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How to feed a Betta fish

Updated on September 9, 2011

Feed Betta Fish the right way

There are two main reasons why your Betta fish may refuse from food: either the food is not suitable, or he is sick in some way.

Of course in most cases betta fish aren't ill, therefore it is advisable that you have a proper menu for your little vibrant creature.

How many times a day are you feeding your betta? You only need to feed him once a day because you should not overfed him as it is extremely bad for bettas.

Betta fish are carnivores, not herbivores, that is, bettas eat meat, not plants. Be sure to include in a daily menu live frozen food (like worms) and flakes. In every pet store, you can find betta fish food. But read the instructions carefully! Remember that in natural wild conditions bettas are used to eat when they can, because they cannot count for a meal each and every day. But domesticated bettas can die from overfeeding.

The stomach of a betta fish is only the size of the eye, so there's no need to empty the full pellet every time you feed your betta.

Bettas can go on for a week without eating at all. It's not recommended but in case you forget to feed him or something, don't panic - your betta is OK and not starving.

To prevent constipation and some other sickness, once a week leave your betta fish without meal. The next day feed him a pea. To do that, take a pea and put it into microwave to cook it up. When ready, take it from the outer shell and you will see two halves of the pea. Take one half, cut it up to Betta's bite size, and feed it to him. Or just squash it. Peas will clean your betta out, because bettas are known as easy to get constipated. Make this step a routine and repeat it once in a week. Write it down to your diary or stick a post note to the betta fish tank.

Feeding is an Important Part of Betta Care

Bettas are often called "little piggies", and there's a sound reason for that: a betta fish cannot control the amount of food he eats, so it's up to the owner to attend to betta and measure the nutrition. Overfeeding is a very common reason for betta fish diseases.

So resist the urge to feed the betta as much as he wants to eat - be reasonable. Remember that your betta has a stomach the size of his eyeball, and you should feed him accordingly. Get used to feed him 3 or 4 pellets a day, usually at once. This will instruct the betta to stick to the daily regime. You can also spread those pellets across the day if you want to have more play time with your little aquarium pet. Your betta will snap these up and look for more, but it's up to you to be strong and not keep feeding him! Also do not forget to make a fasting day for betta once in a week (say, on Fridays). That is, give him no food at all. This will not hurt the betta, but is an effective means to prevent cosntipation and digestion problems.

You don't have to worry about pH or any of that stuff. Weekly cleanings will take care of water quality and chemicals as long as you don't overfeed and don't let excess food stay in there. Don't forget to remove uneaten food right away.

Betta fish should be fed different kinds of food in order to maintain good health and normal activity. Pellet food in moderation is fine, however, it is recommended that you add some “real” nutrition to his diet as well. Foods such as brine shrimps and bloodworms would make perfect choices (beware though that blood worms may contain bacteria harmful for betta fish). These foods can be bought at most pet stores live or frozen. If you nurture your betta with pellets, three per serving, maximums twice a day is plenty. Bettas are very eager to eat and do not always know when they're filled up nicely. If you feed frozen foods, once it thaws it is in "glob" form, just use your judgment and feed portions that are within reason. No matter how begging he looks wiggling back and forth, don't let him eat more. Overfeeding your betta can lead to diseases which are troublesome for bettas and their owners alike. He will act as though he is starving, but be assured, bettas are little piggies with fins. He is not as hungry as he may be pretending, he is just wanting to eat. You have to be the one in control. It is your responsibility to limit the amount of food.

Some foods like freeze dried (not frozen) blood worms, brine shrimp, any foods of these types should be fed very sparingly and no more than once or twice a week, if fed too much or too often, it can make your betta sick. Freeze dried bloodworms and the like are known to carry ick and other bacterial infections. If fed sparingly as a treat, the chances of them harming your betta are very slim. If fed as a main food source, he will definitely be heading for illness, such as constipation, ick, swim bladder disorder, and the variety of betta fish diseases.

