Does Betta Fish Food Expire?

Just like human food, fish food – including food for your betta fish – eventually expires and is no longer safe to eat.

The overwhelming majority of betta fish food expiration dates are simply “suggestions”. While dried food – pellets, flakes, and the like – eventually expire, you can usually feed this food to your betta fish far beyond the recommended date without any ill effects. Live betta fish food doesn’t expire until shortly after the live food dies.

Does Betta Fish Food Expire?

Every single piece of food – fish, human, etc. – has an expiration date.

At the same time, the expiration date on commercial fish food (especially dry fish food) is usually just a recommendation. It’s not at all uncommon for betta fish food in this form to last months if not even a couple of years past that date without having any effects on your fish at all.

When it comes to live betta fish food, though, – including frozen live fish food – you want to pay very close attention to that expiration date.

This kind of fish food goes out of expiration very quickly and then stays there. Feeding your fish expired live fish food can cause a whole bunch of problems, including introducing toxic chemicals into the water that they live in.

Purple Betta

How Long Will Certain Fish Foods Last?

To give you a better idea of how long certain fish foods will stay safe to feed your fish, we’ve broken down the most common options given to bettas below.

Dried Food

Dried fish food is certainly the most popular kind of food given to betta fish all over the world, even if it isn’t exactly the healthiest kind of food – or the highest quality.

Available in only about a million or so different forms it’s never going to cost you very much to get a bulk supply. You’ll only have to spend a couple of bucks to get a year’s worth of dried fish food, even.

What might surprise you, though, is that most dried fish food on the market today has been sitting around in pet stores, fish shops, or warehouses for at least a year or two – if not even longer than that.

This is old, old food you’ve got on your hands (even if it has an expiration date a year or more in the future).

Luckily, so long as you make sure to store your dried fish food – your flakes, your pellets, etc. – the right way you don’t have very much to worry about for another year or more after that expiration date.

You want to be sure to keep your dried fish food in a sealed (ideally airtight) container. You want to be sure that you keep it nice and dry. And you want to be sure that you don’t expose it to extreme temperature swings.

On top of that, you’ll want to check the fish food regularly for any signs of mold or extreme decomposition.

As long as your fish food smells the way it always has – and doesn’t have a funky texture or funky aroma – you’re probably still safe to feed it to your betta fish.

Freeze Dried 

Freeze dried fish food is specifically designed to last at least four years or so, and sometimes a whole lot longer than that.

In fact, believe it or not there are fish food companies out there – some of the more premium options in the space – that promise fish food that’ll last up to 20 years without any degradation.

Not bad, right?

A big part of the shelf stable nature of freeze dried food is the removal of almost all of the moisture in the original food source. Without any moisture for bacteria to use to grow and multiply you don’t have a whole lot to worry about.

Best of all, freeze-drying maintains a lot of the nutrients that would have otherwise been lost to the drying process.

If you have the budget, it’s not a bad idea to spring for freeze-dried food instead of dried fruit whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Your bettas will appreciate it!

Frozen Fish Food

Frozen fish food – like tiny bits of shrimp, plankton, blood worms, etc. – are going to make your betta fish go absolutely crazy.

On the flipside, though, frozen fish food is going to expire very quickly compared to dried and freeze-dried fish food. And unlike those other options where the expiration date is more of a suggestion than anything else, you really need to pay attention to the expiration date on frozen fish food.

It’s not hard to understand why dumping expired (and beginning to rock) bits of shrimp, plankton, and blood worms would cause trouble for your fish as well as for the water that they live in and breathe.

You can probably go a day or two past the suggested expiration date on frozen fish food without any trouble, but you don’t want to stretch things any further than that.

Live Fish Food

Live fish food (like little insects) have no expiration date because they are still alive!

You only have to worry about an expiration date on live fish food after they die. But as long as you are dumping live fish food into the fish tank while it is still alive there’s no reason to have any concern at all.

Your bettas will love feasting on those little bugs!

How Can I Get Betta Food to Keep Longer?

There are a couple of things you can do to further extend the shelf life of your betta fish food.

For starters, you want to make sure that you suck out as much air from the food container as humanly possible – and confirm that the fish container has a rock solid seal.

Oxygen let’s all kinds of bacteria and “funk” breathe, breed, and multiply and that’s what’s going to cause your fish food to expire faster. Starve that stuff of oxygen and you have a whole lot less to worry about.

Secondly, keep your fish food dry (or as dry as possible).

Wet environments are breeding grounds for bacteria as well. If you keep things dry and eliminate oxygen you’re going to do a great job of extending your fish food beyond the suggested expiration date.

Lastly, just keep an eye on your fish food for anything that seems a little out of place or little funky.

If you see mold, if you see the texture change, or if you smell weird aromas coming off the food that you don’t recognize it’s best to pitch it in the bin and buy new food.