Best Betta Fish Food to Minimize Wastage and Maximize Conditioning

The colorful tropical fish we all know as bettas can be really picky about their food. Because they have a very tiny stomach, they don’t need a lot, to begin with. This means that if your fish doesn’t like the food, it can go on a hunger strike for days just to prove a point.

The thing is that changing the brand to find something more appealing to your bettas is just one part of picking betta fish food. You also need to be sure the food meets all the nutritional requirements. Just because bettas eat a lot of something doesn’t mean they get everything they need to stay healthy.

Most health issues with betas revolve around their digestive system. So, the diet should consist of decent amounts of fiber, fatty acids, and, unlike other fish, bettas need their proteins. Why proteins? – I will explain that as you go through the following betta fish food reviews.

7 of My Favorite Betta Fish Food

These betta pellets are as tiny as they come. Because they’re not at all heavy but can still expand really well, they tend to stay on the surface a lot longer than other betta fish food. This helps a lot with keeping the tank clean and giving the bettas enough time to spot and snag them.

The formula only has around 36% protein which means you can feed your bettas with just these pellets and nothing else. Those who feel like supplementing with other products are thinking along the line of treats, as these Atison’s pellets are formulated as nutrient-complete food for the daily maintenance of betta fish.

But keep in mind that a large portion of each pellet is made up of ground cereal meals. So pairing this product with something else may prevent the bloating which occurs if you feed your fish with too many of these pellets. That’s until you find out exactly how much you should feed the fish every day.

One thing you shouldn’t read too much into is the color-enhancing potential. These pellets will feed your fish but they won’t make them any bluer.

  • Tiny pellets are easy to eat
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    Stay fairly fresh for a long time
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    The pellets float longer than other products
  • Relatively low protein content compared to other products

Hikari’s Bio-Gold pellets have a moisture content of around 10%. This means that you need to be more careful come feeding time as they’re quick to sink to the bottom of the tank. You may want to feed your fish twice or maybe even three times a day with these pellets instead of leaving just one big portion on the surface.

The fiber and protein contents are not high so you may need some freeze-dried meat in your arsenal too. Alternate between food types based on a schedule that suits your bettas or after a recommended schedule you get from a professional.

The pellets are fortified with vitamins and have a good amount of amino acids. This means that aside from satisfying your betta’s carnivorous needs, the formula is also a balanced diet for the daily upkeep of your fish. Also, it’s among the cheapest betta fish food on the market.

The combination of shrimp meal and whitefish meal seems to be very appealing to bettas. Even though there are other ingredients and supplements added to the mix, food waste shouldn’t be an issue as long as you give your betta between 5 to 10 pellets at a time when it’s near the surface.

  • Tasty shrimp and fish meal-based pellets
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    Fortified with vitamins and amino acids
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    Good packaging
  • Although small, the pellets don’t float for long

Although this container of freeze-dried blood worms is not intended just for bettas, the colorful aquatic carnivores are sure to love eating them. The only ingredient is blood worms (besides the added vitamin E) so you get 55% crude protein which is a lot more than any pellets. Since it’s freeze-dried instead of heat-extruded, it has next to zero ash content which helps maintain the water quality in the tank.

As with all freeze-dried food, there are no issues with bacteria, parasites, or diseases entering the ecosystem (as long as you don’t mishandle the worms, such as wetting them and leaving them out). The Omega One Blood Worms Nutri-Treat is a great choice if you’re looking to breed bettas too.

Natural fats stimulate the appetite of most freshwater fish. If you see that your bettas aren’t eating as they used to, try giving them some Omega One blood worms to see if their behavior changes. At the very least, you can determine if they’re just being moody or if they might be coming down with something.

The floating capabilities are not too impressive. When it’s time to feed your fish, you’ll want to soak the blood worms for a few minutes in tank water in a separate container. Then you can add small amounts to the tank so that your fish can clean them up off the surface and not have to go rummaging through the gravel.

  • High protein content
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    Great taste for carnivorous fish
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    Good amount of fat that stimulates appetite and improves energy
  • Requires a more hands-on approach to feeding

The whole fish meal taste of these pellets should be quite appealing as the top ingredients are salmon, herring, and a variety of other fish.

The fat content should spark your betta’s appetite if the 38% protein content isn’t enough. Furthermore, if your betta has been experiencing digestive problems, the fiber and vitamins should help stabilize the digestive tract.

The pellets are small and only have a moisture content of around 8%. This should allow them to float better. Still, you probably wouldn’t want to add too many of them in the tank unless the fish can dispose of a daily portion in under three minutes.

