Betta fish make a beautiful, flashy addition to any home aquarists’ collection. With their brightly colored fins, expressive personalities, and generally easy care regimen they can be a great choice for beginners and experts alike.
However we all know that we can’t always be the perfect pet-owners. On occasion we may not be able to have the right toys or the exact betta food that we’ve been recommended to feed your betta.
When this happens, it may seem like an easier option to reach in the fridge but WAIT! Not all food works the same for your betta fish, and there are several key considerations to take into account.
Luckily for you, dear aquarium enthusiast, we’ve gathered some of the most relevant, up to date information on human food selection for your betta, so read along to learn more!
Can Betta Fish Eat Human Food?
As with most things when looking at fish health, the answer to this question is yes, but with some caveats. While some human foods may work just fine for your betta fish in moderation, differing amounts of others can be incredibly harmful to their long term health and happiness.
When thinking about feeding human food to your pet fish, it’s best to look at how much, how often, and what kind of food you’ll be using.
Not everything in your home refrigerator makes the best choice, but some can be a surprisingly convenient option in a pinch.
In general, it’s best to think about choosing human foods for fish the same way you would for an extremely sensitive eater. Processed food with unnatural additives and preservatives should be avoided at all costs!
Betta Fish Natural Diet
In the wild, bettas are naturally considered carnivores, enjoying a diet of insects such as mosquito larvae, tiny fish, and any other form of meat your fish can fit its mouth around.
Originally a tropical fish from the warm waters of Southeast Asia, the betta fish (often referred to as the siamese fighting fish,) has a protein rich diet of live foods such as mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and eating small marine animals in the rice paddies and small bodies of water they usually inhabit.
Commonly recommended betta fish food for home aquariums includes live food like brine shrimp, shelf stable foods such as betta pellets (or other fish pellets if not available,) and freeze dried foods available from commercial stores.
During dry periods, the betta fish can use its specially adapted labyrinth organ to breathe atmospheric air for short periods as it hops between small puddles to wait for the rains.
Betta Fish Digestive System
The betta’s digestive system is relatively uncomplicated starting with its mouth, following through its throat and down through a short digestive tract and into its stomach.
A betta fish’s stomach is considered tiny, and can easily become swollen due to overfeeding. This can lead to further complications with fish bloat, a common illness in fish of this size.
Here’s an informative video about betta fish constipation.
It’s important to keep the size of your fish, and therefore how much it’s actually capable of eating at one time, in mind when deciding just how much to feed your fish.
Remember that overfeeding doesn’t make your fish any happier, they’ll just eat what’s available without knowing what they need! It’s the job of responsible pet-owners to monitor this for them.
What Can Betta Fish Eat of Human Food
Below is a list of several common foods that you may have around the house that betta fish can eat and will work as an addition to your betta’s diet as an occasional treat. Most of these on their own won’t provide the optimally balanced nutrition bettas need to stay healthy, but will serve as a compliment to their regular diet.
- Peas – Peas can make a great choice for most bettas. They can consume boiled peas, or those that have been cooked, but raw should be avoided. Cut up into tiny pieces and remove the outer skin before serving, as this can help solve issues with choking. On a personal note, watching a betta fish eat peas is much easier than trying to do the same with your kids!
- Leafy and Softened Vegetables – Boiled or cooked spinach, lettuce, or romaine can be a good choice for bettas. Betta fish eat lettuce much like most other veggies, and prefer them cut into small pieces for easy intake.
- Cucumber – Same as the other veggies above, cut into small pieces and feed your betta fish one piece at a time to ensure no cucumber is wasted
- Pumpkin Seeds – Make sure to soften thoroughly and remove the outer shell before feeding the boiled seeds to your betta fish.
- Mango – Betta fish eat fruit, but it’s best that this is only done on occasion. As a good rule of thumb when feeding your betta fruit, feed betta fish one small piece at a time and remove uneaten food after 30 minutes in the tank.
- Sweet Corn – As with boiled peas above, make sure to remove the hard outer shell from sweet corn and cut into very small bits before attempting to feed one piece of kernel at a time to your betta fish.
