Frozen Brine Shrimp

BL wrote,

I really enjoy and rely on your site, and wondered if you’re still taking questions. I got some frozen brine shrimp in a grid of little packets and am wondering what I do with it – how long will it take the betta to eat through one packet, and should I keep that portion in the fridge or the freezer? How to chip off a portion? Do I let it thaw to room temperature?Sorry, I know this is a pretty small question and one that I will eventually figure out myself, but I’m a new fish owner and don’t want to do anything wrong.

A: Brine shrimp is an excellent food for your betta fish as part of a balanced diet. Frozen brine shrimp, like those made by San Francisco Bay Brand or Hikari are most often sold as flat packs or in individual portioned cubes like the one you are describing. For a betta fish, one cube can go a long way, often lasting a week or more. When feeding in conjunction with other foods, one pack can last a year for one fish if stored properly.

Frozen Food Storage: The big name brands carefully sterilize their frozen fish foods to kill off any harmful bacteria that can make your fish sick. Assuming they were transported correctly and quickly stored by the fish store staff, the frozen fish food you receive is safe for your betta. The cube packs melt quickly however, and should be stored in your freezer as soon as possible. I recommend transporting them in a cooler to avoid thawing, especially in warm weather. Refreezing thawed meet (even brine shrimp) does increase your chances of spreading bacteria to your betta.

Portioning: Bettas are prone to bloating and overeating so small portion sizes are key. One portion of betta food should be about the size of his eyeball. This amount can be fed two or three times per day. I am often only able to feed my bettas once per day so I tend to feed just a little more, perhaps twice the size of their eyeballs each day. If your betta appears bloated after feeding, reduce your portion sizes.

I’m sure if you asked 20 people how they divvy-up their frozen brine shrimp cubes you would get 20 different answers. Here’s how I do it… I pop one frozen cube from the package and put it in a zip-lock sandwich bag. Positioning it on the counter in the center of the bag, I VERY lightly tap it with a hammer a few times. Because of all the meat in the cube it tends to crush rather than splinter like an ice cube. If you hit it too hard you will either damage your countertop or send the cube shooting through the bag, across your kitchen’s bar top, past your living room furniture where it will bounce off your glass patio door and onto the floor where it will quickly be investigated by your cats. So I don’t recommend hitting it too hard.

Assuming you’ve crushed it easily with a hammer (rolling pin does the trick too) you can scoop out a small portion with a tooth pick and feed it directly to your fish or swish it around his tank so that it breaks up in little pieces. If he likes the brine shrimp, which most do, he will hunt down all the little pieces and continue searching for more long after he has eaten every bit. The brine shrimp melt almost immediately upon entering the water so thawing is unnecessary in most cases. The remainder in the sandwich bag should be immediately stored back in your freezer for another day. I don’t know exactly how long it will stay good in the sandwich bag, but I personally toss any open frozen fish foods after about 7 days. It’s so cheap that I don’t bother trying to make it last longer than that and once it is open the chance for introducing bacteria is greater.

We’d love to hear how others feed their bettas. Please tell us about your feeding routine in the comments.

Learn more about feeding betta fish.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have had Chakra now for about a month and am still learning

    • Somebody says:

      HELP! My female crowntail suddenly developed a white patch on her eye. I was searching the web, bout couldn’t find answers. I checked on her to find that the patch has become a ring in the middle of her cornea. She doesn’t seem sick and is very healthy and none of the other fish in the tank seem to be affected. Any help?

      • Fitbit or your local helpful person says:

        White spot disease, also known as ich or ick, a type of fungus. The fungus spots irritate the fish, and it rubs against the scenery to try to alleviate this, breaking its fins in the process. Alternately, it could be an infection of both ich and fin rot. Treat the fish by cleaning everything and using anti-fungal treatment.

  2. Mark says:

    I feed mine by melting the cube in a long shot glass that I keep in the freezer with leftovers in it. When it is feeding time I take the shot glass out, and unthaw the food by running the side of the shot glass (cold at first then goes to hot, so as not to shatter the glass). Once the glass is hot, the cube starts to melt again.
    I just leave it for 5 mins while I go do something else, then I come back and use an eye dropper to feed Mery (Pronounced Mer-E). It’s fun to watch him jump for the food as it dangles out of the dropper. Especially if it is a cube of bloodworms, as they dangle a bit from the dropper and he jumps like crazy to get at it. Eventually (after he gets a few) I just shoot a couple extra into the water. I too use about two eyeball sized portions a day. Although if he gets too much one day, I feed him less the second day.
    -Mark in Toronto

  3. Mark says:

    Yikes I just re-read that. By “leftovers” I didn’t mean mom’s meatloaf. I meant the remainder of whatever cube he’s eating that week.

  4. Terri Osaka says:

    Thank you so much for this piece of information. I over fed my betta when I gave him the first cube of frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp. I put the whole block in the tank and it clouded the tank. The tank smelled aweful and my baby wouldn’t eat his pellets. I’m assuming he’s spoiled now. Thank you very much, now I know how to feed him. Thanks a million!!

