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Feeding Betta Fish: How Much, and How Often? [Feeding Chart & Guide]

Nicole Cosgrove

July 2, 2021

Introduction

When it comes to our betta fish, we all want to show them love however we can. One of the easiest ways we find to do this is through food and treats. However, overfeeding your betta fish or feeding the wrong kinds of foods can lead to health problems and water quality issues.

If you’ve wondered what you should be feeding your betta fish and how often they need to be fed, keep reading for everything you need to know about feeding your betta fish!

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What to Feed a Betta Fish

Feeding your betta fish the right foods will maintain its health, improve its color, elongate its life, and make it an overall happier fish. Bettas are carnivores, which means their natural diet consists primarily of eating small animals, like insects and snails. Luckily, there are plenty of products on the market to ensure your betta gets a healthy, hearty diet.

Options for Feeding Your Betta:

  • Pellets: The most cost-effective means of feeding your betta high-quality food is via pellets. This type of food is available in tons of sizes and flavors and is usually shelf-stable for up to 6 months after opening. Pellets are high in protein and can safely be used as the basis for your betta’s diet.
  • Flakes: Possibly the most well-known food option, flakes are widely available but tend to be less nutritionally dense than other types of foods, like live and frozen foods. Flakes are a good option for mixing things up from time to time, but ideally should not be used as the primary dietary source.
  • Live: Live foods are the most difficult type of food to feed routinely because they require a trusted source of live animals for feeding or raising your own live food. There are lots of kits available that allow you to raise baby brine shrimp or daphnia, which are great live food options for bettas. Live foods have the highest nutrient density of all food types.
  • Freeze-dried: These foods start off as live foods, but via a special drying technique, all moisture is removed. Freeze-dried foods often retain the shape of the live animal, making them visually appealing to your betta. They are more nutrient-dense than flakes and pellets, but the freeze-drying process does remove some of the nutrients that live and frozen foods retain.
  • Frozen: Frozen foods are an excellent alternative to live foods. These foods are often frozen while still alive, so they retain most of their nutritional value. Frozen foods are usually pre-portioned in small cubes, so it may be difficult to portion it out appropriately for one betta fish.

Related Read: Do Betta Fish Have Teeth And Can They Bite?

Dumbo Betta Fish
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

What’s the Best Food for Your Betta?

The most nutritionally sound food option for bettas is live foods, but this isn’t a practical option for most people. Frozen foods are nutritionally second to live foods, but storage and portioning can become an issue. Freeze-dried foods tend to cause constipation due to their lack of moisture and some may have lost the nutritional profile of the live animal. For most people, pellets are the most cost-effective option for nutrient-dense foods that don’t break the bank. Flakes are a good treat on occasion, but most flake foods do not have the necessary nutritional profile needed for daily feedings.

Foods Bettas Cannot Eat:

  • Omnivore Foods: While it may seem like a good idea to feed your betta the same food you feed your other fish, most community and omnivorous foods do not contain the protein levels needed for bettas to stay healthy.
  • Herbivore Foods: Bettas should not be feed things like algae wafers since these will not provide the protein needed by bettas and they have the potential to cause constipation and other health problems since bettas are not made to digest these foods.
  • Fruits and Veggies: While many fish and invertebrates enjoy fresh foods like fruits and veggies, bettas do not need these foods. The exception to this is that constipated bettas can be fed a bite of cooked, skinned pea to help get things moving again.
  • Plant Roots: You’ve likely seen kits with a vase and plant being marketed as self-sustaining betta environments. Unfortunately, bettas cannot live off of plant roots and are unlikely to eat them at all. If left to survive on plant roots, your betta will die from nutrient deficiencies or starvation.

Betta Fish Feeding Chart

Day of the Week Quantity & Types of Food
Monday Fasting
Tuesday 2-3 pieces of live, frozen, or freeze-dried food 1-2 times a day
Wednesday 2-3 pieces betta pellets 1-2 times a day
Thursday 2-3 pieces betta pellets 1-2 times a day
Friday 2-3 pieces of live, frozen, or freeze-dried food 1-2 times a day
Saturday 2-3 pieces betta pellets 1-2 times a day
Sunday 2-3 pieces betta pellets or pinch of flakes 1-2 times a day

Source: https://www.tankarium.com/how-often-should-i-feed-my-betta-fish/

Half Moon Betta Fish
Image Credit: at.rma, Shutterstock

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How Often to Feed a Betta Fish

Since betta fish do not graze like omnivorous and herbivorous fish do, they should be fed daily at minimum. Ideally, you should feed your betta twice a day, and you can even split the food amount up into three daily feedings if you want to. Your betta needs food to maintain energy and health.

However, it’s important to fast your betta every 1-2 weeks. Fasting helps the gastrointestinal system play catch up with any food that has not fully digested. This will help prevent constipation in your betta. One day of fasting will be adequate and unless needed to treat a medical condition, you shouldn’t fast your betta two days in a row.

The Dangers of Overfeeding Betta Fish

The biggest danger of overfeeding your betta is the risk of causing constipation. Constipation in bettas can lead to more than stomach discomfort and bloating. It can also lead to swim bladder dysfunction and may even exacerbate other underlying medical conditions by inducing stress. Make sure you are feeding an appropriate amount of food per feeding to your betta and resist the urge to overfeed because they give you puppy dog eyes.

The other big danger with overfeeding is that it runs the risk of fouling the water. Food that your betta does not eat will begin to rot, causing ammonia to build up in the tank. It will also allow for bacteria growth, which will create water cloudiness and can reduce the dissolved oxygen within the water.

Why Won’t My Betta Fish Eat?

mask Betta fish_Sirinutbettafarm_shutterstock
Image Credit: Sirinutbettafarm, Shutterstock

If your betta fish is bloated or constipated, it may choose to skip one or multiple meals.

Medical conditions like swim bladder disease and dropsy can also lead to inappetence, so if your betta starts skipping meals, make sure you are closely monitoring for symptoms of an underlying problem.

The most common reason that a betta fish stops eating is water quality issues. If your tank isn’t cycled or you aren’t performing routine water changes, then your water quality will suffer. The same goes for overfeeding and allowing food to rot in the tank. Bettas are the happiest and healthiest with clean, clear water.

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Conclusion

Feeding your betta fish the right diet is easy to do but may require you to read labels and monitor how much and how often you’re feeding. Aim for a dietary base food that has around 40% protein and has few fillers, like soy and cornmeal.

Feeding your betta a variety of foods will provide enrichment and stimulation to your betta. If you are able, feed your betta live food every now and then. They will enjoy putting their natural hunting abilities to work!


Featured Image: Buddy BIGPhotographer, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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