Are Betta Fish Bottom Feeders? (Finally Answered!)

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Betta fish have been kept in the hobby for decades and over that time their popularity has continued to grow. Today, Betta fish are one of the most widely kept fish in the world, with many aquarists keeping more than one in their collection.

Betta fish are primarily surface and mid-water feeders. Their slightly upturned mouths have evolved to catch insects that land on the surface of their waterways.  In the aquarium, however, Betta fish will feed on the bottom only if all the available food has sunk.

Are Bettas Bottom Feeders?​

When you look at a Bettas mouth, you can see it is slightly upturned.  This is because Betta fish have evolved over thousands of years to eat flies and insects that land on the surface of their waterways.

In our aquariums, Betta fish don’t have to rely on insects landing on the aquarium surface for food, rather they eat whatever we give them.  

In an ideal world, we would all feed our Bettas floating pellets, and those pellets would stay floating until our Betta ate them.  In reality, the majority of the time at least some of the food will sink to the aquarium bottom.  Unlike some die-hard surface feeds (like Hatchet Fish), Bettas will swim down to the aquarium bottom to feed if they have to.

Should Bettas Only Be Fed Floating Food?​

Bettas definitely want to primarily eat floating foods.  However, other foods can make up part of their varied diets. Most foods developed for Bettas will mainly float, but many generic fish foods will sink.

If I am feeding my Betta a food that I know doesn’t float for very long, I will usually add a tiny amount, giving my Betta a chance to eat it before it sinks.  I’ll then add a tiny bit more until my Betta has had enough to eat.

What is the Best Floating Food for Betta Fish?​

I am a massive fan of two particular foods for my Bettas, Bug Bites, which is made by Fluval, and Vibra Bites which is from Hikari.  I usually order both from Amazon as they seem to have the best prices (double-check the price on Amazon HERE)

Bug Bites come in a formula made especially for Betta and the main ingredient is Black Soldier Fly Larvae.  Not all of my Bettas will eat pellets, but those that do absolutely love Bug Bites.  Hardly any ever has a chance to sink to the bottom.

Vibra Bites have been developed to look like small red worms.  Even my most reluctant Betta will eat Vibra Bites.  I can literally place it into ANY tank in my fish room and the inhabitants will eat it.  I can not recommend Vibra Bites enough. The only thing to be aware of with Vibra Bites is they don’t float for very long, so I only add a couple at a time. You might be surprised how reasonable Vibra Bites are (see prices here).

Can Betta Fish Eat Flake Food?​

There is no reason Betta fish can’t eat flake food, they just might not want to.  I don’t currently have any Bettas in my fish room that won’t eat flake, but I have in the past.  Flake food is fine for a Betta to eat.

My Final Thoughts on ‘Are Bettas Bottom Feeders?’​

Betta fish are primarily surface to mid-water feeders, however, when the need takes them they will eat off the bottom too.  I wouldn’t recommend feeding them a ‘sinking pellet’ but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if the floating food you feed your Betta slips past them either.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

Photo Credit :

IM Aqua – YouTube