One thing of note is that the lower protein content may not be enough for young bettas. Even though the pellets are small enough for them to eat even when expanded, the nutritional value is average. If you have baby bettas, you should top up these pellets with protein-rich freeze-dried food.

  • May float up to three minutes before sinking
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    Betta-friendly small pellets
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    Balanced nutrition
  • Not enough protein content for baby bettas or breeding bettas

This freeze-dried food contains high-end nutritious blood worms, high protein (65%), and high fat, and further fortified with vitamins that all tropical fish need to stay healthy and happy. The nutritional values are through the roof which means this is one of the best food options for bettas that are unresponsive or haven’t been eating for a few days.

As carnivores, your bettas will be immediately attracted to the blood worms. However, just make sure to soak them in some tank water before feeding them, so you can avoid dealing with the worms sinking into the gravel. No matter how tasty they are, bettas don’t like to rummage for their food.

It’s also nice to see that Hikari has stopped adding MSG to their fish food pellets and freeze-dried treats. This makes the food healthier and apparently, the taste wasn’t affected at all as bettas love all things meaty.

  • Good packaging
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    Blood worms are the only ingredient (save for the multivitamins)
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    Rich in fat and vitamins for a healthy immune system
  • A bit pricey

Advertised as the only betta food that’s made from fresh ingredients, the Omega One betta flakes are an interesting alternative to pellets that are made from meat meals. Have you ever been to a restaurant and told the waiter that you’d like some salmon meal dinner plate?

Well, if you really care about your bettas, maybe you’d want to give them some real salmon as well. One thing is certain, and that is that bettas like the taste of these flakes.

With fresh salmon as the main ingredient, it’s no wonder that the colorful carnivores will quickly swim to the surface to dig in some flakes. In terms of overall nutritional values, the flakes aren’t really superior to some of the better pellets on the market.

That’s because salmon meal is also salmon – you just don’t know the quality of the salmon that gets sent to the factory to be rendered into dried meat meal. In any event, pet food companies know our weakness and our willingness to pay for fresh meats over meal meals.

This formula has 40% protein and a lower fiber content than many other pellets. At the same time, the ash content is low and the protein binders are not water soluble.

This means that these flakes are surprisingly less messy than most pellets and dried foods. Of course, careful portioning is still required but the quality of these flakes took me by surprise. They also seem to have very few fillers or starches. This means that there are fewer chances of overfeeding and bloating your bettas.

  • Natural non-water soluble protein binders
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    Low ash and filler content
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    Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Relatively low fiber content
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    Requires a kitchen scale for accurate portioning

You may think that if you’ve seen one brand of freeze-dried blood worms you’ve seen them all. This Tetra treat is just one way to prove otherwise. In terms of contents, protein makes up around 50% of the food. It’s a good value but certainly not as high as you may see from other manufacturers. This would indicate that blood worms are not the only ingredient.

Lo and behold it’s a balanced formula. While the protein content is a bit lower, it’s still higher than that found in pellets and flakes. On top of that, the fiber content is around 15%, which of course is only possible if the list of ingredients includes grains or vegetables and such.

This food would’ve been perfect for bettas if only it had some higher levels of vitamins too. Granted, some adult bettas may find issues with the small worms. But the taste alone should be enough to convince them otherwise. If not, don’t worry. Baby bettas go nuts for small worms.

One downside is the high amount of moisture despite the freeze-dried label. These worms don’t float well so you might want to put in just half a teaspoon at a time and see how quickly they disappear.

  • Very high fiber content for freeze-dried food
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    Good amount of fatty acids
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    Enough protein for a hearty meal
  • Low on vitamins
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    Worms may be too small for adult bettas

The Strict Dietary Requirements of Betta Fish

The colorful carnivores that you adore and keep to bring life to your aquarium are picky eaters. In the wild, they eat a lot of insects so generic aquarium plants don’t have a place in their diet. Bettas also prefer eating their food from the surface of the water, so you should also keep that in mind when buying betta fish food.

But what makes picking food for betas so tricky? – Their short digestive tracts. Bettas aren’t built to process ingredients such as corn and wheat. These are sometimes the staple fillers of fish food. Some fish are fine with them but in bettas, they can cause serious bloating issues and even constipation.

Fillers also offer little to no nutritional value. When looking for betta fish food, it’s best to look at the formula and check the levels of protein, fiber, and moisture. Because of their delicate digestive system, fiber is essential for digestion.

And, because they’re carnivorous in nature, high amounts of protein are recommended if you wish to satisfy their needs. Now, you can rarely avoid fillers altogether. This means that reading the label becomes even more important.

