Can Betta Fish Eat Human Food?
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If you own Betta fish, you’re already familiar with their natural diet. These fish are carnivorous. In the wild, they get most of their nutrition from worms, insects, copepods, crustaceans, and small fish.
You can feed them the same foods in captivity.
In addition to this, Bettas can also get a majority of their calories from high-quality fish flakes and pellets.
But what about other foods? What else can you include in their diet? Is human food okay? That’s what we’ll be going over today! So, keep reading to find out more about this topic!
What Human Food Can Bettas Eat?
The term “human food” is super broad. Obviously, you’ll want to narrow down your options a little. To save you some time, I’ll give you a short list of Betta-approved foods!
If you want to diversify your pet’s diet, you can safely include the following:
- Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce)
- Boiled and deshelled peas
- Sweet corn
- Sweet potato
- Non-citrus fruit (cantaloupe and other melons, strawberries, mango, apples, and pears)
- Shellfish (shrimp, scallops, oysters)
These are all completely safe and nutritious foods. These fruits and veggies contain fiber, vitamins, and plant pigments to keep your Bettas healthy and colorful!
Chopped shellfish (either fresh or cooked) is also pretty close to a Betta’s natural diet. In the wild, Bettas often eat brine and fairy shrimp.
Some people also recommend feeding Bettas things like chicken meat and beef heart. In theory, these foods are alright. There’s nothing harmful about them if you use them in small quantities.
But truth be told, this isn’t ideal fish food, nor is it natural for Bettas to eat land creatures.
Think about it— when was the last time you saw a betta fish hunting cows in the wild? Such meats contain different amino-acid profiles than shellfish and other seafood.
Fish aren’t naturally adapted to consume these foods. This makes land meats harder to digest and potentially harmful if consumed regularly.
Should You Feed Human Food to Bettas?
So, we’ve got the list of good fish-safe foods down. Now, should you feed your Bettas human food? Not if you don’t want to! It’s certainly not something you have to do.
And if you do want to entertain your fish with different tastes and colorful foods, proceed with caution.
The foods I’ve listed earlier are safe and nutritious. It’s true! But you must remember that Bettas are carnivorous by nature. This species needs a high-protein diet and 75-90% of their food should be meat-based.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for fruit and veg, as you can imagine.
Your fish will be very healthy eating just high-protein flakes and dried or fresh feed. The remaining 10-25% of their diet should be made up of easy-to-digest plants.
These provide enough fiber to keep the Betta’s digestive system healthy.
But it’s a fine line. Eating too much human food can cause problems. Peas, greens, corn, and other vegetables contain lots of fiber. Overdoing it on that good stuff can lead to constipation (ironically) or gastrointestinal issues.
Fruits contain less fiber and more water. They also contain more sugar. Too much sugar and carbohydrate in general can cause problems in carnivorous animals, fish included.
So, when I say that no more than 25% of the Betta’s diet should come from non-meaty foods, I mean it!
Can Bettas Eat Vegetables?
Yes, Bettas can eat some vegetables. As I’ve previously stated, foods like leafy greens, peas, cucumber, sweet corn, and sweet potato are alright in small quantities.
But not all vegetables are fair game. Some veggies you must absolutely avoid feeding to your fish.
This no-no list includes:
- Fibrous, stringy vegetables: beans, celery, carrots, parsnip, and other roots
A little bit of fiber can be beneficial. But you don’t want too much of it. Besides the potential gastrointestinal upset, these foods bring other issues.
Things like carrots and celery are hard to chew and swallow, especially if you’re a Betta fish with teeny tiny teeth. These are a choking hazard!
- High-fat vegetables: avocado, olives, edamame
Bettas, like other fish, should get around 5% of their calories from fat. This level of fat intake is extremely low, by human standards. You can easily overfeed and fatten your Bettas with such human foods.
Bettas also have low stomach acidity. High-fat foods are difficult to digest and can cause all sorts of bowel problems. Besides, according to the ASPCA, avocado contains a powerful toxin called “persin”.
While this is no concern for humans, this compound is potentially deadly for fish and other animals.
And before you come for me, I know that olives and avocado are technically fruits. But botany aside, I think most of us still classify these foods as culinary vegetables.
Can Betta Fish Eat Bread?
Absolutely not! You should avoid feeding your Bettas bread of any kind. There are multiple reasons why this is a terrible idea. First of all, bread contains all sorts of additives to improve taste and texture.
Most breads contain added fats (usually butter, lard, or tropical oils), lots of sodium, and even sugar. These things are bad enough for us humans, let alone fish.
Secondly, virtually all bread is made with yeast. Yeast expands and takes up room in the stomach. This can lead to bloating and even severe constipation in fish.
Now, this is a deadly combo, literally. A bad case of constipation is enough to cause an intestinal blockage, bowel obstruction, swim bladder issues, and more.
