Did you know that your betta fish’s spectacular colors are strongly influenced by the diet that you feed him? Well, research proves that!
Your betta’s health is also closely tied to his feeding regimen. So, what do betta fish eat, and what’s the best food for betta fish?
In this guide, we give you all the information that you need about feeding your betta buddy to ensure that he thrives and keeps the stunning coloration that you love so much.
Table of Contents
Quick Comparisons of the 7 Best Betta Foods
|Ocean Nutrition Atison's Betta Food||View Product|
|Omega One Betta Buffet Flakes||View Product|
|San Francisco Bay Freeze-dried Bloodworms||View Product|
|Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Baby Pellets||View Product|
|Aqueon Betta Pellets Betta Food||View Product|
|New Life Spectrum Betta Formula||View on PetMountainView on MarineDepot|
|Brine Shrimp Hatchery||View Product|
Betta Fish Diet
In their wild environment, betta fish are omnivores, eating a varied diet that includes mainly insect larvae, water-bound insects, and a small amount of plant matter.
So, tank-kept bettas need more meaty foods in their diet than veggies, and that’s for a very good reason. If your betta’s diet is correctly balanced, he is much less likely to experience health problems such as bloat, constipation, and dropsy, which are often associated with incorrect feeding.
For that reason, always check the list of ingredients in whatever flake or pellet food you buy to make sure that the first few constituents are meat-based, and the total protein content is at least 40%, or preferably greater.
What’s a Balanced Diet For a Betta Fish?
To keep your betta healthy, brightly colored, and thriving, his diet should include:
- Vitamins D3, A, E, K, C, M, H, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12,
Ideally, the food should have meat-based protein listed as the first ingredient on the list shown on the product container.
How To Read Fish Food Labels
Betta fish need a healthy balanced diet that contains both plant-based and meaty foods.
Buying fish food is something of a lottery, as every brand claims to provide the optimum diet for your fish, and every manufacturer claims to include only the very best ingredients in their food. That’s why it’s so important that you know how to interpret fish food labels.
Take a look at the label on the pack of food and look at the list of ingredients. If the food packet or box doesn’t have a list of ingredients, don’t buy it. Some of the cheaper foods offered don’t actually tell you what they contain and should be avoided.
The ingredients at the top of the list are listed in order of the weight of that constituent that the food contains. So, you want protein at the top of the list, and that should be some kind of fish derivative, for example, bloodworms, shrimp, or fish. The percentage of that constituent should also be shown. For example, 43% protein is ideal.
A big no-no are fillers, such as rice meal and wheat flour. If those ingredients appear high up on the list, look elsewhere for your betta food. Cheap padding ingredients like these are used to add bulk to the food and make up the weight and contain very little nutritional value. That way, the manufacturer can produce a food that’s marketed as a premium product very cheaply.
Look carefully at the label to see what’s said about preservatives or additives. Ideally, you want to see minimal amounts of additives, color enhancers etc.
Take a close look at your betta fish, and you’ll see that his mouth is slightly upturned. That’s because the betta is primarily a surface feeder, lurking beneath the water. When an insect settles on the surface or becomes waterlogged and trapped there, the betta grabs the hapless insect, and lunch is served!
When buying pellet food, always check that the product is designed for surface feeders.
If you offer your betta food that sinks quickly, most of it will disappear into the middle to bottom of the water column, where other fish will eat it, leaving your poor betta to go hungry. If your betta is the only tank occupant, the uneaten food will decompose in the substrate, potentially contaminating the water and adding the workload for your biological filter.
When choosing a betta tank, always pick one that has a maximum surface area for your surface-feeding fish.
Types of Betta Fish Food
Variation in their diet is extremely important for betta fish.
Although regular tropical fish flakes will most likely fulfill the needs of most community fish species, flakes won’t contain all the nutritional requirements of your betta’s diet. So, including a variety of foods in the diet is critical for your fish’s health.
In my experience, bettas can be picky feeders, and they do become bored if offered the same food every day. Therefore, mixing things up is a great way of keeping your fishy friend interested in his dinner and avoiding expensive, messy waste.
How Much and How Often?
Feed your fish only as much as he will eat in a minute or two.
Ideally, you should feed your betta once or twice a day for six days of the week. On the seventh day, don’t feed your fish. A fasting day is important, as it allows the betta’s digestive system to empty itself before adding more food. That helps to prevent bloat and constipation.
