In the wild bettas spend most of their time hunting for live food. In your tank, however, they don’t have to worry about this and a lot of people only feed their betta pellets or flakes.
While this isn’t a problem, it’s always good to make sure your betta is getting a varied diet, including live food. So keep reading to find out what the best live food for betta fish is! (And which foods are better of freeze-dried or frozen.)
- Daphnia is recommended for bettas due to its high protein and fiber content, aiding in digestion. It is also easy to breed.
- Mosquito larvae are suggested as they are a staple in the wild betta diet, but caution is advised not to overfeed.
- Black worms, though not as common, are recommended as a treat due to their richness in nutrients, which can enhance bettas’ color.
- Fruit flies, particularly wingless or flightless ones, make a great addition to a betta’s diet, with 1-2 flies per meal recommended.
- Micro worms are easy to culture and provide good nutrients for adult bettas, juveniles, and betta fry, but they should not be the sole food source due to their high fat content.
What Is The Best Live Food For Betta Fish?
There isn’t just one type of live food that’s good for betta fish. In fact, the trick is to make sure that your betta is getting a varied diet. This way he’s getting all the essential nutrients he needs in his diet. In most cases, just one type of food won’t get the job done. So while there isn’t ONE best food, there are multiple foods.
|High in protein and fiber, aids in digestion, easy to breed
|4-6 live daphnia per meal, prevents constipation
|Staple in wild betta diet, provides essential nutrition, easy to breed
|3-5 larvae per feeding, avoid overfeeding
|Rich in nutrients, enhances betta color, should be used as a treat
|2-3 worms per meal, not a staple, can cause constipation
|Similar to wild betta diet, wingless/flightless recommended, adds variety
|1-2 flies per meal, part of a balanced diet
|Easy to culture, suitable for adult bettas and fry, high in protein but high in fat
|Not the sole food source, great for betta fry nutrition
|Small daphnia variant, high protein content, preferable for betta fry
|Use juvenile moina, supplement to betta’s diet
|Supplements betta’s diet, rich, use in moderation, harder to culture in freshwater
|2-3 times a week, requires saltwater for cultivation
|High in fiber, aids digestion, loved by bettas, staple food, easy to breed
|1-2 shrimp per day, staple but not the only food source
|Treat only, high in iron, too rich if overfed, potential for constipation
|1-2 meals per week, not the main food source
1. Daphnia For Betta Fish
Daphnia are a great live food choice for bettas because they’re high in protein and fibre. Out of all the live food you can feed your betta, daphnia is going to have the highest reward with the lower risk.
If you give your betta a lot of pellet or flake food then daphnia can often be a great choice to keep their digestive system moving.
Not only do they eat a lot of plant life which your betta will also ingest, but their skeleton is also filled with fibrous material.
Most of the time you can find daphnia in ponds, pools and other bodies of water. They are also incredibly easy for betta keepers to breed. Once you buy the initial amount you can keep breeding them and breeding them. So you never have to worry about buying more!
When you’re feeding your betta daphnia stick to about 4-6 live daphnia per meal. Because they’re great at keeping your bettas digestive system moving, you don’t have to worry as much about constipation, however, overfeeding will still result in weight gain.
(Find out more about daphnia for bettas.)
2. Mosquito Larvae For Betta Fish
Unlike a lot of other live foods, mosquito larvae are one of the staple meals of bettas in the wild. After all, they are insectivores. Because of this you should make sure you’re feeding your betta mosquito larvae whenever you can.
If you’re going to feed your betta mosquito larvae, make sure that you’re not overdoing it. You should only feed 3-5 larvae at a time, and if in between these he stops eating then stop adding them to your tank.
You can feed your betta mosquito larvae a couple of times a day, however, while they do provide most of his nutrition it’s still important to mix things up.
Just like daphnia, mosquito larvae are incredibly easy to breed. In fact, if you suffer from mosquitoes in your area then you know all too well, how quickly they procreate.
The only issue is making sure that the larvae never reach adolescence. At this point, they’re going to become a real pain and you’ll have to end up swatting most of them.
If you grow mosquito larvae that you see in the wild and keep them refrigerated for up to two weeks. However, make sure that you know the larvae haven’t been contaminated by pesticides.
3. Black Worms For Betta Fish
Black worms may not be as common as a lot of other foods on this list, but don’t let that deter you. They are a fantastic part of a balanced diet and provide a good amount of the nutrients bettas require.
When you feed your betta black worms, you’ll notice their color improve because of the high amount of protein and nutrients found in them. While they shouldn’t be a staple of your bettas diet, they can be used as a treat.
However, while black worms are a fantastic choice they shouldn’t be considered a staple part of your betta’s diet. They’re extremely rich in nutrients and if fed too much they can cause problems with the digestive system such as constipation.
When you’re feeding your betta black worms you should only stick to 2-3 per meal, and make sure they aren’t getting black worms day. Bettas normally love them, and given the opportunity, they will eat as many as they can.
