• Well, I hope this helps you and remember there is no one way to do things, just WHATEVER works for you and your bettas. (and please everyone, don't email me to find out where you can get one of 'em shrinking machine thingies!!!!).

    This column will resume again on monday.

    Q: When do you change fry from smaller foods, ie bbs, vinegar eels, microworms, to other larger foods.  How do you do it, what foods do you give and what do you do to transition them from one to the other, etc.  Thank you.

    Question submitted by Michael, Manchester - CT

    A: Michael, this is a very good question in deed (and very well formulated if I may add ;) ). There are many ways to go about this and once again, each breeder will give you a different answer. I guess it is necessary for each of us to find what works best for him/her, and usually this is achieved by A)- asking a lot of other breeders how they go about it  B)- trying a bunch of ways  C)- seeing what works best for you  D)- coming up with a few more ways of doing it  E)- seeing which works and which does not (aka experimentation)  F)- finding the path to enlightment  G)- reaching Nirvana LOL.

    A few basics about tackling the switching of fry foods:

    You asked 'when' should one switch. I would prefer to look at this as a 'at which point' question. Why? Because fry growth varies greatly and switching food is not a predetermined "time" frame thing, but rather a size thing. So instead of thinking "once the fry is 1 month old you can start to introduce new foods" you should think "when the fry's mouth is large enough to eat them you can start to introduce other foods". This depends entirely on how fast your fry are growing so it could happen say at 3 weeks or at 6, give or take a week or two. 
    How to switch foods. I always tell people to switch foods GRADUALLY on any betta I ship. These are medium sized, or larger sized bettas. So what applies for the big sturdy ones certainly applies to the tiny fragile ones. Fry will die quickly and you have little room for error. Thus it is vital to be careful and switch foods very gradually. By this I mean start to introduce a very small quantity of the new food. Some fry are more inquisitive and aggressive than others and also larger, these "food pioneers" will venture to new culinary territories promptly, while the rest will be (at first) clueless. Feeding too much of a new food too fast will cause a lot of uneaten food to rot in the tank, creating a bacterial outbreak and possibly wiping out your whole spawn (AGHHH). So tip toe and add a tiny quantity at first, making sure to still feed the other usual fry foods (microworms, bbs, daphnias, vinegar eels, or whatever you may feed your fry). Gradually the other fry will figure out that the new 'stuff' floating about in their universe is FOOD. They catch on by observing their pioneer siblings pigging out and end up trying the food and start to eat them. Soon everyone will eat it, but remember that the runts may be twice as small or more as the rest of the spawn so here again, you must provide food for them. So always keep feeding the tiny fry type foods until all bettas are large enough to eat the other foods. It might be necessary to use a fry coral to protect the tiny runts and you can then feed them say bbs by placing it in their coral, while the rest of the tank may get another type of food suitable for larger mouths. Eventually the larger fry will no longer show any interest in microworms. They will continue eating bbs much longer but eventually it no longer makes sense to feed it to them because you would need massive amounts of them hatched daily. So most breeders will stop feeding them after a while.
    What foods to give: There are many many options. Just about ANYTHING a large betta eats can be fed, for as long as you can make it small enough for their mouths. It will be necessary to grind, chop, loosen foods to make them safe for the fry. You do not want them to choke on a big ol' frozen brine shrimp now! You can also use the "Honey I shrank the kids" shrinking machine, but these are hard to find and remain, to this day, rather costly (LOL). Another set back with these types of machines is that you will then be forced to make a sequel, which will never be as good as the first thing, so if you can't improve it, live it alone as I always say ;). 
    A bit more about larger fry foods: Some make fry grown faster than others (usually any live food will), but the main concern here is figuring out what it is you want your bettas to eat as adults. If you cannot find live foods then it might be wise to not try to get some just to get the fry larger and then switch to other dry foods. Why? Cause most bettas get spoiled very easy and once you feed live foods, there is usually no coming back LOL. Bettas will LAUGH at you if you feed them say pellets or freeze dried foods. Yes our bettas are real gourmets, food connaisseurs if I may add, and their delicate taste buds run the show. Another MAJOR draw back of live foods is that they can very easily carry VERY nasty diseases, the kinds that can wipe out every single last one of your fry (and other bettas). So perhaps bigger, faster is not better. Take your time to bring your fry to a larger size and feed safe foods above all. variety a big plus. Adding a few drops of fish vitamins to dry foods can help make them more nutritious. Don't overdo it though!

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