Micro wafers for bettas

Micro wafers can take a distinguished place in the assortment of betta fish food. First, wafers are easy to feed. Second, wafers are a healthy snack because they contain:

  • Spirulina - nice addition to any diet;
  • Vitamins - A. D3, E, C;
  • Proteins;
  • Phosphorus;
  • Fiber;

Micro wafers have important advantage over flakes because they tend to sustain a better water quality. This, however, doesn't mean that wafers can replace the variety of other types of betta foods - of course not. But micro wafers support consistent growth and overal health of betta fish.

Betta food: mosquito larva

Bettas readily eat mosquito larva. These insects abound in the nature where bettas live - the rice paddies. Though it's not that easy to find mosquito larva in the Western world unless you have a tank to breed insects specifically to feed your betta.


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    • jonno96 profile image

      jonno96 5 years ago from Australia

      great hub! :)

    • profile image

      Tommy 6 years ago

      Males blow bubbles on top of the water when they are ready to breed warning if you want to breed go online to see how to breed them make sure you have a place to put them bcause you can have up to 500 fry.

    • profile image

      ross 6 years ago

      I have 20 betta tats alot of work to feed every day.

    • profile image

      Rachelle 6 years ago

      I just recently bought a betta-sushi, he made a bubble nest and won't leave it, it's only him in the tank and its a really big tank should I take his nest out or is it ok to leave it with him?

    • profile image

      hannnah 6 years ago

      my betta is just in a glass bowl with water and nothing else. is that bad

    • profile image

      MissCrashBaby 6 years ago

      Cheyenne: peas and hard boiled egg yolk, from all I've learned. Wouldn't go for bread. He won't be able to get it in his little mouth.

    • profile image

      Cheyenne 6 years ago

      I just got a beta fish from my science teacher, she didn't give me any food, and i cant go to the store till the weeked, can i feed my fish bread, and other normal house-hold easy foods?

    • profile image

      Sabrina S. 6 years ago

      Bettas are so nice to have, when your someone that has no pets (you can have pets to)its real nice to have a Betta. To watch, and admire. They can be so BEAUTIFUL. And some can be very ugly. But that depends on the type of Betta your getting. I love having Bettas for a fish pet:) Keeps me very happy:)

    • profile image

      Charleen 6 years ago

      My betta died this morning. I have always fed my Bettas live mosquito larvae. I gather them up and put them in a bowl. Some of the larvae had turned round, about to become a I fed him those. Do you think feeding him larvae at that stage is what caused him to die? I may have given him too many...RIP Mr. Finnigill...

    • profile image

      Itsgoodya 6 years ago

      I was wondering Can I feed my Betta frozen shrimp that we eat in tiny thawed pieces?

    • profile image

      Sushi's mom 6 years ago

      What's up Sushi!!

    • carolinemoon profile image

      carolinemoon 6 years ago

      I love blue fishes. Great to know about feeding this cute creature, charlemont.Keep writing great hubs. I follow you.

    • profile image

      nonya 6 years ago

      my fish HATES HATES HATES pellets. i tried soaking them before, feeding them as they come, EVERYTHING, and he just WON'T eat them. i've been giving him fruit flies and bugs, and he gobbles them like no other, but i would really like him to start eating his pellets, it would make life lots easier, for me and my picky fish. I gave him a pea, gobbled it up and such. Plz help me with his food issues.

      Right now he is swimming from one end of the tank to the other, and then comes to stare at me lol

    • profile image

      Haseeb 6 years ago

      Aslamalikum,i m from Pakistan, i bought my betta today, and i want to know the size of water tank and how part should be empty for best my fish, so plz can anybody ask me?

    • profile image

      nozhmpk 6 years ago

      is it advisable to fed betta's with guffy fry? i'm getting used to it because here in our hometown there are a lot of guffy in canals.. i used to fed my bettas with live guffy fry's.. it's hard to find brine shrimps, micro wafers or other live foods but guffy's are very visible so i take it as a replacement.. i've been doing it for months... i am a novice on betta nurturing or breeding.. im from philippines.. i'l wait for your answer..

    • profile image

      bettalover 6 years ago

      how can a betta eat in a community tank? will it normally with the others?