4. Wingless Fruit Flies For Betta Fish
Wingless fruit flies make a great addition to a betta’s diet, and they’re another type of live food similar to what bettas would eat in the wild. You should feed your betta wingless/flightless fruit flies, when possible.
However winged fruit flies can work too if you make sure they make it into the tanks water.
When you’re feeding your betta fruit flies make sure you don’t overdo it. Normally 1 or 2 flies per meal is more than enough. And once again, ensure you’re incorporating them as part of a balanced diet.
If you planned on starting your own fruit fly culture you can normally pick up everything you need in pet stores or online. Make sure you choose wingless fruit flies when breeding. That way if something goes wrong, at least they can’t fly.
(Check out the ultimate betta fish feeding guide.)
5. Micro Worms For Betta Fish
If you plan on starting your own culture then micro worms are some of the easiest to get started. They’re incredibly easy to keep alive and they provide great nutrients not just for adult bettas, but also juvenile bettas and betta fry.
Although micro worms are their own species, there are also many other similar species you can use as well such as banana worms and water worms.
While micro worms can be a great staple for your betta’s diet, just like with every other live food, they shouldn’t be the ONLY thing he’s eating. While they’re high in protein, they are also quite high in fat as well.
Too much fat in your betta’s diet can cause issues with digestion and oftentimes results in constipation.
However, if you plan on breeding your betta, they can be a great source of nutrition for the fry.
6. Moina For Betta Fish
Moina are a great choice for bettas, and particularly betta fry. They’re the smallest version of daphnia you can get, so if you want to feed your betta fry, moina is the best choice.
One of the benefits of using moina over regular daphnia is the fact that they have a higher protein content. Bettas are carnivorous fish, so the vast majority of their diet needs to be protein.
When feeding your betta moina it’s often preferable to use juvenile moina as they have a lower fat content. However, if you only plan on using moina as a supplement to your betta’s diet then adults can work just as well.
While daphnia is a great choice for your betta, if you want to shake things up for him, then moina can be a great change.
7. Artemia Salina/Brine Shrimp For Betta Fish
One of the most commonly recommended live foods for bettas is brine shrimp. They are great at supplementing your betta’s diet, however, just like a lot of live food, they should only be used in moderation.
While brine shrimp are great for bettas, they’re incredibly rich, so if you feed them to your betta too often they can have an adverse effect on his health. If you plan on feeding your betta brine shrimp you should only do it 2-3 times a week.
One downside of brine shrimp is they can be a little bit harder to culture. Unlike other live foods, brine shrimp are going to require saltwater to grow not freshwater.
8. Mysis/Opossum Shrimp For Betta Fish
Mysis/Opposum shrimp are full of fiber which is going to help aid your bettas digestion. They are a lot harder to find, however, if you get them your betta will love them! In fact, even the fussiest bettas tend to love eating Mysis shrimp.
When you’re feeding your betta Mysis shrimp you only need to give him 1 or 2 per day as they’re quite large. While they shouldn’t be the only thing you feed your betta, they can be a staple. Unlike other foods, they aren’t too rich in fat, but instead, they’re high in fiber and roughage.
They’re also quite easy to breed on their own, however, just make sure you’re feeding them enough. If you don’t, then they’ll start eating each other.
9. Bloodworms For Betta Fish
There’s a lot of misguided advice on giving bloodworms to your betta fish. In fact, some people recommend that you should only feed your betta blood worms. However, this definitely isn’t true.
If you plan on giving your betta bloodworms you should only use them as a treat and nothing more. Bloodworms are too rich, if you give your betta too many then he’ll end up becoming constipated. At most, you should only feed you betta bloodworms as 1-2 meals per week.
While they aren’t the healthiest meal for your betta they do have their benefits. They’re extremely high in iron, unlike a lot of other live food.
Learn more about bloodworms for betta fish.
10. Tubifex Worms For Betta Fish
Tubifex worms are often mistaken for blood worms, however, they’re actually two different species. While they make great food for your betta, you do need to be careful when using them.
Caution should be used while feeding your betta tubifex worms, due to the risk of parasites being passed on. While all live food poses a risk of this, it’s more likely to happen with tubifex worms. If you do intend on feeding your betta tubifex worms, makes sure you keep it to once a week.
They are often found in stagnant water filled with waste and sludge where they thrive.
If you’re going to feed your betta tubifex worms, make sure you’re breeding them yourself, or getting them from an extremely reputable source. And once you do have them, make sure they’re cleaned thoroughly before they’re being added to your tank.
When feeding your betta tubifex worms only give them 1 or 2 at a time. If your betta doesn’t eat one, then it will most likely burrow into the substrate where it will eventually die and rot.
Lastly, it may be a better idea to feed your betta frozen tubifex worms. Frozen food normally has a smaller probability of spreading diseases and parasites.