Third, bread is not a balanced food. It contains tons of carbohydrates, almost no moisture, and very little nutrition. That’s the opposite of what you want to feed your carnivorous Bettas.
It’s like junk food for fish. I recommend sticking to higher-nutrition, easier-to-digest treats like veggies instead.
Can Bettas Eat Fruits?
Yes, Bettas can eat certain fruits. It’s not a wide selection. But they enjoy ripe and high pH fruits like melons, mangoes, and pears, just to name a few. These foods are both nutritious and hydrating.
However, remember that they’re also very high in sugar. They’re also not part of the Betta’s natural diet. While juicy, sugary fruit makes the fish go crazy, it might also fatten them up.
So, make sure to monitor the portion sizes!
Other fruits are very dangerous and even deadly! Other than the few aforementioned fruits, most of nature’s candy is off-limits.
Here are just some of the forbidden fruits you should NEVER feed to your Bettas:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes)
Except for bananas, all of these fruits are highly acidic. This means they have a low pH, generally between 2.0-4.0. This is very bad for two reasons.
First, chucking acidic foods into the tank can have an immediate result on the water quality. This is especially true if you have a small tank.
The lower the water volume, the stronger the fluctuations in water parameters. You likely know already how dangerous it is to have sudden fluctuations in water parameters.
As little as 0.4 pH points up or down the scale can send your Bettas into shock.
But that’s not all. Acidic fruits are also bad for digestion. Bettas don’t have acidic stomachs.
Ingestion of highly acidic foods like fruit can irritate their stomach lining and cause serious digestive problems and even death.
But what’s up with bananas? They have a pH of 5.0 or higher when ripe. Why are they on the list? Well, because they’re stringy, sticky, and very hard to eat. At least if you’re a fish.
Can Betta Fish Eat Cooked Rice?
I’ve seen some fishkeepers talking about this. Apparently, most fish, Bettas included, enjoy eating cooked rice. It’s small-grain, soft, mushy, and naturally sweet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Bettas ate rice. However, some of the same problems that apply to bread, also apply to rice.
Rice is very filling. It absorbs a lot of water, which could be a concern. While not as bloat-inducing as bread, it’s still potentially a digestive bomb for your Bettas. Furthermore, rice is virtually empty calories.
It’s low in fiber and fat, but also low in everything else. Except for carbohydrates. Rice contains a lot of that, in the form of starch. Much like bread, cooked rice serves no nutritional purpose for Bettas.
It’s just a potentially-fattening treat. For these reasons, I don’t recommend including rice in your fish’s diet.
What to Feed Betta When Out of Betta Food?
Ran out of fish flakes and dried foods? Luckily, there are a few replacement options. If you can’t purchase fish food for a few days, you can always feed your Bettas some seafood and a few veggies.
Consider things like:
These foods are pretty easy to find. You probably have some in your fridge already! If not, you can find them in most local stores. You can even purchase frozen or canned seafood.
Frozen spinach is also a good option. With these foods, you can create a pretty decent diet for your Bettas.
These foods are high in easily-digestible protein and also low in fat. The vegetables are light and easy on the Bettas’ stomachs. Just remember to get the right ratio of meat to vegetables.
At least 75% of the fish’s diet should be made up of protein foods. Vegetables should only be included as an occasional food.
I should also include a few words of caution related to seafood:
- If you buy canned tuna or scallops, choose the ones canned in water or brine. Stay away from oil-packed seafood. That’s not a healthy food for Bettas.
- If you buy seafood canned in brine, let it soak in salt-free water before feeding. You have to remove as much of the sodium as possible. Sodium can cause bloating and hydration problems in fish.
- Do NOT fry or grill the meat before feeding. You should feed it either fresh, boiled, or steamed. Otherwise, the food will be too dry and difficult to eat. Cooking with direct heat also causes harmful compounds that can be detrimental to fish.
- Cut the meat into small enough pieces for the fish to eat. It might take some time and patience. But it’s better than risking your Bettas choking on food.
Bettas are carnivorous fish. They require a high protein diet with lots of meaty foods. In the wild, their most commonly-consumed foods include insects, insect larvae, worms, small crustaceans, and even smaller fish.
That being said, Bettas also like to occasionally indulge. Up to 25% of their diet can consist of non-meaty foods.
There’s a bit of room for variety. You can include various human foods in their diet. I’m talking about things like peas, lettuce, sweet corn, cucumber, and even some fruits.
Your Bettas will also get the benefit of the extra fiber and vitamins in these tasty treats.
If you ever run out of fish food, you can also feed seafood like shrimp, tuna, and scallops to your Bettas. However, not all human foods get a green light.
Acidic fruits, hard and stringy veggies, grains, breads, and land animal meat are all dangerous for your fish.