What Do Betta Fish Eat? Protein Diet Options (Insects, Larvae, Live & Human)

Estimated read time 14 min read

So your new Betta buddy won’t eat a thing; now what?

You could try using betta pellets, but they’re too big, and your Betta keeps spitting them out?

What can I feed my betta fish? You scream out!!

No worries, we can help.

We decided to take a closer look at some of the best food for betta fish available to find the best brands out there. Of the many brands we’ve seen, these are the best betta food to buy in 2021:

  1. Best Betta Food Overall: Fluval Bug Bites
  2. Best Betta Pellets: Tetra Betta Floating Mini Pellets
  3. Best Betta Fish Flakes: Omega One Betta Flakes
  4. Best Freeze-Dried Betta Food: Tetra BloodWorms

In the post below, I will go over all the different types of food that a Betta Fish typically enjoys and which are the best.

I’ll provide tips to get your betta eating if they have stopped and a step-by-step betta feeding schedule you can start using today.

Further Reading: Want to know how to keep your Betta happy and healthy? Check out our complete guide, How To Care For A Betta Fish For Beginners.

Let’s begin…

What Do Betta Fish Eat?

Betta fish are carnivorous fish that, in the wild, eat live insects, small bugs, and larvae. Therefore, they require a high protein diet and proper nutrients.

What do they eat in captivity?

In your aquarium, ensure the flakes, pellets, frozen or live bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are high in the protein meaty nutrients your Betta Fish needs to stay healthy.

If you want to know the betta fish diet, let’s start by learning what they eat in the wild.

What do they eat in the wild?

Betta fish are carnivorous fish that eat live insects, small bugs, and larvae. Therefore, they require a high protein diet and proper nutrients.

While a Betta fish may live on a diet of only plant material for a while, it won’t provide the complete nutrients they need to survive.

What Is Betta Fish Food Made Of?

It depends on your fish food brand, as they all have their mix. However, it would be best if you understood that Betta’s diet should be protein-rich and meaty.

So when you select your Betta food, ensure the pellets, frozen or live bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are high in the nutrients your Betta Fish needs.

Best Betta Fish Food

The best types of Bettas are live foods like brine shrimp, worms, and mosquito larvae. Frozen/Freeze-dried food and pellets are also great as long as they are high in protein.

As mentioned, tropical fish food flakes alone will not provide the nutrients they need.

I hope you find the recommendations in this guide helpful. They are in general and from my personal experiences and research. But, of course, exceptions and variations will always depend on you and your Betta.

Betta Fish Pellets

There are two types of pellets available for Betta fish;

1. Floating Pellets are probably the most typical Betta food used and considered a staple, meaning this is what your primary food source will be.

Many pellet sizes and brands are available, so a high-quality Betta pellet is essential. Always read the ingredients and choose a Betta pellet high in protein.

A good guideline is that it should use some fish meal and have a crude protein of over 32%.

2. Sinking Pellets can also be used as a staple for your Betta; in the wild, Betta fish typically eat the surface of the water, so sinking pellets don’t mimic this instinct.

However, as mentioned above, your Betta may be unique.

How many pellets to feed a Betta?

For a normal-sized Betta fish, you should feed him approx. 1-3 pellets per day, either all at once or separately. Keep a close eye on him during feedings and feed one pellet at a time to make sure your Betta completely consumes each pellet.

Never over-feed and remove any uneaten food after feeding.

Here are a few great pellet options.

Betta Fish Flakes

Betta Flakes are another staple, but very hard to control how much you feed. Flakes also sink fast and are very hard to remove if uneaten.

This is considered a staple food.

Here are a few great flake options.

Can Betta fish eat tropical fish food flakes?

Betta fish are tropical, so tropical fish food flakes are alright to use. However, as mentioned above, Betta fish are carnivorous and need protein-rich meaty food specifically for Bettas.

Tropical fish flakes are plant-based and don’t contain the nutrients and proteins found in meat.

Tropical fish food flakes won’t hurt your betta fish but could cause bloating or swimbladder disease if that’s all you feed them.

Freeze-Dried Betta Food

Freeze Dried (shrimp, krill, bloodworms, daphnia) should be used for treats; they have low nutritional value and can be used to replace one or two meals a week but never as a staple food.