11. Fairy Shrimp For Betta Fish
Not only are fairy shrimp great food for your betta, but they’re also incredibly easy to breed. If you plan on feeding your betta fairy shrimp then you may be better off growing your own culture so you don’t have to keep buying them.
If you do want to feed your betta fairy shrimp then they can be a great staple of his diet. However, remember, no one source of food is going to provide your betta with all the nutrients he needs.
To feed him fairy shrimp, give him 2 to 3 per meal and make sure you’re not feeding him more than twice a day. They should never be the only source of food in your betta’s diet, but rather they should be mixed with other sources of food.
12. Mealworms For Betta Fish
A lot of people ask if they can feed their betta fish mealworms. The answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no.
Mealworms have tough skin that a lot of bettas won’t be able to get through. And because of their large size, they’ll be too big for your betta to swallow in one. However, they are very nutritional and fortunately, there are ways you can feed them to your betta.
The first thing you can do is feed your betta baby mealworms. When they’re babies, they aren’t going to be as big and their exoskeleton isn’t going to be as hard. This means your betta will be able to eat them.
You can also buy mealworms, and cut them up finely enough that your betta can swallow them. This is also a lot better for their digestion as it’s less likely they’ll get stuck.
If you’re going to feed your betta mealworms make sure you’re only feeding with them 1-2 times a week.
Lastly, it’s easy to breed and keep mealworms, and if you keep them refrigerated, it’ll take them longer to grow. This means you’ll have more baby worms to feed your betta.
13. Vinegar Eels For Bettas
Vinegar eels are another great food source for your betta (and especially betta fry) if you’re raising them. They’re high in protein, and will last a lot longer in your tank than other live foods. So you can drop them in and if your betta doesn’t eat them right away, you can trust that he will in time.
If your tank is dirty, they may be best avoided, otherwise, they’re a great choice and deserve a mention!
How Often & Should You Feed Your Betta Live Food (& How Much)?
You should only feed your betta live food a couple of times per week. While it’s great for them, it isn’t as nutritionally balanced as betta pellets, which should be the main staple of your betta’s diet. And when you’re feeding them keep it to the equivalent of one or two pellets.
(Check out this article if you want to learn more about how to feed your betta.)
Things To Remember When Feeding Your Betta Live Food
When feeding your betta live food there are some important things you need to remember. If not then you risk your bettas health. The first thing to remember is:
Live Food May Contain Parasites And Bacteria
One of the biggest problems with live food is that it may contain parasites and bacteria. If you don’t buy it from a reputable seller, then you may end up infecting your betta with all sorts of diseases.
There’s no real way to spot whether live food is infected with parasites or bacteria either. So there’s always a small chance your betta is going to get sick.
However, as well as buying live food from a reputable seller, you can also lower the chances by growing it yourself. Most live foods can be grown fairly easily at home. In the long run, growing it yourself often becomes a lot cheaper, than buying it from the store.
Live Food Can Also Be Contaminated By Chemicals
Due to the number of insect repellents and sprays, there are, sometimes live food can be contaminated. If you feed your betta live food which has been contaminated then he could end up becoming poisoned.
Once again, it’s important to make sure you’re buying live food from a seller that is trusted. This greatly increases the likelihood of the food you’re buying being pesticide-free.
However, once again, the best method is to grow your own live food. That way you know exactly where it’s been and that it definitely hasn’t been contaminated with insecticides.
Don’t Overfeed Him
If you’re feeding your betta live food, then the chances are he’s going to eat as much as he can. Even to the point where he’s eating more than he should be. As a rule of thumb, you should never feed your betta a portion bigger than the size of his eye 1-2 times a day.
Obviously, some live food may be bigger than this, so just use common sense and on days where you’re feeding him larger food, feed him less later on.
(Have you ever wondered whether bettas can eat goldfish food?)
Check out this video by Aquarium co-op on feeding betta fish live food!
Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about the types of live foods bettas can eat.
Can Bettas Eat Fly Maggots?
Fly maggots should be avoided when feeding your betta as they often grow in environments full of harmful bacteria and parasites that could end up spreading diseases in your tank. However, bettas can eat them so if you do want to feed your betta maggots, make sure you’re sourcing them reliably beforehand.
Can Betta Fry Survive Without Live Food?
Your betta fry can survive for around 3 days without live food. After that they would have eaten their egg sac, and you’ll need to feed them something like infusoria, until they’re big enough for larger food.
What Can You Feed Your Betta If You Don’t Have Live Food?
If you don’t have live food, then you should feed your betta high quality betta pellets. In fact, these should be the staple of your bettas diet to begin with, and live food should just be a treat for them.
As you can see there are so many different choices of live food you can give your betta. The key things to remember are:
- When buying live food, make sure you know where it’s coming from. Otherwise, they could be contaminated by chemicals or infested with parasites and bacteria.
- When you’re feeding your betta live food, make sure you mix it up and never feed him the same food for every meal.
Betta fish care is tricky, but with proper guidance, you can succeed! Click here to read a comprehensive guide!