Bettas are some of the easiest pet fish to keep in a home aquarium. They’re easy to maintain, beautiful, and active. Despite their simple maintenance needs, it’s crucial that you find out everything there is to know about Betta fish feeding.
The right food will keep your Betta happy and healthy. If you get it wrong, you risk getting your pet fish sick or, worse, dead.
It’s, therefore, crucial that you learn everything about the types of foods and feeding habits that are appropriate for Bettas.
Read on to find out what Bettas eat, when to feed them, and how to avoid mistakes such as overfeeding.
- 1 What Do Betta Fish Eat?
- 2 How Often Should You Feed a Betta Fish?
- 3 How Much Should You Feed a Betta Fish?
- 4 What Food is Best for Your Betta?
- 5 Live Foods
- 6 Frozen Foods
- 7 Freeze-dried Foods
- 8 What Happens If You Overfeed Your Betta Fish?
- 9 What Happens If You Underfeed Your Betta Fish?
- 10 What Should You Feed Betta Fry and Young Betta?
- 11 When Should You Feed Your Betta?
- 12 How Should You Prepare Your Betta’s Food?
- 13 Betta Fish Feeding Schedule
- 14 Recap
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
Bettas are carnivorous. In the wild, they feed on insects and insect larvae, which are rich in proteins.
Some of the insects that they live on in the wild are brine shrimp, deer fly larvae, water fleas, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae.
It’s important to try and recreate these natural foods for your Betta in order to provide them with the nutrients they require.
Therefore, you should feed them high protein meat-based fish foods in their aquarium. Avoid feeding them solely on plant-based fish food that’s meant for tropical fish.
Plant-based foods are great for omnivorous fish, but Bettas are carnivorous. If you only feed them such food that doesn’t provide the nutrients they require, they’ll end up emaciated or dead.
So, while adding plant roots to your Betta’s diet may be a good idea, you should not rely solely on them.
Whatever you do, try to create the kind of diet that they have in their natural habitat by looking for carnivorous fish foods with the right nutrients.
How Often Should You Feed a Betta Fish?
You should feed your Betta fish twice per day, once in the morning and again in the evening. This is enough to keep your Betta happy and well-nourished, as long as you provide the right foods.
Feeding your pet fish once per day may also be suitable in some instances. For instance, adult Betta’s can do well on one feeding per day.
Baby Bettas, on the other hand, need at least two daily feedings of small portions due to their growth demands.
Like other fish, Bettas love eating, but this doesn’t mean that they have to all the time. It’s a wise idea to fast your pet fish once per week.
Don’t worry about starving them – a Betta can stay for up to two weeks without food! A one-day fast gives their digestive tract a break to process food fully.
This practice can also help minimize the effects of overfeeding your Betta. Once the fast is over, you can go back to feeding your fish twice per day.
How Much Should You Feed a Betta Fish?
It’s important to always feed your Betta enough of the right food. Too much or too little of it can cause problems, so you need to pay attention to how much food you use for Betta fish feeding.
When feeding pellets to your Betta, give 2-3 medium-sized each time. This serving twice per day is more than enough for a Betta fish. If you’re feeding freeze-dried, live, or frozen food, give 2 pieces during each mealtime.
Avoid adding excess food into the fish tank since these can ruin the quality of the water, making it hazardous to your fish.
Uneaten remnants of food settle on the floor of the water tank and raise the levels of nitrite and ammonia, which are toxic to the fish.
If you find that you’ve given too much food to your fish, empty the water or remove the excess food to prevent this.
What Food is Best for Your Betta?
While live foods are good enough for your Betta, it’s a great idea to diversify their diet and add other types of food. Your fish will love the various options, and it might also help with picky eaters.
Here are some of the food choices that are great for your pet:
Your Betta will be happy to receive the same foods that they would prey on in the wild, namely insects and their larvae. By providing these live foods to your Betta, you give them all the nutrients that they obtain when in their natural habitat.
When buying live foods for your Betta, look for the same ones that are found in the wild. Here are a few live foods that most Bettas enjoy:
Bloodworms are one of the most common natural foods for wild fish. Most fish will eat bloodworms when given to them, so this is a live food you should consider, especially if you have a picky Betta.
These worms are bright red thanks to their high content of iron. They’re also rich in proteins and other minerals that help Betta fish to thrive.
