Not all betta fish are created equal. Some are born with bottomless stomachs like a miniature shark, and others are picky eaters who turn their noses up to everything you offer. If you have the latter type, this refusal to eat can be quite stressful. Fortunately, there are many high quality, high protein foods you can try feeding them to whet their appetites.
Given that betta fish eat small insects, crustaceans, and other meaty foods in the wild, frozen bloodworms (the bright red larva of midge flies) are one of the best foods you can provide them. Sold at most local pet stores, they typically come in a package of foil-sealed individual cubes or a frozen slab that you can break off pieces from. In the United States, our favorite brand to purchase is Hikari since their bloodworms are of the highest quality and feed out very cleanly.
Typically, one betta fish cannot finish an entire cube in one sitting, so you may need to thaw out the cube in a container and feed a few bloodworms using a pipette or tweezers. Most betta fish would be happy to live off a diet of only bloodworms, but like humans, your fish requires a variety in nutrition. Rotate between at least two to three different foods to make sure they get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients to live a long and healthy life.
Live foods are considered the cream of the crop when it comes to the betta fish food options because they most closely resemble their actual diet in nature. We recommend live blackworms because as a true freshwater species, they can live for quite a while in your aquarium without fouling the water. They like to burrow into the substrate, which provides hours of enrichment for your betta fish as he hunts them down one by one.
This disadvantage of live blackworms is that they are not always available at local fish stores and they have the possibility of bringing in parasites. However, we still highly recommend them, given how nutritious and mentally stimulating they are for bettas. Just make sure to get the blackworms from a reputable fish store that keeps them refrigerated in clean, odorless water.
While pellets may not be the most natural-looking choice, they combine the most important nutrients a betta fish needs into a bite-sized package. Betta food pellets are nice because they don’t tend to dissolve quickly in the water and they generally float at the surface (which is preferred since bettas have upturned mouths and are used to eating from the water surface).
We like Xtreme Betta Pellets because they contain high-quality proteins like krill, come with a handy scoop to avoid overfeeding, and are packaged in a small container that’s ideal for keeping one betta fish. In general, you don’t want to buy a huge jar of fish food and use it for multiple years. While the expiration date may still be good, the food will grow old and stale from repeated exposure to moisture and oxygen and can potentially cause health problems with your betta fish.
Freeze drying is a method of preserving food in a lightweight, dry form factor while retaining as much of the original nutrients and taste as possible. Therefore, we love using freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp as an alternative to frozen foods. Unlike frozen foods, they do not need to be stored in a freezer, and they tend to float at the top of the water. Also, they’re easy to portion out for appropriate-sized feedings and can be easily removed from the tank if your betta fish doesn’t finish everything.
Fluval Bug Bites Betta Formula is another kind of betta food pellet that is primarily made of black soldier fly larvae to mostly closely simulate a betta fish’s insectivore diet. It contains high amounts of quality protein, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals to boost your betta’s health. This is a slow sinking granule, which some bettas may not go after, but if you have other tank mates like tetras and corydoras, they will readily finish up any leftovers your betta leaves behind.
In our experience, most bettas are not too picky and, if kept in a community tank with other fish, may even choose to snack on other foods you feed the aquarium. But if you’re looking to add more variety to your betta’s meal plan, give one of these top five go-to foods a try and your betta fish is sure to beg for more.