Betta fish are some of the most common aquatic pets in the US, perfect for all levels of fishkeepers, including children. As popular as these fish are, though, many don’t know that what a betta fish eats will greatly affect their quality of life.
Betta fish are carnivorous by nature, meaning they thrive on insects, larvae, and other high-protein sources. And, the frequency with which your betta eats can still make or break their overall health. Unfortunately, many fish keepers haven’t cracked the frequency code for feeding their feisty friends.
Read on as we explore betta fish feeding habits, the ideal frequency and food to feed your betta, and some bonus feeding tips your betta will surely love.
Understanding Betta Fish Feeding Habits
Bettas are predatory feeders, but they’re also pretty opportunistic. The bettas’ feeding habit means they’ll eat whenever food is available, increasing their chances of overeating by a great deal.
Their digestive system is also pretty unique. They have a fast metabolism that makes light work of several, small meals. Essentially, they can’t do the one-large-meal plan and will likely get bloated and constipated if they eat too much.
How Often to Feed a Betta Fish
The best frequency to feed your betta fish is twice a day.
Feed them fish-eyeball-sized meals twice every 24 hours and remove any food debris to avoid toxins building.
Factors to Consider When Determining Feeding Frequency
Certain factors determine the frequency of feeding different betta fish. For instance, the bigger the betta, the more food they’ll need to maintain their body size.
Here are some factors you should consider before confirming your desired frequency:
- Tank temperature: This is news for many fishkeepers, but the tank’s temperature can affect the betta’s metabolism. If the temperature is lower than 78-80 degrees fahrenheit, your betta’s metabolism slows down, increasing their chances of a digestive backup.
- Size of the fish food: Generic measurements of fish food can be confusing because they use vague descriptions like “feed x number of flakes in x frequency”. Fish flakes aren’t always the same size, so the actual amount can vary by brand.
- Body size: Like humans, bettas of the same age can range in size, and we don’t mean overweight bettas. So, you may need to factor in the betta size before determining the frequency.
- Health status: Sick and recovering bettas certainly don’t have the same feeding frequency as healthy ones. It is essential to add their health into the frequency calculation.
- Age: Aside from the amount of food, the frequency of feeding should also depend on the betta’s age. Juvenile and adult betta have different hunger schedules. Take note of how eager your fish is to feed as you feed them and adjust accordingly.
General Guidelines for Feeding Frequency Based on Age and Health Status
Like most other fish, the feeding frequency changes as betta fish grow.
- Young bettas will eat larger amounts and need fewer meals.
- Older bettas eat smaller meals several times a day.
- Sick bettas will need foods high in protein twice a day.
Adjusting Feeding Frequency During Breeding or Stress Periods
Stressed-out bettas and breeding bettas have one thing in common—a new diet. Breeding bettas are often conditioned with a much richer and more protein-dense diet twice a day, and even as much as 4 times a day.
Stressed bettas also need more protein to help with recovery. However, stick to a feeding frequency of twice per day to avoid bloat.
🐠Do you have a new betta fish? We’ve put together the only betta fish care guide you’ll ever need to give them a long, happy life.
Portion Sizes and Types of Food
Each betta is delightfully unique in some ways, but, thankfully, their stomachs are similar. The ideal amount of food for a betta fish is around 1.8 grams per portion.
A good rule of thumb I use for my bettas is to feed them the size of one eyeball (a betta’s eyeball!). When you first try this method, monitor your fish’s eating habits and take out any uneaten food immediately.
Types of Food to Feed Your Betta
It’s a myth that betta fish can survive solely on plant matter. For your betta to get all its nutritional requirements, it needs a high-protein diet.
Here are some types of betta fish food containing the good stuff your betta needs:
- Frozen foods like
bloodworms, brine shrimp, and white/black mosquito larvae
- Live food like mosquito larvae,
bloodworms, brine shrimp, and blackworms
- Freeze-dried food like bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp
- Dried black soldier larvae
- Betta fish flakes and pellets
While these betta foods are nutritious, they contain essential minerals in different compositions and different quantities. So, it’s helpful to feed your betta a varied diet by including all these foods.
Avoiding Overfeeding and Related Health Issues
We now know the elements of a healthy betta’s diet. The next step is to understand feeding frequency to avoid overfeeding and other diet-related issues.
I’ve drawn up a table to show you the ideal frequency for different betta food:
|Betta food||Optimal frequency per day||Maximum number of feedings per week|
|Frozen ||1-2 times a day||4 times a week|
|Live food like mosquito larvae, ||3-4 larvae or pieces per meal||12 feedings a week|
|Freeze dried food like ||2-4 times a day||8 times a week|
|Betta fish flakes and pellets||2-4 pellets daily||7 times a week|
Proper Feeding Techniques to Ensure Optimal Nutrition Intake
Here are a couple of tips and tricks for optimally feeding your betta:
- Feed size-appropriate portions
- Use a consistent schedule to feed your bettas
- Ensure their water quality is good, as it directly impacts bettas’ appetites
- Feed a balanced diet that matches their metabolism and prevents constipation
Tips for Preventing Food Waste and Maintaining Water Quality
Your betta’s diet and feeding frequency can directly impact their water quality.
