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How Long Can A Betta Go Without Food? Facts & FAQs

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By Lindsey Stanton

Betta fish are definitely some of the most popular and cool looking fish around. They might be a little aggressive and feisty, but that is the exact reason why many people keep them, plus they just look awesome too. That being said, betta fish do need to be taken care of.

After all, when inside of an aquarium, it is not like they can feed themselves. This brings us to the question of how long can a betta go without food? The short answer is a maximum of two weeks (14 days), but this is really not recommended.

No, we don’t want you to test this out, but people are often worried about going to work, school, or even a short vacation while leaving the betta fish at home, so we wanted to dedicate an article solely to the topic.

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How Long Can A Betta Go Without Eating?

blue betta fish
Image credit: Unsplash

Okay, so most people feed their betta fish once or twice per day, which is totally fine if you don’t overfeed it. Yes, overfeeding is definitely a thing with all fish. They are not that smart and they will eat and eat, more or less until they either sink or pop.

The point is that overfeeding your fish is actually a bigger problem than underfeeding them.

Many experts actually recommend taking a day or two per week where you do not feed a betta fish at all. This helps give the digestive tract some time to calm down and regroup. That being said, we do not recommend taking several days off from feeding your betta fish. However, strictly speaking, betta fish can actually survive without food for up to 2 weeks or 14 days.

Now, once again, this is not recommended, as day 14 without food is probably the day the betta fish dies due to malnourishment.

However, do not fret if you miss a day or two of feeding, or even a few days. If your betta fish is well fed on the regular, a couple of days of no food here and there will not be the end of it.

If you are going to be away for more than a few days, we would recommend some other options. There are many good automatic fish feeders out there which can be programmed to release a certain amount of food over a certain time period. There are also feeding blocks which are more or less a bulk supply of food that gets released into the water over a certain period of time.

Can I Rely on Automatic Fish Feeders?

For the most part yes, you should be able to rely on automatic feeders for your betta fish, particularly the high quality models. These are designed to feed your fish for long periods of time without you having to do a single thing. Most of them are electronic in nature and many allow you to set exactly when and how much food is dispensed.

The problem arises when you go for low quality options, particularly from lesser known brand names.

The point here is that you do often get what you pay for, so do some research into brands and their flagship products, and spend a good amount of money. Your betta fish will rely on the feeders for their lives, so don’t cheap out. Also, you definitely want to test the automatic feeder for a few days before you really rely on it.

betta fish tank
Image Credit: Yan Cabrera from Pixabay

Should Feeder Blocks be Avoided?

Okay, so if you don’t feel like relying on an automatic fish feeder is a good idea, you don’t have anybody to feed your betta fish, and you are going away for a while, then you might not have any other choice but to use a feeder block to make sure your Betta fish doesn’t go without food.

Now, with that being said, fish feeder blocks to come with some issues. For one, you cannot control how much your betta fish eats.

The block is sitting there and your betta fish can eat as much as they want. As you probably know, fish are not overly smart and they’ll often just keep eating and eating, and this can cause serious health concerns and even death too.

The other issue with feeder blocks is that if they are left in the tank for too long, that food is going to start to rot and decompose, which then starts to create and release a lot of ammonia in the water. Ammonia is super deadly for fish, even in small quantities, and if too much food is rotting, your filter won’t be able to handle it either.

Should I Follow Feeding Instructions on Food Bottles?

Quite honestly, it is up to you. For the most part, companies that sell fish food do try their best to be accurate when it comes to their instructions. However, with that being said, those instructions are very general and designed to cover a whole lot of ground.

They are not always specific for your exact fish. Therefore, while you do want to read and follow those instructions, take them with a grain of salt. Fish are different from each other, even within the same species. Simply put, you need to use a good dose of common sense.

breeder feeding pellets to betta fish
Image credit: Jeerasak Leesomboonwong, Shutterstock

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When it comes down to it, a couple of days without food is not going to kill your betta fish. While they can survive for up to 14 days without food, this is definitely not recommended.

Always make sure to feed your betta fish a well-balanced diet with lots of protein, doing so regularly.

Feature Image Credit: yin8003211 from Pixabay

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