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Feeding Bettas

Adult Betta Food

Food is of utmost importance with the betta fish. This fish is a meat eater, definitely carnivorous. Those who feel that the same little shaker can of dry food will suffice this fighter are sure to be disappointed. Such food is accepted, but only as a means of survival.

Pet bettas do just fine on pelleted betta foods. However, if your planning to breed it is best to use a variety of frozen and/or live foods along side dry foods. Some good frozen foods are Bloodworms, Mysis Shrimp, and Daphnia. Good live foods are Grindal Worms, Black Worms, Mosquito Larva and Daphnia. NEVER get live foods from ponds, you may be introducing some unwanted pests or diseases with pond harvested foods. It is a good idea to alternate these foods at different feeding times and not to feed them all at once. Also only feed what your betta can eat in a couple minutes and remove any uneaten food with a turkey baster to prevent it from fouling the water. Or just feed your bettas prior to cleaning time. I suggest that you use Hikari Frozen foods as they are triple sterilized to prevent parasites and diseases from harming your fish and have extra vitamins added to promote better health.

Fry Food

For feeding betta fry live food is best. You can buy live food cultures from most betta breeders. In the first week you can feed Infusoria, Vinegar Eels and Micro Worms. After the first week you can add frozen or live Baby Brine Shrimp to their diet until the fry are old enough for Daphnia and Dry baby Fish foods. A good dry food that you can start feeding (sparely during the first week is Hikari First Bites and after a few more weeks try a slightly larger fry food like HBH Fry Bites. Although fry do best on a diet of solely live baby brine shrimp.

Live Food

In the betta’s home waters, food consists in great part of mosquito larvae and pupae. In its indigenous surroundings where mosquitoes thrive, the betta plays an important part in the control of this pesty insect. Dr.Smith has estimated that the intake of one adult wild fish can exceed ten thousand larvae a year.

The hobbyist seldom has the desire to collect such food in the wild. Even if he did, local health departments do all they can to discourage the growth of mosquitoes. Substitute foods, meat, or preferably, living foods, should be fed.

Daphnia, commonly referred to as “water fleas,” are good occasionally. These can be obtained at certain times of the year by netting them in lakes or ponds, or they can be purchased at a local aquarium shop. Daphnia have been popularized as the best of all living foods. Decidedly they are advantageous, because they are usually “bite-size” and, being from fresh water, will stay alive in the aquarium until eaten. However, professional fish-breeders will feed them only a few times a week in quantity.

Daphnia are a tiny chitinous crustacean. They have for the support of their internal organs an exoskeleton or shell. Eaten in quantity for a prolonged period, Daphnia tend to have a laxative effect. Because of this, well-conditioned breeding stock often dwindle in robustness.

Worms make excellent food. Tubifex can be fed at irregular times; so can white worms or chopped earthworms. Worms always should be rinsed thoroughly before feeding and should always be small enough to be swallowed easily.

Bettas are prone to take bits too big to be swallowed. When they do, they usually manage to get the food down or dislodged and reject it. Once in a while, especially when a small betta swallows a large mosquito larva, everything goes down except the large, round, bulbous head. A betta can choke to death if it is not dislodged. If this happens, hold the fish gently in a wet net and use a pair of tweezers.

In most parts of the country, Brine Shrimp (Artemia salina) are available. These tiny crustaceans that inhabit saltwater flats make an ideal food. Rinse them carefully to remove the salt. Do not overfeed. Those uneaten cannot survive very long in fresh water. Most aquarium shops sell these live, frozen and freeze-fried.

There are many other forms of small aquatic life that can be fed to bettas. Whether a crustacean or the larvae of terrestrial insects, they all give what is most desired by the fighter — something moving to snap at.

Only when living foods are unobtainable should substitutes be used. Preferences are as follows. First, scraps and scrapings of various meats and fish. These should be raw and of a size easy to swallow. Red meats should be used with all fibrous matter and fat removed. Second, various frozen foods consisting of aquatic animals usually eaten by fish, such as mosquito larvae, Daphnia, and of course, brine shrimp. Third, commercially-prepared dry fish preparations can be fed. In fact, it is good idea to feed dry food at least once a week. Choose one whose content is high in protein.

The feeding of baby fish is discussed in ‘Breeding‘ section.