Most Popular Betta Fish Food Types

Pellets

By far the most popular and common betta fish food comes in the form of pellets. Pellets can expand once they come in contact with water, which allows them to float and make them appealing to bettas. They’re also easy to cut to size and allow you to measure the daily rations depending on how many fish you have or how old they are.

But, pellets aren’t created equal. While the majority have very few fillers, there are still some brands that resort to adding unnecessary amounts of wheat or corn. These are usually easy to spot because the pellets will expand even more once they hit the water.

It’s best to soak these pellets beforehand so that they’re already at their max when your bettas gobble them up. That way they won’t expand while being processed through the digestive tract.

Freeze-Dried

You can’t feed your bettas live insects without worrying about the tank getting too dirty or your bettas overeating. But what you can do is introduce freeze-dried food as a substitute for their natural diet. The process of freeze drying removes parasites and other bacteria that can harm the ecosystem you’ve created in the tank.

Bettas love the taste and you’ll love the price. However, freeze-dried foods are usually not balanced diets. Many of the freeze-dried blood worms, for example, are made from only blood worms. This means that freeze-dried food can’t make up the majority of their diet.

You also need to soak the food and rehydrate it in order to avoid bloating and other digestive tract issues. Rehydration before placing into the tank also prevents the food from sinking immediately to the bottom.

Fish Flakes

Fish flakes are cheap but messy. They don’t float for too long on the surface, so if you put in more than your fish need or if you decide to feed your fish when they’re not looking, they can easily sink to the bottom of the tank.

Not all flakes are created equal obviously. As far as formula and nutritional values are concerned, most fish flakes seem to suffer from the same flaw – the amount of protein is not that impressive to make them worth the risk of dirtying the tank water.

But, there are exceptions to any rule and this includes low-protein fish flakes. Some formulas get things right and manage to increase the protein levels to better suit bettas and other carnivorous tropical fish. Does that mean that you should also keep high-end fish flakes in your betta pantry?

It really depends on the nutritional values of your other products. It’s not easy to find a balanced-nutrition product that has everything a betta needs, even if most brands of pellets and flakes are advertised as such.

Live Food – How Much Trouble Should You Go Through?

Depending on where you live, you may come across brine shrimp or blood worms in local pet stores. These aquatic creatures are like delicacies for bettas. They’re available both live and frozen and bettas are quick to eat them whether they’re alive or dead.

But, there are some things you should know about this type of diet. While it can be highly nutritious and loaded with amino acids and vitamins, it can be dangerous too. If you’re unsure about the quality of the live or frozen specimens, you should avoid buying.

The reason freeze-dried foods tend to be the go-to solution when trying to diversify betta fish diet is that they don’t have any bacteria or parasites. Take fruit flies for example – another betta favorite. These insects are breeding grounds for bacteria and diseases which should never be introduced into an aquarium.

Feeding your bettas live food is great if you can do it safely. But, do you feel like walking into a brick and mortar pet store a couple times a week? Do you want to take on the challenge of breeding certain insects? – Your bettas will be just as healthy if fed a diverse diet of pellets and freeze-dried critters.

What to Do When Your Betta Dismisses the Food

There are many reasons why a betta would choose not to eat even for a couple of days in a row. For one, they can go about two weeks without food. This means that if they simply don’t like the taste, they may choose to ignore whatever you give them. Change the brand or even the food type and see if it makes a difference.

Other times, not eating is a sign of illness. Sometimes it may go away soon and other times your fish may need some form of treatment. Check with a specialist before spending your money on all kinds of foods on the market.

You should know by now that bettas require a water temperature of over 70 degrees. They actually prefer the 74 to 81 degrees range. Introducing cold water into the tank or not heating the water enough during winter time may cause your fish to become lethargic.

The cold also slows down the metabolism which will make it seem like they’re not eating enough. Try turning up the water heater or move your betta tank to a warmer room and see if the fish become more active.

Take Your Time When Feeding Bettas

So, what’s the best betta fish food? – It’s usually live food but that’s not easy to come by for most people. This makes frozen or freeze-dried food the premium choice for a protein-rich diet. Pellets and flakes also have their place as they often offer balanced nutrients for daily upkeep.

At the end of the day, you’ll always be better off alternating between freeze-dried food and pellets as a way of keeping your fish on a balanced diet. Just remember to exercise patience when feeding your fish. Bettas won’t go after sunken bits and pieces.

If you want to avoid cleaning the tank twice as often, use small portions and make sure your fish aren’t leaving anything behind. This should also allow you to study their eating habits and adjust the diet accordingly.