Have you ever wondered if a betta fish can get fat? We have done a bit of research for you, and the answer to this question may surprise you.
So, can betta fish get fat? The answer is yes, they can. Obesity is not uncommon in betta fish, and it is caused by overfeeding.
Most new owners are not aware of all possible ailments that can affect a betta fish, which includes side effects of a betta getting fat. A fat betta can have a surprising number of health issues. We will cover how to prevent obesity in bettas as well as the remedy to some ailments.
Bettas and Obesity
Most animals have the capacity to become obese, but all species of bettas are especially prone to obesity. Betta fish in the wild are predators and may only be able to eat every few days. Because of this, their bodies have adapted to being able to store large amounts of fat in order to survive between meals.
In captivity, this adaptation serves no purpose, and can even be a hindrance. Captive bettas were selectively bred to have very long fins and a wide variety of colors. While these fins are gorgeous, they great y inhibit a betta’s movement, forcing them to be less active.
This limited movement would be a death sentence in the wild but is of little concern in captivity. However, the only concern would be that the betta’s lack of movement would lead to a lowered metabolism, so a betta could put on weight more easily.
In addition, betta fish food often contains some kind of filler. This filler may be grain or low-quality food, which a betta’s body may not be used to digesting. If the betta does not know how to digest the food, it will be stored as fat, along with other excess food.
Harmful Impacts of Obesity
Overfeeding a betta is much more harmful than underfeeding one, as backward as that seems. Fish food contains a good number of micronutrients and vitamins, so even if the betta is being fed less than it should, it is unlikely that there will be long term harm.
Bettas have only been around a handful of decades, but this has resulted in a great deal of inbreeding. Unfortunately, one of the more common side effects of this is severe responses to common bloat. Bloat occurs when a betta’s stomach and abdomen appear more swollen than normal. This can be caused by a blockage in the intestines, constipation, gas, obesity, or some more serious problems, such as tumors.
The most common causes of bloat are overfeeding and obesity causing constipation. Constipation itself can eventually be lethal, but it can also lead to other severe conditions. Malignant tumors are rare in bettas, and if they do appear, a betta’s lifespan of 4 years means they will normally die of old age instead of the tumor.
To relieve constipation, you should stop feeding your betta for 2-3 days, then feed them either frozen (not freeze-dried) daphnia or a small part of a boiled and deshelled pea. Both of these act as natural laxatives. However, betta fish are not meant to digest plant matter, so daphnia is preferred.
One of the more severe side effects of constipation is a prolapse. For some reason, prolapses are becoming more common in betta fish, and these can be caused by bloat. A prolapse occurs when organs fall out of place, and in bettas, it is usually part of the intestines falling out of the betta. Betta fish are too small to have successful surgery to fix a prolapse, so euthanization is the kindest option.
How Much to Feed Your Betta
Now that we have established some of the side effects of overfeeding, we need to discuss how much food is the right amount. In addition, even if you are feeding the right amount of food, the type of food you are feeding your fish may also be an issue.
Be sure to feed your fish either staple pellets or flakes from a reputable brand. Bug bites are a popular, high protein brand of food, though of course, it is not the only one. As long as the brand states it is for betta fish and has a high fish meal content, it will be suitable for your fish.
If you are feeding your betta fish pellets, it is best to soak them for a few minutes before feeding the pellets to your betta. Some pellets can expand to over three times their original size. This can cause internal damage and constipation if they expand inside of your betta.
Betta treats, normally bloodworms, blackworms, daphnia, and various types of shrimp, should be fed to your betta once or twice a week. These foods provide a lot of vitamins and fat, which is healthy when fed sparingly.
However, be sure to buy either the live or a frozen version of these foods, not the freeze-dried version. Frozen food retains nearly all of its nutrients, while freeze-dried food does not. In addition, freeze-dried food expands a great deal when water is added, which can cause issues with bloating if not pre-soaked properly.
A betta’s stomach is about the size of its eye. You should not feed a higher volume of food than this size, and it is best to feed your betta twice a day, once in the morning, and once at night.
How To Tell If Your Betta is Full
Betta fish are very intelligent animals, able to identify their owner, and pleadingly beg them for food. Once your betta knows who feeds them, they will react by swimming back and forth when you enter the room, with some bettas repeatedly opening and closing their mouths, signaling that they want food.
When your betta is giving such clear signs that they are hungry, even when they have just been fed, how can you tell if they are actually hungry? Unfortunately, there is not a way to tell whether or not your betta fish is actually hungry. As previously stated, wild bettas are not accustomed to eating every day, and this idea is carried over to domestic bettas.
These bettas will attempt to eat whenever is possible in order to prepare themselves for a time when they are unable to find food. It is hard wired into their DNA to constantly search for and eat any source of food in order to build up their fat reserves. Bettas have not been domesticated long enough to break this behavior.
As long as your betta does not appear thin from above and has a slight bulge in their belly area, they are fine. Some fish, such as goldfish, are actually unable to feel full. However, despite the fact that they always act hungry, betta fish are able to feel full, so it is unlikely your fish is actually hungry.
In conclusion, betta fish can become obese, and due to a variety of factors, all species are actually at high risk of developing obesity. Obesity can cause severe short-term and long-term effects and should be avoided. As long as your fish receives the proper type and amount of food, they will live a long and healthy life.