No, most betta fish will not eat food at the bottom of their tank. While some bettas enjoy poking around at their tank’s substrate, most remain at the surface of the water.
When considering the question, “Will betta fish eat food bottom tank?” it’s important to understand the betta’s anatomy.
We’ll teach you why betta fish don’t eat food at the bottom of their tank and the importance of keeping their substrate free of food.
Will Betta Fish Eat Food at the Bottom of the Tank?
Some betta fish will eat food at the bottom of their tank, but it’s rare. So, it’s best to assume that your betta fish won’t eat if their food sinks.
Nature designed betta fish to be surface eaters. In fact, they have an upward curved jaw. As a result, they’re able to catch insects floating on the water or those that are in the process of drowning.
Leaving uneaten food at the bottom of your betta’s tank can cause life-threatening issues for them if you don’t clean their tank regularly.
For this reason, it’s crucial always to feed your betta floating food and only as much as they’ll eat.
Do Bettas Like the Bottom of the Tank?
No, betta fish don’t like the bottom of their tank since they’re surface dwellers.
That said, every betta is different, and some will poke around at the substrate at the bottom of their tank. In some cases, they may even eat fallen food.
However, you should never assume that your betta will find, let alone eat, the food at the bottom of their tank.
How Much to Feed Your Betta
Feeding your betta fish a healthy portion of food is the most effective way to prevent food from falling to the bottom of their tank.
There are several items you can feed your betta, including:
- Pellets (2 – 4 per day)
- Freeze-dried food (in the same quantity as pellets)
- Fresh food (in the same quantity as pellets)
While pellets made for bettas are convenient, feeding your betta fresh and frozen protein sources on occasion like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae will keep them happy and healthier.
Why Isn’t My Betta Eating?
If uneaten food begins piling up at the bottom of your betta’s tank, you’re understandably concerned.
But here’s some comforting news: In the wild, bettas can live up to two weeks without eating.
Often, environmental changes cause bettas to stop eating temporarily. Examples include:
- Uncomfortable water temperature
- A tank that’s too small
- Stress from a recent tank cleaning
So, if you notice your betta isn’t eating, it’s okay—and healthier for the tank water—not to feed them for a day or two.
That way, food won’t accumulate at the bottom of the tank, and you can make adjustments to your betta’s habitat to get them comfortable.
How Do I Get Rid of Uneaten Food in My Betta Tank?
Now that you know the answer to “Will betta fish eat food bottom tank?” is likely no, it’s time to get rid of any food that’s in your betta’s substrate.
There are two ways to remove food from the bottom of your betta’s tank:
- Clean the gravel manually
- Use a gravel vacuum
Let’s explore these options closer.
Clean the Gravel Manually
Manual gravel cleaning is the most common way to remove food from a betta’s tank.
To start, move your betta fish to a temporary tank. Then, put on a pair of gloves and remove all of the gravel from your betta’s tank, and put it in a bucket of warm water.
Using your hands, scrub the gravel in the water, emptying and re-filling the water a few times to ensure you get out all the debris.
Finally, do a large-scale cleaning of your betta’s tank water by pouring out 25% of the water and replacing it with dechlorinated tap water. Then, put the gravel back in the tank and release your betta into their freshly cleaned home.
Use a Gravel Vacuum
Should food dropping to the bottom of your betta’s tank be a recurring issue, it might be time to invest in a gravel vacuum.
These vacuums use a siphon to remove food and other debris in your betta tank’s substrate.
Make sure to move your beta to a temporary tank while doing this. You should also remove and replace 25% of their tank water to complete the cleaning.
The Dangers of Leaving Food at the Bottom of a Betta Tank
Letting old food sit in the bottom of your betta’s tank will not only look unsightly, but you run the risk of your beta having adverse health side effects.
Doing so can cause the following issues:
- Increased ammonia and nitrite levels
- Decreased amount of dissolved oxygen
- Lower pH
- Increased algae growth
Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues.
Increased Ammonia and Nitrite Levels
As betta food decomposes, it releases ammonia and nitrite. These toxins create many issues for your betta, including damage to their gills and other tissues.
It can also cause them to develop bacterial infections and stunt their growth.
Decreased Amount of Dissolved Oxygen
Bettas depend on dissolved oxygen to breathe. However, decomposing food requires oxygen.
Therefore, if there’s a lot of food in the bottom of your betta’s tank, your betta could run low on this essential element. To make things worse, the warmer your betta’s tank, the faster dissolved oxygen will decrease.
Decomposed food at the bottom of your betta’s tank releases carbon dioxide, which lowers the water’s pH.
Since betta fish need a pH between 6.5 – 8, this can be dangerous if the pH falls below 6.5.
Increased Algae Growth
You’re not the only one that doesn’t like algae growth—your betta fish doesn’t like it either.
Algae come from excess nitrate and phosphate that sitting food creates. As a result, your betta’s tank water will decrease in quality, causing them to potentially lose some of their colors and increase the risk of disease.
The Bottom Line
You should never leave food sitting at the bottom of a betta fish tank since bettas are surface dwellers.
By keeping their substrate food-free, your betta will live a healthier and happier life, and you’ll get to enjoy looking at a cleaner tank.