Can Betta Fish Eat Ants? (3 Minute Read!)

Bettas are one of the most popular freshwater fish in the hobby. Millions of Betta fish are kept worldwide and many people see them more like pets than just another fish.  Personally, my Betta keeping journey started around 20 years ago, but it was more recently I found myself wondering can Betta fish eat ants?

Betta fish are hardcore carnivores and insects of all sorts would make up part of their natural diet.  In the wild Bettas are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths, which would include ants, termites, and flies.

Can I Feed My Betta Ants?

There is no doubt that in their natural streams and pools, Betta fish are opportunistic feeders who will eat just about any bugs, critters, and flies that land in their waterway.

In the aquarium, Bettas don’t need to be opportunistic, as we fishkeepers usually feed them 2 or 3 times a day, every day.  

Whilst Bettas don’t need to be opportunistic in our aquariums, we fishkeepers do love to vary their diet, and if you are anything like me, you like to try feeding new things.  

Ants make an interesting addition to a Bettas diet.  If you are going to feed live ants to your Betta, I would strongly recommend only putting in one ant at a time, especially if your Betta has never eaten ants before.  It is possible he won’t know what to do with the ant!



Is It Worth Feeding Ants To A Betta?​

Truth be told, I have no idea what the nutritional value of an ant is to a Betta. However, I suspect it is more than zero, so whatever your Betta gets out of it is better than nothing.

I would only bother feeding ants to my Betta if I literally had a supply on my doorstep. I wouldn’t go to the effort of going out and collecting ants, and I definitely wouldn’t set up a breeding colony!

One thing to bear in mind, never feed ants, or any insects, to your Betta that may have been exposed to insecticides or pesticides.

What Other Live Foods Can Be Fed to a Betta?​

There is a wide selection of live foods we can feed to our Betta fish.  I really like to feed my Bettas live bloodworms, daphnia, and mosquito larvae when I can get them.  I also feed fruit flies to my Bettas. I order these ones from Amazon.

House flies can also be fed to Bettas, as can very small moths and butterflies, again providing you can be certain they haven’t been sprayed with an insecticide or pesticide.

For the majority of insects, it is more likely they accidentally end up in your Betta tank than you purposefully go out catching them and feeding them to your Betta.  



What are the Benefits of Feeding Bettas Live Foods?​

There are essentially three main benefits to feeding Bettas live food;

  • The addition of different nutrients to their diet
  • Stimulates breeding response
  • Exercise the Bettas hunting instincts

Nutrients

As we already know, the more varied the diet we give to our Bettas, the stronger, healthier, and more colorful they will be.  Variety is absolutely the key to success when it comes to keeping, and even breeding Bettas.  The more, different food sources we can feed to our Bettas, the greater the chances we can come close to recreating their natural diets.

Stimulates Breeding Response

With Bettas, as with many fish in the wild, they time their breeding with whatever season naturally brings in plenty of food for their young.  Bettas want there to be maximum food for their offspring to feed on.

Adding live foods into a Betta diet can often trigger the desire to spawn, as well as bring the Bettas in breeding condition (meaning they are at peak physical fitness in preparation for spawning and raising young).

Exercise Hunting Instincts

In the wild, Bettas have a strong instinct to hunt and their natural diet would involve chasing down and eating whatever they could catch.  A floating fish pellet doesn’t require much of a chase, so our Bettas don’t often get a chance to fulfill their natural instincts.  Adding live foods triggers their hunting instincts and helps stop our Bettas from getting bored.

My Final Thoughts on Feeding Ants to Bettas​

If you find yourself in a position whereby you have access to a couple of ants that you can guarantee are free from insecticides or pesticides, then you should definitely try feeding them to your Betta.  I strongly suspect, however, the amount of goodness an ant offers a Betta is fairly low, so consider some for the other live foods available, especially if you can pick them up next time you are in your local fish store. 


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
Editor