The proper guidelines for feeding a Betta fish has always been a topic of contention. Feeding is an essential part of maintenance of a fish tank, not least because it keeps your fish alive, but because overfeeding can result in a dirty tank, toxic waste and unprecedented algae growth. Betta fish are greedy little things and a common problem is assuming that because it’s eaten what you fed it, it must still be hungry.
In this guide, we’ll look at how often should you feed a betta fish and what varieties of food it can eat. Luckily, this fish is not a fussy eater, both from your perspective and the fish’s perspective too. We’ll have a closer look at what type of food the fish can eat, how often it can eat and how much it should be fed in one go.
How much should you feed a betta fish?
The stomach of a betta fish is incredibly small. When you have a big tank full of fish, you typically follow the guidelines on the back of the packet, this says something like, feed what your fish can eat within 2 minutes. This rule can be followed when you keep betta fish with other species as there’s no way to limit what the betta eats.
If you keep the betta fish alone, as is what most people do, you should feed the betta fish 2-3 betta fish pellets once or twice a day. You can get betta specific pellets here.
The betta will keep eating as long as there is food. Remember, in the wild fish don’t have a steady and regular food source, and they’ll eat enough to survive. Fish aren’t smart enough to know they’re fed each day.
If you feed the fish brine shrimp or bloodworm, that’s about 3 individual pieces per betta.
Too much food will result in the fish getting fat or food being wasted and causes harmful
How often do you feed a betta fish?
A betta can be fed the required amount above once or twice per day.
However, you are likely to receive conflicting advice, both from the back of the food container, and the person or place where you bought the fish food from. It is hard to find objectivity but you cannot go wrong with 3 pellets once of twice per day.
Some bettas are larger than others, so you can go for twice a day. For young and small bettas, do once per day. This is the only guideline as to the frequency of feeding.
In the wild, betta fish eat irregularly, so skipping a meal once in a while is no bad thing. Keep an eye on the fish to see how it handles the frequency of feeding. How often should you feed your betta fish depends on how bloated it becomes, how active or vibrant it looks and how much waste is in the tank.
We recommend that every so often the routine is changed for optimal health.
What can you feed a betta fish?
Betta fish are not picky eaters. They eat almost all types of protein and in the wild they will hunt often, seeking out bloodworm, brine shrimp or small insects. Also known as Siamese Fighting fish, they have been known to kill and eat each other, especially in captivity. Obviously, the betta fish is a keen meat eater! Here’s our list of the top foods to feed your betta fish at home:
- Betta Fish Pellets. Avoid using generic fish pellets if you can. Most pet stores will sell ‘betta specific’ foods, but I personally think it’s a profit making exercise, but I buy betta pellets none the less. I use these.
- Frozen betta food. They love to eat bloodworms, live or frozen. Of course, frozen blood worm is a lot less expensive. We often feed ours frozen and live bloodworm. Remember, they only need to eat about 3 frozen bloodworms which is a tiny piece of the packet. About the same size as 3 pellets is a good rule to go by. This type of food is best for the fishes long term health, energy and vibrant color. It also helps prevent the fish from looking ill or depressed.
- Live betta food. Betta’s love live feed such as bloodworm, mosquito larva and daphnia. Live food is the best option but it is also the most expensive. Live food provides the most nutrient rich food and can even prolong the life of your fish.
- Fish Flake food. Flakes are the most generic type of food you can buy. These are generally suited to all types of fish and not bettas. Only use for a short time and for convenience sake. Betta fish sometimes don’t eat flake food which is why most people use the betta pellets.
- Live caught food from outside. If you have a small net, simply go outside to a body of water that’s been sitting for a while, like a bucket, and you’ll find it full of mosquito larve. It’s a great source of food for these small types of aquarium fish.
- Freeze dried food. Frozen and dried Bloodworms are ideal. Available here.
Here’s an overview list of what the betta can eat in less detail:
- Frozen or live bloodworms
- Live or Frozen daphnia
- Bloodworms in jelly (common way to package them)
- Glass worms
- Mosquito larve (frozen, store live or even better just fresh caught from outside)
- Brine Shrimp – can be frozen or alive
- White worms (live or frozen)
- Frozen small shrimp such as mysis shrimp
- Grindal and black worms are both potential substitutes for bloodworms, but can vary in price a lot depending on the provider. Can all be live or frozen, either are suitable.
- Flake food for bettas
- Betta specific pellets
- Time release formulas for trips away
What should you NOT feed a betta fish?
As mentioned previously, we try not to stick to using pellet feed as it’s not best for the health of the betta fish. We tend to only use them for convenience and for others who may come round to look after the fish.
Try to avoid flake food altogether if you can. It is poorly made, with cheap fillers that provide no nutrient, but fill up the fish and are hard to digest. These foods are very cheap to produce so the profit margins are extremely high and they are often pushed as premium betta feed on labels.
Flakes and pellets both absorb a lot of water because they are so dry, and can expand the betta’s tiny stomachs. Flake food does this a lot more so than pellets due to the dry cheap filler content, that is cardboard like in it’s texture.
Going away from home and feeding your Betta Fish
A lot of people panic if they’re going away from home and worry that their fish might starve to death. While this is true, for short weekends away your fish will absolutely be fine without food. This is especially true of your fish is in a planted tank. A planted tank with natural organic matter will always provide a source of natural food.
If your fish isn’t in a planted tank, don’t worry, a betta fish can go up to 2 weeks without eating before it dies. We wouldn’t advise that you let it go that long though, but know that you can go away for a weekend and the fish will be fine.
If you plan to go away for longer than 4 days, we strongly advise that you get a time release betta food feeder. This feeder will gradually release the amount of food required, it’s much healthier for the fish.
You can improve the quality of your betta tank by including a moss ball. They provide extra filtration and a natural food source for the fish. Available here.
Always keep in mind how much you should feed the fish and always buy good quality food. It’s easy to overfeed and easy to forget that the fish will keep eating whatever you give it, jeopardizing its health and muddying the aquarium.
- Feed the betta fish live food as much as possible.
- Fish the 3 pellet size amounts once or twice a day, use pellet size as a guide when not using betta pellets.
- It’s ok for the fish not to eat for a couple of days, but don’t make it a regular thing.
Depending on where you purchased your Betta fish, you’re going to get different advice. Some might sell pellet food and suggest that it’s given to them every other day, some might have a daily regime but with less. If you’re confused please leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.
– Authority Aquarium Team