There are thousands of types of fish food available for common use. You can find just as many recipes online to make your own fish or snail food. Each one has different ingredients, some of which may cause some concern or confusion, but most have some amount of fish meal. Since both betta fish food and goldfish food both have high amounts of fish-based protein, can’t you just feed your betta your goldfish’s food?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Different brands of food have different types of protein, some of which will cause issues in bettas. For example, a goldfish is an herbivore, so while they still have fish meal in their food, they also have a great deal of plant protein, which betta fish cannot process. On the flip side, if you feed a goldfish only betta food, the goldfish will get sick.
In this article, we will discuss food in the wild, feeding bettas goldfish food, feeding goldfish betta food, how to cure bloat, good betta food, and the importance of variety.
Food in the Wild
Of course, any animal in the wild has different dietary habits than an animal in captivity. In the wild, bettas have to be opportunistic in order to live, meaning they eat any chance that they get. This behavior does still occur in aquariums, though eating too much leads to bloat.
In the wild, bettas primarily eat insects. They come from areas with relatively still water, so insects often land on the water and lay their eggs. The wriggling larvae from the eggs, or the unlucky adult insects, become food for the bettas.
Insects are not a betta’s only food source. Bettas will also eat small aquatic crustaceans, some of which can be fed in aquariums, such as scuds, ostracods, and daphnia. The sharp teeth of betta help them break through the external shell of both crustaceans and bugs.
It is also possible for bettas to eat the fry of other fish, as long as the fry are small enough. They are opportunistic predators and will try their best to eat whatever is available to avoid starvation.
In captivity, bettas are normally only fed pellets, which is bad for them in the long run. Pellets, or flakes, provide essential nutrients and vitamins, but they should also be supplemented with other types of food 1-2 times a week.
Some examples of supplementary foods are white worms, blackworms, grindal worms, brine shrimp/mysis shrimp, scuds, daphnia, bloodworms, and insect larvae. Most of these can be bought in frozen cubes that you can break up and feed, but if you can find live food, that’s much better for your betta. Freeze dried food loses most of its nutritional value and often leads to bloat.
Feeding Bettas Goldfish Food
As you can see by the list of food that they eat in the wild, bettas are carnivores. On the other hand, goldfish are a type of carp, and while they are opportunistic enough to eat other fish and invertebrates, the vast majority of their diet is plant material, and they are technically herbivores.
Just as humans cannot digest the cellulose found in some plant materials, bettas cannot process most plant matter. If your betta ends up eating a good deal of plant matter, including the type found in goldfish food, it will likely get sick.
The most common result of a betta being fed an improper diet, most commonly either the wrong food (vegetarian) or a fatty diet (eg. too many bloodworms), is a bloated and lethargic betta. Bloat is extremely common in bettas, and while it is easy to fix on its own, it can lead to more serious health concerns, such as Swim Bladder Disease.
Feeding Goldfish Betta Food
On the flip side, feeding a goldfish food meant for bettas is just as damaging and leads to similar health issues. If a goldfish eats too much animal protein, it will develop a thicker body shape from too much excess fat.
The body of a goldfish can process some animal protein, but if it eats too much, the body will not be able to process all of it and will store the excess as fat. In addition, this often leads to bloat in the goldfish, and just like bettas, bloat in goldfish can easily turn into a severe swim bladder issue.
Finally, betta food is designed to float at the top of the water since bettas spend much of their time near or at the surface. Goldfish food is meant to sink, as this is a healthier option for the goldfish. Goldfish have the ability to take water from the surface and draw it into their two chambered swim bladder.
When forced to eat food from the surface, they gulp air along with it, which can be trapped in both the stomach and swim bladder. As you can imagine, excess air in the swim bladder or stomach is a bad thing.
This puts extra stress on the swim bladder and can lead to long term damage. Bettas do not have this problem, as the extra air, they gulp normally goes to the labyrinth organ, which is made to handle atmospheric air.
How to Cure Bloat
Since bloat is a common issue in bettas, it is good to know how to treat it, even if your betta is eating an appropriate diet. The most common cause of bloat is constipation, and lucky for us, there are several foods that act as laxatives for bettas.
The first thing to do for a bloated betta is to fast the betta for three days. For three days, don’t feed the betta anything at all, no matter how much the little guy begs.
The next step is to get either some frozen, or live, daphnia. A blanched, deshelled pea is another option, but for bettas, daphnia is the best way to go, as it has animal protein instead of plant matter.
After fasting your betta for 3 days, feed it a small amount of either daphnia or pea in the morning and afternoon. If the bloat has not gone down by the next day, feed the laxative like food during the morning, afternoon, and evening.
If the bloat still persists after this treatment, fast the betta for another three days and try again. In addition, reduce normal feedings to smaller amounts for a few days after your betta recovers from bloat.
Good Betta Food
The best kinds of betta food are high in protein, low in fillers, and are bug based. Bug based foods are hard to come by, but the most common one on the market is Big Bites, which is based on soldier fly larvae.
The pellet, or flake, that you choose for your betta must be small enough for them to eat. In order to feed a betta properly, you should only feed an amount of food the size of its eye twice daily. Their stomachs are roughly the size of their eye, and overfeeding can lead to bloat as well.
Importance of Variety
Even if you feed your betta a very high-quality pellet that has all required minerals and nutrients, your betta won’t be able to achieve its peak coloration or form without variety. A varied diet is necessary to keep a betta healthy.
The addition of other foods does not have to be a dramatic change, though rotating between 2-3 staple pellets/flakes plus extra food is best. The supplemental foods are normally fattier, which is good in moderation, but should only be fed 1-2 times a week.
Bloodworms and brine shrimp are great for increasing coloration but are extremely fatty. Daphnia, scuds, and live worms are also great ways to stimulate your betta and make them more active, but the worms can also be very fatty.
In conclusion, betta fish cannot eat goldfish food as the two fish have vastly different dietary needs and capabilities. The goldfish is unable to digest large amounts of animal protein, but the betta needs that protein. Bettas cannot digest plant material, but plant material makes up a large portion of goldfish food. Feeding either of these fish the wrong food will lead to serious health problems and illnesses.