What Do Betta Fish Eat? How Should You Feed Them?

Eating In The Wild

Betta fish mostly eat meat in the wild; this is usually in the form of small larvae and insects. They do sometimes eat plant roots and green shoots.

Because they mostly eat meat, they are used to going for long periods without eating, that’s down to unsuccessful hunts.

betta fish swimming

Eating In The Tank

This is probably not the case in the aquarium where they are fed regularly so that they will have a store of fats and calories saved for emergencies. Still, you shouldn’t force your fish into a critical mode as it’s stressful and unnecessary.

The type of food you feed your Betta fish, in general, might determine how long you can leave them for on their own. The tank environment also plays a part; if you have real plant leaves and small roots in the tank, your fish can get by on these for a short time.

What Should I Feed Them?

They should have a diet that consists of high levels of fiber and protein. Betta fish can be incredibly picky eaters to make matters even more complicated. They prefer to feed on the surface rather than the bottom of their tank so the food you get has to float and not sink. Once upon a time, it was believed that Bettas preferred to get their food from the roots of plants of their tanks but this has been proven to be untrue.

Fish Pellets

You can buy fish pellets, or you can buy live food. Live food tends to be blood worms and larvae contained in a cube of jelly. You can also get frozen blood worms and larvae.

Pellets are much easier and create less mess both inside and outside your tank. You can feed pellets as their regular diet and give them frozen or live food as a treat. Foods and pellets created for other tropical fish must not be fed to your Betta as this isn’t suitable for them. The food made specifically for your Betta has been created to contain a similar diet to what they eat in the wild.

Tropical Fish Food

The reason you shouldn’t give them normal tropical fish food is that they are usually made using fillers to bulk it up a bit. Betta fish have very small and short digestive tracts and cannot process fillers such as corn and wheat. Feeding your fish food they cannot digest leads to bloat and digestive problems which are very painful and in serious cases can even lead to death.


Betta fish have a tendency to overeat, so they will eat whatever you give them whether they are hungry or not. Bear this in mind when feeding your Betta fish and try not to give them too much. Too much food in their system will lead to bloating and problems swimming.

The general rule when feeding Betta fish is ‘less is more’; feed them small amounts of food once or twice a day and monitor their swimming habits.

Bettas thrive on human foods too. See our article here.

If you want to learn more about Betta’s behavior, advice, and tips, please visit our collection of Betta Tips Articles.

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

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