How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

Betta Fish (also known as Siamese Fighting Fish) are super popular among aquarium enthusiasts. And it’s easy to see why. Betta Fish are super vibrant and liven up the look of any fish tank.

But despite their colorful appearance, these fish are very territorial and have a natural inclination towards eating live food (such as shrimp, larvae, small worms, etc.). However, domestic Bettas don’t mind getting by eating flakes.

If you’re the proud owner of a Betta Fish and are planning on a holiday – it’s likely you’re concerned about your pet’s daily diet and how long Betta Fish can go without food safely.

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide for all Betta fish lovers that’ll help you plan your vacation without overlooking your pet’s needs.

how long can betta fish go without food

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Eating?

How long a Betta fish can go without food depends on various factors, such as the fish’s age and overall health. However, before you get too anxious, you should note that Bettas are resilient and can survive up to almost two weeks without food.

While that may surprise a lot of Betta’s parents and be a little difficult to believe – these fishies can go a long time without feeding. However, if your Betta Fish’s diet has been lacking in some ways – this can significantly affect how long the fish can survive without food.

As a caring Betta fish parent – the more critical information for you to consider is their system starts starving after a maximum of 5 days. That means your pet can experience higher levels of stress, and in extreme cases, starvation can lead to the contraction of a serious disease or even organ failure.

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To ensure your Betta lives a happy and healthy life, you should feed your Siamese Fighting Fish twice per day. However, you can also safely get away with feeding your fish twice every three days, but no more than that.

So, if your holiday plans include a three-day trip, you should be able to leave your Betta unsupervised without much concern. Although, if you’re planning on an extended trip – it’s best to make arrangements with a friend or family member to look after your pet in your absence.

You also have the option of buying an automatic food dispenser that allows you to set a feeding schedule and control the quantity of feed dispensed.

But, we wouldn’t recommend relying on these dispensers without trying them out for at least a week. That way, you can be sure about the product’s accuracy without leaving anything to chance.

A Betta’s Natural Lifespan and How You Can Extend It

Betta Fish can live for up to three to four years, depending on their diet, habitat, and mental stimulation. Unsurprisingly, this species tend to live longer in a water tank as opposed to the wild.

Bettas living in the wild have to contend with predators, contaminated water, and even a depleting ecosystem as humans continue to encroach on natural habitats.

As a Betta parent, we’re sure you’re more than concerned about your pet’s welfare and want it to live its best life. The good news is that you can try and extend your Betta’s life quite easily by implementing the following steps:

1. Buy an Adequate Water Tank

We know you’ve run into the myth that Bettas can live in a fishbowl without any problems. But that’s not true at all.

It’s accurate that Bettas survive in a low-oxygen habitat because their labyrinth organ allows them to breathe air. However, they don’t like living in small habitats because they want their environment to be competitor and predator-free (remember their territorial nature?).

That’s why your Betta’s tank should at least be 5 gallons (or more). As a matter of fact, the bigger your pet’s tank is, the happier it’ll be. Just be sure to buy a tank that’s not too deep – Bettas aren’t used to swimming in deep waters.

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2. Invest In a Top-Notch Water Filter and Heater

Bettas are rather prone to bacterial conditions – and that makes keeping their habitat filth-free a top priority. Furthermore, this fish species is also susceptible to the adverse effects of ammonia (which builds up via waste and uneaten food floating in the water). Your Betta could develop issues like fin rot if their habitat is poorly maintained or if your fish tank is too small.

You can easily avoid such roadblocks by ensuring your pet’s tank is equipped with an efficient water filter. A water filter not only aids in keeping your fish tank free of harmful substances like ammonia and nitrites, but it also keeps the water free of debris. Also, note that even if your fish tank is large – you still need to replace the water (at least 20%) every week to rid your fish tank of ammonia completely.

Also, Bettas thrive in waters with moderate temperatures. Because they’re native to tropical countries like Thailand, it’s best to install a water heater in your fish’s tank – especially if you live somewhere cold. It would be best if you focused on maintaining a temperature of approximately 80 degrees for your pet fish to feel genuinely at home.

3. Keep Only One Male Betta Per Tank

Bettas are also referred to as Siamese Fighting Fish not because they’re overly aggressive but because male Bettas are super-territorial. In fact, male Bettas can get into pretty intense fights when put together in the same tank.

And, if you’re thinking of pairing your male Betta up with a female Betta – it’s best not to act on the thought. Bettas do best when they’re on their own, and despite popular belief, they don’t feel lonely that way either.

However, if you want your aquarium to house various fish, you can keep your Betta with other species as long as the others aren’t aggressive or nippers.

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The long and filmy Betta fins make a tempting target for other fishes to nibble on, which will only make your Betta’s life more difficult. For that reason, it’s best to pair your Siamese Fighter with bottom-dwellers like Corydoras and others.