Introducing these worms to your pet fish’s water tank not only provides them with nourishment but also gives them a chance to utilize their natural hunting instincts.
Since bloodworms are so popular with fish, they’re easy to find at pet stores and are also inexpensive. However, while your fish may like them, don’t make these the main food in the diet since they lack the essential amino acids that Bettas need.
(Want to know more about feeding your betta bloodworms.)
Betta fish growing in their natural habitat feed on mosquito larvae a lot. It’s, therefore, a great idea to add these as live food to your pet’s diet.
You can find these at a local or online pet store. Or, you can get a starter culture so that you can harvest them at your home.
Mosquito larvae may not be easy to come across during winter, but they’re active and available in abundance during the warmer months.
Brine shrimp provide Betta fish with lots of vital nutrients, including proteins and vitamins. In the wild, Betta fish prey on brine shrimp a lot, so it’s a wise idea to bring them to the tank water.
Fortunately, brine shrimp are pretty easy to find at pet stores. But, like other live food, you should pay attention to the sourcing so that you don’t give anything harmful to your fish.
This also means that no matter how fun it might sound, you should not feed your Betta with any sort of insect caught outdoors.
While they’re named as such, these insects are not considered true shrimp. They’re bigger than brine shrimp – they’ll grow to a length of about an inch, while brine fish may make it to just a third of an inch.
Mysis shrimp are also known as opossum shrimp because the females carry their fry in a pouch found at the base of their legs.
These macroscopic crustaceans have more proteins than brine shrimp and are therefore a better option in terms of nutrition. They also have a fiber-rich exoskeleton that supports the digestion of protein foods.
Unfortunately, despite being more nutritious, live Mysis shrimp are not as readily available as brine shrimp.
(Check out the best live foods for betta fish.)
When you cannot get a reputable seller for live Betta food, frozen food is your next best option. It contains most of the nutrients found in live food and doesn’t contain any indigestible fillers.
You’ll likely find frozen fish food being sold in cubes. Once you buy them, keep them in a freezer until it’s time to feed them to your fish.
Before feeding your Betta with the frozen food, thaw it and let it sit on a plate for about 20 minutes.
Note that a single cube of frozen food may be too much to feed your Betta in one sitting. Depending on the size of the cube, divide it into portions and give a small amount – around 1.8g daily – to your fish. Put the rest back into the freezer for another day.
If you end up with excess food after defrosting, don’t put it back into the freezer. Get rid of it because it may have been exposed to bacteria that could harm your Betta.
You can also feed your Betta freeze-dried food, although it might not be of the same quality as either live or frozen food. But since it allows you to add your Betta’s natural food into the diet, it’s a good option.
In order to keep it stable during storage, manufacturers dehydrate and add fillers to freeze-dried foods. This keeps them in consumable condition for long and free of parasites and bacteria.
But these fillers and the lack of moisture content in the food can pose risks to your fish. If you give your Betta too much of this food, they may end up constipated and bloated.
This is because the dried food absorbs moisture in the stomach of your fish and expands, causing bloating.
To prevent this, always soak the freeze-dried food in water before giving them to your fish. Since freeze-dried foods are stripped of important nutrients during their processing, you can soak them in a vitamin solution to boost their nutritive value.
Also, only give freeze-dried food to your fish sparsely. Look for freeze-dried foods for your Betta that don’t contain loads of fillers since these put a strain on your pet’s digestive tract.
What Happens If You Overfeed Your Betta Fish?
It’s easy to overfeed your Betta fish if you don’t have the right information about how much and how often they should eat. Also, the fact that these little fish will likely eat more as long as it’s provided doesn’t help.
If you happen to overfeed your Betta fish, any of these issues may arise:
Constipation and Bloating
Betta fish have a small stomach – the size of their eye – and a very short digestive tract. Since Betta fish will continue eating even after they’re full, they’re at an increased risk of constipation.
A constipated Betta will show signs such as bloating, spine curvature, bulged eyes, and stringy poop. Constipation can be dangerous to a Betta and may lead to death if not addressed promptly.
If your fish is constipated, put them on a fast for a couple of days or more, depending on the severity of their condition. Also, add more fiber to their diet and watch how much you feed them to prevent it from happening again.
Bettas store undigested food and excess food as fat in their bodies. So, if you’re overfeeding your Betta, they’ll grow obese over time.
