Can Betta Fish Eat Mealworms? (Finally Answered)

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I am a massive fan of Betta fish. I have more Betta fish in my fish room than I would probably ever admit to. Betta fish are colorful, flamboyant, and even have personality. It is easy to see why Betta fish are one of the most widely kept fish in the hobby.

Yes, Betta fish can eat mealworms. They can eat live mealworms or dried mealworms, just make sure the size of the mealworm is appropriate for the size of Betta.

Can Betta Fish Eat Live Mealworms?

Mealworms are an excellent live food for Betta fish. Mealworms are high in protein, making them an especially good choice of food if your Betta is underweight or if you are trying to bring your Betta fish into breeding condition.

The only issue I have found when feeding my own Betta fish mealworms is that you have to make sure the mealworms are not too large.

Fortunately, mealworms are usually available in a wide selection of sizes, and I just purchase the smallest size my local store has for sale.

What Are Mealworms?

Mealworms are not actually worms, rather they are the larval stage of the Darkling Beetle (or Tenebrio molitor to give it its scientific name). Mealworms have a hard exoskeleton that does not flex and stretch like skin does.

As mealworms grow they pass through a number of larval stages, growing in size each time. It is important to source mealworms that are as small as possible for feeding to a Betta.

Dried mealworms are widely sold in pet stores, however, I usually order this pack from

How to Feed Mealworms to a Betta Fish?

I usually feed my Bettas mealworms once or twice a month, and I have found the best way is to offer the mealworm to the Bettas in a pair of feeding tongs.

Dried mealworms will float, which is good as Bettas usually want to eat from the surface. Live mealworms on the other hand often sink to the substrate.

In my experience, it is best to only add one mealworm at a time to a Betta tank, otherwise, the mealworms can fall past the Betta, landing behind decorations or in plants where they may rot, spoiling your aquarium water quality.

It took my Bettas a while to get used to eating from a pair of feeding tongs, but now they all know what is coming when the tongs enter the water.

How to Gut Load Mealworms for Betta Fish?

Gut loading is the process of feeding food to a prey item before feeding it to the predator. It is a way to get vitamins and minerals into a Betta that you would not otherwise be able to.

To gut load a mealworm, simply offer it some fresh food prior to feeding it to your Betta fish. If I am feeding my Betta fish live mealworms I will place a small piece of apple or carrot in their tub a few hours before putting the mealworms in my Betta tank.

What Other Live Foods Can Be Fed to a Betta?

There are many different types of live foods we can feed to our Betta fish. In the wild a Bettas natural diet would be high in insect life, so the more variety we feed our Bettas the more varied their diet will be.

I often feed my Betta a selection of the following live foods;

  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Ants
  • Aphids
  • Fruit Flies


Bloodworms are the larval stage of the non-biting midge. They are high in protein and are quickly devoured by almost all fish. Bloodworms are usually sold either live or frozen, with either being a valuable food source for Betta fish.


Daphnia, which are also known as water fleas, are present in almost every waterway in the world and they would certainly make up some of a Bettas natural diet in the wild.

Daphnia are shelled crustaceans that dart around in the water. Their characteristic movement gives them the common name ‘water fleas’. Daphnia’s shells have a positive laxative effect on the Betas, meaning they are good for the Bettas digestive system.

Brine Shrimp

Much like Daphnia, Brine Shrimp have shells and those shells are really good for keeping a Bettas digestive system clear and working well. Brine shrimp can be fed either live or frozen.

Mosquito Larvae

Mosquito Larvae are one of the few live foods we can easily culture at home. Place a bucket of old tank water outside, and there is a good chance within a few days a mosquito will have laid her eggs in the water, leading to live mosquito larvae.

Frozen mosquito larvae come in a number of different varieties include red, black, and white. My Bettas don’t really show a preference and they will eat all 3.


Ants are another easy to collect at home live food that can be fed to Bettas. Some caution should be shown, for instance, I wouldn’t feed my Bettas Fire Ants, but essentially ants make up a useful addition to a varied diet.


If you are a keen gardener, at some point you will be faced with aphids. Collect these little bugs in a small bag and tip a few in with your Bettas. They will quickly consume them. Just be aware, never feed aphids that may have been sprayed with insecticide.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are small flies that can be purchased from most pet stores that sell reptiles. Place a few fruit flies on the surface of your Bettas tank and watch as he quickly devours them all.


Mealworms can make a useful addition to a Bettas diet. Whether fed live or dried, just make sure you size the mealworm to the Betta, and only ever feed them one at a time, because if the Betta doesn’t eat them, they will quickly foul your tank water.

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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