Live & Frozen Betta Food

There are many live and frozen foods available for Betta fish. We’ve provided a few examples of the most popular options below.

Mosquito Larvae: This high-protein treat provides your Betta with all the nutrients they need. Drop the mosquito larvae into your tank and watch your Bettas go crazy. Try to add only a small amount each time and ensure it’s finished before adding more.

Brine Shrimp: are a small species of aquatic crustaceans that naturally contain high protein levels for your carnivorous, Betta.

Bloodworms: Most betta fish LOVE bloodworms. You can buy them frozen in little cubes with hundreds of little worms or freeze-dried.

How many bloodworms to feed a Betta?

DO NOT drop a whole cube into the tank; instead of cutting the cube into smaller pieces or breaking off a chunk, place it in a cup with some water from your tank. Use this at feeding time when you can get 1-2 worms out. Any more than this will be overfeeding.

Once you’ve melted some of the bloodworms, do not re-freeze them, you should throw out any unused worms. You can refrigerate them for a day or two; however, toss them if they smell or change color.

Wingless Fruit Flies: These are a type of fly with no wings. It’s different from flightless flies, which have wings; they can’t fly. These treats are the perfect food for small fish like your Betta.

Mysis Shrimp: These are great for picky eaters, like Betta fish. They are very high in fatty acid and Omega-3 nutrients. Most come from glacial lakes in Canada and are free of fillers or binding agents, making them excellent Betta food.

Here are a few great Live, Frozen, and Freeze-Dried options.

Baby Betta Food Options

Baby Betta fish need to eat a lot, but you can’t just feed them pellets. First, most pellets will be too large for the small fry to consume.

Second, while your tiny Betta friends are growing, they require a significant amount of protein that you can provide by feeding them things live.

  • Tubifex Worms
  • Daphnia
  • Grindal worms
  • White worms
  • Blackworms
  • Mosquito larvae

Step-By-Step Betta Fish Feeding Schedule

NEVER follow the feeding guidelines shown on the packages of Betta food. Most of the time, they call for more food than your Betta requires.

Do Not Overfeed! Betta fish will continue to eat if it’s available. Overfeeding can lead to bloating, which could cause swim bladder disorders. Even if they beg you and do a happy “Feed Me” dance, stay strong and not give in.

Overfeeding is one of the most common reasons your Betta might not be as active as he once was. Read our article about Why Your Betta Fish Is Not Moving to learn more.

All Betta fish eat differently. Most Betta fish are picky eaters. A new Betta can take up to 30 days to accept fresh food.

There is no particular food that all Betta fish will eat; it just takes time, trial, and error to find out what your Betta will and will not eat.

Mix it up; Betta fish like variety and require the nutritional value of eating various food to stay healthy. You wouldn’t eat the same thing every day, so don’t force them to.

Keep the tank clean and remove all uneaten food. Give your Betta approx. 10-15 min to eat everything. Uneaten food can slowly rot and create toxins in the water that harm your Betta.

Follow these steps to feeding your Betta Fish, and they will thrive!

Step 1) When should you feed your Betta?

Choose A Time That Fits Into Your Daily Routine: Evaluate your daily routine; look for a time when you can give your Betta your attention for approximately 5-10 minutes. This should give you enough time to ensure your Betta is healthy and eating.

You will want to ensure that your Betta eats all the food and removes anything left over.

Watch your Betta for signals. For example, if your Betta is still sleeping when you wake early morning, don’t wake them just for food. Instead, please wait until you have been up for a few minutes, view how your Betta is adjusting to your routine, and work the feeding in when it’s best.

Choose one day a week to fast. Usually, I use Sunday, but any day will do. Fasting allows the Betta to clear its digestive system and help with bloating and constipation.

Step 2) What should I feed my Betta fish daily?

The most common is twice daily; however, once a day is also okay. Just be sure not to feed them more because you think they are hungry for the rest of the day.

Some people will feed up to three times a day. I would not recommend this. However, if you feel that your betta fish is unique and it’s what they need, be sure to spread out the feedings (Very early, noon, very late)

Step 3) How much to feed a Betta fish flakes & how often should you feed a betta fish bloodworms.