    • profile image

      Morons? 6 years ago

      i see many comments about how great this article is....i have to disagree. i have difficulty thinking the information is credible when there are so many spelling and grammar errors. remember that these articles can be written by ANYONE; the author could be a 10 year old boy. have some sense and seek out professional and credible information. if your fish is sick, posting a question herein isn't going to get you an accurate or quick answer. go to the library and read an actual book

    • profile image

      jay 6 years ago

      i had my betta fish for just 2 days, he always go to the bottom or hides up under a plant; not very active can someone plz tell me wats wrong with him, i changed his water and evrything it seems like nonthing works.

    • MarkMAllen15 profile image

      MarkMAllen15 6 years ago

      Ahh...I'm glad I learned something new here. Thanks.

    • profile image

      madison 7 years ago

      I have a new betta fish named Zulu. The pet food i bought is from nutrifin basix called betta food. The food looks like little tiny noodles. ingrediants are freeze dried red grubs. It does not have any instructions as to how many times a day or week to feed zulu this food. It only says only give your betta what it can consume within 2 minutes. I have looked on the website and it was no help at all.

    • Five One Cows profile image

      Five One Cows 7 years ago from Moo Town

      Good hub, but I never really had very much luck with this type of fish.

    • profile image

      ladybetta 7 years ago

      hi i got got my new betta veiltail female fish she will not eat the betta food since monday that i had her she ate it and spit it back out yesterday

    • profile image

      Sofija 7 years ago


      I got my beta fish on Sunday and it is now Thursday and he has not eaten. He swims around fine and is relatively active, but for some reason won't eat any of the pellets i put in his tank (i followed the directions on the back of the container)

      I''m scared he's going to die

      What's wrong with him?

    • profile image

      fighter fish 7 years ago

      Hello, thanks for the informative article. You have in-detail explained regarding feeding a betta fish. Keep up the good work.

      To Jay, you can feed hatched brine shrimp to your betta without any problem. A little amount of salt water won't pollute the betta tank and harm your betta if you maintain the tank water regularly. I hope this helped you enough.

    • profile image

      JAY 7 years ago

      if i hatch my own brine shrimp, will adding just some of the salt water I made for the hatching mess with my betta or tank water? thanks in advance

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      Great article. Good that you point out the importance of spirulina and other vegetable matter. Bettas and plenty of other fish are really healthier if they eat vegetable matter. Baby bettas raised on green water (i.e. water with a plenty of free-floating algae) as well as live food can really enjoy a long betta fish life span later on!

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 7 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      I once had a rain barrel that collected water which I used for garden plants, and it developed mosquito larva. I caught a few and put them in the goldfish tank, and the goldfish refused to eat them. But you say bettas will eat them? Thanks!

    • Kevlin profile image

      Kevlin 7 years ago

      Hi friend....

      Thank you for the article, because I love betta fish.

    • profile image

      Fish Tank Betta 7 years ago

      This is really useful information to take care of betta fish. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      william 7 years ago

      what food i give to my betta fish help me pls.

    • profile image

      betta fool 7 years ago

      ok first off im a kid and know how to breed bettas ok so first don't put the male with the femalejust put their bowls or aquariums together so they can see each other.Let the male make a big nest of bubbles. after 2 days or so put the male with the female leave them there but stay there watch them really carefullymake sure the male accepts the female then if he does still keep watching him the male will eventually hug the female and eggs will come out.then take the female out (because she might eat the eggs or the male will kill her).let the male pick up the eggs let him eat some in case of diseases and let them there until they are swimming then take the male out too and feed them hard boiled egg yolk really chopped thanks for wasting my time

    • profile image

      glitzgrl 7 years ago

      my bettas (female) r pecking each other. glitz's tail ripped, & valentine is being picked on by her. Pleezzee tell me how 2 make then stoP!!

    • profile image

      bettagirl 7 years ago

      Hi. My betta is constipated. I tried giving the peas (did the whole routine. Boiled and then froze them. Took the skin off and chopped them) iv tried so many things to make him eat them!!!!!!! It wont work. HELP

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      i have several betta but i don't know how to breed them, I tries several times but male betta only kills the female betta.

