Are Betta Fish Carnivores?

Betta fish are carnivorous animals that enjoy feeding on insects and insect larvae. This all-natural, meat-based diet ensures they live healthy and thriving lives.

Most fish are carnivores, and betta fish is one of them. Yet, harsh conditions may force betta fish to survive solely on plants.

This article explores the eating habits of betta fish. Keep reading to find out more.

Why Are Betta Fish Carnivores?

Many believe that betta fish are herbivores that enjoy feeding on plants as their primary food source.

The truth is, betta fish will only feed on plant roots if it’s their last option. In the wild, they’re more inclined to hunt for meaty foods, particularly insects.

Colorful Betta

What Do Betta Fish Eat?

For betta fish, giving them the right kind of food with the right nutrients can make a huge difference.

Fish Food Flakes

Fish food flakes are a top choice for beginners. They’re widely available and easy to use. Yet, they lack the basic nutrients bettas need to survive.

Betta fish deserve an all-around nutritious food. Moreover, fish food flakes typically float on the surface of the tank water. For betta fish, this may look like debris, and it discourages them from eating.

So, while offering your bettas flakes is a good start, you should also explore other forms of food sources for a well-balanced diet.

Pellet Foods

Unlike fish flakes, pellet foods contain high amounts of protein. Because of this, pellets are considered a good base for your fish’s diet.

Pellets also come in different sizes and flavors. They’re perfect for varying betta fish’s menu without compromising nutritional values, making them more effective than flakes.

When using pellet foods, always check the label to ensure you’re giving your bettas the right kind. There should be at least 30% protein in your pellet.

Frozen and Freeze-Dried Foods

Frozen and freeze-dried foods are live foods that are dried to remove their moisture content. This process allows them to be stored for a longer period.

Frozen and freeze-dried foods are great alternatives since they retain most of the nutrients of live food.

Frozen fish food always comes in cubes that are too big for betta fish. So, remember to cut them into smaller pieces first.

Live Food

Live food is the best form of food to feed betta fish. At the same time, it’s more difficult to maintain than other food sources.

For starters, you’ll need a trusted source to ensure that your live food doesn’t harbor any parasites. When betta fish feed on infected live food, they can become seriously ill.

If sourcing isn’t an option, you can buy live food kits that let you hatch your own insects. This alternative can save you from routine purchases, but it doesn’t reduce the potential risks of parasites.

Check out some of the most common live foods for betta fish.


Daphnias resemble small freshwater shrimps. They’re rich in protein and fiber, which are perfect for betta fish.

They’re usually found in small bodies of water like ponds or pools, which makes them easy to breed at home. So, get yourself a starter kit, and you can breed your own Daphnias!

Mosquito Larvae

Betta fish mainly hunt for mosquito larvae in the wild. Unlike other live food, mosquito larvae don’t carry as many bacteria.

If you live around areas where mosquitoes frequent, you can grow your own mosquito larvae. Keep them in a sealed jar in the refrigerator, and they’ll last up to two weeks.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp is another great live food for betta fish. Yet, they’re better used as supplements rather than being the main food source.

Brine shrimp grow in saltwater, making them more challenging to breed. This also makes them taste richer and full of flavor, which bettas may not be accustomed to. So, offer them in moderation.


Bloodworms come from midge flies and are characterized by their red color, which comes from the iron and porphyrin content in their blood. Besides iron, bloodworms also have enough protein content to be added as a nutritious snack in your betta’s diet.

What Can’t Betta Fish Eat?

Now that you know the best types of food that betta fish can eat, let’s also talk about what they can’t eat. Understanding both sides of the coin can help you create a more balanced diet for your betta fish.

white and red betta fish

Plant Roots

Since betta fish are carnivores, plant roots don’t contain the necessary nutrients that they need. If betta fish are left with only plant roots to feed on, they could suffer from severe nutrient deficiency.

Fruits and Veggies

Betta fish don’t need fruits and veggies in their diet. While other fish may enjoy these, they don’t offer any additional benefits for bettas.

Betta Fish Eating Habits

Just like any living creature, betta fish have developed certain eating habits. Feeders should be aware of this, as well as their eating schedule.

Eating Schedule

Ideally, betta fish should be fed one to two times a day. This helps them maintain their energy and keep them stimulated throughout the day.

Betta fish are also recommended to fast every one to two weeks. It might seem counterintuitive, but fasting lets them break down undigested food in their system.

As a rule, 1.8 grams should be enough for an adult betta fish. This amount can slightly vary from day to day, but, in general, it’s a great way to avoid under and overfeeding.


Overeating betta fish leads to constipation, or worse, swim bladder dysfunction.

Betta fish tend to eat everything in sight. So, avoid adding excessive amounts of food at once. Plus, you should clean their tanks with a net if there are any leftovers.


Surprisingly, betta fish can go two weeks without eating. So, skipping meals for a day shouldn’t be alarming.

Betta fish can undereat because of environmental changes. For example, if you’ve recently adjusted the water temperature of their tanks or rehoused them in a different tank, you can expect their appetite to change.

Another reason could be that your bettas are simply fussy eaters. Try to mix up their diet and experiment with different types of food to see which they like more.

Final Thoughts

So, are betta fish carnivores? Yes! They need a meaty, protein-filled diet to thrive, both in the wild and in your home aquarium.

It’s essential to pay attention to their nutritional values, ranging from different types of live food to manufactured fish food. After all, we don’t want our bettas feeding on low-quality food, which can have an adverse effect on their health.