrive.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU FEED A BETTA FISH?
Each container of betta fish food lists the manufacturer’s recommended feeding amounts, but these can be very misleading. Overfeeding your fish can cause serious health problems for your pet, as well as polluting your aquarium water and increasing the bioload on your filtration system.
So how often should you feed your betta fish?
Some bettas are greedy and will eat whatever you are willing to offer them. It’s probably because wild bettas have to eat while they get the chance. For example, a single mosquito landing in the water might be the only food a betta gets for a couple of days, so these fish tend to make the most of every feeding opportunity.
Many owners love their pets and give the fish treats and as much food as the critters eat. Unfortunately, overfeeding leads to serious health problems for fish, including bloating, obesity, constipation, and swim bladder problems. Also, overfeeding can do more work for your filtration system, as uneaten food moves into the substrate, where it gradually breaks down, contaminating the water and harboring bacteria.
I recommend feeding your betta only once or twice six days a week, offering only enough food to last a minute or so. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but to put things in perspective, a betta fish ‘s stomach is about the same size as its eye. And when you consider that most betta fish pellet foods swell to about twice their size when wet, you can see that it doesn’t take much food to fill a betta’s stomach!
Once your betta has eaten, it takes time for the food to be processed through its digestive system before the waste passes through it. Live and frozen foods contain virtually zero dry matter, so they pass relatively quickly and smoothly through the betta’s gastrointestinal tract. However, dried granules and flakes swell noticeably when exposed to water, meaning they pass slowly through the fish, sometimes accumulating and causing blockages.
A very effective way to prevent that from happening is to starve your betta fish one day a week. That’s not being cruel to your pet, but it’s for their own good! In the wild, a betta fish can survive up to two weeks without any food, so a day of fasting won’t harm your pet.
One fast day a week is fine for your betta, but what can you do if you’re on vacation or on business?
A high-quality vacation fish feeder is a great solution to that potential problem, and can even save the lives of fish keepers who work odd hours and shifts, meaning they’re not around to feed their fish at regular hours.
What is a holiday feeder?
A vacation fish feeder is an automated, programmable food dispensing system that you can set up to feed your betta fish at preset times throughout each day. Vacation feeders are usually battery-powered or powered via a mains connection. Of the two options, battery powered feeders are the most popular as they cannot fail in the event of a power outage. However, you must remember to recharge the feeder battery regularly.
You can choose feeders that have multiple food bowls, which you fill with your betta’s food. The feeder has a timer that spins the food containers, dropping the food into your fish’s aquarium at a pre-selected time, or times, of your choosing. Most automated fish feeders can dispense dry food, frozen thawed food, and even live food.
WHAT DO BETTA FISH EAT?
Wild bettas eat primarily fleshy prey, such as insect larvae and water-bound insects that they pick up from the surface of the water. However, they also eat a small amount of plant matter. Therefore, your pet betta needs a high protein diet and will not get the nutritional balance it needs from tropical flakes alone.
CHECK PRODUCT LABELS
When purchasing flake or pellet betta food, always check the ingredient list on the package. The ingredients at the top of the list must be meat-based and the total protein content of the food must be at least 40%, preferably more.
Take a look at your betta fish and you’ll see that it has an upturned mouth full of tiny white teeth. That conformation perfectly equips your fish to feed at the surface of the water. In addition, the betta fish’s sharp teeth ensure that insects caught by the fish cannot escape.
For that reason, you should always choose floating pellets that are specifically designed for surface feeders. If your fish’s food sinks right away, they may not get enough to eat, and the uneaten food will contaminate the tank water, as well as wasting your money!
BE CAREFUL WITH THE FILLERS
One of the reasons bettas suffer from health problems like bloating and constipation is that they have a short digestive tract. That makes it hard for fish to digest “fillers,” including grains used in many pellet and flake foods.
These stuffing products do not contain any nutritional value and are only used to stuff the product instead of more expensive fish and meat. Therefore, when choosing betta fish food, avoid anything that contains high volumes of fillers.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF betta FOOD
There is a wide range of betta fish food that you can feed your pet to provide a balanced and nutritious diet.
Never give your betta fish regular tropical fish or goldfish flakes. Those products do not contain the high-protein requirements your betta companion needs to thrive. Instead, look for flake foods that are specifically formulated for the needs of a betta fish.
The main drawback to feeding flakes is that they tend to sink once wet, and some bettas don’t eat flake food at all.
Baby pellets are made specifically with the requirements of a betta fish in mind. The pellets are packed with all the protein and nutritional ingredients your fish needs for good health, and they also have an all-natural color-enhancing additive to make your betta’s colors really pop.
Crucially, baby pellets are just the right size for a betta’s tiny mouth, and they also float, reducing waste and allowing the fish plenty of time to eat their food.
Betta pellets are a very popular variety of fish food that is available at all good fish stores.
Betta food pellets should be designed to float on the surface of the water, but it’s a good idea to soak the pellets before offering them to your pet so you can more accurately measure the volume of food your pet is ingesting, thereby preventing overfeeding.
freeze dried food
If you don’t like the idea of feeding live foods to your betta, freeze-dried products offer a wonderful alternative. Freeze – dried bloodworms and brine shrimp are a perfect addition to your fish’s diet as they are packed with protein and guaranteed to be free of the parasites that sometimes come with live foods.
