How often should you feed betta fish?

tldr; (too long, didn’t read)

  • Adult betta: 1-2 times a day
  • Baby betta (fry): 2 times a day
  • Pellets: 2-4 pellets
  • Live, frozen, or freeze-dried: 2-3 pieces
  • Flakes: as much as they can eat in two-minutes
  • Fast once a week
  • Can survive 14 days without food

Eating themselves to death

There’s a fine balance on how often to feed your betta fish. Overfeeding your betta fish is a lot more harmful than putting on some extra weight. Overeating causes bloating and constipation. These are pretty minor problems for humans but are actually quite deadly for betta fish.

Severely bloated betta fish (Nippy Fish)
Severely bloated betta fish (Nippy Fish)

Swim bladder disorder

Severe or prolonged constipation causes swim bladder disorder. A fish’s swim bladder is what allows it to swim up and down. The swim bladder needs airflow to properly position the fish in the water. Constipation causes food to take up valuable real-estate in the fish’s tiny body. This constricts the swim bladder’s much needed airflow.

swim bladder

Easy solution

Overfeeding is one of the most common killers in pet betta fish. Luckily, the solution is very simple. Stop feeding your fish until it properly digests its food. Once all is well, your fish will resume swimming normally and appears less bloated.

Feeding Guidelines

Eating doesn’t mean hungry

Betta fish will instinctively eat when they’re not hungry. Their natural survival mode kicks in because they don’t know when they’ll be able to find food again. Their stomach is roughly the size of their own eye! They can’t eat as much as an unknowing owner could feed them.

Age

A baby betta (fry) is growing and needs to eat more than their older counterparts. A good guideline is to feed a fry twice a day and an adult 1-2 times a day. As bettas grow older in adulthood, they’ll be less energetic and eat less.

Food

Be weary of instructions on the bottle. It’s usually an overestimation. I also recommend letting your betta fish fast for one day of the week to let its digestive track clear up. This will help avoid bloating and constipation issues.

Pellets

Feed your betta fish 2-4 pellets. Check the label to see if they’re non-expanding pellets. Otherwise pellets can grow 2-3 times it size when exposed to water! That’s a breeding ground of causing bloating and constipation issues for your betta fish. To fix this problem, soak your pellets in tank water for 10-minutes before feeding to your betta fish.

Flakes

Feed your betta fish as much flakes as they can eat in two-minutes.

Freeze-dried

Feed your betta fish 2-3 pieces. As the name implies, this food is dehydrated. Betta fish need moisture in their diet, so I recommend also soaking these in tank water to rehydrate.

Live/frozen

Feed your betta fish 2-3 pieces.

Why is my betta fish not eating?

Picky eaters

Betta fish are definitely on the choosier side when it comes to their food. A sign they don’t like their food is if you see them spitting out their food or swimming away from it. Betta fish can take up to 30 days to accept a new meal. Betta fish owners often have to rotate through different types of food to see what their picky eaters will accept.

Big food, small mouth

A betta fish spitting out its food could also just signal that the food is too large for it to eat. Pellets and flakes will come in mouth-sized friendly portions, but with live and frozen food you may need to cut up into smaller portions. Hint: if it comes in a cube, then cut into fourths.

Environmental Factors

Stressors also shift betta fishes appetites. If you’ve recently cleaned your tank, moved to a new house, etc., then you may find your betta fish is eating less. This is perfectly normal; just give it some time to adjust to its new environment and lower its stress levels.

Make sure the temperate of your water is not too cold (above 76 degrees). Cold water slows betta fishes metabolisms and causes lethargy.

Natural Factors

As betta fish grow older, it becomes less active and therefore doesn’t eat as much. If a betta fish falls ill, it will also eat less.

Heads up

Try not to feed different varieties of food in one portion. This might confuse your betta fishes digestive system. Also be weary of making sure your picky eaters are eating, in rare cases betta fish will resort to eating other fish in your tank.