Bettas are weird when it comes to food because on one hand they will eat just about anything (especially things they are not “supposed” to) and on the other, they can be realllllllllly picky. So here is a recap of what bettas will or will not swallow :)), starting with their favorite gourmet food at the top and going down hill from there (down to the “I’m gonna puke” food).

Bettas are funny, because when you feed them something they don’t like, they have that look (yeah, you know, THAT one) on their faces, kinda like saying:

“You expect me to eat “that” ????”. They can be real snobs. However, if you give them something they love then it is the “SLURP GROM GLOUPS SLURP CRONCH CRONCH” they just gobble everything up with such enthusiasm and will continue doing so until they turn into little ballons. I often tenderly refer to them as my “little finned piglets” :)).

How often to feed. I recommend feeding your adult bettas once a day and your fries twice a day. If you really have nothing better to do, then you could also feed your adults twice a day, but cut the quantity of feed in half. You don’t want obese bettas, now, do you? :))
How much to feed. People think they have to feed their bettas until they explode, and that bettas will get big and strong that way. More than likely what will happen is that the bettas will not eat all the food, the uneaten food will rot in the jars/tanks, polluting the water and bacteria will promptly flourish in such an environment. In turns, the bacteria will attack the bettas, which will become sick. So rule number one in betta feeding is DON’T OVERFEED!!! Feed as much as your betta can eat in 2 mn, and no more. Try to achieve a softly rounded belly. Your betta should not look pregnant :P. On the other hand, If your betta’s belly looks “hollow” or too flat, then you are either not feeding him enough, or he has a bacterial infection causing him to waste away (or internal parasites).

To illustrate this "softly rounded belly" concept, I have picked the following four photos. Please look at the area right were the ventrals start (inside the red circle):

       This betta has the perfect softly rounded belly shape


         This betta is borderline too rounded


          This female ate too much.


                This one is out of control LOL



Overfeeding can cause serious problem. Double Tail bettas will have swimbladder problem if you over feed them. They will start floating and may take up to several weeks to recover! So with DTs, it is even more important to not overdo it when it comes to food. Also when feeding live food, especially live brine shrimp, you must be aware that bettas will not stop eating until all the live food has been gobbled up. Twice I lost bettas that way. I kid you not. You will find them dead the next day. So only feed reasonable amounts of live food to your bettas, because in your fishroom, you are the only one with any ability to refrain things from getting out of hands. Your bettas can't and won't. They'll eat themselves to death. Literally. Wise buffalo has spoken.

Skip a day. It is a good idea to not feed your betta one day a week. Let his digestive system rest, let him clean himself out a bit. This does not mean that you should feed your betta whenever you remember, and that it is OK to feed him on and off and skip several days. You should feed him daily, and then skip one day every week.

Remove uneaten food: so it won’t rot and pollute your betta’s water. Some foods foul the water more than others. Uneaten food = food for bacteria = bacteria party/orgy= lots of bacteria joining the fun= bacteria then moving on to betta's body and latching on to it like leeches= sick betta= dead betta=depressed betta breeder. Hence I can simplify the equation by saying that uneaten food =  you no happy

How long can a betta live without eating? I am not sure exactly how many days, but what I do know is that they can survive without food for a long time. I had a sick betta who ate a half a live worm once a week and lasted three month that way. I know that bagged bettas have been reported to have survived in their sealed bags up to three weeks. So I guess, what I am trying to say is, if you are leaving on a week-end trip and won’t be home to feed your betta for 3 days, don’t sweat it. He won’t starve or anything :). Again that does not mean that you should not feed your bettas with punctuality.


