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Bloodworms for Betta Fish: What You Need To Know!

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

betta splendens in aquarium

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 carnivorous fish species thrives on aquatic worms and fallen insects. Therefore, when housing them in a fish tank, you need to maintain a diet high in protein to meet their nutritional needs. This diet should also be supplemented with a variety of vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals.

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.

aquarium plant dividerWhat 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 hemoglobin being visible through their exoskeleton. They can stay in their larval state for up to three years and last as adults for a few weeks.

On the other hand, the Glycera only thrives in marine conditions; therefore, it’s found in salty water. These worms are bristle and 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 high-protein foods in detail.

rosetail betta in aquarium
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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 great nutritional content. Unlike the frozen and freeze-dried. They contain more nutrients because they don’t have any alterations.

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.

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 the 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 every two minutes 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 high in calories but don’t contain a lot of nutritional value. Most of the nutrients are lost during the freeze-drying process.

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 expand in the gut, leading to blockages and constipation.

The disadvantage is that apart from having little nutritional value, they are rated as Grade A & Grade B. Grade A is better, hence more expensive. It doesn’t come with any particles from non-bloodworm species; therefore, you should choose it for your betta.

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How Often Should You Feed Your Betta Bloodworms?

Bloodworms should be a snack or a treat for your betta fish. 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 they contain too much fat. The main diet should include pellets and fish flakes with bloodworms as a treat.

If your fish feeds 1 to 3 times a day, you can include bloodworms 2 to 3 times a week. By supplementing with other foods, you ensure that your betta gets a variety of foods and 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
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How Many Bloodworms Should You Feed Your Betta?

Betta fish tend to eat as long as there’s food in the tank. Therefore, you need to control this by managing the amount of food, lest they become overweight.

If you are just introducing these worms to your fish, keep the portions small as you observe how they react. You can start with one or two bloodworms at a time. Also, your betta’s stomach is so tiny; therefore, avoid dropping a whole bloodworm or frozen cube.

To make it easier for your betta, cut the bloodworm into pieces before feeding them.

For frozen bloodworms, ensure you drain the worms properly after thawing. Avoid adding any water from the defrost process because it can be a contaminant to your aquarium. Also, avoid dropping the whole cube.

If you drop more worms than your betta can eat, the extra food will begin to rot, leading to ammonia spikes.

Should You Feed Your Bettas Only Bloodworms?

Bloodworms are good and nutritious 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
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Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Betta Too Many Bloodworms?

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

1. It’s Costly

We have established that bettas have a small stomach, the size odd a pea. 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 Cause Ammonia Spikes

Having an ammonia spike in your aquarium can be fatal. The spike occurs when the beneficial bacteria can’t consume ammonia quickly enough.

If you overfeed your betta, there’s going to be excess food left in the tank. If the food rots before you remove it, the ammonia levels will increase.

When these ammonia levels increase, your Betta is at a higher risk of ammonia poisoning, leading to death.

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.

Apart from constipation, the fish can also suffer from swim bladder disease. Too much fat and protein is the leading cause of this disease. Although curable, it’s a common issue among bettas. To prevent these diseases, it’s advisable to feed your Betta the right amount of bloodworms.

4. It Increases the Chances of Disease

By adding more bloodworms to your fish tank, you significantly increase the likelihood of diseases. When the water gets contaminated by the rotting food, the toxic levels increase, and your fish’s immune system becomes compromised.

In addition, if you add many live bloodworms, they carry the risk of parasites which puts your bettas at risk of disease.

sick betta in aquarium
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock


How to Feed Your Betta Fish Bloodworms Safely

Because of the increased health risks associated with bloodworms, it’s critical that you offer your betta-safe worms. 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

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

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

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 the worms are properly drained before dropping them. Adding this water brings in parasites and bacteria that can affect your fish.

5. Store the Bloodworms Well

For frozen and live bloodworms, they need to be stored in a fridge to preserve their quality and freshness. Once you get them from the store, properly store them in the refrigerator or freezer under the proper temperatures. This will keep the worms healthy until the consumption day.

Feeding your betta worms that are not correctly stored increases the risk of infections.

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Why is Your Betta Fish Not Eating Bloodworms?

Betta fish can be picky eaters sometimes. If you notice your fish is not indulging in this treat, it might just be that they don’t like the worms. In this case, you have to try a different treat.

When this happens, you should also observe whether they are eating other foods. If the Betta is also not consuming other worms, it may indicate a disease or parasites. To confirm, you should test the water for any contamination.

For recovering bettas, consider buying live bloodworms. These worms ignite their hunting capabilities and will keep the fish active, speeding up the recovery process.

betta splendens
Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotsckii, Shutterstock

Can You Breed Your Own Bloodworms?

Because most bettas love bloodworms, some hobbyists opt to breed their own bloodworms. Breeding is a good alternative because you can give your fish healthy food without contamination. Being involved in the entire process saves you money and time spent to source and find live bloodworms.

Since this is an extra task, the decision to breed should depend on how many bettas you have. If you have one or two, the work involved in breeding might be unnecessarily too much. However, this commitment makes sense for large-scale aquarium keepers who have a ready market to sell to.

Breeding bloodworms also requires a lot of space; therefore, you must ensure you can sustain that. In addition, you should keep in mind that when the larvae mature, you have to deal with a lot of midge flies. If you don’t have enough people to supply to, the work involved in breeding can be a frustrating and tiresome venture.

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Bloodworms are an excellent source of nutrients for your betta fish. As carnivores, bettas enjoy feeding on bloodworms in your fish tank.

Even though your fish loves eating these worms, they should not make up most of its diet. They have a high protein and fat content; therefore, they should be treated as a tasty treat.

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 the bloodworms to the tank, ensure you remove any remaining ones immediately. If left in the tank for extended periods, the food will rot and contaminate the water.

Bloodworms have benefits and disadvantages. Too many can lead to digestion issues. However, in moderation, bloodworms make a tasty snack for your betta fish.

Featured Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

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