    • profile image

      unknown 7 years ago

      theres a good website tht has a bit more on bettas:

    • profile image

      bill 7 years ago

      I just bought my Betta, should I feed him once a week or once a day.


    • profile image

      cheese,swiss cheese. 7 years ago

      you can also buy one at petland and petcetra. and don't believe them when they say bettas can live in puddles. they can...but they wont thrive. give him some space to swim.

    • profile image 7 years ago


    • fwatcher profile image

      fwatcher 7 years ago

      There is a parasite found on some but not all bloodworm that is people are led to believe will cause Dropsy. A chance we all have to take when feeding Bettas live food. I would ideally go for Brineshrimp (live) as higher in proteins and less a risk.

      I would never either not feed a betta for a week. They can with stand up to 4 days but a week is far too long. This just encourages people to pop off on holiday and leaving the fish to its own devices. Even on holiday, someone should be coming in to feed and check on the fish, even if its once in the 7 day period.

    • profile image

      C.J.S. 7 years ago

      I've had my Betta fish (male), Funkadelic, for 4 days now. I really recommend anyone who's wanting a simple yet interesting pet to go out to your local pet store and get a Betta! There pretty fun to learn about. (:

    • profile image

      Corey 7 years ago

      Josh, I wouldent because it could have ben sprayed with pestisides or some other chemical or it could be carrying disease. The safest thing for worms is to give them freze dried blood worms which is at a lot of the local pet stores. They are the best choice if you are trying to give them something safe, but remember only have it as a treat don't give it to them every meal maby once or twice a week. =D

    • profile image

      Corey 7 years ago

      My fish tank has blue sort of large pebbles at the bottom of the tank and the un eatin food gets stuck in there. Do i have to clean the tank of foood more or less often?

    • profile image

      josh 7 years ago

      uhm can i get a worm from outside and feed it to my betta fish?

    • profile image

      Britt 8 years ago

      Do not put the cube in the water. you thaw it out in a small container with a bit of water then place a small amount in the tank.

    • profile image

      betta fish lover 8 years ago

      hi! im a betta fish owner and i wanted to know why my betta fish is not eating! i put a cube of frozen bloodworms in my fishes tank and my fish didn't eat it and when i came home my pet fishes tank was filled with bloodworms. What should i do? please help!!!!

    • profile image

      josh 8 years ago

      i mite get a betta so where can i buy one

    • pet_health_expert profile image

      pet_health_expert 8 years ago

      "How to feed a Betta fish" this is a good article, i do love to watch them feed with live food, but i belive too much live food is not good for captive fish, even if they are carnivores

      thank you

    • profile image

      cj 8 years ago

      this information is very useful...thank you very much...cuz i`ll be having my beta this thursday or friday!i can`t wait..though my beta died last year because of overfeeding..i know what to do now..

    • profile image

      Alan 8 years ago

      Bettas - bubbles floating on top: 3 possible reasons: 1) Betta's container has no circulation and when betta breathes (they breathe air through a modified gill organ called a 'labyrinth organ' by 'gulping' at the water's surface) it mixes with their mucous and forms bubbles which accumulate on the water's surface over time. 2) Betta is young and is practicing nest making - they make a bubble nest to house their eggs after mating with a female. Betta dads are very pro-active, and as long as they don't forget what it was they were doing, will take very good care of their fry. 3) Betta is ready to mate (see above).

      Betta not eating: Bettas very frequently refuse to eat for extended periods after being moved or transferred from one container to another (ie: store to your home tank / bowl. In this case I wouldn't worry about them for a week or so... they usually come around. If you are getting concerned about the length of time, buy some frozen blood worms and offer them 2 or 3. I've never known a betta that could refuse frozen blood worms.

      Bad idea to leave ANY uneaten food in a small betta container (or any aquarium for that matter) for more than 10 or 15 minutes. It fouls and toxifies the water.

