What you feed your fish—and how much you feed them—is an important part of providing a healthy environment for them. There’s much more to offering the proper diet for a fish than just sprinkling a few flakes on top of the water a couple of times a day.
The fish food section at the pet store can be overwhelming to a novice owner. First, learn more about your fish species, starting with whether the species are meat-eaters (carnivores) or vegetation eaters (herbivores).
Feeding fish human foods is similar to giving them commercial food: you must use little to no additives or fillers, and it should provide nutrition from their specific dietary requirements. It shouldn’t be a regular occasion, either. Most people resort to feeding their betta fish human food if they have run out of normal betta food.
Choosing the Right Food
Dry Food: When you think of fish food, you think of flakes. That’s the most common option for feeding a tankful of fish, but dry fish food also comes in granules and pellets, sinking, and floating varieties, as well as options for specific species. Dry fish food can be lower in fiber, but adding vegetable foods to the diet will help reduce the risk of swim bladder disorders and bloating for vegetarian species. Pet stores may also sell sheets of dried spirulina or nori algae, which are great for herbivorous fish to nibble on.
Frozen Food: Some fish will enjoy frozen food, such as shrimp, bloodworms, plankton, prawn, krill, or mussels. Pet stores often also sell frozen spirulina cubes for feeding herbivores.
Freeze Dried: Tubifex worms and Mysis shrimp or other foods can be found as freeze-dried cubes. These are very nutritious and great for carnivorous fish.
Live Food: Options include live brine or ghost shrimp, feeder fish (for larger carnivorous fish), crickets, and worms.
Greens: If your fish are the type to munch on aquarium plants, such as anacharis, give them greens as well. Options include lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, and spinach. Clip the greens to the side of the tank or fasten them in place near the substrate, but remove or replace the uneaten vegetables within 24 hours. Fish such as plecostomus love to eat fresh greens.
The biology of different fish means they often need different food. Therefore, if you have a variety of fish in your aquarium, use a combination of food—such as floating foods, slow-sinking foods, and rapidly sinking foods—to ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need.
How Much to Feed
Fish owners are more likely to overfeed their fish than underfeed them, which increases the amount of waste in the tank.1 This is not only the waste left when the fish do not eat all the food but also the waste is excreted from the fish because they’re eating more than necessary. If you find that ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels are going up and the tank seems polluted, you’re probably overfeeding the fish.2
Adult fish can be fed once a day, around the same time, though you can feed them multiple times a day if you’re giving them a smaller amount each feeding. Young fish may need three or four feedings a day. Herbivores typically don’t have large stomachs to hold a lot of food, as in nature they would nibble on algae and plants throughout the day. They can be fed more frequently than carnivores, or given live greens that they can snack on throughout the day. Follow the rule of thumb that you should feed the fish only what they will eat in five minutes. If there is food left after that time (except for the fresh greens), you are feeding too much. One exception is for fish that are nocturnal (night time) feeders, where you should put the food in the aquarium in the evening before turning off the lights, and let the fish eat overnight.
Don’t take the size of the aquarium as an indication of how much food is needed. Five fish in a large aquarium need the same amount of food as five fish in a smaller aquarium—just spread it out across the aquarium so everyone can get to it easily.
Human Food for Fish?
So, here’s the deal. Fish can eat some human food, but it must be very specific. It all depends on the type of human food and how much and how often it is given. Just like any animal, including humans, fish prefer variety in their diet. And since you are a responsible fish parent, you’ll want to be sure that you’re giving them the proper food, perhaps even similar to what they would get in the wild. Serving them tiny cut-up portions of your delicious lemon and chicken dinner is not a good idea. We will cover what not to feed your fish in the next section.
It’s only meant to be as a supplement or a treat. here are a few human foods that have the seal of approval for your betta fish:
What Human Foods You Can Feed your Fish?
Peas: They’re a fantastic source of fiber, which makes them an excellent aid for bloating and constipation. Just be sure that it’s mushy, cut into tiny pieces, and that you’ve removed the outer skin so that it’s easier for your fishy friend to chew and digest.
Leafy and softened greens: includes lettuce, spinach, and cucumbers. Make sure they are sliced tiny and easy to nibble and digest. The cucumber can be boiled until it’s soft.
Sweet corn: just a single, boiled kernel. Make sure the outer skin is removed, and it’s prepared just like the peas.
Mango: a very tiny piece only every once in a while. It is essential that if the mango is not eaten within 30 minutes, then it must be removed from their tank or they could die. Mango is a delicacy to betta’s but can be fatal to the tank water if left for too long.
Tuna, and shrimp: Tuna should be fed as raw if possible, or if from a can make sure it hasn’t been saturated in oil. Raw shrimp is an excellent choice as long as it is entirely unseasoned.
With any food, be sure to scoop out any uneaten pieces within a half hour. This helps to keep your betta tank from clouding over or attracting bacteria that could make them very sick.
Betta fish are carnivores and are sometimes affectionately called insectivores. If your fish was living in the wild, they would instinctively feed on insects and their aquatic larvae such as mosquito larvae. Eating plant-based foods is only a survival tactic if they are starving.
The most common commercial fish foods used are:
Pellets: the most common betta fish food. Fish experts agree that soaking the pellets in their water before serving is best so that it helps their digestive system to digest properly.
Flakes: feed only flakes that are designed explicitly for your fish. This ensures that it has a high amount of protein that fishes need to stay healthy.