What Do Betta Fish Eat?

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on March 07, 2023
3 min read

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are known for their bright colors and beautiful fins. It’s important to provide your betta fish with a diet and environment suited to their needs. These are different from the needs of other common household fish. 

Before getting a betta fish as a pet, learn what to feed your betta fish, how often to feed them, and what to do if your betta fish will not eat.

Betta fish are natural carnivores, and in the wild would be found subsisting on a diet of insects and insect larvae. Understanding your betta's natural dietary habits will help you provide a healthy diet for your new pet.

What betta fish eat. Because betta fish are natural carnivores, they eat a diet that is high in protein. Some people believe that bettas can survive in a small tank just by munching on the roots of plants. This is not true and can be harmful to your betta fish. 

High protein betta pellets sold in pet stores should be the mainstay of your betta fish's diet. It is important to select a pellet formula made for bettas. Those designed for other fish, such as tropical fish, will not be healthy. Actual betta pellets and flakes contain the correct level of nutrients for your betta fish. They are easy to portion to protect your fish from over and underfeeding.

As special treats, your betta fish can enjoy high protein freeze-dried and frozen foods. These are things like brine shrimp and bloodworms. These treats should not make up the bulk of your betta fish's diet. They should be fed to your betta in moderation.

How to feed your betta fish. It is recommended to feed your betta fish two to four pellets, once or twice per day. Pellets expand when placed in water and are very filling for your betta fish. Freeze-dried or fresh food can be substituted for their pellet feeding 1 to 2 days per week. 

Experts recommend ridding your tank of any excess food that your betta fish does not eat. This food falls to the bottom of the tank and will degrade water quality if not removed.

Cost of feeding a betta fish. The cost of betta fish pellets and freeze-dried food can vary greatly by brand. Expect to pay between 4 and 8 dollars for a container of betta fish pellets. Your pet supplier may provide options for buying food in bulk.

The two common concerns when it comes to feeding your betta fish are overeating or undereating.

What to do if your betta fish will not eat. Betta fish can survive for 14 days without eating. If your betta fish skips a meal or two, there is no need for immediate concern. There are several reasons why your betta fish may not be eating.

Stress from a recent water temperature change, tank cleaning, or significant environmental change, may cause a change in your betta fish's appetite as they adjust. The ideal water temperature for a betta fish is between 71 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Betta fish are often seen in bowls that are too small for them. This can make them unhappy and unwilling to eat. Be sure that your betta fish has room to swim and explore. If you notice your fish turning away or spitting out food, you may want to experiment with different pellet brands. As betta fish age, they will become less active and consume less food.

If your betta fish still will not eat, they may be ill. Consult a veterinarian or another expert in case of illness.

How to prevent your betta fish from overeating. Betta fish in the wild will eat food whenever they can find it. This makes it very easy for your betta fish to overeat when extra food is available. Overeating can lead to bloating, digestive distress, and obesity. Too much uneaten food can also result in your fish's water becoming dirty and unhealthy.

To prevent your betta fish from overeating, only feed your betta fish the recommended daily amount. Clean out excess food regularly with a net or a turkey baster.