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How Often Should You Feed Your Betta Fish? – A Complete Guide

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish require specific care and attention to thrive in their environment, but feeding them can be a bit tricky, especially for those new to the hobby.

That’s why our team at AquariumForce has created the ultimate guide to help you with everything related to Betta fish feeding. From their digestive anatomy to dietary requirements, we’ll cover it all. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and best practices you need to ensure your Betta fish stays healthy and happy.

So, let’s dive in!

Betta Fish And Their Dietary Needs

Betta fish are carnivores and require a diet that’s rich in meat-based protein to maintain their health and vitality. They don’t eat any plant matter, as they lack the stomach enzymes, Cellulase which is needed to break down the cell wall of plants. Additionally, their shorter digestive tracts are not well-suited for digesting plant matter, making a meat-based diet essential for their health.

Proper nutrition is crucial for the health and longevity of Betta fish. Overfeeding can cause bloating, constipation, and weaken their immune system while underfeeding can lead to lethargy, lack of energy, and increased stress.

In their natural habitat, Bettas primarily feed on insects and their larvae as well as other small aquatic organisms. They derive protein and fiber from the chitin exoskeletons of their prey. So, when it comes to feeding Bettas in captivity, it’s best to provide them with natural foods that mimic their natural diet. This includes natural foods high in protein, such as Bloodworms, Daphnia, Mosquito Larvae, and Brine Shrimp.

While commercial pellets and flakes can be used as part of a Betta’s diet, they shouldn’t be the sole source of nutrition. Providing a varied diet that includes natural foods will help ensure that they receive a well-rounded diet.

A study by Marine Science found that feeding Bloodworms to spawning Bettas resulted in more eggs produced, whereas commercial fish food was the least effective in encouraging spawning.

It’s also important to note that Betta fish have individual dietary needs, and it’s essential to pay attention to what you feed them. A 2016 study published in the African Journal of Biotechnology has shown that even Bettas of different sexes and growth stages have varying abilities to digest the same food. This means that it’s crucial to observe how your Betta reacts to their diet and adjust accordingly to ensure they receive the essential nutrients they need to thrive.

A variety of Betta fish food types, including pellets, flakes, frozen and live foods, displayed in different packaging.

Types of Betta Fish Food

From commercial pellets to gory live feeding, there are lots of options for your Betta.


Commercial pellets are floating fish food designed to provide nutrition to Betta fish. These pellets often contain additional vitamins, such as Astaxanthin, which promote the pigments that give Bettas their colorful appearance.

Betta fish pellets, small and slightly larger in size, floating in water.
Betta fish pellets, small and slightly larger in size, float in the water

When you’re choosing pellets for your Betta fish, look closely at the ingredients list. Meat-based ingredients such as Salmon, Herring, Squid, Krill Meal, and Fly larvae are beneficial for providing nutrition to your fish. However, many commercial pellets contain plant-based fillers such as Wheat Flour, Whole Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Protein and Potato Protein, which offer no nutritional value to your Betta fish and can even harm their digestion if the content is too high.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you select a brand of Betta fish pellets that contains a higher proportion of meat-based ingredients and less fillers.

Some brands contain Spirulina, which provides essential nutrients. However, some hobbyists are concerned that the plant content is difficult for Betta fish to digest.

Research has shown that formulated food, including pellets or flakes, can make up to 25% of a Betta fish’s diet without negative effects. Feeding breeding Bettas only dried food can reduce the likelihood of successful mating, as they require a more varied diet to support successful breeding.


Fish flakes can also be part of your Betta fish’s diet, considering if you choose the right kind. Betta-specific flakes are a good choice, as fish flakes designed for other types of ornamental fish, such as Goldfish, may contain plant content that’s unsuitable for Betta fish.

One drawback of using flakes is that Bettas can sometimes mistake them for debris in the water. It’s important to observe your fish closely during feeding to ensure that all flakes are eaten, as any missed flakes can rot and affect the chemical balance of the tank.

The composition of Betta fish flakes is similar to pellets. Some commercial Betta fish flake brands contain Fish Meal, Shrimp Meal, and Alaskan Salmon for nutritional value, but may also include Wheat Flour and Oat Meal as fillers. It’s best to choose a brand of Betta fish flakes with less plant-based filler and a higher proportion of seafood.

Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-dried food is a great way to add variety to your Betta fish’s diet and provide them with the food they would naturally find in the wild. You can purchase freeze-dried Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, and Bloodworms for Betta fish. To prepare the food, soak it in water to rehydrate it. If it’s eaten dry, it can absorb moisture from your Betta’s stomach, making it difficult for them to digest.

Betta fish food, either dried or frozen, soaking in water in a small dish.
Betta fish food, either dried or frozen, soaking in water in a small dish.