- Raw Tuna – Feed betta fish tuna as you would most other foods, in small pieces and one at a time. Raw is much better than cooked, but if necessary avoid seasonings or harmful oils that typically come with the cooking process. If freshly caught, even better!
- Raw Shrimp – Raw, uncooked shrimp can work just fine as long as they are shelled, deveined, and cut into small enough pieces for your fish to eat without danger of choking or overeating.
Food to Avoid Giving to Your Betta
- Plants – Some may look at the extra plants in their tank, garden, or yard and see a potential food betta fish can eat. Wrong! Betta fishes are carnivores as discussed earlier, and will avoid these as a potential food source in the tank.
- Bread – Breads and other grain based foods can serve as a choking hazard to your fish as they absorb water, as well as having no nutritional value to your fish’s diet.Can you picture a betta fish eat bread? Bread is definitely not betta food!
- Fibrous Vegetables – Don’t feed your betta anything that seems overly coarse or fibrous, as it can be incredibly difficult for their tiny teeth to adequately grind down and for their stomachs to digest. Human foods in this category include carrots, kale, broccoli, and beans.
- Citrus Fruits – The acid in citrus fruits can be damaging to the stomach of your betta fish. Most citrus fruit is also somewhat fibrous in nature and can be tough for them to properly digest, increasing the risk of stomach bloat and other issues.
- Farm grown animals – Other fish is generally preferable over red meat, so feed betta fish meat in small amounts and with caution. Additionally we recommend choosing any human food of this category with as few additives as possible.
Tips When Feeding Betta Fish
Here are a few key reminders to hold on to when considering whether or not to feed your betta fish human food:
Double check food
Most plant based foods will be too hard on your betta’s digestive system for them to adequately be a part of their diet. Look at the ingredients list first when choosing an alternative food for your fish’s diet.
Remove excess food from tank
When you feed human food (or any other food for that matter!) to your betta fish, it’s important to keep an eye on how much excess food is left over in the tank.
Wait 30 minutes after feeding, and remove any extra human food from the tank to be thrown away.
Old fish food piling up in your betta’s tank is not only wasteful and makes your aquarium look unclean, but it can be harmful to fish that are not betta fish as well!
Over time, the wastes from deteriorating human foods in your betta tank water can add up to dangerous levels, leading to the potential risk of ammonia poisoning and toxic shock as things get to truly dangerous levels
Going hand in hand with the previous tip, watch when your betta fish eat human food and make sure they eat only the amount that they need.
Overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes that new aquarium owners make when feeding betta fish human food, and is easily one of the most avoidable with good planning and monitoring on your part.
Most commercial food is not acceptable as a part of your fish’s regular diet. These foods contain potentially harmful levels of preservatives and additives that can cause long term health effects to your betta fish.
Should You Feed Your Betta Fish Flakes and Pellets Regularly?
Fish flakes can work just fine for most betta fish, provided that they are designed with betta fish in mind. The key difference between different forms of fish food is protein content, and we want to make sure that they get enough to remain healthy.
If you’ve only got fish flakes on hand designed for one of your plant-based fish, it’s a good time to consider letting your betta fish eat human food instead.
What Can I Feed My Betta Fish If I Run Out of Food?
First things first, relax! We’ve all been in that position where we didn’t get the proper chance to get to the store and purchase what we normally feed bettas.
Look at the lists above and try to determine what to feed your betta, starting with what has the highest protein content.
If things get really tricky don’t be afraid to check the fridge for frozen food.
Frozen foods actually come with the added benefit of reduced bacteria potential, having been kept safely stored at colder temperatures.
Throughout today’s article, we’ve answered the question of what can betta fish eat of human food.
The short answer to “what can betta fish eat of human food?” is that they can eat a variety of human food, and that it’s important to feed your betta fish only those that it can both digest and get an adequate supply of protein from in order to keep them healthy and happy in the long run.
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As always we hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s fish keeping article and we wish you good luck in your aquarium adventures!
Feel free to share this information with any other fish enthusiasts in your life and stay up to date by following our site for more guides such as the one I wrote on the best cichlid food or maybe this article about the type of water betta fish need.