Also, remember the rule of thumb – 1 fish per gallon of water. So, if your current water tank happens to clock in at 5 gallons, you may want to upgrade to a bigger size before getting your Betta a tank-mate.

how long can betta fish go without food

What Does a Betta Fish Diet Consist of?

According to PETA, Betta Fish are native to Asia, and they’re generally found in ponds, marshes, or streams – which means they’re freshwater fish. Surprisingly, Bettas are active during the day and like sleeping at night (or require darkness to get some rest).

In the wild, these fish survive on a diet that consists of critters that float on the water’s surface – like insects or insect larvae. There’s also a misconception that Bettas can survive on a diet of plant roots.

The truth is Bettas may survive on a plant root diet in extreme cases – but not for very long due to their carnivorous nature.

A proper Betta diet will consist of a high-protein content, and most Betta owners choose to rely on specially formulated fish pellets that include all the necessary nutrients. Betta owners can also choose to feed their pets dried or frozen live food in addition to pellets.

However, Betta’s parents should make sure not to overfeed their pets. Large amounts of waste material and uneaten food floating around in the fish tank can produce nitrate and ammonia, making the water toxic.

A good rule of thumb is such situations are only to provide as much food as your fish can eat in around three to four minutes.

What Kind of Food Is Best for Your Betta?

If you’re wondering about what type of food is best for a Betta in captivity – then you’re going to read this section. A balanced diet is essential to ensuring your Betta’s health and longevity.

However, the good news is that you’ll find plenty of variety on the market when it comes to wholesome Betta food types. While the local vet is your best bet at getting your hands on the best Betta food product, you should be aware of what your choices are from the get-go.

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1. Freeze-dried Betta Food

Freeze-dried food for Bettas consists of live foods like shrimp or bloodworms that have been frozen and dried out. Apart from being a bit hit with the fish, this type of diet can give your Betta the protein intake it requires.

Additionally, because the food is almost dehydrated – handling it evokes no yucky feelings (imagine picking up a squirmy worm). However, there’s a bit of a drawback to this type of food – you can’t feed freeze-dried live food to your pet every day.

As it is, a Betta only needs to be fed twice every day, but feeding Betta a super-charged protein diet all the time can result in your Betta putting on too much weight.

That may not sound too bad, but it can create a whole host of problems, such as problems with the swim bladder. It’s best to keep this option for occasional treats.

2. Live Food

Feeding your Betta live food (such as bloodworms) is possibly the healthiest option because that’s what this species eats (and has eaten) in the wild. However, the problem with live food is that it’s not always readily available in pet stores or even online.

You can opt to feed your Betta live daphnia. Daphnia is a species of water fleas and can be easily found in any permanent body of water. And, if all else fails, you can even start a Daphnia culture at home for a stable live food source for your pet Betta.

3. Flakes

Fish flakes are available in various colors and include nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and protein – to ensure your Betta has a wholesome diet. As the name suggests, flakes have a super-thin appearance, almost confetti-like – but the problem most Betta parents face with flakes is that their fish doesn’t like eating them much.

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Bettas can be picky eaters, and the appearance of fish flakes doesn’t seem to inspire much of an appetite in them. Siamese Fighting Fish love food that resembles live food – and flakes don’t have much to offer in terms of visual stimulation.

If you face a similar situation with your Betta, you can tear the fish flakes into smaller pieces to make the food resemble the tiny critters that generally float along the water’s surface. Doing so may tempt your fish into taking a nibble.

Remember to remove the floating fish flakes and particles after 4 to 5 minutes after putting them in the water. Fish flakes tend to dissolve rather quickly in the water and can end up polluting the water faster than necessary.

4. Pellets

Pellets are a big hit with most Bettas for reasons best known to them. The good thing about pellets is they can provide your Siamese Fighting Fish with all the necessary nutrition they need.

You should consider the size of the pellet before feeding it to your Betta. Large-sized pellets don’t fit inside your fish’s mouth very easily, and even if your Betta manages to take a few bites from the pellet, the rest of it remains floating in the water – adding to the ammonia level.

That’s why it’s best to go for small-sized food pellets so that your Betta can eat them in one go.


Betta Fish make delightful pets for most aquarium hobbyists, even if the species prefers to have the water tank all to itself. As far as resilience is concerned, Bettas as freshwater fish are pretty tough. However, even the most tenacious of fish species require proper care and handling.

While Siamese Fighting Fish can live up to 14 days without food – it’s never a good idea to let things get that far. A Betta’s system can start starving after just five days, which can significantly increase your pet’s stress levels.

That’s why, if you’re planning on an extended vacation, be sure to have some sort of plan ready to ensure your Betta’s well-being.

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