Over the last 10 years or so we have seen a surge in the number of people keeping Betta fish.
From the regular Betta that we all know and love, known as Betta Splendens, to some of the more exotic, wild-caught species, the humble Betta is going from strength to strength.
One of the primary questions all new Betta keepers ask is ‘How often should I feed my Betta?’
Betta fish should be fed 2 or 3 small meals per day rather than one large meal. Due to their small stomachs and intestinal system, Bettas need to eat regularly to get the most from their food. If they are fed one large meal each day they can easily gorge themselves and become constipated.
How Often Should You Feed A Betta Fish?
At the time of writing, I have kept and bred, Bettas for over 20 years. I have lost count of the number of Bettas that have passed through my fish room over the years. The one thing I have learned from keeping so many Bettas is that they do much better when fed little and often rather than all at once.
As someone that has close to 50 aquariums to feed multiple times a day, let me assure you it would be much easier to dump a load of food in once a day, but that doesn’t really work for the fish.
I have found the best way is to come up with a feeding schedule that works both for me and for my Bettas. Currently, I feed them all in the morning, then again when I return from work, and once more in the evening.
Do You Need To Feed A Betta Every Day?
Yes, Betta fish should be fed every day. I hear a lot of people saying ‘in the wild, they wouldn’t eat every day’, but I strongly disagree. In the wild Bettas are opportunistic grazers that would be eating any flies, bugs, and worms they came across. Wild Bettas don’t think to themselves, ‘it is Monday today, and I don’t eat on Mondays!’
How Much Should A Betta Be Fed?
How much should you feed a Betta is probably the second most hotly debated Betta topic (after ‘can Bettas live in a bowl?’). I personally use the word ‘pinch’ when describing how much food to feed a Betta. The problem is, much like with people, how much a Betta wants to eat varies from fish to fish.
Only with experience of your individual fish can you decide exactly how much your Betta will it. The golden rule when deciding how much to feed your Betta is to add a tiny amount and wait. If your Betta eats it all quickly, add another tiny bit of food.
Can You Overfeed a Betta?
Yes, you can overfeed a Betta if you are not careful. Because Bettas have evolved in nature to eat whenever they stumble across food, their instincts tell them to eat when the going is good, just in case they don’t find another fly or bug to eat for a while. The problem is, in our aquariums, the going is always good because we feed them 2 or 3 times a day.
It is very important not to overfeed your Betta. I recently wrote an article about overfeeding Bettas which is titled Can Betta Fish Over Eat? which I think is worth reading.
To prevent overfeeding, only ever feed your Betta little and often. Never be tempted to dump a whole load of food into their aquarium to save time.
What Are The Best Foods To Feed To Betta Fish?
Over the years I think I have tried just about every fish food on the market. It is very rare these days that I see a brand of fish food I haven’t tried at least once. My favorite foods to feed to my Bettas are;
Fluval Bug Bites
I have to say, I am a huge fan of Bug Bites. Bug Bites is really high in protein as it is made primarily from Black Soldier Fly larvae, which closely mimics a Bettas natural diet. I order these ones from Amazon.com
Although some of my Bettas won’t eat dried food at all, the vast majority do and they relish Bug Bites. I have also found Bug Bites floats for a long time, making it an ideal food for a surface feeder like a Betta.
Vibra Bites is another one of those foods that I feed to just about every fish in my fish room. EVERY Betta I own eats Vibra Bites and I think that is down to the fact it looks so much like small, red worms. You might be surprised how reasonable Vibra Bites are on Amazon.
Vibra Bites doesn’t always float as long a Bug Bites will, but the secret is, just add a few pieces, wait for the Betta to eat them, then add a few more.
Live or Frozen Bloodworm
Bettas love live or frozen Bloodworms. I can not recommend bloodworms enough. They are high in protein and full of goodness for Bettas. If you can source them live from your local fish store, then do it.
The added advantage of feeding bloodworms live is, you almost can’t overfeed your Betta, because any bloodworms your Betta doesn’t eat, will just live in your aquarium until your Betta is ready to eat them.
More on feeding Betta bloodworms can be found in my article titled Can Betta Fish Eat Bloodworms?
Live or Frozen Daphnia
As with bloodworms, Betta fish love to eat both live and frozen daphnia. Daphnia, or water fleas as they are sometimes called, are small shelled crustaceans that occur naturally in waterways across the world.
Bettas would almost certainly eat daphnia in their natural habitat. I usually feed my Bettas frozen daphnia because it is easier to store than live daphnia, and I can just get a cube out of the freezer, dip it in a few tanks, then return the rest of the cube to the freezer for another time.
I recently wrote an article all about feeding daphnia to Betta fish.
How Often Should You Feed Betta Bloodworms?
Personally, I feed my Bettas live or frozen food of one sort or another every day. In a normal week, I would feed my Bettas bloodworms 2 or 3 times each week. If I didn’t have access to other foods such as daphnia, mosquito larvae, or brine shrimp I would happily feed bloodworms more often.
How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Eating?
I think most people would be surprised how long their Betta fish could go without eating if they had to.
Although it would vary from fish to fish and depend on how old the fish was and how well fed it was prior to going without eating, essentially, a healthy Betta could go 5 to 7 days without eating and suffer few ill effects. In an emergency situation, a betta could probably go for up to 14 days without eating, but that length of time could have a detrimental effect on the Bettas’ health.
My Final Thought on ‘How Often Should You Feed A Betta?’
I feed my Bettas 2 to 3 times a day, every day. In my experience of raising hundreds of Bettas at this point, feeding little and often is much better for your Betta and your aquarium water quality than feeding a large amount of food in one go.