Food variety

Mosquito larva. This my friend is the real true betta food. Bettas eat tones of them in the rice paddies of Thailand, so it is a great choice of food. One slight tiny problem though: finding the damn things. I don’t have mosquito larva where I live (but I guess Florida resident might have better luck) (did I just say “luck” ???). I hate mosquitoes, so I don’t mind not finding their larvas floating about in my water. In short, unless you have them pesky little insects around, you won’t be able to get larva to your bettas. Be careful also to not harvest from dirty water (where bacteria might be flourishing) so you don’t bring a diseases back into your tank.
Live brine shrimp. If you have a lot of money, go for it. You can buy them at your local fish store, and your bettas will love you like, forever. To use as a treat only and as I said earlier, in moderation.
Live worms. (I strongly advise against using this type of food). Brown worms, blood worms, any worms your fish store will sell you, any cultures that will produce live worms, in short bettas LOVE worms. And in this case, you should be able to easily find live worms at your local fish store. I do NOT recommend picking worms from gardens, etc.. As they may have been subjected to pesticides etc… When you feed live worms to your betta, FIRST CLEAN THE WORMS THOROUGHLY. Worms can carry tones of bacteria and parasites. I used to feed live brown worms to my bettas, and brown worms are especially yucky. Although my bettas loved eating them, I soon developed a heavy love/hate relation with the wormies: Invariably, after feeding live food for a period of time, a bacterial outbreak would sweep through my fishroom and the rate of dropsy would climb. No live food, almost never any dropsy. So I finally decided to give them up completely :((. If you like playing with fire, you can feed live worms. To wash live  worms, dump them into a brine shrimp net and let COLD water run on them, rinsing them, for a good one minute. Brown worms need to be stored in a container, with only enough water to cover their bodies (no more) and placed in your refrigerator. You should open the container daily and rinse the worms, whether you intend to use them or not. If you cannot do all the above, then don’t bother with live brown worms, because they will be so unsanitary they will IMMEDIATELY give your fish diseases. Instead go for “once live but now dead” food (see below). Do not feed only live worms to your bettas, it is too rich and needs to be balanced with other foods. This is however a great food to condition your bettas for breeding. Too bad it is so contaminated... (sigh...). You might have luck with cultures that you can grow yourself, hence keeping them clean and free of bacteria. I have had the BEST of luck with my microworms cultures, but only the small fry under 40 days of age will eat them :(((. Larger worms are hard to produce in large enough quantities and usually demands a larger set-up (eats lots of space) and some also smell horrible (on a BIG scale!).
Frozen live food. This is one of the “once live but now dead” food that bettas will eat. It is more expensive, but cleaner and less yucky to manipulate then live food. Freeze it and it will keep for a long time (unlike live food). Unfreeze small portion and feed them to your bettas. One warning though, I believe there is a correlation between frozen foods and parasites, especially ich. Therefore, if you are feeding frozen food, remember to add AQUARISOL to your water to prevent ich. Also if anyone tells you that freezing the worms kills all the germs, you have my permission to slap them around a little bit, maybe it will bring them back to their senses, and to reality. LOL. Although all bacteria is not killed by the freezing process, it does get rid of most, making frozen food my favorite betta food and now a day the only food I allow in my fishroom.
Freeze dried live food. This is another one of the “once live but now dead” food that bettas will eat. I highly recommend it, because unlike the above live foods, it is sterile and will not bring any diseases or parasites into your tanks. You will mainly find two types: Freeze dried bloodworms and freeze dried brine shrimp. Bettas are especially fund of the later, while they sometimes eat the first reluctantly. I feed both to my babies. If you have many bettas, you might consider buying freeze dried food in bulk, it is otherwise pretty expensive. If you are prone to allergies, experiment with this food, I have found that myself and other breeders have a reaction to it (sneezing, temporary asthma, etc…). I use it anyways (aaAAAAA tchA!) Be careful to not feed any freeze dried food that is hard (over cooked if I may say) it will cause internal damage to your bettas. Any little hard piece should be tossed pronto.
Betta bites (and other betta pellets). There are a few different brands of betta food out there, food that were specifically designed for bettas. Most breeders don’t bother with them, because they are expensive and too generic. We prefer to have more control over the protein intake of our fish. But if you are just keeping a few bettas as pets, this is not a bad option, as long as you alternate with something else every now and then. Betta pellets are easy, just throw a few in your jar and you are done :). Bettas might not want to eat pellets if they have had a chance to taste yummy foods such as brine shrimp ;) though!!


Foods that make bettas go "POUAH!!!!"

Flakes. This is good for your generic tropical fish, but not for our royal highnesses :)). Bettas will despise you if you have the audacity to present them with flakes. Oh, you don’t believe me huh? TRY IT!! Check out the ’look’ your betta will give you. He will surely never look at you the same again :))). Save face, don’t ruin your relationship with your betta, stay away from flake food. Some breeders do raise their bettas on flake and only these bettas might then accept to eat flakes throughout their adulthood.
Pellets. Unless starved past sanity, a betta will not eat pellets either. Especially if a live worm has entered, at some point of time, his mouth cavity. Forget it. You are wasting your time, he won’t go for it. Bettas have sensitive taste buds :), they know good food, they are gourmets. Again, if a betta has been raised on pellets then it will eat them. make sure to use only small size pellets, Hikari is probably what breeders use most. I personally have always had the hardest time getting my bettas to eat them :((.
Cubes. Yeah, you know the cubes made of compressed freezed dried worms. My bettas never wanted to eat them. I tried. Tried. Tried some more. And they were like “pfffffft, is she out of her mind?????”. Finally, they won. I gave up.

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