How Many Days Can Bettas Go Without Food?


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Q: Anon wrote,

I have a bit of an unrelated question. I was wondering how long can a betta go without being fed? I am a student and am planning to travel home for spring break. I take the fish home on longer vacations but was wondering if it would be possible to leave them for a week? My two bettas are both in heated 2.5 gallon tanks. I could take them with me, but I always find they that they get stressed out by the trip and I can’t get anyone to come in to feed them. Thank you!

A. Determining how long to leave your betta without food is a bit of an exercise in evaluating the cercumstances. A betta may survive up to two weeks without food before it dies from the lack of nutrition. This, of course, means he has used up all his reserves and has gone into starvation mode some time prior to succumbing. Starvation is a process. A few days will likely not affect the fish at all but eventually the body will begin to suffer the effects of stress, which will only worsen as he continues to live without food. The health of the fish comes into play too. A strong, well fed male in his prime may survive longer than a very young or old fish or one who has a weakened immune system due to illness or exposure to poor water qualtity.

All I can really offer is my own personal feelings on the subject but should make clear that others may hold a different opinion. For me personally, I have a four day rule. If I am gone less than four days then I don’t bother finding someone to feed the fish. Inexperienced fish keepers tend to be a little heavy handed on the feedings and I generally perfer not to bother a friend when I am fairly sure the fish will be fine. If I am gone more than four days, then I train a trusted friend. Because I also have a cat, I retain the services of a professional pet sitter as well and I know, for a little extra money, I can have her feed my fish.

This past Christmas I went away for 5 days / 4 nights and pushed my no feed rule the extra day hoping all would be ok. Most of my fish did survive, some seeming none the worse for wear but I did loose an older male Dwarf Gourami (closely related to Bettas) and felt quite badly about it. I probably won’t go 5 days again without feeding as I personally don’t think it is humane.

For people with community tank set-ups, it is even more important to avoid long stretches without food. When you have an aquarium with several fish and one dies, the water quickly fouls rapidly increasing the danger level for the remaining fish. Once you loose one fish in community tank, you put the others at great risk. Also, if there is any sort of equipment malfuction (loss of power, etc) having someone checking in daily can mean avoiding serious losses.

***I should also make note that different species will react to starvation at a different rate.

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16 Comments

  • Anonymous

    I had to leave my betta alone for a week once. It got too cold…RIP Benji 🙁

    Reply
    • Arvin

      That is so sad. =(

      Reply
  • Anonymous

    Would it be possible to over feed your betta fish, and still have it survive if you went on a week vacation?

    Reply
  • kayla

    Im going on a 1 week vacation and i dont want mybetta to die. he is well fed and thats it. do u think he will die?

    Reply
    • I do not recommend going a week without feeding your betta. He may survive but you are taking an awful big chance here. Starvation is horribly stressful and no animal, even a fish, should be left without food. Is there a friend you can leave him with?

      Reply
  • Sam

    so i live with my cousin and she hasn’t fed her male beta fish in over 2 months…its still swimming around and she changes the water regularly im gonna guess this is not normal what is goin on….?

    Reply
  • Fishlover

    Hi,
    Will my betta survive 2 weeks without water changes?

    Reply
  • no it will not live u have to chane the water half the tank once a week.
    will my male betta live 2 days without food??

    Reply
  • sorry i ment change

    Reply
  • beta

    1) Your beta will live for more than two days – are you crazy its a small fish.
    2) I usually only feed mine once every two or three days. I have forgotten to feed him for four or five days at a time.
    3) I only change the water every few weeks and hes still alive – he lives in a one gallon tank. Get some Perspective

    Reply
  • nobody noes

    i had a beta and he die arter 3 days of having him. the pet store said he was not use to the water. Is that possible? I left him in the water for like 10 mineuts and he died.

    Reply
    • kbetta

      Yes, if the fish goes from one temp to another the shock can kill it, also you should treat the water with a solution that can be found in pet stores. Next time let the tank water sit for half hour after treating and float your betta in a baggy with the water from the store. After half hour to an hour dump the bag, water, and fish into the new tank.

      Reply
  • hopefulChick

    I have to leave my betta for 5 days, June26 to July2, I will clean the tank when I get home and feed him, and on the 3rd feed as I usually would. Then I have to leave for 4 days, the 4th to the 8th. Is there a chance that he might be alive when I get home the afternoon of the 8th?

    Reply
    • Sandra

      It’s possible but don’t count on it. If I were you I would ask a neighbor or a trusted friend to take care of your fish. Even if it is very healthy before you leave you don’t want to take the chance of it suffering.

      Reply
  • Jill Davis

    I have left my 2 betta fish with out food for a day will they die

    Reply
  • Sandra

    I’m thinking about getting two female betta fish. If I was to go to the beach for about 4 days, could I possibly give them more food then normal?

    Reply

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