Frozen Food

Using frozen food can help balance your Betta fish’s diet. Once defrosted, frozen food is easier for your Betta to digest compared to rehydrated freeze-dried food. There are many options available for frozen Betta fish food, including:


Daphnia is a small planktonic crustacean that’s also known as a water flea, found in the natural habitat of Betta fish and is part of their natural diet. It’s a great food option for picky eaters and is rich in protein. Daphnia is also easy for Bettas to digest and can help aid digestion.

Brine Shrimp

Brine Shrimp are small crustaceans that are not part of the natural habitat of Betta fish because they live in saline waters. However, they are a popular food choice among fish keepers. Brine Shrimp can function as a laxative if your Betta is constipated and aid digestion, but they’re not as nutritious as other frozen foods like Mysis Shrimp. Therefore, it’s recommended not to make them the main part of your Betta’s diet.

Mysis Shrimp

Mysis Shrimp are crustaceans that can grow up to an inch in length but are ground and frozen into bars for use as Betta fish food. They are highly nutritious, containing carotene and amino acids that promote growth and coloring. However, they are difficult to digest and can cause bloating. Therefore, it’s recommended to use Mysis Shrimp to feed your Betta fish only once every two weeks.


Bloodworms are widely known as the ultimate fishing bait, but ornamental fish like Betta fish also find them irresistible due to their high protein content. Bloodworms are found all over the world, from the Northeast coast of America to the Pacific Ocean. Bloodworms are a favorite food of Betta fish and are great for helping them recover from illness or encouraging them to eat if they have become picky eaters due to illness or other reasons.

Mosquito Larvae

The natural diet of Betta fish in Southeast Asia includes mosquito larvae, which are laid on the waterways where they live. Mosquito larvae float on the surface of the water, making them easy for Betta fish to find and consume.


Cyclops are tiny freshwater crustaceans that can be found all over the world and make a nutritious meal for Betta fish. They are especially helpful if your Betta has difficulty finding their food. Cyclops float in the water column, making them easy for your Betta to locate, and they won’t sink into the substrate.

To provide a varied diet that meets all their nutrition needs, feeding your Betta fish different frozen foods is ideal. Before adding frozen food to the tank, defrost it and ensure your Betta eats everything. Any food left uneaten should be removed.

Live Food

Providing live food for your Betta fish can replicate their natural feeding behavior in the wild and offer an entertaining experience as you observe your fish assume the role of a hunter. Below are the recommended live food choices for Betta fish:

  • Daphnia
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Earthworms

To promote the survival and growth rate of Betta fry, live food can be used (1). Studies have shown that feeding Betta fry freshwater Brachionus rotundiformis rotifers, which are tiny aquatic invertebrates, can lead to increased early growth rates compared to other live foods (2).

However, it’s crucial to know that live food also comes with risks to your Betta’s health, as it can introduce parasites such as Anchor worms, Fish lice, and Flukes into your tank. Some Betta owners use live food as a regular part of their Betta’s diet, while others prefer to use it as an occasional treat to avoid potential health issues.

How Much and How Often to Feed Betta Fish

Betta fish should be fed 2 to 4 pellets or 8 micropellets twice a day, with around 12 hours in between each feed. The exact amount of food they need will depend on the size of the fish, as well as how active and old they are.

However, some fish keepers choose to feed their Betta once per day but studies have shown that feeding Betta fish only once per day can hinder their growth.

Recent research in Malaysia suggests that juvenile Bettas have a higher survival rate when fed three times a day. However, it was confirmed that a twice-a-day feeding schedule is better than feeding either once per day or four times per day. Therefore, it’s recommended to feed your Betta fish twice a day for optimal growth and well-being.

In addition, it’s recommended to fast your Betta fish once every 7-14 days. This fasting can help their digestive system catch up and reduce bloating. To ensure a healthy and balanced diet, consider following this Betta fish feeding schedule.

DayMorning FeedingEvening Feeding
1Pellets or FlakesFrozen or Frozen-Dried Brine Shrimp
2Pellets or FlakesLive or Frozen Bloodworms
3Pellets or FlakesFrozen or Frozen-Dried Mysis Shrimp
4Pellets or FlakesLive or Frozen Daphnia
5Pellets or FlakesFrozen or Frozen-Dried Cyclops
6Pellets or FlakesLive or Frozen Brine Shrimp
7Fasting DayFasting Day

Proper Portion Control: Feeding Tips for Healthy Betta Fish

Pay attention to portion sizes when feeding Bettas as they can be greedy and tend to overeat, even if it’s not good for their health.

Due to their small stomachs, Bettas are prone to bloating if overfed. Keep an eye out for bloating and adjust the portion sizes accordingly. Also, ensure that your Betta finishes all the food given to them. Uneaten food can accumulate in the substrate and decay which can negatively affect the water conditions in the aquarium.

