Last Updated: July 13, 2022 by Flora Gibbins
Is your betta spitting out food? You’re not alone. Many betta owners report that their bettas are spitting out food.
Now, know this…
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While food spitting in betta fish is often nothing to worry about, it might be a sign of an underlying problem.
In this guide, we’ll help you figure out the reasons behind betta fish spitting out food, so let’s get into it right away!
It’s Just Bettas Being Bettas
Bettas are naturally dumb, greedy, and unaware. Want to test that? Throw anything other than food in the tank and your betta will instantly put it inside its mouth.
If it finds out that it’s not food, it’ll just spit it out. If it’s food, it’ll eat if it’s hungry, but if it’s not, it’ll spit it out as well.
Betta fish have very tiny stomachs, so they can only consume tiny portions of food at a time. Your betta may not even be able to swallow a pellet if its stomach is full.
Additionally, bettas may spit out food to allow it to break down in the water into small bites to make it easier to chew and digest.
If you use live food, things get even worse. For example, blood worms or brine shrimp may move inside your betta’s mouth, which doesn’t give it enough time to chew it. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that your fish has probably eaten small chunks of the live food.
On a side note, keep in mind that throwing too much food in the tank isn’t recommended. This is because betta food decay in water, causing a spike in the ammonia levels in the tank. High ammonia levels can be dangerous to your beautiful fish’s health.
When you throw food into the aquarium, your bettas will try to swallow it right away. The problem is that food starts to swell the moment it enters your betta’s mouth. This makes it harder for your betta to swallow it, so it’ll just spit it out.
Both freeze-dried fish food and dried bloodworms swell in a betta fish’s mouth.
Pre-soaking the food in tank water for a few minutes before introducing them to the tank might be a good idea to tackle this problem. This way, the food will absorb water, making it more suitable for fish consumption.
On top of that, try to divide the food into smaller portions and introduce it one by one until your fish can’t eat anymore.
Factoid: Some betta foods don’t easily break down in water causing bettas to gulp them! This would lead to bloatedness and even constipation (read below). Determine if your betta is bloated by reading our post, Bloated Betta: 3 Primary Causes Of Bloatness In Betta Fish for immediate remedy.
Constipation Is the most common digestive issue that betta fish go through. It makes digestion much harder, causing them to spit out food.
Constipation Signs and Symptoms in Betta Fish
The easiest way to tell whether your betta is constipated is to examine its belly. If it looks enlarged or bloated, that’s a good sign your little betta is suffering from constipation.
Another symptom to look for is the absence of feces in the fish tank. If a betta isn’t defecating or its defecation schedules are off, it means that it has constipation.
How Constipation Affects Your Betta’s Health
Leaving constipation untreated may cause adverse complications for your betta fish. The most serious of which is swim bladder disease.
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If constipation induces severe bloating, it exerts a high pressure on the fish’s organs, including the swim bladder. This makes it more challenging for your fish to swim and balance. You might even notice your betta attempting to swim on its side or upside down to mitigate the effects of the pressurized swim bladder.
What Causes Constipation in Betta Fish?
The most common reason for constipation in betta fish is too much food.
When you feed your betta fish more than it can handle, their digestive system gets overloaded, causing constipation. What makes things worse is that bettas may still chew the food even if their stomachs are full. They’re just greedy.
Many people think that following the manufacturer’s instructions printed on the food packaging is enough, but that’s not true. Unlike other fish types, bettas have very small stomachs, so feeding them for 2-5 minutes, as most manufacturers recommend, isn’t ideal.
A better way to determine the right amount of food to give your fish is to set an exact number of betta pellets or dried blood worms. As a general rule of thumb, feeding your betta 2-3 pellets or 3-4 bloodworms every 12 hours should be enough.
Any more than that, and you’re exposing your betta to the risk of constipation.
How to Cure Constipation in Bettas
Luckily, you don’t need to take your betta to a vet to ease its constipation. The simplest way to treat fish constipation at home is to allow your betta to fast for 24 hours, then slowly introduce frozen or live foods to the tank. Giving it a shelled pea might also be a good idea.
Parasitic infection in your betta’s stomach is one of the common reasons that lead to your betta spitting out its meal. It damages the digestive system of your betta, making digestion much more challenging.
If your betta is hungry, These digestive issues will make your betta fish spit uneaten food.
The first thing you need to do if you suspect your betta’s stomach is infected is to separate it into a separate tank so that it doesn’t transmit the parasite to other healthy tankmates.
It’s also essential that you avoid attempting to treat the infection yourself. Take your betta to the vet for proper treatment.
Improper Food Type
The type of food you give your betta fish might be the reason behind food spitting.
In its natural habitat, betta fish consume mosquito larvae and insects, but since it’s hard to give them this type of food in captivity, frozen foods such as pellets and flakes from the grocery store will do the trick.
Flakes and pellets are good and all, but if you want to be sure that what you’re giving your betta fish is suitable for them, opt for foods mainly made for betta consumption.
Young betta fish, on the other hand, require dry food for easy digestion.
It’s also worth noting that betta fish need a high amount of protein to thrive because of their carnivorous nature, so a protein-rich diet is key for its health and well-being. They won’t like a meal of plant matter. Brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are all protein-rich foods that your betta will love.
If your betta fish is getting older, its appetite will naturally decline, causing it to eat less than usual. If you notice that your betta spits out food portions that it used to eat normally, your betta may just be getting older.
Introducing new tankmates to your betta tank may cause it to get scared. If your betta fish starts spitting out food, then other fish is probably stealing its food.
So these were some of the most common reasons your betta refuses to swallow food. Digestive problems, long feeding time, infected stomach, and improper diet can all be reasons behind your betta spitting out food. But in most scenarios, your beautiful fish is just playing with the pellets and flakes, even if it doesn’t want to eat them.