Last Updated: May 26, 2022 by Dave Gibbins
Two of the most common questions regarding betta fish feeding habits are:
- How often do you feed a betta fish?
- What is the best food to feed them?
These are great questions as this really shows you are thinking about the health of your little fish.
The answer to the question “How often to feed betta fish?” depends on the age and gender of the fish.
Underfeeding can be just as harmful as overfeeding. This includes using foods that aren’t easily digested by bettas, or Siamese Fighting fish.
Getting the feeding right is very important to your fish’s health. Feed them the wrong food and they won’t get the nutrition they need, feed them too often or too much and they will become bloated.
One of the most common causes of betta fish illnesses comes from owners not realizing they are putting too much food in the tank. This can bloat the fish and any spare food will sink to the bottom and then become waste – dirtying the water.
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- What Do Betta Fish Eat?
- Best Betta Food
- How Often Do You Feed A Betta Fish?
- How Much Should You Feed Your Betta Fish?
- 3 Reasons to Avoid Overfeeding
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
Many people are surprised to find out that betta fish have different nutritional and digestive needs as they age. As with humans, geriatric bettas may need smaller, more frequent meals to accommodate changes in their capacity to digest. You may be surprised to find that a betta fish feeding schedule matters as much as what you actually feed them.
Betta fish are carnivorous animals. In the wild, they hunt insects, larvae, and insect eggs from the water’s surface. So this means that your betta should be eating a meat/protein-based fish food.
Be careful, some of the standard tropical fish flakes do not match the betta fish diet. If your betta shares a tank with other fish you will have to take into account the diet of all the fish.
What is the best food for betta fish? It seems like obvious advice but a betta fish-specific pellet is usually the best. To make sure the fish food you have meets the carnivorous betta fish’s needs check the ingredients.
The first few ingredients should be meat-based and the overall protein percentage should be 40% or more.
Best Betta Food
So you have found a high protein food, how do identify the best quality pellet?
Look at the first ingredient, is it ‘Fish Meal’ or is it an actual ingredient, such as salmon, herring, or krill? This really shows that what goes into the pellet is of a higher quality. Betta fish are surface feeders, check that the pellets you buy are for bottom / mid tank feeders as these pellets will sink. This still doesn’t stop most betta fish though, they will catch the pellets on the way down – but it would be beneficial to have a floating pellet or flake.
Fish Food Flakes and Pellet Foods
How to feed betta fish depends on the actual food type. Some you can release directly into the tank, while others require some preparation. Uncategorically speaking, fish food flakes are the worst thing you can feed bettas and other freshwater fish. Concerning betta fish feeding, their mouths don’t do well when trying to consume flakes. Even if you crumble up the flakes, it is hard to get the right size.
Flakes that are too small will fall to the bottom of the tank and rot. Flakes that are too big can choke the betta to death.
It is very sad to see a betta, or any other tropical fish, with its mouth, stuck open as it dies because flake-based foods got caught in its throat. Unfortunately, flakes that are wet enough from the water can also cause this problem because they will stick in place. Pellets are a much better option. Be sure to choose micro-pellet-sized bites. It is also best to avoid pellets that sink rapidly to the bottom of the tank.
As an answer to the question “how many pellets to feed a betta fish?”, it depends on how many times a day you are feeding the fish. If it is just once a day, then give the fish 7 – 8 pellets. Divide this in half or into as many as you need for different feeding schedules.
Here are some of the highest quality pellets for betta fish:
- Northfin Food Betta Bits
- Fluval Bug Bites Betta
- Omega One Betta Buffet
Live Food, Frozen Food, and Freeze-Dried Foods
Many betta keepers say there is no need to give bettas live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods. Others say you can use them from time to time as a treat. I’ve found that even the best fish food doesn’t give bettas everything they need. Therefore, when I answer the question, “What to feed betta fish?” I usually recommend live foods.
Live food doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to obtain.
All you need is a few brine shrimp eggs, and before you know it you will have a robust colony that you can feed to bettas and other fish weekly. As you can see in this video, you can easily raise brine shrimp in a mason jar.