Based on what you decide on steps 1 & 2, your Betta will determine how much it will eat at each feeding. Remember, the size of your Betta’s stomach is only about the size of its eye.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of what, when, and how much your Betta is eating at each feeding. This will help create a schedule you can follow and organize, as it can get confusing with all the different foods and treats your Betta will be eating.

If you feed only one time/day, Only feed about four pellets at each feeding, never more if you are using bloodworms 3-4 depending on the size.

If You feed two times/day, Only feed about 2-3 pellets at each feeding, never more. If you’re using bloodworms, 1-2 depending on the size.

For those who chose three times/day, Never feed more than two pellets at each feeding or one bloodworm. Each meal should be small, as you are feeding more frequently.

Step 4) Choose What To Feed Your Betta

Using the foods above, decide what foods will be a staple and what will be treats.

Always start with your staple food before using treats. Some Betta will begin rejecting the pellets and wait for the goodies if you start with treats. To prevent this from happening, use your staple for 2-3 weeks before introducing a treat.

Once your Betta has been eating the staple food, slowly bring in other types of staple foods. Only do this one food when some betta fish are picky and can take up to 30 days to accept a new food.

If your Betta starts to accept the staple foods, start introducing treats the same way. Treats can be used as a replacement for one staple meal a week or as a combination with a staple (half treat, half staple)

Concerns Feeding Betta Fish

What Can You Feed Your Betta Fish If You’re Out Of Food?

Peas are great if you notice your fish is bloated or constipated. A boiled pea does what fiber does for me, and you, a pea once a week with a day of fasting, can help keep your betta fish regular.

Some Betta keepers don’t feel peas are a healthy option for your Betta and recommend using bloodworms with fasting to cure bloating/constipation.

How to make betta fish food?

There are plenty of recipes out there for homemade Betta food, but here is a quick recipe from Cuteness

Powdered Spirulina Recipe

  1. Pour approximately 3 ounces of tank water into a small cup,
  2. Add one teaspoon of powdered spirulina to the water.
  3. Stir the mixture thoroughly until the powder has dissolved and evenly filled the water.
  4. Add 3/4 tablespoon of fry fish bites,
  5. 1/2 teaspoon of finely ground flakes
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of ground bloodworm.

What To Do If Your Betta Spits Out Food?

This is a common problem for many Betta owners.

Most of the time, the pieces are just too big. Also, many fish spit out their food & break off little bits before they spit it back out.

Try breaking the pellets and food up before placing them in the tank. For example, if you’re using frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, you may want to put them in a small cup with some tank water; this will soften the worms sometimes; it’s a texture thing.

My Betta Fish Won’t Eat Anything?

If you recently brought your Betta home, it is normal for a Betta to not eat during the first week while adjusting to his new home.

Another thing to consider is constipation. It is widespread for Betta fish to get constipated from overeating. Therefore, one day of fasting is recommended in most Betta feeding schedules.

Also, try feeding your Betta the inside of a pea, which helps keep Betta fish regular.

If your Betta shows signs of bloating or constipation, thaw a frozen pea, De~shell it, and dice it up. Betta sees it as a treat and usually accepts it.

Sometimes other factors can contribute, such as tank size, water quality, and hiding places. If all these are in place and your Betta is still not eating, it could be ill.

How Long Can A Betta Fish Live Without Food?

If you’re planning a vacation anytime soon, you may want to know precisely how long your Betta can go without food. I’m sure it varies, and there are cases where Betta fish can survive for up to 14 days without food.

This is, of course, cruel, and I would never recommend doing this.

Instead, take a few steps to ensure your Betta fish will be taken care of. If you’re going away for longer than two days, invest in an automatic feeder or have friends/family look after your little guy. Your Betta shouldn’t be left alone for much longer than that.

Related: When fed the proper diet, the lifespan of a betta fish can be greatly increased.

Where To Buy Betta Fish Food?

You can buy food for your Betta pretty much anywhere. Here are a few places I recommend;

  • You can buy your Betta food on Amazon.
  • Chewy.com has an auto-ship option that will ship your Betta food automatically every few months.
  • Or, support your local pet store near you.

Take care.

Clean and Clear: Learn How to Clean a Betta Fish Tank Properly. Dive into our step-by-step guide to maintaining a pristine and healthy habitat for your betta. From regular water changes to tank decoration cleaning, discover the essential tips and tricks for a sparkling betta abode!

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