Betta Fish Spitting Food Out (Why It Happens)

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Last Updated on 2023-10-17

If you notice your betta fish spitting food out then you may be worrying, especially if you’re a new betta owner. However, in a lot of cases, this is nothing to worry about. Keep reading to find out all the different reasons it happens.

Key Takeaways:

  • Betta fish spitting food out is a common behavior and is usually not a cause for concern.
  • One of the most common reasons for this behavior is that the food is too large for the betta’s small stomach, and they need to break it down into smaller pieces.
  • Other reasons for bettas spitting out food include digestive issues like constipation, being a juvenile not used to pellet or flake food, the possibility of parasites, a scared betta due to tank conditions, or simply being a fussy eater.
  • It’s important to address any potential health issues like constipation or parasites if your betta consistently spits out food.

Why Is Your Betta Fish Spitting Food Out? (Most Common Reason)

Time and time again, you may notice your betta fish spitting their food out. Well the truth is, just because your betta is spitting their food out, it doesn’t mean they’re not eating! One of the most common reasons your betta spits out food is:

ReasonDescriptionSolution
Food SizeFood too large for Betta’s small stomach.Break food into smaller pieces.
Digestive IssuePossible constipation or other digestive problems.Fast the Betta for 2-3 days and then feed daphnia.
Juvenile BettaNot used to pellet or flake food.Introduce a variety of foods gradually.
ParasitesRare but possible.Move to a quarantine tank and consult a vet.
Fussy/Dumb BettaNot recognizing the food as edible.Keep offering the same food; hunger will likely overcome fussiness.

The Food Is Too Big To Swallow

Betta fish spit food out when it’s too big for them to swallow. A betta’s stomach is roughly the size of an eyeball, so in a lot of cases, they’ll need to spit their food out and take small bites, before being able to consume it completely.

While it looks like he’s spitting the food out, he’s actually breaking off small chunks as well as making the main part more digestible. While this is the most common reason it isn’t the only reason. Here are some more common causes.

(Also find out whether your betta can eat goldfish food!)

He May Have A Digestive Issue

If you notice your betta fish spitting out food or just not eating then he may be having digestive troubles. This is extremely common in bettas and normally isn’t something to worry about.

In most cases, it’s going to be constipation that your betta is suffering from. If you think it’s constipation you will also notice other symptoms such as your betta not being able to defecate.

To treat constipation it’s normally best to fast your betta for 2-3 days before feeding him some daphnia. (Check out the full guide on constipation, or more information on why daphnia are so good for bettas!)

You May Have A Juvenile Betta

If you’ve just purchased your betta then he may still be a juvenile. When they’re young they’re normally only fed live food. So if you’re feeding them pellets or flakes there may be two problems. The first problem is that your betta just isn’t used to eating pellet or flake food.

The other may once again be that at the moment the food is just too big. If you think either one is the case then you should try mixing up the food until you find something your betta will eat. Once you find something begins slowly introducing new foods into his diet as he gets bigger until he’s willing to eat anything.

(Check out your best choices for live food.)

It May Be A Parasite

Although it’s rare, on occasion bettas can end up with parasites in their stomach. These parasites can stop your betta from being able to eat properly. Even if he’s hungry he may be unable to swallow food, so instead, he’ll just spit it out.

However, the chances of it being a parasite is a lot smaller than something less sinister. But if you think it’s a parasite that your betta is suffering from then you should move him to a quarantine tank. This way he won’t contaminate your tank and infect other fish.

If you think your betta is suffering from a parasite there will normally be other symptoms as well such as trouble swimming.

(Check out the ultimate betta fish feeding guide.)

You Have A Scared Betta

If you’ve just got your betta, there aren’t enough hiding places, or there are aggressive tank mates, then he may be spitting out his food because he’s scared. Scared bettas are much less likely to eat, and in fact, they may try to eat and then panic.

To reduce chances of your betta spitting out food when this is the case, the best thing you can do is add a lot more hiding spots for him to feel safe. As well as this, you should remove any fish that could be bullying him, and turning the lights off when you feed him.

Fussy/Dumb Betta

Sometimes your betta is just fussy or dumb. He may not be aware that what you’re feeding him is actually food, or if he is aware, he’s decided that he doesn’t want it. Asides from the food being too big, this is normally the most common reason why your betta is spitting out food.

If you think this is the case then normally all you need to do is keep feeding him what you have. At first, he may not eat it, but the hungrier he gets the more likely he’ll be to eat it.

Just remember, that if your betta doesn’t eat food within 10 minutes then you should remove it from your tank. If you don’t remove it from the tank then it’s going to start to decay which will cause an ammonia spike.

If your betta is fussy, luckily there’s an abundance of food for him to eat. Check out the best food for betta fish!

You Have An Old Betta

Lastly, just like with people, as bettas get older, they may not want to eat as much. If this is the case, why not try feeding him less food or smaller bites. OR better yet, try to bring back some of his youthful energy by feeding him live daphnia!

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about their betta fish spitting

Is A Betta Spitting Their Food Out A Serious Problem?

In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about if you notice your betta fish spitting out food. The food may be too large for him to consume all at once. The majority of betta fish will spit out their food as a method of breaking down and softening the food.

Why Is Your Betta Spitting Flakes Out?

Dried foods, such as flakes, typically lack moisture and swell significantly when consumed by fish. Many of these foods contain fillers, such as grains and rice. As a result, when your fish gets a mouthful of dry flakes, it will spit it out.

Why Is Your Betta Spitting Out White Stuff?

When a betta fish spits out white stuff, the food he is being fed is usually too large. Betta fish can only eat small amounts of food because their mouths are so small.

Why Is Your Betta Spitting Out Bubbles?

To facilitate reproduction, male betta fish blow bubbles and build bubble nests. This bubble nest serves as a place for mating and egg storage.

Final Thoughts

If you notice your betta fish spitting food out, then in most cases, its really nothing to worry about. The chances are the food is either too big for him to eat at once (in which case it may be worth cutting it up) or because he’s dumb or fussy.

However, it could be a sign of something worse. You should keep an eye on your betta to make sure that it’s not an ailment like constipation, or a parasite. If you think it’s either of the two then you should begin treating your betta the best way you can as well as moving him to a quarantine tank if you think it’s a parasite.

If you notice your betta spitting out food then don’t stress right away, especially if he’s new or young. The chances are it’s nothing to worry about!

And if you want to know more about what bettas can eat you should definitely check out this article on the best food for bettas! It will give you in-depth knowledge about all the different varieties of food. As well as what to buy and what to avoid!

Lastly, if you notice your betta still isn’t eating then check out this handy article which details all the different reasons your betta may be avoiding his food! And here’s one to let you know if you can feed your betta goldfish food)

If you need proper guidance on taking care of your Betta fish, click here to read a comprehensive article on betta fish care! 

Sources:

Tropical Fish A-Z

Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide
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