Just remember to rinse the brine shrimp in fresh, clean water in order to remove excess salt. Frozen blood worms are also an excellent option. All you have to do is thaw them out and drop them into the water. Bettas of all ages and gender will enjoy “hunting” the blood worms. As with flakes, freeze-dried foods are cheaper than frozen and live fish food options. I tend not to like freeze-dried foods because the fish don’t digest them very well.
Some freeze-dried foods are very hard and dense. I never feed small fish any larger-sized dry food that I can’t break apart with my fingers. This can become as much of a choking hazard as flake-based foods.
You can also give a betta fish treat such as freeze-dried/frozen blood worms. However, it is important not to over-treat! Once a week should help avoid any bloating.
How Often Do You Feed A Betta Fish?
You should feed a betta fish two small feeds per day. Feeding your betta fish once in the morning and once at night every day is great. Making these feeds around 12 hours apart and at the same time, every day will help you and your betta get in a routine. Some owners opt to fast their betta fish for 24 hours once every 10-14 days. This day of fasting helps reduce the chance of constipation.
How Much Should You Feed Your Betta Fish?
2 to 3 medium-sized pellets in the morning and 2-3 pellets at night should be sufficient.
Be careful of overfeeding! This is a very common mistake that can lead to bloating which can then lead to betta fish not eating and serious health problems or worse the Betta fish dies. Keep in mind a betta fish’s stomach is not much larger than its eye – so it’s very easy to overfeed. Don’t be tricked into your betta’s large appetite, sometimes they would eat the whole pack if you tipped it in. They may look like they are hungry for more but it is important not to overfeed them. Putting too much food in your tank has other negative effects as wasted food that is not cleaned up pollutes the water and makes your tank dirty.
3 Reasons to Avoid Overfeeding
The answer to the question “how much to feed a betta fish?” isn’t always easy to answer. The fish should have enough to eat so that its weight remains stable. If the tank is too small, then you may wind up with water chemistry problems while meeting this goal. Overfeeding is a very common mistake. Many people are fooled into feeding bettas too much because they are always begging for more.
Here are three reasons why you need to avoid overfeeding:
1. Excess Betta Food Consumption Can Lead To Stomach Bloat
In one sense the answer to the question “can you overfeed a betta fish?” is no. They won’t overeat to the point where they split open. Bettas can still consume to the point where they get very sick or die
2. Excess Food Will Foul The Water
Any extra food in the tank will quickly begin to decompose. This, in turn, can lead to ammonia surges and other water quality problems.
3. Excess Food Contributes To Algae Buildup
Once excess betta food and fish waste are broken down into nitrates, it becomes food for algae. Eventually, algae can pose a serious hazard to the fish. If the algae die off suddenly, it can generate an ammonia surge.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do betta fish eat in the wild vs in a home tank?
Betta fish only eat meat or animal-based flesh. In the wild, they hunt insects, larvae, and insect eggs from the water’s surface. In a home aquarium, they will do fine with pellet food. If you can get live or frozen food, these will offer the best nutrition and ease of digestion.
Should I make my betta fast to avoid constipation?
When it comes to smaller-sized fish like bettas, steady nutrition is essential.
If a fish stops eating for 3 days, it will not be able to start eating or digesting again. I don’t believe in “fasting” fish because you never know if they are coming down with an illness. In a situation where a betta stops eating because of parasitic or bacterial infections, they will usually start eating again on the second day of treatment. Some may take well into the third day. If you fast them for one day, then pick-up in their appetite will extend past their safe window.
Should I feed female bettas differently before spawning?
First, let me be clear in saying that I don’t support home-based betta breeding. Usually, fish for home aquariums are over-bred or otherwise unsuitable for breeding. They make good pets, but may not generate viable offspring, let alone ones that will be in good health. That all being said, if you purchase bettas suitable for breeding, you can and should feed both males and females live food and tubifex worms.
This will help ensure both males and females produce healthier gametes. In the long run, this helps ensure the betta fry will be off to a good start. Unfortunately, even if the female is in optimal condition, there are no guarantees that she will survive the spawning process.
Determining how much to feed bettas is easy once you account for their age and gender. Figuring out what to feed them can be a bit more complicated. In general, the more meat-based ingredients, the better. For the sake of digestibility and overall health, your bettas will also do better with live or frozen food as opposed to pellets.
What’s your betta fish favorite food? Leave us a comment below…