Why Is My Betta Fish Always Hungry? (5 Reasons with Solutions!)

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For most of us, our Betta fish aren’t just another fish, they become true pets, even part of the family for some of us.  After keeping Bettas for over 20 years, I believe it is the Bettas complex personality that wins us over. We become hooked on Bettas, and so often we don’t just stop at one, we end up with multiple Bettas across multiple tanks!

There can be several reasons a Betta always seems hungry, and these include;

  • They aren’t being fed enough
  • The food they are being fed is of poor quality
  • They are suffering from internal tapeworms
  • The water is too warm
  • It is just their personality

In this article, I will have a look at all the reasons listed above, and give recommendations based on my experience of keeping these wonderful fish.

Betta isn’t being fed enough

So whilst this one may seem obvious, deciding how much food is the right amount of food to feed a Betta is really tricky, especially if you are new to Betta keeping.

When you read the fish food packet it will often say something along the lines of ‘Feed your Betta as much food as it will eat in 2-3 minutes’. The problem with this advice is Bettas will often continue to eat until they literally explode (I’ve actually seen this happen!).

So, how do you decide how much to feed? The first thing to work out is how often should you feed your fish.  Again, the advice here differs, so I will tell you what I do.  I currently try to feed my Bettas 2 or 3 times a day.

On a normal day, I will give my Bettas a small number of floating pellets first thing in the morning before I head off to work.  For most of them, it is about 4 or 5 individual pellets each.

When I return from work, normally early evening time, I feed a second time, this time usually a live or frozen food.  I feed my Bettas a lot of frozen bloodwormsdaphnia, cyclops, and mosquito larvae.  If I have some I also feed my Betta live aphids or even ants.  I also feed my Bettas a lot of fruit flies like these ones I ordered from Amazon.

Finally, before the lights go out in my fish room I will normally give each Betta a few more pellets, or possibly a little bit of flake food.

I have found 2 or 3 small meals a day are better for the Betta and better for keeping the aquarium water clean, as less food drops down behind the heater or into the plants where it rots and spoils the water quality.

Each time I feed, it is just a small quantity.  4 or 5 pellets at a time is usually enough.

If your Betta always seems hungry because it isn’t being fed enough, try increasing the number of feedings.  I know some people advocate only feeding once every other day, but that doesn’t seem anywhere near enough to me.

The food the Betta is being fed is poor quality

Sometimes a Betta is continually hungry, not because of how often it is being fed, but because of what it is being fed.

There are many different brands of fish food on the market, and they vary in quality dramatically. Some fish foods are made with high-quality ingredients, like Fluval Bug Bites which is made from Black Soldier Fly Larvae, and some fish foods are very low quality, and full of ‘fillers’. 

I feed my Bettas a lot of Bug Bites, I was surprised how reasonable it was on Amazon.

Fillers are essentially any cheap ingredients, which offer the Betta little or no nutrients, but are cheap.  Their job is simply to bulk the food out, meaning you get more for your money.

The problem with fillers, is they often pass straight through the Betta without offering any nutritional value.  You could be feeding your Betta a lot of food, but it is still hungry.

To solve this problem, try feeding your Betta a better quality food, or adding live or frozen food to their existing diet.  As mentioned above, I feed a lot of bloodworms, which are high in protein, and a lot of daphnia, which helps to keep a Betta free of constipation.


Betta is suffering from internal tapeworms

Like any fish, Bettas can be suffering from internal tapeworms. Internal tapeworms, as the name suggests, are worms that live inside the Betta intestinal system.

The problem with Tapeworms is that they consume the nutrients and goodness from the Bettas food before the Betta has a chance to. This means, no matter how much you feed your Betta it will never get full.

Bettas can pick up internal tapeworms from any tank they have passed through.  This might include the original breeder, the wholesaler, or the store you bought it from.

It can be very difficult to tell if a Betta has internal tapeworms as there aren’t too many external signs.  

One common sign of an internal tapeworm is that the Betta is always hungry.  Another sign is white, stringy poop coming out the Bettas vent.

If you believe your Betta may have an internal tapeworm, treat promptly with a suitable treatment.  I have had good luck using ParaCleanse which is made by Fritz.  I actually use ParaCleanse on every fish that enters my fish room during their quarantine period.

ParaCleanse will clean any tapeworms out of a Bettas system and will allow your Betta to get all the goodness from the food you are feeding them.

Bettas water is too warm

A Betta fish’s metabolism (the speed with which it digests its food) is largely controlled by the temperature of the water it lives in.

The ideal temperature for a Betta is around 76°F (24.5°C).  Although Bettas are happy with temperatures slightly above or slightly below 76, the warmer the temperature, the higher their metabolic rate.

As such, the warmer the Bettas water, the more food it will need to be fed.  In theory, feed two Bettas an identical amount of food, but with one living at 76°F (24.5°C) and one living at 82°F (27.75°C), the one living in the warmer water will be hungrier than the one at the lower temperature.

To solve this problem, reduce the temperature of the Bettas aquarium.  Most of the time this simply means adjusting the aquarium heater. 

The temperature gauges on aquarium heaters aren’t always very accurate, so I tend to adjust mine a little, then after a day or so check the temperature using a digital thermometer, then adjust again as necessary, repeating until the water is at the right temperature.

It is just the Bettas personality

Occasionally, you will get a Betta which just likes to eat a lot.  

None of the other suggestions listed above are applicable and your Betta is in fantastic health, it just loves eating.

Bettas can be extremely greedy.  I have witnessed the aftermath where a Betta had eaten so much it had literally exploded.  Not very nice, and totally preventable.

My advice would be to feed the Betta little and often, only feeding good quality foods.  Treat periodically for internal worms, and check the temperature on a regular basis.  If all is well, just don’t overfeed the Betta and it should be fine. 

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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