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Can Bettas Eat Goldfish Food? Vet-Approved Science & Nutritional Info

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

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These fish can technically eat goldfish food and digest it—for a time. However, Betta fish are carnivores, while goldfish are largely herbivores. Goldfish flakes are usually high in veggies and fruits, which are the last things that Betta fish need.

While you can feed your Betta fish goldfish flakes in a pinch, they should not make up their main diet. Instead, choose a food that contains almost exclusively meat. Such pellets will keep your Betta fish the happiest and healthiest.

Feeding your Betta fish goldfish flakes once isn’t going to kill them, but it won’t settle in their digestive system well either. In the long run, these flakes will lead to nutritional deficiencies and health problems.

Will Goldfish Food Kill a Betta?

Betta fish have pretty stout digestive systems, so they can digest goldfish flakes to a certain extent. However, they evolved to live off of a protein-rich diet of mostly insects, some invertebrates, and other fish. The veggies and fruit found in goldfish flakes are not going to give them the nutrition that they need to thrive.

You likely won’t notice a problem at first. However, as your betta continues to be fed the incorrect diet, they may become lethargic.

Without the proper diet, the Betta fish will eventually develop nutritional problems. These can be hard to notice in a fish. Typically, they will appear dull and lethargic before eventually succumbing to certain ailments and then passing. In some cases, they may simply become sick with parasites or infection first, as their immune system will not function properly on improper food.

Betta Fish in a Bowl
Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

Can a Betta Fish Eat Regular Fish Food?

Most fish food out there that isn’t directed toward a specific species is designed for omnivores, which Betta fish are not. Therefore, they cannot eat it. It likely won’t kill them, but it isn’t going to contain what they need in their diet. They won’t thrive on it and will likely live a shorter lifespan than they could have otherwise.

Just like people, feeding Betta fish the wrong diet will damage their health.

When judging whether your Betta fish can eat a particular food, take a look at the ingredient list. The food should contain different fish meats. Preferably, this should make up most of the food. There will likely be a few binders to hold it all together as pellets, but the first few ingredients should be fish-derived.

If the food seems heavy in fruits or veggies instead, it isn’t made for a Betta fish.

Will Betta Fish Eat Food at the Bottom of Their Tank?

This is mostly a matter of the fish’s personality. Many will not follow food all the way to the bottom of their tank. Some may chase it about halfway down until they realize that they aren’t catching it and then turn back around and continue feeding at the top. Others may search the bottom of their tank for extra food, even if they didn’t see anything fall down there. Other fish may not chase the food at all or even seem to notice that it fell.

Betta fish have upward-pointing mouths, so they aren’t designed to eat things off the floor with any ease. Instead, they sit at the top of the water and eat things that float. They may occasionally attack lower-level fish, but they usually prefer to attack things near the top of the water.

In captivity, pre-soaked slow sinking pellets are recommended. Even if your fish does eat food on the bottom of the tank, this is often more difficult for them to do. Plus, they need to take in air from the surface regularly, so they may have to make many dives to get all the food at the bottom.

Females seem more likely to chase food toward the bottom of the tank. This is likely because they aren’t weighed down by a huge tail like the male is. They can go much faster and sometimes, may even catch falling pellets, while males often have a hard time doing this at all.

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

What Kind of Food Do Betta Fish Eat?

Preferably, Betta fish should eat floating pellets that are high in protein. The pellets should have a variety of fish or invertebrates in them, preferably as the first few ingredients. This will ensure that they are high in protein, which is exactly what your Betta fish needs.

Most fish foods will contain high levels of fruits and veggies, as they are designed for omnivores (which most aquarium fish are). You may need to search for food specifically designed for a Betta fish.

This doesn’t mean you can assume that any fish food advertised for Bettas is actually good for them. Many companies make generalized fish food and then stick a picture of a Betta on the front of the package, even though the food itself isn’t good for Betta fish.

Be sure to check the actual ingredient list before deciding on a food for your Betta. If you want them to thrive, they must be provided with a proper diet.

Protein-rich food may be more expensive, but it is important to realize that Betta fish do not need many pellets. You’ll only be feeding your Betta fish two to three pellets a day, and one container often contains hundreds of pellets.

You can also feed your Betta fish freeze-dried and frozen food, though these shouldn’t make up the bulk of their diet. Blood worms are great options, and you can find them at many local stores.

Bettas shouldn’t eat goldfish food, but can goldfish eat betta food? Click here to find out!

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Final Thoughts

You should not feed your Betta fish goldfish food if you can avoid it. There is a reason that goldfish food is specifically designed for goldfish. They are omnivores and Betta fish are not. Bettas need protein-rich food that mostly contains meat. Goldfish thrive on fruits and veggies. They simply need a different variety of foods; it makes little sense to feed Bettas a food designed for goldfish.

Instead, you should feed your Betta a food that is high in protein. Look for foods specifically designed for Betta fish, but be sure to check the ingredient list as well. Just because a food is advertised as being for Betta fish doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best option.

The first few ingredients in any Betta food should be types of fish. Some binders will likely appear on the list too because the food needs something to keep all the ingredients together, but it should contain mostly fish or invertebrates.

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Featured Image Credit: Ivabalk, Pixabay

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