You have a Betta fish, you also have obtained some Betta pellets, now you’re thinking “how many pellets should I feed my Betta?” Sure! That makes sense, every Betta owner would love to feed their pet, yet, no one would ever want to overfeed or underfeed them. Hence, the need to take extra care when feeding your betta fish.
Speaking from experience, you should feed your Betta fish 2 to 4 pellets twice a day. Of course, you would hear varying suggestions from different betta fish owners on how many pellets to feed your betta. Just know that bettas differ and what works for one may not work for another. The recommendation here is for a starter who just got a new betta fish. Following this and observing your betta properly will help you decide whether to increase or decrease the number of pellets to feed your betta fish.
Feeding your betta fish is a very important aspect of caring for them. However, there are factors you need to observe to ensure your betta is healthy always.
How Often to Feed Bettas
If you are feeding your betta a proper amount of food, a portion roughly the size of their eye, you should feed your betta twice daily. While it is possible to feed them with other methods, this is the healthiest for them and their metabolism.
Bettas will seek out food even when they are not hungry, so you can’t rely on your fish to tell you whether or not they actually need food. By sticking to a consistent schedule, you will be able to tell if it is working for your particular betta. If you notice your little buddy getting fatter, you should cut back on the feeding a bit.
Fasting a fish for one day every one or two weeks is a common practice, though we haven’t been able to determine whether or not it is truly beneficial. Some keepers swear up and down that their betta lived for 5 or 6 years purely due to fasting them for one day every week, while other keepers have had their bettas live just as long without fasting them.
What Food Should I Feed My Betta?
The most important factor, aside from the amount and frequency of the food, is the type of food you feed your betta. Bettas need to be fed one or two staple pellets or flakes (or a mix of both) as well as one or two additional foods. The staple commercial food will provide essential protein, nutrients, and vitamins to your little carnivore, and the extra food will simply be treats which provide other nutrients and fat.
You can pick just about any pellet or flake you find in stores, as long as they are made for bettas and have high amounts of protein and few fillers. Bettas are carnivorous, so the food will likely be made of various fish meal. While fish eating fish may seem a bit cannibalistic, it is the same as us eating a hamburger or chicken, and doesn’t have any harmful effects.
Avoid food that has a lot of fillers, especially plant-based fillers. Bettas digestive tracts cannot handle plant matter, and it can easily cause constipation and bloat, which can be fatal.
The treat foods should be high quality frozen food, mainly brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, and the like. Let them thaw before feeding them to your betta, and be sure to only feed a small amount, similar to the number of pellets and flakes you would feed your fish. Bettas absolutely adore these foods, and they can even be used to train your betta to do tricks. However, they have very high-fat contents, so they should only be fed once every one to two weeks.
Bettas in Community Tanks
If you have a well-mannered betta who gets along with their tank mates, you’ve probably put them in a community tank. While betta fish make absolutely gorgeous centerpiece fish and can work well in community tanks, there are a few feeding issues associated with housing them with other fish species.
The primary issue is that bettas are pigs; they will eat any food they see with a vengeance. The problem with this is that most tankmates that can live with bettas are herbivores, or at least have food with high plant matter. Even though they cannot process these foods, bettas will still gobble them down, which leads to obesity, bloat, and other health issues.
Bettas are smart animals, so it is possible to train them to only accept food in one area. While most keepers can fenagle where the food goes and make sure it gets to the right fish, if you want to go the extra mile and ensure that your betta gets the right food, train them to accept food from only one side of the tank and feed the other fish from the other side.
Obesity and Bloat
As we previously touched on, obesity is a huge issue among all betta species, especially the domesticated one. Bettas are prone to bloat and obesity because they will eat any and all food they see, even if their stomachs are full. This easily leads to constipation and other health issues, and if they go on for too long, your fish is at risk of early death.
If your betta’s stomach is bulging, it is most likely bloated, though if it gains weight over a period of time, it is more likely obese. Bloat is normally caused by a betta eating the wrong type of food, constipation, or another health issue. Fast your fish for 2-3 days (feed them nothing), and on the second or third day, feed two meals of either frozen daphnia (preferred) or small portions of a deshelled blanched pea.
This normally clears up mild cases of bloat, but if it doesn’t, repeat the fasting method once more. If the bloat still persists, cut back on the amount you are feeding, soak your betta’s food for 5-10 minutes before feeding your betta, and feed daphnia 1-2 time per week. This treatment should also take care of any constipation, which is the leading cause of bloat.
For obesity, simply reduce the amount of food you are giving your betta or skip one meal every few days. While obesity reduces a betta’s overall lifespan, bloat can cause immediate negative health effects, primarily dropsy. Dropsy is kidney failure, which can be triggered by a variety of factors, one of which is unfortunately bloat. As you may imagine, kidney failure is difficult to treat in a fish.
When people go on vacation, they can board their dogs and cats, and hire people to take care of their other exotic pets. But what should you do for your betta?
The vacation feeder blocks found in stores are pretty much the worst thing you can do. They break up irregularly and release high levels of ammonia. This ammonia is lethal, and since you will be on vacation, you won’t be able to change your betta’s water to get rid of it.
If you are leaving for a week or less, your fish will be fine. Two weeks is the normal period of time that fish, including bettas, can live without food. If you are going to be gone for a longer time, a programmable automatic feeder is a good alternative. They aren’t expensive, and they are very easy to program and use.
You could hire a fish sitter, but based on personal experience, they will probably feed them too much. Most people don’t understand how small a betta’s stomach is, and even if you tell them, your betta’s poor little “hungry” face may guilt them into feeding more. Get weekly pill organizers or similar and place the amount of food you want to feed each day in there. This will prevent your fish sitter from overfeeding your fish, and it makes the job easier.
Betta fish should only eat an amount of food roughly the size of their eye per meal. Avoid overfeeding, as it can have severe negative health effects, even resulting in death. Ensure that you are feeding a staple food in addition to weekly supplementary foods.