The betta fish has a very short digestive tract. That means that your betta is unable to process bulky filler products, such as corn and wheat. Many cheap fish foods contain a high percentage of fillers, which will cause constipation, bloat, and other digestive problems for your betta.
Bottom line; fillers have no nutritional value, and you should avoid fish foods that contain high levels of these padding products.
What About Goldfish Food?
Never feed your betta fish flakes or goldfish foods that are not betta-specific. These foods are not nutritionally balanced for a betta’s dietary needs and could cause health problems for your pet.
Flake fish food is easy to store and can provide your betta with a good source of nutrition, provided that you choose a product that’s specifically formulated for bettas.
Feed only enough flake to be consumed within a minute or two to avoid overfeeding.
Betta fish pellets are a cost-effective, convenient food source for bettas. Check that the product is betta-specific and that the pellets will float on the water surface.
Remember that pellets expand when wet, and that can cause bloating when the pellets swell in the betta’s stomach. Soak the pellets in a little tank water to hydrate them before feeding them to your fish.
Freeze-dried foods are made from live foods, such as bloodworms and brine shrimp. The moisture is stripped from the food, and fillers are added to ensure the product’s stability.
I recommend that you soak all freeze-dried foods in tank water before feeding to increase the moisture content and prevent your betta from becoming bloated. Give your fish freeze-dried food a couple of times each week as a treat.
Offering your betta fish live food can be a great way of creating added interest at feeding times, as well as replicating your fishy friend’s natural behavior. The inclusion of live food in the diet can also help to prevent constipation.
Live foods, including bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia, are all popular choices, and bettas love them. However, make sure that you only buy live food from a reputable supplier, as the food could contain parasites or diseases that could harm your betta. Never feed live food that you caught yourself.
Parasites and disease are usually present in the water that contains the live food. So, one way around the problem is to strain the food through a fine sieve or a piece of muslin cloth, and then rinsing the food with some tank water before feeding it to your betta.
Another solution, if you have the time and suitable space, is to raise your own live betta food at home, using a nursery kit. That way, you know exactly where the food has come from, and you can be confident that it contains no nasties that could harm your betta.
How To Raise Your Own Live Betta Food
Brine shrimp are the easiest live betta food to raise yourself at home. To do so, you’ll need a hatchery like the one in our product guide below. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll need to do.
- First, place the hatchery into your tank so that it fills with water.
- Attach the hatchery to the tank wall with the suction cups provided so that it’s perpendicular to the tank bottom and the water level indicator is aligned with the water surface.
- Add a few small spoons of brine shrimp eggs, using the measuring spoon provided.
- Switch on the air pump, and adjust it so that a few small bubbles are generated every second. Don’t have the pump running too vigorously or you risk pushing the eggs out into the tank.
- Given the right conditions, the eggs will hatch out within 24 to 36 hours. Once the eggs have hatched, you can turn off the pump.
- Use a light positioned above the tank to draw the shrimp larvae to the light and to the dispersing port. The baby brine shrimp will swim through the port and out into your tank, where your betta will gobble them up.
The Koller Brine Shrimp Hatchery we’ve featured in this guide comes with full instructions and detailed guidance on how to use it.
Frozen foods provide a convenient and safer alternative to live food. Frozen food comes in packs of small cubes. Take one cube and thaw it in some tank water before feeding it to your betta.
The main drawback of using frozen food is that it quickly sinks once you introduce it to the tank. So, I find using my fingers or an eye-dropper to feed the fish works best. Feed a few drops of frozen food at a time, adding more when your betta has eaten up.
Top 7 Betta Food Reviews
Here are some of my favorite betta foods. All these products are of high-quality and are suitable for a betta fish’s nutritional needs.
1. Ocean Nutrition Atison’s Betta Food
- Type: Pellets
- Protein (min): 36%
Betta fish need a high-protein food with plenty of meat content, and these pellets deliver that, providing a minimum of 36% protein that’s derived from fish and krill meal. There’s also fat, fiber, calcium, and added vitamins.
- Ocean Nutrition Atison’s Betta Food is a top-quality floating pellet food.
- Formulated specifically for betta fish.
- Provides a complete nutrient food for bettas.
- Color enhancement without clouding your tank water.
- Protein level could be higher.
- Protein derived from meal.
