Feeding Bettas

What Should I Feed My Betta?

Photo by Mean & Pinchy

Bettas are carnivores and need food high in protein. Bettas cannot survive off of just vegetables or plant roots.

There are many foods available for your betta that can be bought at your local fish store or cultivated at home. Here’s a quick list to get you started. Remember that like people, a variety of foods allows your fish to get a balanced diet.

  • Frozen or live bloodworms or bloodworms in gel
  • Frozen or live brine shrimp or brine shrimp in gel
  • Frozen or live daphnia
  • Frozen glass worms
  • Frozen beef heart (can be purchased at your supermarket or butcher)
  • Frozen tubifex worms (live tubifex often carry parasites or bacteria and is better avoided)
  • Frozen mysis shrimp
  • Live white worms
  • Live grindal worms
  • Live flightless or wingless fruit flies
  • Live black worms.

Frozen foods should not be confused with freeze-dried. Freeze-dried foods may cause digestion problems leading to more serious medical issues when fed in excess.

What Should I Not Feed My Betta?

If possible, try to avoid overfeeding dried pellets, flake or freeze-dried food. Some foods are marketed as “For Bettas” but could cause digestion problems due to indigestible fillers and low moisture content. You will usually find these in packages near where bettas are sold. These pellet foods absorb water and expand in the fish’s stomach 2x or 3x their original size. Some bettas react badly to them, often suffering from constipation, bloating or even swim-bladder disorders. If you’re unable to feed your betta anything but dried food, you should soak the pellets in a glass of tank water for about 10 minutes before feeding them to your fish. This will give the pellet a chance to expand to its full size before your fish ingests it. As with any betta fish food, do not overfeed and if you notice significant abdominal bloating, reduce the number of pellets fed or switch to live or frozen food.

How Much Should I Feed My Betta?

One of the most common mistakes people make with their betta is either overfeeding or underfeeding their fish. A betta should be fed every day or nearly every day. (If you keep a betta in the office and you can’t feed him on the weekends, he will be just fine as long as you feed him the other 5 days a week) It takes a betta about 2 weeks to starve to death so if your fish doesn’t eat for a few days due to illness or adjusting to a new home, don’t panic.

A good rule of thumb at feeding time is this… A betta’s stomach is about as big as his eyeball and should not be fed more that amount at a time. This translates to about 3 bloodworms or brine shrimp per feeding. If you feed pellets, this equals about 2-3 soaked pellets per feeding. A betta can be fed this amount once or twice a day.

Fish pellet or flake food containers often say “Feed what your fish will eat in 5 minutes or until he stops eating.” This DOES NOT apply to bettas. In the wild their instinct is to eat as much as possible because they don’t know when their next meal is coming. In a tank, however, we DO know when their next meal is coming. It is up to us to not overfeed our fish. Overfeeding can lead to water quality problems and illness not to mention obesity.