Q: HB wrote,
Can bettas feed off the roots of plants?
A: I can only assume you have read the instructions that come with many Peace Lily Vase set-ups. The instructions often say that bettas will live at the base of the plant and pick nutrients or algae off the roots. Bettas can not survive off the roots of plants. They are carnivorous fish with a short digestive tract designed specifically to eat insects, insect larvae, worms and other small animals. If put into a situation where they face starvation they may pick at the roots in an effort to get any nutrients available but this is an effort to survive, not a preferred diet. For more on the dangers of these vases visit Betta Vases on Nippyfish.net.
In a proper tank set up you may notice your betta forging for food around live plants or mosses. This is common behavior and may be observed fairly regularly. Bettas will still require regular light feedings one to two times per day. This sort of forging is part of the lifestyle of a healthy and active betta.
Q: If bettas are carnivores why do some betta keepers feed blanched pea once a week?
A: In nature bettas get fiber from many of the foods they eat. The exoskeletons and wings from their pray make an excellent source of fiber. At home bettas may not be getting all the fiber they need so keepers offer them a small bite of softened blanched pea on occasion. It’s also believed the pea will help keep them “regular” when their diets consist entirely of dry pellet or flake food, or conversely, of all live or frozen worms. It is also believed that daphnia will act as a mild laxative to treat constipation in lieu of peas. The best way to avoid constipation altogether is to never overfeed, feed a variety of foods and fast your betta one day per week. For more about betta constipation see Betta Constipation on Nippyfish.net.