2. Omega One Betta Buffet Flakes
- Type: Flakes
- Protein (min): 43%
Made in the U.S., using sustainable Alaskan seafood, including salmon, shrimp, and herring for superior quality meat protein, Omega One Betta Buffet Flakes are packed with all the nutrients that your betta fish needs.
- Made using wild salmon that’s rich in natural beta carotenes for extreme color enhancement.
- Contains 43% protein, together with fat and fiber.
- Insoluble in water, so your tank won’t become polluted.
- Flakes have less starch than other foods, helping to reduce fish waste.
3. San Francisco Bay Freeze-dried Bloodworms
- Type: Freeze-dried
- Protein (min): 5.8%
San Francisco Bay Freeze-dried Bloodworms or glycera to give these wrigglers their proper name are midge fly larvae. Bloodworms form a large part of a wild betta’s diet, and this freeze-dried option makes a great treat that your fish will appreciate.
- Replicates wild diet.
- Easy storage.
- Great for encouraging fussy feeders to eat.
- High in protein and iron.
- Lack amino acids and, therefore, shouldn’t form the entire diet.
4. Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Baby Pellets – For Superior Color Enhancement
- Type Pellets
- Protein (min): 38%
If you want your betta’s colors to really pop, Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Baby Pellets may make a good addition to his diet. The pellets are the perfect small size for bettas to eat easily, reducing waste.
- Carefully balanced nutrition.
- Contains Astaxanthin to enhance color.
- Contains Grape Seed Extract to reduce the effects of aging.
- Added Spirulina for extra, usable vitamins.
- Fish meal is the protein source.
- Does contain a few filler products.
5. Aqueon Betta Pellets Betta Food
- Type: Pellets
- Protein (min): 38%
Aqueon Betta Pellets are formulated to provide a balanced diet for your betta fish. The pellets contain shrimp and other natural meat-based ingredients. The food helps to enhance the colors of your fish too, without containing any artificial colorants.
These pellets are a handy size that your betta can devour in one mouthful, keeping waste to a minimum.
- Complete, balanced diet formula.
- Contains natural meat-based ingredients.
- Color enhancing.
- No artificial colorants.
- Pellets sink very quickly so go uneaten and wasted.
- Wasted food pollutes the water.
6. New Life Spectrum Betta Formula – Great source of minerals
- Type: Pellets
- Protein (min): 37%
U.S.-made New Life Spectrum Betta Formula is packed with protein that’s derived from whole Antarctic krill and sustainable squid. The hormone-free food enhances your pet’s color naturally and without the use of artificial additives for a healthier, longer-living betta.
The food is an excellent source of minerals, too, containing bentonite clay as an effective binder that also provides minerals but less starch. Ginger and garlic are also used in the formula for their anti-parasitic and immune system boosting effects.
- Made in the U.S.
- High protein derived from sustainable, natural sources.
- Hormone-free for natural color enhancement.
- Contains added minerals.
- Reduced starch content so less fish waste produced.
- Not all bettas will eat this food.
7. Brine Shrimp Hatchery
- Type: Brine
- Protein (min): N/A
All omnivorous species of fish, including bettas, love to have live food as part of their diet.
Brine shrimp are the easiest type of live food to raise at home, and this brine shrimp hatchery from Koller Products contains everything you need.
The kit comes with a hatching unit, plastic syringe, measuring spoon, airline tubing, and cleaning brush, and the device is already set up and ready for use. You attach the hatchery to the side of the aquarium, so that the newly hatched brine shrimp are delivered directly into the water for your betta to eat.
- Easy to use.
- Comes complete with everything you need.
- Suitable for freshwater and marine aquariums.
- Great value for money.
- Suction cups tend to come unstuck so hatchery comes off the tank wall.
- Saltwater makes the suction cups go hard and brittle.
I hope you found my overview of the optimal diet for your betta buddy helpful and informative.
Now, it’s time for me to choose my favorite betta food!
And the winner is … Omega One Betta Buffet Flakes!
I love that this product is made using only natural, sustainable protein sources, contains no fillers or meal and enhances your betta’s colors without the use of artificial additives. The formula is well-balanced, containing everything that your fish needs to thrive.
Despite all that, this product is typically cheaper than other similar fish foods. Also, Omega One makes the food in pellet form, and they also produce freeze-dried bloodworms as betta fish treats.