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Bloodworms for Betta Fish: Vet-Approved Feeding Guide & Tips

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By Lindsey Stanton

betta splendens in aquarium

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Betta fish make a beautiful addition to your aquarium. If this is the first time you are keeping these fish species, you need to know the foods they should eat.

In the wild, this insectivore fish species thrives on mostly insects and insect larvae. Therefore, when housing them in a fish tank, you need to maintain a diet high in protein to meet their nutritional needs.

One of the most commonly available foods for aquarium fish is bloodworms. Most betta fish have a high appetite for bloodworms, which has prompted aquarium hobbyists to establish bloodworm farms to sustain the demand. While it’s a tasty treat, it should not make up most of your fish diet.

If you don’t know how many bloodworms to feed your betta fish, here’s all you need to know.

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What Are Bloodworms?

red bloodworms in a pile
Image Credit: schankz, Shutterstock

There are two main types of bloodworms, the Chironomidae family and the Glycera genus. Chironomidae is commonly found in pet stores. This bloodworm is actually not a worm, but the larval stage of midge flies.

These aquarium bloodworms have bright red bodies due to the iron-porphyrin protein in their bodies. They can stay in their larval state for anywhere from a few weeks to up to 3 years and last as adults for a few weeks.

The Glycera only thrives in marine conditions; therefore, it’s found in salty water. These bristle worms are typically found in the seabed of saltwater environments. They can grow up to 14 inches long and have a venomous bite. Because of this, you’ll not find these types of worms in an aquarium.

While both types can be fed to your betta, it’s much easier to breed and find Chironomidae.

What Are The Different Types of Bloodworms for Your Betta Fish?

Before adding bloodworms to your betta’s diet, you need to know that bloodworms are not actually worms. These creatures are in the form of larvae and can be sold frozen, freeze-dried, or live. While they all have their benefits and downsides, you need to select the best option depending on how easy they are to store and their nutritional content.

Let’s look at these worms in detail.

1. Live Bloodworms

Buying live bloodworms means that they are still moving around. Since they are in their most natural form, your betta benefits from their nutritional content, unlike the frozen and freeze-dried ones. They contain more nutrients because they haven’t been altered. However, it should be noted that bloodworms aren’t great nutritional treats for bettas in general, so this perk should be considered with a grain of salt.

The other benefit is that they are good for mental stimulation. Having live bloodworms in the aquarium sends your betta into a hunting mode, which keeps them occupied and prevents boredom. Live worms are also suitable for breeding. The abundance of food tricks their mind into thinking that it’s breeding season.

The downside to these bloodworms is that they have a shorter shelf life than frozen worms, making them more costly. You can only keep them in the fridge for 2–3 days, and then you have to dispose of them.

In addition, despite their high nutritional content, these live bloodworms can carry parasites that can infect your fish. If you prefer buying these creatures, it’s best to go to a reputable pet store.

rosetail betta in aquarium
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

2. Frozen Bloodworms

These bloodworms are a good mix of freeze-dried and live bloodworms. Sold at most local pet stores, they come in foil-sealed individual cubes or a frozen slab that hobbyists can break a piece from.

Frozen bloodworms are ideal if you need to keep the food for about six months. Apart from the storage time, they also have a good amount of nutrients.

Since they can be kept for longer, you don’t have to restock the food frequently. This alternative will save you money because it’s easier to cut up and manage portions according to the stock in your fish tank.

If you are worried about parasites and other pathogens, frozen bloodworms are an excellent choice. They are less likely to have any of these issues because some pathogens are eliminated during the freezing process.

During feeding, split the cubes into smaller pieces and defrost them. Once you add the bloodworms into the tank, don’t leave them for too long. You should remove uneaten food after 10 minutes (at most) to reduce the chances of contamination.

When buying frozen bloodworms, it’s best to go with higher-quality brands. A good brand will be packed with more worms than water.

3. Freeze-Dried Bloodworms

Freeze-dried bloodworms should be offered to your betta as treats. They are generally not as nutritious as live bloodworms, though the nutritional differences aren’t that significant.

Compared to live bloodworms, they have an added advantage because they last a bit longer and don’t need any cold storage. These worms are sold in small plastic tubs; therefore, they are pretty easy to store.

The freeze-dried bloodworms are easy to portion when feeding your betta, and you can easily remove the remaining food from the tank if your betta fish doesn’t finish everything.

Once you add them to the tank, they expand back to their full size and will tend to float in the tank. To avoid this, you can soak them before dipping them into the aquarium.

If you don’t treat and soak these worms before adding them to the aquarium, they can cause constipation in your betta fish. These freeze-dried foods may expand in the gut, leading to blockages and constipation.

They are rated as Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is better, hence more expensive. These don’t come with any particles from non-bloodworm species, so you should choose them for your betta.

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How Often Should You Feed Your Betta Bloodworms?

Bloodworms should be snacks or treats for your betta fish. Some betta keepers make the mistake of feeding bloodworms to their fish every day. Despite having a high protein content, adding bloodworms daily is not advisable because other invertebrates are more suitable for them.

