How Often Should I Feed My Betta?

Bettas make a great fish for anyone interested in fish keeping. Not only are they beautiful but they are also very easy to care for.

Still, you can be left with a lot of questions. One of those questions may be how do I feed my new Betta? What kind of food, how often, and how much?

Those instructions on back of the label of your Betta food are pretty short on info. So if you care about your Bettas health and happiness read on to learn its true dietary needs.


How Often Do You Feed a Betta Fish?

The best way to feed a betta fish is by putting the fish on a 12-hour feeding schedule.  Feed once in the morning and again at night. The same times each day. Even if the feedings aren’t exactly 12 hours apart this routine can help you remember to feed your Betta.

Betta food labels will often tell you to feed a Betta 3 times a day. They tell you this so that you will feed your Betta more and in turn, they will make more money selling you food.

You might find that placing the fish somewhere that you see it often will help you remember to maintain your routine. The old adage of “out of sight, out of mind,” can have negative connotations, too, after all. You don’t want to be always forgetting to feed your new pet.


How Long Can a Betta fish go without food?

If you do occasionally forget, don’t dismay. While not advisable, Betta fish can survive up to 14 days without food! Missing a feeding here or there is not bad for your fish at all and can actually, in some situations, be good for it.

Giving your fish’s digestive system an occasional break can help clear it of toxins. Betta fish have small digestive systems and sometimes toxins can build up in the digestive tract. Skipping a feeding helps flush those toxins.

You still should be careful not to skip too often. Missing a feed one day a week intentionally is good for your Betta but don’t miss feedings anymore than this. This will ensure the optimal health of your Betta fish. 

If you are worried about missing feedings too often don’t worry. There are automatic fish feeders that can be set up to take care of it for you.


How Much Do You Feed a Betta Fish?

Five betta pellets food next to a dime

Did you know your Betta can actually become overweight? Most people, especially those new to fish keeping, may not realize this. As with humans, excess weight can be dangerous and even deadly to a fish.

Take a look at your fish. If there is a noticeable bulge in your fish’s belly, odds are it is overeating. To test this theory, feed your fish and time how long it takes them to complete feeding. If they are still sucking in food after two minutes, they are eating too much.

You can remedy this by altering their diet and providing them exercise. Ensuring they have exercise can be as simple as making sure they have a large enough betta tank. You can also tap a mirror to the side of the tank for short periods to promote more movement.

If the fish looks too skinny you might not be feeding enough or you might be dealing with a parasite problem. If your fish is showing signs of a parasite problem you may need to move to a fresher food source. This could be food such as blood worms or mysis shrimp until the parasite clears. Then you may switch back to your regular product if you wish.

If you are feeding a pellet food, three to five pellets per feeding is a good rule of thumb. This does depend somewhat on how big your Betta is and pellet size. So start on the low end. If you are feeding flake food, one or medium-sized flakes per feeding will be plenty.

Not only will these guidelines help your fish maintain ideal health but also keep your tank clean. Excess feeding can lead to ammonia build up in your tank.


What Do Betta Fish Eat?

Betta blood worms, betta pellets and tropical fish flakes

In the wild, bettas mostly just eat insects. Their primary source of food in the wild is the larvae of mosquitoes which hatch in stagnant pools of water. Although a tasty treat might crash land into their turf and find itself quickly gobbled.

Between meals, a wild Betta might also snack on algae or other plant life as well. They eat a lot more in their natural environment because they swim much more and their metabolism has to keep up.

In captivity, it is important to make sure your betta is getting its food from a variety of sources. Just as you don’t want to eat the same thing every day, a Betta also likes variety. They need many nutrients to grow and be healthy.

An interesting thing about Bettas is each one has its own personality and preference. Mine, for instance, doesn’t like freeze dried blood worms and is more than happy with his pellets. So try different things and see what your Betta prefers.

Flakes and Pellets

These are the most inexpensive options for feeding your betta fish. Both options, though, come with downfalls.

Flake fish food is often full of fillers which can pollute the tank water. Additionally, it can make your fish feel more full than it is while taking in fewer nutrients. This is the least recommended source for feeding your fish, but it will work in a pinch.

Pellets are usually fine to feed and are convenient. It is easy to control the amount you are feeding your fish by counting pellets.

What many people don’t realize is pellets should be soaked for about five minutes before feeding. These pellets are manufactured to expand. If not allowed to expand before feeding your Betta fish, they will expand in the fish’s stomach instead. This can lead to constipation and even death.

You will most commonly find that pet stores will recommend pellets or flakes. This is because they are easy to keep in stock and simple to use. There are other options though. These that can be healthier for your fish and actually only require a little more effort and cost.

Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze dried food is sterile and requires no special instructions prior to feeding. It also has a long shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about the food going to waste before your fish can eat it. This is especially appealing to those who only have one or two Betta tanks.

Unfortunately, you do lose nutritional value when freeze-drying occurs. While healthier than pellets and flakes, you still aren’t feeding the freshest food possible.

Frozen Fresh Foods

Frozen fresh foods are most often mosquito larvae, mysis shrimp, blood worms, brine shrimp, or Tubifex worms. but can also include algae. These foods are stored in your freezer, then thawed to room temperature prior to feeding. The larvae, worms, or shrimp will no longer be living at the time of feeding, so your fish will not have the chore of catching them, but they do provide a very similar nutritional value to what your betta would eat in the wild.

To thaw frozen fresh foods, you simply place the food in a small cup of aquarium water and microwave for just a few seconds, then strain and dispose of the water.

After thawing, you must rinse the food thoroughly. You will need to watch to ensure that any leftover food is cleared from the tank as it will rot and create pollutants in the water.

This is a great source of feeding but does have the downfall of being a little more time-consuming.

Live Foods

Mosquito Larva
Mosquito Larva

These foods can include mosquito larvae, mysis shrimp, bloodworms, brine shrimp, or tubifex worms. Live foods are more expensive and stored at room temperature. You will need to rinse this food thoroughly before feeding it to your fish.

You will want to source any live food from a reputable fish food distributor. Bugs caught outside can contain bacteria which is harmful and could kill your fish.

Remember to maintain a regular feeding schedule, feed proper amounts, and handle food carefully. No matter what feeding source you choose to adopt.


A Healthy Feeding Routine can Mean a Long, Happy Life for Your Betta

I hope this has provided you with plenty of information and options to consider when feeding your new fish. There are wide variety of food types as well as methods that can help your fish grow happy and strong without becoming overweight.

By providing your Betta fish a healthy diet in the correct amount, you are taking an important first step in ensuring a long and happy life for your new friend.