How Long Can A Betta Fish Go Without Food? (In Depth)

Betta fish, with their long flowing fins and vibrant, colorful bodies, are one of the most popular fish for pet owners to keep around. They are a fairly easy fish to own and take care of, provided you have the proper tank setup, food, and the time to take care of a pet. 

However, things don’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you’ll have to leave your beautiful betta alone for longer than you meant to. What do you do if this happens, diet-wise? How many days can bettas go without being fed? 

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without ...
How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food

Betta fish are able to go between 10 and 14 days unfed. However, it’s never really a good idea to leave them alone this long for a number of reasons. 

So, in other words, you can leave your bettas unfed for around a week and a half to two weeks, but it’s probably not that good of an idea. Read on to find out why and everything else there is to know about how long betta fish can last with no food.

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

Although betta fish can survive quite a while without food, it’s not always a good idea to bank on this knowledge. This is because there are a number of factors that will determine how long individual bettas can go without eating. Every fish is just a little bit different after all, and a number of different factors will change how long they can go without eating. 

Tank Size

Believe it or not, the first factor that will significantly change how long your betta fish can go without food is the size of the tank that it’s in. This is because it’s not only about how long the betta can survive without eating but also about the conditions of the tank that it’s swimming in. 

The smaller your tank, the more quickly the conditions of that tank will decay. This means that although your betta will be able to survive not eating for a little while, it will still have the issue of living in poor conditions, which could potentially be very harmful or even fatal. 

On top of this, when a betta is stressed due to poor conditions, its health is severely affected as well. This can have an impact on how long it will be able to go without eating. 

Filtered Tank vs. Unfiltered 

Another factor that will influence the amount of time a betta can go unattended is if your tank has a filter or not. Unfiltered betta fish tanks need maintenance due to the buildup of food scraps, debris, and other undesirable particles in the tank that can’t get filtered out. 

If you are leaving for a week and a half to two weeks, then an unfiltered tank may experience a ton of unwanted buildup of filth that a filtered tank wouldn’t. This could severely affect the health of your betta fish, causing it harm, despite its ability to not eat for a long period of time. 

The Health of the Fish

The general health of your fish is a third important factor to consider when you’re preparing to leave your fish unattended for a significant length of time. Not all bettas are the same, and this means that they all have different amounts of time they can be left unattended, despite there being a general guideline. 

The age, metabolism, overall health, stress levels, and tank conditions will all be factors when trying to determine how long you can safely leave your betta fish unfed. Younger bettas may be able to handle the stress of not eating and increasingly poor tank conditions better than older fish.

On the other hand, an older fish may have enough fat built up to not eat for a longer time, as their metabolism tends to be slower than that of younger, growing fish. 

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betta fish, siamese fighting fish

How Long Can Betta Fish Fry Go Without Food?

You might be wondering: if betta fish can go for 10 to 14 days unfed, how long are their fry able to last unattended? After all, the dietary needs and tank conditions are slightly different for betta fish than their betta babies, so perhaps they can be left unattended for a different length of time as well?

Well, you’d be right. Betta fries are high-maintenance fish and need to be well taken care of and watched closely until they reach adulthood. Their metabolisms are far faster than their adult counterparts, meaning that they should be fed with a higher frequency to help them burn energy and grow more quickly. 

Once they’re swimming (usually around 48 hours from when they hatch), betta fry can go about three days without food at their upper limit. For the first few days, they don’t really require food at all, as they get nutrients from the egg sack. Afterward, they usually get around three or four small feedings a day, which is almost double what an adult would receive. 

Since you can’t leave betta fry unattended for a very long period of time, you should think about purchasing an automatic feeder, especially if you plan on breeding bettas and dealing with keeping fry well-fed and healthy on a regular basis. Portion out dried live food like baby brine shrimp, daphnia, and other appropriate foods in your automatic feeder to be dispensed out while you’re away. 

How to Prepare a Betta Fish Tank Before Leaving It for a Few Days

Even if you’re within the appropriate amount of days that your betta fish or betta fry can survive while leaving, it’s not a good idea to just pack up and leave your tank the way it is.

There are a number of preparations and precautionary measures you should take to ready your tank for your absence. Read on to find out what you need to do for your tank and your betta fish before you leave!

Optimize Tank Conditions

The first thing you’re going to want to do before leaving is to optimize the water and tank conditions. This will make sure that your Bettas are in a healthy environment while you’re gone.

If you leave with the tank conditions not properly set up, it will only get worse from there and force your bettas into spending time in a tank where the conditions end up deteriorating to a very unhealthy level. 

