How Often to Feed Your Betta
In general, you should feed your betta fish twice each day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Many betta fish keepers incorporate a “fasting day,” or a day on which the betta receives no food.
While a fasting day is not strictly necessary, it may beneficial to your betta by allowing him to clear out his system.
Betta’s are prone to bloating and constipation if overfed, so fasting your fish for a day helps your betta’s body stay regular.
How Much to Feed Betta Fish
Following the instruction provided on the container of betta fish food is not always the best idea.
Manufacturers of betta foods tend to suggest giving your betta more food than necessary.
Keep in mind that betta fish in the wild do not eat large meals every day and they have to work harder to catch the food that they find.
Typically, I feed my adult betta fish about 4-5 pellets per feeding or 3-4 white worms instead of pellets.
Feed a Variety of Foods
Feeding different types of food to your betta is also beneficial for your fish’s health.
Feeding a different food each day or selecting a different food type for the morning and evening feedings will improve your betta’s appetite and energy level.
Live foods also provide your betta with mental stimulation because live foods move and trigger your betta’s hunting instinct.
Varying your betta’s food will also reveal which foods your betta enjoys the most.
Betta Food Types
In the wild, betta fish dine on a variety of aquatic life, but primarily eat crustaceans, like shrimp, and insect larvae, like mosquito larvae.
In captivity, appropriate foods for bettas include live foods (like blood worms and white worms), frozen foods, flakes, granules, pellets, and freeze-dried worms and crustaceans.
Some of these live foods can be purchased from your local fish store or cultured yourself.
But, an easier route may be buying frozen foods for your betta fish.
The following frozen foods make great additions to your betta’s diet, if you can find them:
2) Mosquito larvae
3) Tubifex worms
4) Mysis Shrimp
7) Brine shrimp (adults)
8) Blood worms
9) Black worms
Purchasing a couple different high quality betta pellets and supplementing that with 2-3 different types of live or frozen foods, is a simple way to improve your betta’s health and happiness.
Can Bettas Eat Tropical Fish Flakes?
If your betta is kept with other fish, you may be wondering if feeding him tropical fish flakes is harmful.
Feeding your betta fish tropical fish flakes may actually be beneficial and improve the color of your betta fish.
But, your betta fish requires a high protein diet for optimal health and tropical fish flakes are a plant based food.
If your betta is only fed tropical fish flakes, your fish may suffer from bloating and swim bladder disorder.
Stick to pellets and freeze-dried foods specifically formulated for betta fish, and if your betta steals the occasional tropical flake, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Betta Fish Spitting Out Food
Betta fish may spit out food for a number of reasons:
1) The food may be too large;
2) The texture of the food may be telling your betta’s brain that “it’s not food”; or
3) The betta is testing or sampling a new type of food.
Breaking up larger pieces of food and softening freeze-dried foods in water, may help make the food more palatable for your betta fish.
Collecting Live Betta Food
Collecting food for your betta fish from ponds and other bodies of water is also a way to add variety to your betta’s diet.
Mosquito larvae, Daphnia, and Cyclops are abundant in ponds throughout the country.
However, be cautious when collecting betta food from the wild, some of these organisms may be carrying parasites.
If you feed your betta wild caught foods, it may be wise to give your fish a de-wormer occasionally.
Betta Foods You Can Culture
If you plan to breed betta fish, creating your own live betta food cultures is almost essential.
While commercial betta fry food exists, live foods seem to produce the healthiest and most vibrant betta fish.
Live betta foods that are commonly cultured are:
1) Wingless Fruit Flies
4) Vinegar eels
5) White worms
6) Grindal worms
All of these live foods are excellent additions to your adult betta’s diet and may also be fed to betta fish fry at different stages of growth.
Removing Old Food
Old or uneaten food that collects at the bottom of a betta tank is problematic. It can degrade water conditions and create conditions for diseases to thrive.
A quick fix is a turkey baster, which makes an excellent tool for removing uneaten or old food at the bottom of your betta’s tank.
And when performing water changes, be sure to carefully vacuum up any uneaten food particles or dead worms.
My Betta Fish Won’t Eat
If your betta was recently transported or placed into a new aquarium, don’t be alarmed if he loses his appetite for 5-7 days.
When your betta feels comfortable in his new home, he will gladly accept foods.
Be sure to remove any food he refuses to eat to prevent it from decaying.
Other reasons your betta may refuse to eat include:
4) Water Conditions
What to Do:
If you suspect your betta is overly stressed, check the strength of water flow or water output on your filter.
If you betta is constantly fighting a current, he may be stressed and simply focused on swimming.
Filters, like sponge filters, make ideal betta filters because they do not produce a current and will not suck up your betta fish.
Also consider providing your betta fish with a hiding place, where he may sleep or just hang out.
If your betta is listless, and laying on his side or laying at the bottom of the tank, he may be suffering from a bacteria or other type of disease.
Quarantining your fish and applying the appropriate medication or salt should bring your fish back to normal.
If your betta is suffering from bloating, his stomach will bulge out and he may swim less effectively.
Fasting your betta for a couple days may help alleviate the bloating and many betta keepers recommend feeding your fish the inside of a pea.
Water chemistry can also affect your betta fish’s appetite and behavior.
Make sure the tank is not too cold for your betta by keeping the temperature at 78-80 degreess F.
If ammonia or other compounds have built up, your betta may be fighting an invisible battle against these compounds.
A 25% to 50% water change can drastically improve your betta’s situation and should be performed on a regular schedule.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Survive Without Food
At the extreme, betta fish can live about 14 days without eating. After that point, a betta fish may become seriously malnourished and die.
If you are planning to go on vacation for less than 2 weeks, your betta may survive, but leaving your betta without food is actually unnecessary.
One solution is to buy an automatic fish feeder, which operates on a timer.
I’ve used an automatic feeder to keep my betta fish fed while on a 13 day vacation.
All fish survived and looked great when I returned.
Make sure to test the automatic feeder before you leave, you may need to decrease the opening where the food comes out with a piece of tape because the auto feeders are designed to feed more than one fish.
Food for Betta Fry
The best food for baby betta fish (fry) is baby brineshrimp.
Betta fish breeders swear by baby brineshrimp and I can’t disagree; survival rates of betta fry appear to be highest when fed baby brineshrimp.
Containers of brineshrimp eggs can be purchased online, but are pricey.
Alternative foods include grindal worms, which promote rapid growth in betta fry but may be a headache to culture (check for mites).
Baby brine shrimp are fairly easy to hatch and egg hatching kits are readily available online.
Feeding can begin about two days after the betta fry hatch, just be sure to remove uneaten or dead shrimp with a turkey baster to prevent water conditions from becoming toxic.
The main thing to remember is that betta fish do better and live longer when they receive a varied diet.
Try to have pellets, a live food, and a frozen or freeze-dried food on hand and feed your betta different foods on different days.
This will ensure optimal betta health and promote betta color as well.
Stay zen aquarists.