Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Does My Betta Fish Spit Out Their Food? 5 Vet-Approved Reasons

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

crowntail betta fish feeding

Vet approved

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

It may be alarming to see your betta who usually has a hearty appetite start to spit out their food, but it is not always a cause for concern. Bettas are known to love feeding time and will happily swim to the spot where they usually get fed from. It is common for betta fish to not take a liking to many types of food. Many Betta fish keepers struggle to find foods that their betta fish likes and will readily eat every day.

Bettas have a habit of turning their noses up to foods like flakes or some types of pelleted foods. This makes it important to find a diet that suits your betta’s needs while being tasty enough for them to eat.

aquarium plant divider

Is Spitting Out Food a Normal Behavior in Betta Fish?

Yes! Most species of fish will spit out their food as a mechanism for breaking down and softening the food. Most betta fish pellet foods are too large for them to just swallow, and they use the teeth located at the back of their throat to grind the pellet which can make it appear as if they are spitting out and rejecting their food. Keep in mind a bettas mouth is exceedingly small and the only types of food they can properly swallow are micro pellets or small live foods.

betta splendens in aquarium
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

The 5 Reasons Bettas Spit Out Their Food

  • They do not like the texture of the food.
  • The food is too large. The betta fish will then have to spit out the food and eat it again to effectively chew their food.
  • The food does not smell good and is not tempting enough for the betta fish to eat.
  • Your Betta is unwell. They might have an issue such as constipation, parasites, or another ailment which causes them to spit their food out instead of eating it.
  • Your Betta is an improper environment for them. If their water gets too cold, your betta may refuse to eat. Your Betta may also spit their food out if water parameters are not ideal for them.

divider: bubbles

Choosing a Good Food for Your Betta Fish

Betta fish are strictly carnivores, and they should only eat a diet rich in meat-based protein. They will not find an interest in plant matter and algae in their diet, and they will usually avoid eating these types of foods. Bettas should be fed a commercial diet that is formulated for bettas and contains ingredients for carnivorous fish.

Plant matter should only be found in small traces of commercial betta foods. This can be determined by ensuring that algae and other leaf-based foods are found at the end of the ingredients list which means there are only small traces found in the actual food.

betta splendens
Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotsckii, Shutterstock

Betta Fish Nutritional Analysis

A general guaranteed analysis of betta food should be within these recommended minimums:

Crude protein 35%–40%
Crude fat <10.0%
Crude fiber 2.0%–6.0%
Moisture max. 5%–12%
Ash max. 3%–15%
Phosphorous min. 0.3%–0.9%

This is what a good betta diet will typically contain in terms of dietary percentages. Betta fish will prefer to eat foods rich in protein, and they will be less likely to spit the food out.

tropical fish 2 divider

What to Avoid Feeding Bettas

Some foods will cause your betta fish to spit out because they just do not taste nice! Bettas can be picky when it comes to certain foods and it is our job to make sure that they are satisfied not only by the taste of the food but by the nutritional contents as well.

These are some foods to avoid feeding your betta and to stop them from refusing certain foods:

  • Algae
  • Live plants
  • Omnivore foods
  • Flakes
  • Bottom feeder pellets
  • Goldfish foods
Image Credit: yin8003211, Pixabay

Loss of Appetite and When to Worry

If a betta fish is not feeling well, they will typically refuse to eat foods that they even previously used to love. This issue can be seen by your betta fish refusing every type of food you try to feed them. This can include live foods like bloodworms, micro worms, and other insect larvae cultures like mosquito larvae.

Loss of appetite can be caused by many different types of illnesses. Your betta may refuse to eat during the late stages of a particular health problem like velvet or fin rot. Many types of illnesses will cause your betta to become too ill to eat properly which can result in them spitting out their food and then leaving it.

red betta in aquarium
Image Credit: MANU PARADY, Shutterstock

aquarium plant divider


Betta fish are less likely to spit out food if they like the taste of it. This makes it important to provide your betta fish with the best possible diet that is purely made from protein-rich components. If you think that your betta fish may be spitting out food because they are ill, then it is best to treat them with the right medication and see if their appetite changes from then on.

We hope this article has helped you determine why your betta fish may be spitting out food and how you can correct this behavior!

Featured Image Credit: finchfocus, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database