      Bloated bellies on bettas from feeding unbalanced diet of pellets only: constipation... Cure: remove the skin from a thawed, frozen pea and chop into small pieces to feed to your betta, then go out and buy some frozen blood worms to add to his diet.

      Live Mosquito larvae: Yes! Absolutely... PROVIDED you can assure they are parasite and predator-free (ie: dragonfly larvae will eat your fish). HTH ;)

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      David, try offering your betta some other type of food. See if he will like dried bloodworms. Mine doesn't like pellets.

    • profile image

      David 8 years ago

      I just bought a betta fish yesterday including betta food (betta bites) as soon as got home i thought well maybe i should feed him. So i fed him 3 pellets herefused the food and swam of. About an hour later I come to check on his food, its still there. So today i fed him at noon (about the same time as yesterday. I look and see his food is still there. I feed him 3 more pellets and he refuses. Its about 4:00pm and his food is still there. Can someone tell me why he is refusing his food? Please.

      Thanx- David G.

    • profile image

      cocoa5806 8 years ago

      bre.g ur betta is ready to breed the bubbles at the top are great its a nest!!! u should look into breeding!

    • manlypoetryman profile image

      manlypoetryman 8 years ago from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before...

      Wow...I always looked as bettas as easy fish to take care of...then, we got one with complicated feeding instructions on how to take care of him. This hub is full of good info on bettas...which I will use to take care of our betta. Thanks charlemont.

    • expectus profile image

      expectus 8 years ago from Land Downunder

      nice hub and very nice blog I am very tempted to give some betta breeding a try:)

    • hnyaji profile image

      hnyaji 9 years ago

      catch mosquito larva and feed them to fishes? :(

    • profile image

      bre.g 9 years ago

      i have a betta named sky he's an all blue male betta he seems to always have bubbles floating on the top of the water why?

    • profile image

      Betta splendens- The ultimate tropical fish 9 years ago

      Bettas are hardy species, they will accept almost any commercial food.

      thanks for this hub.

    • profile image

      Paige 9 years ago

      HEY! I am thinking about getting a Betta and i don't know much about them...

    • profile image

      yello 9 years ago

      hi i have a betta fish named fishy fishy and he is sick he stays with his head faced down at the bottom of the tank. So i put him in another tank. But i am not sure what sickness he has?

    • profile image

      Megan 9 years ago

      I only feed my betta bloodworms, freeze dried and the container says that the bloodworms have been processed to remove the harmful stuff. And my friend bought a Betta book by Animal Planet that says bloodworms can be used as a diet, as well as a couple other sites i have gone to. So i don't know.

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 9 years ago from Lithuania


      bettas do eat mosquito larva.

    • profile image

      sarajane 9 years ago

      can my betta eat a masquito? because i just feed it one

    • profile image

      debbie 9 years ago

      I have been catching mosquito larva and feeding it to my betta. I didn't know they were little piggies and would just keep eating! I figured he was still hungry! He will eat like 20 or more of these larvae................I have been searching betta sites and have not seen mosquito larvae mentioned as a food source. What is your opinion on this diet? Should I just give him larvae once a day and then at night give him the flake betta food? I have always had aquariums with other fish and knew that you only fed fish the amt. they would consume in a few minutes, so I assumed he was indeed a good eater and would quit when full, but now I see that he will just continue to eat until he dies I guess. So thanks for your advice and letting us know that they are little pigs! I had no idea. Also I have seen some type of lettuce in some of the bowls on different websites. What do you think about this? Thanks in advance

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 9 years ago from Lithuania

      Feeding your betta once a day is enough, to prevent overfeeding. Also, about every two weeks fast your betta - that is, leave your pappy without food. It helps to maintain health.

      Bettas don't desperately need lights. Pappy should be fine with natural light, and the nightlight won't bother him.

    • profile image

      mr betta 9 years ago

      hi i have a betta named pappy but i don't know how many times a day i should feed it. i would also like to know if not having any light on it at night is harmful to my pappy

    • psioni profile image

      psioni 9 years ago from Toronto

      Live bloodworms can also sometimes carry diseases, by the way.


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