I have been keeping bettas for quite some time, and I have learned that some of them can be picky eaters. But can bettas eat tropical flakes?
Tropical flakes can make up part of a betta fish diet, but bettas often won’t choose to eat them. These fish are primarily carnivorous and need a lot of protein to stay healthy, which flakes rarely provide.
Here are some other food options you can try out for your betta:
Ocean Nutrition Betta Pellets
Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Daphnia
Brine Shrimp Hatchery Dish + 3 Months Supply of Brine Shrimp Eggs
Read on to find out more on whether or not tropical flakes are the right fit for your betta and other essential betta-feeding information.
1. Should You Feed Tropical Flakes to Your Betta Fish?
When considering the right food for your fish, it’s important to think about what is best for their health and wellbeing – not just what will keep them alive.
Betta fish can eat tropical flakes, but they are often relatively uninterested in them, preferring food richer in proteins and closer to what they would choose to eat in their natural habitat.
The right kind of tropical flakes can be reasonably healthy and nutritious as part of a betta’s diet, but most prefer pellets alongside a varied mixture of frozen, freeze-dried, and live food.
Tropical flakes are a simple option when it comes to mealtimes, so you might tend to rely on them as a primary food source. Most betta fish, though, do not particularly enjoy them.
2. What Kind of Tropical Flakes Can Betta Fish Eat?
The first thing to remember when looking for great food options for your betta fish is that they are primarily carnivorous animals.
In the wild, they survive almost exclusively on smaller fish, insects, larvae, and other aquatic creatures. Bettas cannot easily digest plant-based foods, so they can’t live on plant-based tropical flakes.
Betta fish need food high in protein and specially formulated for their needs. There are some brands of fish flakes that are designed specifically for carnivorous tropical fish, but even these might not be an attractive prospect for your bettas.
No matter what flakes you choose, you might simply find that your betta fish are not interested in them because they are too far removed from their natural diet.
3. Why Don’t Betta Fish Like Tropical Flakes?
To truly understand why your betta fish might turn their nose up at flakes in the tank, you need to consider how they like to feed.
In the wild, these fish live in shallow waters, like slow-moving streams, rice paddies, and marshes.
They hunt down their food-seeking out small, floating creatures that are alive and rich in proteins. They are primarily surface or mid-level feeders and are attracted to food that is more like insects or larvae.
The creatures that make up the natural diet of a betta fish are mainly:
- Brine shrimp
- Mosquito larvae
- Small fly larvae
- Midges and their larvae
- Common water fleas
Fish flakes do not look or act like the food that bettas normally eat. On top of that, flakes will sink to the bottom of the tank if they are not eaten quickly, where most bettas won’t feed.
4. Do Betta Fish Prefer Pellets to Flakes?
If you’re used to relying on fish flakes, you might be concerned about what you will feed your betta as a regular alternative, but don’t worry. Although bettas tend not to like flakes, they are usually very fond of fish pellets.
Most bettas will happily live on a diet consisting mainly of high-protein, small-sized floating pellets, preferably made with high-quality ingredients.
When you’re searching for the right pellets for your bettas, try and look out for:
- At least 30% crude protein
- High-quality ingredients
- Attractive without artificial coloring
- Small size (around 1mm in diameter)
- Long-lasting floatation
- Additional nutrients (fat, fiber, phosphorus, carbohydrates, calcium, and vitamins.)
No matter how great the pellets might be, your betta fish should also be getting some variety.
5. How Much Should Betta Fish Eat?
It is easy to overfeed a betta fish or drop too much into the tank. If they eat too much, it can cause impactions and seriously damage their health.
On the other hand, if they don’t eat much, then also it’s not good as uneaten fish food can produce toxic ammonia and nitrite. So it is important to give just enough food to your bettas.
Thankfully, here are a few points that will help you give your betta fish the right amount of food each time.
- Bettas should be able to finish their meal in 1-3 minutes. If there is any leftover, then you are giving them too much.
- The stomach of the betta is about the same size as one of its eyes. So they won’t be able to eat more than this in one sitting.
Generally speaking, most betta fish can eat two to four small pellets per meal, and they should have one or two meals per day.
So, now we know that betta fish are not particularly fond of flakes and need a balanced diet that provides a high amount of crude protein. There is more to the ideal diet than choosing a good brand of fish food and dropping it into the tank every day, though.
You might use a daily pellet for most mealtimes, but you must also incorporate live, freeze-dried, or frozen food.
6. What Food Do Betta Fish Benefit from The Most?
Of all the different meals you can give to your betta fish, live foods are almost certainly the most beneficial. Although commercial foods like pellets and flakes can replicate many of the nutritional qualities of live food, they are simply not as rich in protein and natural nutrients.
In a study, scientists measured the impact of 5 different common foods on the health and size of the offspring that betta fish were producing. The five foods used were blood worms, brine shrimp, brine shrimp powder, crustacean powder, and regular commercial fish food.
In terms of survival rates, egg size, and the number of offspring, live food provided the best results. Blood worms were the most beneficial, and brine shrimp just behind, with the commercial food ranking as the least healthy option in pretty much every category.
This shows that no matter how well-formulated and high-quality your fish food is, live food (or freeze-dried/frozen food) is always going to be best for their needs.
This doesn’t mean that you have to rely solely on these foods, just that they should be included alongside any pellets you are also using.
So, can betta fish eat tropical flakes? The answer is that some can, but most probably won’t choose to eat them. Tropical flakes are not attractive to betta fish and don’t typically contain enough crude protein they need.
Pellets are a much better option, but they should also be supplemented with live food or freeze-dried/frozen options throughout the week.
That’s it! I hope now you know what you should feed your bettas. Here are some of the other resources on bettas you might enjoy reading:
- How Much Does A Betta Fish Weigh?
- Can Guppies Live With Bettas?
- What Is The Best Sponge Filter For Bettas?
- Mystery Snails & Bettas: Can They Live Together?