The main drawback of feeding freeze-dried foods is that they have had their moisture removed and may also contain stabilizing additives. I recommend that you soak freeze-dried foods in a small amount of tank water before feeding your fish to increase moisture in the food, which helps prevent bloat.
Freeze-dried foods are an ideal treat, but should not be the mainstay of your fish’s diet as they are not nutritionally balanced enough and can cause bloating if fed in large quantities.
Frozen foods are an extremely convenient way to introduce high-quality, meaty protein into your betta’s diet. You can purchase a wide variety of frozen foods, including bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and tubifex worms, all of which will be greatly appreciated by your betta.
Frozen foods come conveniently packaged in cubes that you can store in your freezer until you want to use them. Simply remove a cube from the package, thaw it in a small tank of water, and then feed it to your fish.
In the wild, most of the betta fish’s diet consists of insects and insect larvae. You can replicate that in the captive environment by feeding your betta fish live food. Most fish stores sell some live food items, and if you want, you can even raise your own at home.
Mosquito larvae form an important part of a wild betta ‘s diet, and your pet in a tank will love them, too. You can breed mosquito larvae at home, using a starter grow kit.
Bloodworms are not actually worms, but are actually midge fly larvae. These wriggly little creatures live in pools of stagnant water and ponds and make up a large part of a wild betta ‘s diet. However, you should only include bloodworms as a treat for your captive betta fish rather than their main food, as while bloodworms are rich in iron, they lack amino acids.
Wingless fruit flies
Wingless fruit flies can be grown at home, simply by raising them in a small container. Never remove flies from the wild, as they can carry diseases that could harm your pet.
Brine shrimp can also be raised at home in a DIY brine shrimp hatchery. These little crustaceans contain vitamins, protein, and important amino acids that combine to provide fish with plenty of nutritious protein and more.
Mysis shrimp are a great food for bettas. The shrimp’s exoskeleton contains a lot of fiber, which aids in the digestion of protein in the betta’s diet. Plus, these little critters are packed with amino acids and moisture, both of which are vital to fish health.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU FEED YOUR BETTA FISH?
As mentioned earlier in this guide, bettas have very small stomachs and a short digestive tract. A betta fish’s tiny stomach is about the same size as its eye, so you can see that it doesn’t take much for your fish to be overfed.
Dry foods, including flakes and granules, swell to twice their size when exposed to moisture. Therefore, feed your fish only small amounts to prevent them from becoming bloated or constipated, both of which are serious health problems for bettas.
Feeding live and frozen foods is a good idea as they closely mimic what fish would eat in the wild and are what their digestive systems have evolved to process. Therefore, adding small amounts of these foods as a regular component of your pet’s diet can help keep your betta’s gastrointestinal tract in good working order.
betta fish feed chart
Here is a helpful chart that shows you when and what to feed your betta fish to keep your pet healthy and happy without overfeeding.
If you are raising betta fry, you will need to feed them more often, ideally two to four times a day.
WHY WON’T YOUR BETTA FISH EAT?
Without a good diet, your fish will not thrive, so if your betta is refusing to eat or its appetite seems to be declining, you should investigate.
Many new owners get their betta home and install it in a perfectly decorated and equipped tank only to find that their new pet won’t eat. With bettas, loss of appetite or lack of interest in food is not uncommon and is usually caused by stress.New home syndrome is a very common cause of poor appetite in bettas.
Introducing new tank mates or even cleaning your betta’s tank can also stress him out, with the result that he won’t eat.
WATER CONDITIONS AND TEMPERATURE SHOCK
Temperature fluctuations in the tank can cause a loss of interest in food. If the water in the tank cools below 76° Fahrenheit, your betta fish ‘s metabolism slows down, leaving it sluggish and uninterested in food. Check the temperature of the water in the tank and, if necessary, increase it to between 76° and 81° Fahrenheit.
Dirty tank water that has high levels of ammonia and nitrites will make a betta fish sick and therefore they will not eat. Use an aquarium water test kit to determine if there is a problem with the water quality and perform a partial water change if necessary.
HOW OLD IS YOUR BETTA?
Older fish are less active and need less food. In captivity, bettas have an average lifespan of between three and five years. So if your pet is at the higher end of that range, don’t be too surprised if he becomes calmer and his appetite is reduced.
ILLNESS AND ILLNESS
When a previously healthy fish stops eating and you rule out the above problems, you probably have a health problem. Therefore, be aware of the symptoms of a disease and treat the problem with the appropriate medication immediately.
In the wild, betta fish are primarily carnivorous, feeding on insects and insect larvae. Pet bettas kept in captivity can be fed a diet of pellets or flake food specially formulated for betta, enhanced with regular servings of frozen food, freeze-dried food, and fresh live food.
To keep your betta’s digestive system in good shape and prevent diet-related health problems from affecting your pet, feed your betta once or twice a day, six days a week, including one day fast when you have no food.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our betta fish feeding guide. If you have any questions, please post them in the comment box below, and don’t forget to share and like the article.