Feeding Your Betta While You Are Away

Betta fish need a clean aquarium, places to explore, and daily feeding. Generally speaking, it’s fairly easy to maintain those standards day-to-day. However, knowing how to keep betta fish safe while you’re on vacation can be significantly tougher.

Whether you’re about to take a vacation or just want a better understanding of how to properly care for your Betta fish at all times, the following guide is just for you.

What You Should Know

To help you out, we’ve made a brief list of points that you need to know:

  1. Bettas need to eat daily.
  2. Bettas require care, even when you’re away, so it’s best to have someone check on them every couple of days.
  3. The best ways to keep your betta fed during a holiday are:
    1. Paying someone or asking a loved one to do it
    2. Using an automatic feeder
    3. Using feeding blocks

Do Betta Fish Need To Be Fed Every Day?

Yes, Betta fish need to eat daily. Betta fish thrive when they’re fed twice per day, roughly 12 hours apart. Ideally, they should eat at around the same times each day. You can also incorporate a 24-hour fast into their diets every 10-14 days.

They originate in the Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. In the wild, they’re naturally carnivorous, though they will eat some plant matter. While they can gain some nutrients from plant roots within the aquarium, it’s not enough. 

They require regular access to foods like daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. 

If you’re heading off on vacation for a week or two, keeping your betta fish well-fed is vital. Otherwise, inadequate feeding could lead to sickness or death.

How To Feed Betta Fish During Your Holiday

As mentioned earlier, you can safely incorporate fasting into a betta fish’s diet without causing problems. Not overfeeding your pet fish will actively promote a healthier digestive system. 

If you’re only going away for a few days, you could avoid feeding altogether. Simply feed your betta fish more meals a day for a few days before you leave. However, your betta fish will enter starvation mode after around two or three days, meaning that they won’t digest food or correctly use energy. 

Technically, a betta can live for up to two weeks on its stored energy reserves, but the stress caused will lead to long-term health issues for the fish. It may also negatively impact its personality. So, this option is only viable if you’re on a long weekend break.

If you’re heading on a longer vacation, here’s how to feed betta fish while you’re on holiday:

#1. Ask A Friend Or Relative

Perhaps the easiest option is to ask a friend or relative to feed your fish. If it’s only for a week or two, your fish will be OK with one daily feed rather than two. This can be quite helpful as asking a loved one to travel to your home twice daily just to feed a betta fish (they won’t love your fishy friends as you do) puts a lot of pressure on them,

Ideally, though, you’ll find someone that can follow your fish feeding routine. You can do this by;

  • Asking a neighbor as it won’t be that much hassle for them,
  • Having a friend house sit for you,
  • Paying someone to petsit for you,
  • Offering to pay a trusted friend or relative.

Either way, you want to know that your betta fish will be fed the right amount. Underfeeding stops them from getting the necessary nutrients while overfeeding can lead to ammonia poisoning. You can distribute each day’s food into pillbox compartments or similar small storage containers. 

Alternatively, you can have them do the final feed before you leave to check that they’re comfortable. When vacationing for a longer period, you may want to ask them to do water changes too.

#2. Use A Food Block

Fish food blocks are, as the name suggests, blocks of food that can be placed in the fish tank and will subsequently provide your betta fish with enough food for a period of time. Depending on the size of the block, it could be suitable for between 3-10 days.

You should be aware that you may experience the following issues:

  • The food is unlikely to disperse evenly, even though it’s supposed to.
  • Too much waste food dispersing will lead to ammonia and the block running out sooner than advertised.
  • Too little food will lead to starvation mode.

Fish food blocks primarily focus on omnivorous tropical fish. So, while it will certainly give your betta fish enough to survive, full nutrition is unlikely. However, it can still work well when you’re on vacation for a week. Or, it can reduce the number of times that a loved one has to visit your home while you’re away.

Food blocks can be found at pretty much any pet store or aquatics center.

#3. Use Auto Feeders

Automatic feeders keep food in a compartment above the tank. They release set amounts of fish food to drop into the tank at predetermined intervals. 

When used well, they can replicate the feeding patterns that you’d follow if you were home. 

Depending on the device, you could use this approach to feed your fish for weeks. 

Low-quality auto feeders can cause major problems, like:

  • Not letting food leave the compartment, meaning fish are left to starve.
  • Allowing all the food to drop into the tank, creating waste that causes major water imbalances.
  • Dropping into the water itself, causing damage and creating waste.

It’s imperative to buy a high-quality automatic feeder and read the manual to familiarize yourself with its function. It’s also a good idea to try it out for a day or two before your holiday.

#4. Use Feeder Fish

As already stated, betta fish are natural carnivores. One way to ensure that they get a suitable diet while you’re on holiday is to add some feeder fish to the aquarium. However, they’ll eat young fry rather than fully grown fish.

You can add fry directly or invest in other fish, like platy fish, that will breed while you’re away. Either way, you’ll need to take note of some key issues, such as;

  • The tank should have a volume of at least 10 gallons. Otherwise, growing fish can harm the ecosystem.
  • You need enough fry for your betta fish to get enough food but without overcrowding the tank.
  • You may be left with fully grown fish that will become your pets.
  • Young fry may grow up too quickly to be food for more than a day or two; or, they may die from a lack of suitable food thereby fouling the water.
  • Adding more adult fish increases, rather than decreases, the number of fish you need to feed.

While water changes would still be required, this approach could potentially create an ecosystem where your betta fish stay well-fed while you’re on vacation and beyond.

#5. Leave Your Fish At The Pet Store

It’s far less common than it used to be, but (for a small fee) some pet stores will still take in your pet while you’re away. However, you’ll need to place your fish in the store’s care.

If you have a small betta tank, you can easily take the whole setup to the store. Alternatively, they’ll slot your fish into one of their tanks. 

There’s a minor risk that the fish could catch diseases. Getting used to new water parameters can also be stressful for your betta. As such, this option is best reserved for adult betta fish. 

The advantages are that your fish will:

  • Receive the right foods,
  • Receive any other care that’s required.
  • Get fed on a consistent schedule, though it’s unlikely that they’ll adapt to your routine

Again, it’s not a common solution but is one you may want to consider. Especially if you have a good relationship with your local aquatics center.

Final Thoughts

While maintaining a betta’s diet can be tricky when you’re on holiday, there are several ways you can get it done. 

The best is probably to leave the job to someone you trust, who loves fish, or to a pet sitter. THat way, they can do basic maintenance while you’re gone. However, automatic feeders and feeding blocks can be effective if you’re only going away for a short while. 

Do you have any additional questions about caring for your betta fish while you’re away? Feel free to contact us, and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

About the author

Hi, I am Alex.
My passion is aquariums. I am especially drawn to betta fish. I love experimenting, learning, researching, and writing about them.

You can find the articles I wrote here