Check that your tank’s filter works, clean the debris and food scraps out of the gravel and decorations, check for the proper pH (6.5-7.5) and hardness (3-4 dGH), check the gear/equipment and trim the plants and clean the algae.

This will make sure the environment your bettas are in is pristine so that when you come back, it’s only slightly unclean rather than completely dirty. 

Check Your Heater

Check your heater to make sure that the bettas won’t be spending too much time in water that’s the wrong temperature. Betta fish are tropical freshwater fish, meaning they like to be in freshwater that is between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Make sure you have a working heater, and it is between these temperatures. Also, make sure there is no AC to make the room unnecessarily cold, heat to make the room unnecessarily warm, and the tank (especially if it’s a smaller tank) is not taking sunlight directly. Place the tank far from any vents that might be expelling hot or cold air. 

Cool Down the Water

Although we just went over that betta fish like a bit higher of a temperature, you can use a temperature that is a tad lower if you’re planning on leaving your tank unattended for a longer period, such as 10-14 days. A temperature range of 73 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit could actually be good for your bettas. 

This is because this temperature range will still keep them healthy while slowing their metabolism down a bit to make eating less of a necessity. Your bettas will feel less need to move around, and although they might be a bit slow and sluggish, it’s better than them being starving. 

Put a Lid on It!

Make sure to put a top on the tank when you go away for an extended period of time. Betta fish feed at the surface, and believe it or not, they often get oxygen from up there and use an organ called the labyrinth organ.

If you are gone for a while, the water quality in your tank drops, causing the bettas to go to the surface for air more and more, and maybe even try to dive out of the top of the tank!

Make sure there is a top on the tank while you’re gone. You don’t want to come home to any bettas outside of the tank after all!

Get Timed Lights

In order to keep your betta fish healthy and their stress levels as low as possible, timed lights are a necessity. Make sure the lights are on for around 8-10 hours a day, allowing your betta to rest at night while swimming around the tank and staying active during the day.

This is the healthiest schedule for your betta, but it won’t be possible if you aren’t around and don’t have timed lights. 

Keeping your fish healthy and with low-stress levels will be very helpful in making sure they’re okay while you’re gone, so timed lights are a must if you’re planning on leaving for anything more than a couple of days. 

Not Feeding Your Betta Fish For a Day or Two Can be Healthy

It’s actually not such a bad idea to let your betta fish fast for a day or two once in a while. They’ll be totally fine, as they are built to survive rather long periods of time without food, and it will help make sure you aren’t overfeeding them. Overfeeding your fish can increase stress levels, decrease metabolism, and damage the overall health of your fish. 

However, don’t do this too often, as you still need to make sure your fish is getting enough food to stay alive and healthy. Going away for weekends is fine, though, as long as you don’t make a habit of not feeding your fish every weekend. Try to only do this around once every month or two.

With betta fish fry, you should try not to do this at all. Their metabolisms are faster, and they require food to grow quickly and correctly, so try feeding them their standard 3-4 times a day every day if possible, so they grow properly. 

Are Automatic Fish Feeders Good for Your Betta Fish?

Using automatic feeders is fine sometimes, but it can also sometimes lead to overfeeding. Usually, it’s recommended to just feed the bettas by hand so that they don’t get overfed while you are home.

On the other hand, an automatic fish feeder can be a fantastic tool for betta fish owners that like to go on long vacations or leave their fish unattended for more than just a couple of days. It will make sure your fish are still getting the proper amount of food even if you aren’t home. 

Automatic fish feeders are also great for fry, who have to eat far more than their adult counterparts. Since they like to eat 3-4 times a day at relatively even intervals, an automatic fish feeder can be great for those of us that have to work and won’t be home until the evening to feed our swimming pals.

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FAQ

Q: Can I Leave My Betta Fish For a Week?

A: Yes, you can leave your betta fish alone for a week. They are well equipped to survive 10-14 days without food, as long as the tank conditions are great when you leave them alone.

Q: Can a Betta Fish Not Eat for Two Days?

A: Yes, a betta fish can not eat for two days, and this fasting is often considered healthy if it’s only once in a while.

Q: Can a Betta Fish Not Eat for 3 Days?

A: Yes, you can leave your betta fish for three days without any worry; it will be fine. 

Recap

Betta fish are surprisingly resilient fish and are easily able to spend time alone, provided their tanks are in good condition. You can leave a betta fish unfed for 10-14 days, but no longer. For fry, try using an automatic feeder, as it is more necessary for them to eat, but they can still be left unfed for 2-3 days.

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