  5. Su-Su says:

    Is this Terri Osaka Johnson that posted this comment? Do you remember “Su-Su”

  6. C says:

    Great post, thanks! Where I come from, live brine shrimp are more than a bit hard and/or expensive to come by, so I’ve considered feeding my own bettas freeze-dried brine shrimp (which is still expensive) just to augment their diet. They take regular flakes too but I’ve read in plenty of places that sticking to one sort of food can be hard on betta fish health – it can lead to constipation and so on. A good mix is better.
    My sources say that feeding a great diet is key to increasing the betta fish life span. I’ve had quite a bit of luck with live tubifex worms twice or thrice a week and good-quality flake food (from a reputable manufacturer) most other days.

  7. Catherine says:

    Thank you all for your excellent advice on feeding. Beau had his first meal of blood worms last evening. At first he didn’t recognize them as food. I had to try to fish them back out and reintroduce them to him. When he found out what they were, he went wild. I did overfeed though, he probably ate 6 or more in all our excitement over new food. I came to check how many to feed him in one meal. Apparently 3 worms per meal. I do feed him 2 x’s a day, the same time Susie my Samoyed eats her meals. I am just so thrilled on how much I really enjoy my Beau, at my age of 53 people think I am a little whacky over my little fish. I just love him.

  8. Catherine says:

    Thank You Christie for providing a place for people to share their love about their betta fish.

  9. Sean says:

    my new betta is in a 5 gallon tank with a floating log and some artificial plants and a fluval small tank heater that is setat about 75 degrees, i see that they should have some type of mechanical filtration system, the filter i have in came with the tank but when i turn it on the betta seems to strugle a little with the current. is there another type of mechanical filter that is less powerful that you could recomend? and what type of live plant should i get to put in with the betta?

    • Beckie says:

      Sean, please see my post below. Beckie

    • addyspena says:

      hi, best plants for bettas, are water lettuce, lemna menor and duckweed the best ;read about them.chao

  10. Beckie says:

    Regarding the filter current for the betta–check out this page. It’s easy, inexpensive, and it breaks up the water flow going into the tank. My Betta, Ketchup, seems to like it.

  11. Publius Vergilius Maro says:

    I am not a beta expert, but the pet store owner told me I am the person in 20 years who keeps his betta in the proper way. I DO NOT keep him in some tiny miserable 1 cup cell like they sell in the pet stored. These are cruel. In the wild, bettas can live in a small cup of water for a while but they eventually jump out to a new one and to a bigger body of water. I keep mine in a 2.5 gallon bowl with glass beads on the bottom, along with a few tigers eye stone and a couple of other polished stones for effect, and a bamboo 5 inch plant and another more bushy one in which he can hide. I took a few of the shoots of the bushy one and float these on the surface to give the fish what it needs in nature: protection from above from where birds would get them. This makes his bowl psychologically comfortable. He has plenty of room and is still readily visible. My betta often makes what I call f… -bubbles and this is a sign he is happy. My only problem is I started on freeze dried worms not knowing any better and now try to feed him frozen shrimp. They go to the bottom and he does not show interest so I am wondering if anyone knows if he will adjust to the new food eventually?

  12. Sheri says:

    I just got 2 betta’s in separate tanks and I was feeding freeze dried blood worms and want to add frozen brine shrimp to their diet. By the time I got home the brine shrimp had started to thaw but were still pretty frozen. If you tried to squish them they gave in just a little. They came in a pack of individually packed shrimp in rows. I was wondering if I could refreeze without hurting my fish. One was thawed so I fed them out of that one and put it in a baggy or use within a couple of days. Is that ok? Or should I throw it away? Thanks

  13. Leslie Taylor says:

    I’m a new Betta owner…a beautiful rust colored male…He’s so smart and I have him in a
    10 gallon tank with a heater, filter and a philodendron cutting…also, he has a castle with 3 openings which he seems to love going in & out of often…he also, has a tall structure with a large opening at the bottom and two large holes like eyes which my Betta loves to go in & out of frequently. He’s such a happy fish and though I’ve only had him around 2 1/2 weeks, I already love him. I also have two other tanks with guppies….around 25 guppies I brought up as babies…they’re adorable & entertaining as they play about with the toys they have in their tanks…heater, filter & water fall and bridges they swim in & out of constantly.

  14. Robin says:

    I just got my beet two weeks ago
    He’s in a 5 gallon but thought bout going to a 2/1/2
    Any way he’s in cleaning mode in his little bowl I have to replace his tank there’s a crack between the pains so on cleaning day I give him bridle shrimp
    So I three Ernest away in the baggie or should I give it to him like twice a week n on those days no pellets

  15. Nikol says:

    I feed my female betta fish frozen brine shrimp 2-4 times a day. I have a metal butter knife by the sink. The frozen shrimp came in a box with cubes. Each cube has its own seal and the size of 5 stacked dimes. I use the butter knife and break off a chunk directly from the tiny container then immediately rinse the knife. I don’t wrap up the opened cube, just throw back in the freezer and one cube will last a month. Felicia goes nuts when she sees the silver knife. Eats the food so fast. Super feisty. A source said a Betta can last 2 weeks without food. My hubby n I went on a 2 week vacay and dropped an entire cube in the tank and she was alive when we got back. The temp in our house is about 70 and the fish is happy always swimming about without a heater. There is a giant castle with tons of room and a rock with a real plant providing oxygen and removes ammonia. Those little green balls are trickled in the tank for the same reasons. She’ll chill on the leaves sometimes. The filter is only used for a day or two when we do water changes about once a month. Tap water and water adjusting drops works just fine. Leave it beside the tank for a day so the water temps are the same. Probably the coolest pet because it requires almost no maintenance and they are interesting.

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