Here are a few tips you can use to avoid food waste and control water quality:
- Only feed one meal at a time. Don’t assume they’ll eat more later
- Remove any uneaten food immediately to avoid depleting oxygen
- Perform a 10-20 percent water change every 2 weeks to remove buildup and debris
- Replace the
filtermedia every 3-4 weeks to ensure it is keeping the aquarium water clean
Supplementing Diet With Occasional Treats or Live Food
Bettas will always appreciate some variety in their diet, so supplementing with live food is a win. If you primarily feed your bettas with pellets, then you can serve them live food as an occasional treat. The trick is to use the same amount of live food you’d normally feed as dried food, instead of splurging.
You can use our earlier frequency table to feed them supplementary meals in safe amounts.
🐠Still confused about what to feed your betta? Here’s our full guide about what betta fish eat, including nutrition tips and specific food recommendations.
Monitoring Betta Fish Health
Since many of us feed our bettas manually, they run a decent chance of getting underfed or overfed. Luckily, when spotted early, these scenarios won’t do much damage
Here are a few tell-tale signs that your betta is eating too little or too much:
|An underfed betta||An overfed betta|
|The betta is often small for its age and sex, both in terms of weight and size||The betta has a swollen or distended belly|
|The betta appears to be lazy, but actually doesn’t have any energy||The betta is suddenly lethargic|
|It appears to always be hungry||The betta struggles with buoyancy or has trouble swimming|
|It appears skinny and bony||The betta starts hanging out at the tank’s bottom more|
|It trades its vibrant color for a pale body||The betta is evidently overweight|
Health Issues Caused by Improper Betta Feeding
Poor betta feeding habits can cause several health issues. We hear of overfeeding more often, but underfeeding can also weaken your betta and make them ill.
Here are some diseases and health issues that accompany improper betta feeding:
- Overfeeding can cause constipation and bloat, which are two diseases that can seriously harm your betta.
- An underfed betta has no energy and virtually no immune system to protect them diseases and illness.
- Overfeeding your betta can make them susceptible to swim bladder disease, affecting their buoyancy and causing death.
- Underfeeding your betta makes them grossly underweight and weak.
- Overfeeding your betta causes lethargy and makes them prone to the vertical death hang.
- Underfeeding your betta causes it to become pale and lose its beautiful colors.
- Overfeeding your betta pollutes their tank with food debris, which causes poor water quality and invites harmful bacteria and fungus.
How to Prevent Improper Betta Feeding Habits
Why wait till your betta is ill when you can prevent the event? Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid improperly feeding your betta:
- Less is more. It’s always better to feed your betta too little than feed them too much.
- Use the eyeball method, and feed them portions no bigger than their own eyeball
- Stand by to remove uneaten food from the aquarium before it disintegrates and pollutes the aquarium water.
- Use your betta’s belly to guide you as you feed. Their tummies are tiny enough to show significant change after they’ve eaten.
- A bony betta needs to eat more. But first, ensure they actually have an appetite.
- If your betta isn’t eating plant matter, it’s because he needs a carnivorous diet.
- Don’t fast your betta for more than two days, except for medical reasons.
- Monitor water conditions, as poor water quality can affect a betta’s appetite.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Betta Fish Need to Eat Everyday?
Betta fish don’t need to eat everyday, but they should. The ideal frequency is twice a day. Given that you want to make and stick to a routine for your bettas, you should aim to feed them appropriately-portioned meals twice a day.
How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?
Bettas can go anywhere from 10-14 days without food, but by the end, you might not recognize your friend. Your betta would have lost weight, become bony, and susceptible to diseases.
How Much Do You Feed Betta Fish Flakes?
Depending on the size, 3-4 fish flakes and pellets are often enough. If you find this hard to manage, just feed them the size of their own eyeball twice a day.
Should I Skip a Day of Feeding My Betta?
Fishkeepers fast their bettas for lots of reasons. Luckily, bettas aren’t like mammals and they can go a day or two without eating. However, anything longer can have adverse effects on your betta’s health.
The Secret to Beta Feeding Frequency
Several factors affect a betta’s feeding frequency like age, breeding, health, and size. Like its diet, how often you feed a betta plays a big part in its health. Fortunately, with our guide, you can feed them with a frequency that keeps them safe and strong.
Tell us the feeding frequency you use for your bettas, and how you manage occasional issues from improper feeding. Share this resource with other betta fish keepers who might need it!