Obesity poses a health risk to Bettas, so it’s important to avoid it. As long as your fish doesn’t look emaciated, you can rest assured that they’re getting enough food.
But if they appear bloated and not because of temporary constipation, this is a sign that they’re getting obese. Put them on a fast to use up their stored fat and gradually cut back on their feeding sizes.
When you overfeed your Betta, it’s likely that some of the excess food will settle at the bottom of the aquarium. These particles will produce toxins and encourage the growth of bacteria as they break down, exposing your fish to diseases.
Therefore, avoid overfeeding your Betta because even if they don’t overeat, they’ll be at risk of being exposed to a hazardous environment.
(Check out all the diseases and illnesses bettas can get.)
Swim Bladder Disorder
Constipation in Bettas may lead to swim bladder disorder. This condition makes it hard for your fish to balance in the water. Due to this, they may prefer to remain at the bottom of the tank or float near the surface of the water.
If your Betta remains at the bottom, it’s dangerous since they’ll have trouble breathing. Betta are labyrinth fish, which means that they absorb oxygen from the air by swimming to the water surface.
To help your fish get through this, lower the water level in the tank or add plants to increase the oxygen supply. Dealing with constipation will get rid of the swim bladder disorder if it’s the sole cause behind it.
(Check out more about swim bladder disorder in bettas.)
What Happens If You Underfeed Your Betta Fish?
Betta fish can survive for 2 weeks without food, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not at risk of being underfed. If you give your Betta too little of the nutritious food it needs, the following problems may occur:
They’ll Become Thin
An underfed Betta fish will look bony, with a head that appears larger than the rest of the body. Their sides will be concaved, and the fat usually stored near their tail will be absent.
Bettas that don’t receive enough food eventually lose their color and appear pale. This is a sign that you need to boost your Betta fish feeding routine.
Weakened Immune System
Underfeeding means that your Betta is not getting enough of the nutrients that they need to thrive. This leads to malnutrition and results in weak immunity. If your underfed Betta gets ill, they’ll be at a higher risk of serious consequences compared to well-fed Bettas.
What Should You Feed Betta Fry and Young Betta?
Betta Fry should be fed live food such as baby brine shrimps, mosquito larvae, micro worms, and daphnia. As they grow into young Bettas, you can introduce other fish foods such as pellets.
When Should You Feed Your Betta?
Recommended times to feed your Betta fish are in the morning and night, providing a small portion each time. You can also feed them just once, but your fish may like it more if you divide the daily portion into two and give it at different times of the day.
Bettas remember their mealtimes, so it’s great to set a feeding schedule and stick to it.
Besides feeding them, it’s also important to establish when to fast them. You can choose a single day of the week when you don’t feed them anything.
How Should You Prepare Your Betta’s Food?
How you prepare your Betta’s food depends on what type it is. Rinse live food before introducing it to the tank water to avoid transferring bacteria or parasites.
You should soak dried food before giving it to your Betta so that it won’t expand in their stomach, causing digestive issues.
Always thaw frozen fish food before giving it to your pet fish. Also, make sure to divide it into smaller portions to avoid overfeeding.
Betta Fish Feeding Schedule
Wondering what you should feed your Betta, when? Here’s a simple weekly Betta fish feeding schedule you can stick to:
Sunday: Betta pellets, 2-3 pellets, once or twice a day
Monday: Live, freeze-dried or frozen food, 2-3 pieces, 1-2 times a day
Tuesday: Betta pellets, 2-3 pellets, 1-2 times
Wednesday: Live, frozen, or freeze-dried fish food, 2-3 pieces, once or twice
Thursday: Betta pellets, 2-4 pellets, 1-2 times a day
Friday: Live, freeze-dried, or frozen Betta food, 2-3 pieces, 1-2 times
Saturday: Fast them on Alternate Saturdays
Feeding your Betta fish well is essential in ensuring their health, vitality, and happiness. Keep their diet well-balanced and provide them a variety of food options to whet their appetites.
Avoid foods that contain fillers and choose ones that are high in proteins to satisfy their carnivorous needs.
Remember to fast your pet Betta once in a while for the sake of their digestive tract and overall health. Provide live or frozen Betta food as much as you can, as they are most nutritively similar to their natural food sources.