Can Betta Fish Eat Daphnia? (Answered!)

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If there is one thing I have learned from over 20 years of keeping Bettas, it is that variety of foods is the key to a healthy, happy, and colorful Betta.  These hardcore carnivores love live and frozen foods such as daphnia.

Betta fish can eat daphnia.  Daphnia is an important part of a Bettas natural diet and provides Bettas with important vitamins and minerals.  The shells from the daphnia also help keep a Bettas internal digestive system working, much like fiber does in a human diet.

What is Daphnia?

Daphnia as we know it isn’t a single species, rather it is a collection of small planktonic crustaceans which are often referred to as water fleas.  These tiny creatures are found in a vast number of waterways across the world.  Daphnia is found in every type of water body from freshwater ponds and lakes to acidic swamps.  

Daphnia forms an important part of the food chain and is eaten by many species of fish as well as amphibians such as newts and frogs.  Daphnia moves through the water in a jerky motion which looks a lot like a flea jumping through the air, hence its common name. 

Daphnia is a filter feeder, consuming microscopic pieces of algae in the water.  Daphnia is a popular food and is used by freshwater and marine fish keepers alike. 

Is Daphnia good for Bettas?

Daphnia is very good for Bettas.  Because daphnia is a shelled crustacean, when Bettas eat it the shells aid the Bettas digestive system, helping to prevent constipation.  

Personally, I try to feed my Bettas daphnia at least 2 or 3 times a week.  I mainly feed my Bettas frozen daphnia as I don’t have a reliable source of daphnia near where I live.  In terms of nutritional value, live and frozen daphnia are both very good for Bettas.

For Bettas to be healthy, colorful, and have a strong immune system they need a varied diet and daphnia forms a useful part of that diet.  Daphnia should not be used as a sole food item.

What forms does Daphnia come in?

Daphnia is essentially available in 3 different forms for us to feed to our Bettas, live daphnia, frozen daphnia, and freeze-dried daphnia.  Each form has both its advantages and disadvantages.

Live Daphnia

Given the choice, I would always feed live daphnia to my Bettas.  When fed live, the daphnia swims around the aquarium in its characteristic ‘jerky’ way which really stimulates a Bettas natural instinct to hunt. 

Fish stores usually sell live daphnia either in small bags or cups.  To keep it fresh, live daphnia is normally sold from a refrigerator. 

Before you purchase live daphnia, carefully check the bag or cup is full of daphnia which is swimming happily around.  If the daphnia is just sitting on the bottom of the bag or cup it is dead and should be not purchased.  The water should be clear or have a slight orange/pink tinge to it.  If the water is brown, don’t buy the daphnia as it is probably decaying in the water.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a reliable source of live daphnia where I live, so I don’t get to feed it to my Bettas as often as I would like to.

One of the major advantages to feeding a Betta live daphnia is the fact that the daphnia will happily live in the aquarium until the Betta eats it.  It is difficult to overfeed a Betta when feeding live foods as the Betta can just pick off the daphnia as and when it is hungry.

The main disadvantage of live daphnia is that it doesn’t last very long.  When you purchase some live daphnia you really need to feed it to your Bettas within a day or two, otherwise, it will die in the bag and be no use.

Frozen Daphnia

For me, frozen daphnia is my method of choice.  I love the fact I can have several packs of frozen daphnia in the freezer ready to be fed whenever I need it.  I simply take a single cube out of the blister pack and quickly dip the cube into every Betta tank for a few seconds.  Just enough daphnia falls off the cube into each tank, giving my Bettas a feed.

Apart from the convenience of storing it in the freezer, another advantage of feeding daphnia frozen is that there is very little chance of diseases being passed from the daphnia to the Betta (which is a slight possibility when feeding daphnia live).

The disadvantage of feeding frozen daphnia is that it is impossible to know the quality of the daphnia before it was frozen.  You won’t know if it was all free-swimming or just a soup of dead daphnia.  The only thing you can do is buy a quality brand from a reliable source.

Freeze-dried Daphnia

Daphnia is available freeze-dried, although it can be harder to find than live or frozen daphnia.  Not many local fish stores sell freeze-dried daphnia, so you may have to order from an online retailer. I buy this tub from Amazon.  It is fairly cheap and it’s made by Hikari, so you know it’s good quality.

The major advantage freeze-dried daphnia has over both live and frozen is that it can be stored for months or even longer.  

Unfortunately, the disadvantage of freeze-dried foods is they ideally need to be rehydrated before feeding to your Betta, meaning it needs to be soaked in tank water before feeding.

What other live or frozen foods can be fed to a Betta?

There are a wide variety of live and frozen foods on the market, many of which can be fed to our Bettas.  These include the following;

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Cyclops
  • Mysis Shrimp

I try to give my Bettas as many different live and frozen foods as I can.  Typically I will have 4 or 5 different varieties in my freezer at any one time.  Sadly, I don’t have a reliable source of live foods near to me, otherwise, I would feed them to my Bettas more often.

My final thoughts on ‘Can Betta fish eat daphnia?’

I am a massive fan of all live and frozen foods we can feed to our Bettas.  I try to feed frozen daphnia 3 or 4 times a week, and I would feed live daphnia just as often if I could source it.

Daphnia makes a great addition to a Bettas diet and is an essential component of a varied diet.

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

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