Betta Care: Food Basics

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What is Food Basics for betta care? ‘Plenty of food…plenty of clean water.’ That was what a noted breeder once said to me in answer to the question, ‘How do you raise such stunning bettas?’, and it was perfect in its simplicity. Bettas are easy keepers…give them good grub and clean quarters and they will often live to delight their owners for years.

Bettas Require Balanced Diet

What do betta fish eat in the wild? Bettas are carnivorous fish. In their native habitat, their primary food is mosquito larvae, but bettas will eat almost anything that wiggles past their noses. In fact, bettas are not horribly picky about their food, but like every fish, they do need a balanced diet. Bettas being kept as pets will do well on a standard pellet food designed especially for bettas (I recommend HBH Betta Bites or Tetramin granules) with an occasional treat of frozen/live worms or freeze-dried brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Pet bettas should not be overfed; a few pellets per feeding is sufficient. Don’t pay any attention to the package directions — they are worded to ensure that you, the consumer, go through as much food as possible without harming your fish, so you can buy more food! One of the main causes of the decline of water quality and sick fish is overfeeding. Bettas kept at room temperature only require a feeding every other day or so, as their metabolisms slow considerably in response to their cooler water.

Growing bettas and bettas being conditioned for show or breeding have different dietary needs. I feed my juvenile bettas 3 times a day, usually live or frozen food but occasionally supplemented with pellets and brine shrimp flake. Their diet consists mainly of live mosquito larvae that I culture myself. Adults get brine shrimp flake, live white worms, live mosquito larvae, frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, and pellets. They are fed twice daily and fasted one day per week.

What to feed your betta fish? Bettas are carnivores and need easily digestible foods high in protein. You may be interested in the article about Betta Food: What to Feed Your Fish

Bettas May Not Eat At First

It is not uncommon if your new betta does not eat at first. He or she is adjusting to their new environment and it may take a few days to settle in. Keep trying to provide food and scoop it out within a few minutes if uneaten. Eventually, when your betta gets hungry enough, they will eat what you provide them.

Offering a few different options may be a wise idea to see if something in particular appeals to them. Be careful not to offer too many choices at first though, as if they realize there may be an endless trail of different foods they may choose to wait and see what comes next. Contacting the store where you purchased the betta and inquiring about what they were previously fed may also help for you to determine what they will eat.

A full-grown betta’s stomach is approximately the size of his or her eyeball. Please keep in mind this is a general estimate as different bettas may require different amounts of food based on their age, size, etc. A little food goes a long way, so be careful not to overfeed! Bettas, just like people, can develop constipation from too much food or lack of variety in the diet. Some betta owners choose to fast (not feed) their betta one day per week to clean out their system and prevent constipation. Additionally, soaking dried foods, such as pellets in dechlorinated water for 5-10 minutes will prevent the food from expanding once inside the fish, helping to prevent food-related illness.

Issues When Your Betta Won’t Eat

Bettas are normally quite gutty fish, so if he’s not eating anything then it may mean there’s something wrong. This could be constipation, stress, swim bladder disease, or because the food is too big. If your betta isn’t eating his food for such a long time, then here are all the reasons why this could be happening, and what to do about them!

To detect the symptoms, causes, and treatment of betta common diseases, visit our betta care section.

Related articles:

Care & Treatment of Betta Fish Swim Bladder Disorder

Care & Treatment of Dropsy in Bettas & Other Fish

Symptoms & Treatment of Betta Fish Fungus

Symptoms & Treatment of Betta Fish Ich (or Ick)

Symptoms & Treatment of Velvet in Betta Fish

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