If your fish eats once a day, you can include bloodworms once a week. By supplementing with other foods, you ensure that your betta gets a variety of foods and that they don’t become constipated.

If you are feeding them live bloodworms, it becomes expensive to maintain this feeding schedule. You need to source and store the worms for your fish.

woman feeding betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Alexander Geiger, Shutterstock

How Many Bloodworms Should You Feed Your Betta?

Generally speaking, you should treat bloodworms as treats, because they are not a great source of protein for bettas. Better options include brine shrimp, white worms, grindal worms, and black worms. These are available in most pet stores. If you want to go with bloodworms, you should only feed your betta around one bloodworm a week as a treat.

Should You Feed Your Bettas Only Bloodworms?

Bloodworms are good for your betta fish, but they shouldn’t be their only source of nutrients. Bettas need a healthy and balanced diet. Therefore, ensure you are mixing bloodworms with other nutritious products.

Also, feeding your fish the same thing every day is not advisable. Keep the food exciting to motivate your fish to eat.

betta fish surface of water looking up
Image Credit: Ivabalk, Pixabay

Reasons That You Shouldn’t Feed Your Betta Too Many Bloodworms

Apart from the nutritional value, here are several reasons that you shouldn’t add too many bloodworms to your betta’s diet.

1. It’s Costly

A betta has a small stomach, about the size of their eye. Therefore, feeding them more bloodworms than they can take is a waste of money. If you add too many bloodworms or large pieces, your betta won’t finish them, and you’ll be forced to remove the extras and throw them away.

It’s critical to measure how much your Betta can eat to reduce wastage.

2. It Can Compromise Water Quality

Uneaten food can clog your filter, decreasing its efficiency and reducing circulation in the aquarium. This may result in a low dissolved-oxygen content, a change in pH, a rise in ammonia and nitrite levels, and general stress to your fish. Decomposing fish food also offers a place for mold and fungus to grow.

red betta in aquarium
Image Credit: MANU PARADY, Shutterstock

3. It Can Cause Constipation

Too many blood worms can lead to illness. For instance, freeze-dried worms tend to expand when dipped in the aquarium, increasing the chances of constipation. This affects your betta’s digestion and eating habits.

4. Better Options Exist

Bloodworms aren’t the most nutritious treats for your betta, regardless of how they’re sourced. Brine shrimp, white worms, grindal worms, and black worms are all better alternatives. Glassworms (tubifex) are also great for bettas, but they shouldn’t be fed live, as live tubifex often carry parasites or bacteria, so they should be offered frozen or freeze dried.

sick betta in aquarium
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock


How to Feed Your Betta Fish Bloodworms Safely

Due to the increased health risks associated with bloodworms, it’s critical that you offer safe worms to your betta. By taking safety measures, you are assured that your betta is eating healthy food and is not at risk of any health issues.

So how do you maintain the safety of the bloodworms? Let’s take a look.

1. Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

When buying packaged bloodworms such as freeze-dried, it’s advisable to read the directions and instructions for usage indicated on the package. Although the amount of bloodworms you feed your betta depends on other factors, it’s still good to check the directions.

This is crucial, especially if this is your first time and you need guidance on how many bloodworms to add to the fish tank.

2. Source Bloodworms From a Reputable Vendor

Whether you are purchasing live, frozen, or freeze-dried bloodworms, the source is very crucial. Before buying the worms, carefully research the companies or products you find in the market to get worms that will benefit your betta.

If it’s your local pet store or online, check for reviews to see feedback from other customers. If a brand or store has many negative reviews, there’s a higher chance that the bloodworms will be of poor quality.

You’d rather add other foods to the daily diet and get only a few bloodworms from a reputable seller.

3. Rinse Your Bloodworms

Before adding these worms into the tank, ensure that you rinse them properly. This process is especially vital for live worms. By washing them, you can remove any debris on the worms.

bloodworms in a cooler for fishing
Image Credit: AJSTUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

4. Avoid Adding Water From the Bloodworms

Frozen bloodworms have to be thawed before being introduced into the fish tank. To avoid contamination, avoid adding any of the water after defrosting into the tank. Ensure that the worms are properly drained before dropping them in.

5. Store the Bloodworms Well

For frozen and live bloodworms, they need to be stored properly to preserve their quality and freshness. Live bloodworms can be stored in a refrigerator (optional), with water added to their container that you replace every day. Alternatively, you can store the larvae in a stocking attached to your toilet cistern.

Frozen bloodworms should be placed in a freezer. This will keep the worms healthy until the consumption day.

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Bloodworms are treats that you can give to your betta fish. Even though your fish may love eating these worms, they should not make up most of their diet. As far as invertebrates or worms are concerned, there are better options for your betta that are also easily available in many pet stores.

There are different types of bloodworms. You should select the option that works best for your betta, depending on your storage capabilities.

Once you add a bloodworm to the tank, ensure that you remove any uneaten bits. If left in the tank for extended periods, the food will rot and contaminate the water.

Featured Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

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