What to Do When Your Betta Won’t Eat

When your Betta fish won’t eat, it might be due to the environmental or water conditions causing stress or sickness. Additionally, your Betta may not recognize or like the diet you are providing. To help address this issue, consider the following tips and techniques for feeding Betta fish:

  • Check water conditions: If water temperature and parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, are outside of the optimal range, it can cause your Betta to lose their appetite and be put off their food.
  • Don’t feed them flakes: Avoid feeding your Betta fish flakes as they may mistake them for floating debris in the water. This confusion can lead to them being less inclined to eat the flakes.
  • Try feeding live foods: Consider offering live foods such as Bloodworms and Daphnia, as they are often preferred by Betta fish over pellets or freeze-dried foods.
  • Feed smaller amounts: You can try feeding them smaller amounts of food but more frequently. This method can help to stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat.
  • Fast for a few days: Fasting your Betta fish every once in a while can improve its digestive system and decrease the likelihood of bloating and constipation. After a few days of fasting, your Betta may be ready to resume eating again.
  • Use food that’s obvious for them: Cyclops and Mosquito larvae are easy for them to spot since they float in the water column or on the surface. As Betta have evolved to eat this type of food, feeding them in this way will stimulate their appetite.
  • Switch off the filter: If the aquarium filter is generating a powerful current, your fish may find it challenging to reach their food and will likely stay at the bottom of the tank. To avoid this, switch off the filter while feeding them to make it easier for them to swim up and consume their food.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Betta Fish

You don’t want to feed your Betta fish too much, not enough, or inappropriate food. Here are the common mistakes to avoid.


Betta fish have small stomachs and greedy appetites, making them prone to overfeeding. Studies suggest that being overweight weakens their immune system and makes them more susceptible to stress (3). Overfeeding can also cause bloating and constipation, leading to long-term health problems.

To avoid overfeeding your Betta, watch for signs of bloating and only give them enough food that they can consume in a few minutes. Be careful not to give them too much, as their body shape shouldn’t change after eating.


Betta fish can suffer from underfeeding too. This can happen if your fish is picky and refuses to eat, or if you’re not giving them enough food.

If underfed, Bettas can lose weight and their vibrant colors may fade. You can tell if your fish is underfed by looking for weight loss at the caudal peduncle, which is the area between the body and tail. A healthy Betta should have fat stores around this area, so if you notice your Betta is getting too skinny, gradually increase their portion sizes.

Feeding Inappropriate Food Types

Feeding your Betta fish an inappropriate diet can lead to health problems and a shortened lifespan.

Although peas are sometimes recommended as a cure for constipation in Betta fish, they can actually worsen the issue. Betta fish have a short digestive tract and lack the enzymes needed to digest plant matter, which can lead to bloating and constipation. Therefore, it’s best to avoid feeding your Betta fish any type of plant matter, including peas. We don’t recommend using peas as a part of your Betta’s diet.

Additionally, some foods are toxic to Bettas. Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol can negatively affect their cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and salt or sugar can lead to health problems. Even dried or cured meats, which you might assume a carnivorous Betta would enjoy, are too fatty and oily to be healthy.

Supplementary Foods for Betta Fish

To provide your Betta with all the necessary nutrients, a well-balanced and varied diet consisting of high-quality Betta-specific pellets and frozen/dried food is sufficient. While there are supplements available that contain Spirulina, Vitamin C, and Chlorella to provide amino acids, there is little evidence that these supplements are effective in improving the health of freshwater fish like Bettas.

However, carotenoid supplements can improve the pigmentation of your Betta’s scales, making them appear brighter and more vibrant (4).

Frequently Asked Questions

Any questions? Raise a fin.

Can Betta Fish Eat Human Food?

Yes, but most human foods are unhealthy for Bettas, including fruits, vegetables, and anything high in fat, salt, or sugar. Small amounts of cooked chicken and seafood like Shrimp or Oyster are acceptable for Bettas to eat.

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

Betta fish can survive up to two weeks without food but it’s not recommended to fast them for that long. You can fast them for one day per week to aid digestion.

How Should I Store Betta Fish Food?

Most types of Betta fish food, including pellets, flakes, and dried foods, should be stored in a sealed container in a cool and dark place. Frozen food should be kept in the freezer and not allowed to thaw or bacteria can grow. Live food can be cultured in separate tanks or bought from pet stores and fed to your Betta fish immediately.


A 2021 study on the diet of ornamental aquarium fish concluded that there is more to learn about optimal diets, and traditional definitions of omnivore and carnivore don’t tell the whole story.

Although live food and increased feeding schedules have some benefits on growth and survival, they pose risks for beginners, such as overfeeding and introducing live parasites.

Therefore, the recommended feeding regimen for Betta fish is twice a day, with a balanced diet consisting of no more than 25% commercial fish food. Frozen and dried food can provide a balanced diet, and live food can be used occasionally.

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