Betta fish, these cute little colorful creatures, are the apple of the eyes of many aquarists. If you’re one of the lucky owners of one or some of these fishes, you must have wondered: can betta fish eat human food? Believe me, it’s one of the most fascinating, controversial, and talked about topics among fish enthusiasts.
Can Betta Fish Eat Human Food?
Well, strictly speaking, YES! But there’s more to it. Firstly, you could technically say the betta fish cannot eat human food! How come? Because even the human foods betta fish do eat, they need to be processed and modified.
For example, even fruits are cut into little bits and boiled. Technically this modified food isn’t human food, as humans don’t eat them in that form.
Once the technicalities are out of the way, there are some human foods that bettas eat. Some they can eat but usually don’t. And there are some foods they eat enthusiastically but shouldn’t. Sounds confusing, yeah? Read along, and the mist of confusion will dissipate.
Human Foods That Betta Fish Can Eat
As explained earlier, most variants of betta fish eat a number of human foods. These include chicken, beef, peas, sweet corn, mangos, spinach, etc. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it includes most of the foods betta fish eat and you’ll find close by. Let’s go through them one by one.
A tiny fish that eats a cow! How amazing is that? Even if it’s part of a cow. Yes, betta fish loves eating beef. And why wouldn’t they? In their natural habitat, they are completely carnivorous and go around feeding on other smaller creatures. So, these little meat-eaters are more than OK with eating beef.
They also need a protein-rich diet to thrive. And without a minimum limit of protein, they simply won’t survive. So, go ahead and feed your betta fish some beef. But the catch is ‘some.’
Too much beef can cause trouble with their digestive system. It’s common knowledge that beef is difficult to digest, even for humans. So bettas should only be given a small amount of beef now and then.
The proper curing of beef is also crucial. It must be thoroughly boiled. So, don’t just slice some beef pieces and serve them to a betta fish. After boiling, the beef should be cooled down to room temperature.
And NEVER use any additional spices. It’s unnatural, and to the betta fish, it’s unappetizing too. Finally, make sure to remove any piece of uneaten beef to prevent it from acting as a germ hub.
In the context of feeding betta fish, what goes for beef, goes for chicken too. Only it’s even easier for them to digest. Many fish enthusiasts will dislike the idea of giving fish land-based food.
But terrestrial animal protein, if given in moderation, can show excellent results in terms of the health and growth of betta fish. Just like beef, boil the chicken properly and remove all the seasonings.
That being said, don’t overdo it. Too much protein can and, if consumed consistently, will boost the growth of any creature; betta fish is no exception. This may lead to high levels of cholesterol, obesity, organ failure, and even death! So, the key is moderation: a regular supply of chicken in measured and limited amounts.
The natural diet of betta fish involves eating small marine animals. So, giving them seafood will only reinforce their ingrained food habit. Marine protein is an exceptionally good alternative to terrestrial protein. It’ll keep the betta fish healthy and improve their mode as it’s the easiest to digest.
Brine shrimp is the foremost seafood you can give to betta fish. Try to keep it raw, with as few additives as possible. Feeding betta fish tuna is also a great option. But make sure to remove the oil.
Especially if it’s canned tuna. Oil isn’t easy to digest; it also deteriorates the water. Frozen worms can make a substantial meal too. The same goes for scallops, oysters, etc. The rule of moderation holds for seafood as well.
Peas are a great source of nutrition for both humans and betta fish. Your kids may not like to eat them, but betta fish eat peas; they love it! First, remove the outer skin and then boil them till they get mushy.
You can also cut the boiled peas into very tiny pieces. The skin removal and fragmenting make the peas easier to chew for the betta fish.
Betta food must always contain some fibrous elements because fiber is a crucial part of the natural diet of betta fish. It helps them to overcome many dietary complications.
All the problems with the digestive system that were discussed earlier can easily be troubleshot if betta fishes get proper amounts of fiber. And guess what! Boiled peas contain a substantial percentage of very high-quality dietary fibers.
Having similarities with peas, both structurally and in terms of nutritional value, sweet corn, aka maize, is an obvious choice. Betta fish loves to have the boiled kernel of sweet corn every once in a while.
Just like peas, you’ll have to remove the outer skin. Make sure not to give it in large quantities. A single kernel a day, not more than that.
Every betta fish may not like spinach, but some do. So, you’ll have to check whether your little fishy friend likes it or not. Boil the spinach leaves lightly and put them through the microwave for a while.
Cut the leaves into tiny pieces and serve them to the betta fish. Spinach being lightly cooked is a must; otherwise, it’ll be hard for the betta to digest. And you certainly don’t want that!
Lettuce is very rich in vitamins and minerals. The minerals help with the growth of betta fish, and the vitamins are essential for the immune system. Being a vegetable, lettuce contains a substantial amount of fiber.
Thus it also helps with the digestive system. Just like spinach, lettuce should also be cooked to make the digestion process easier.
Cucumber or Zucchini can also be offered to betta fish. As usual, you’ll have to cut them into pieces so that the bits are tiny enough to be eaten by your little friend. Make sure to remove the seeds as well.
You should also boil it a bit to make it more digestible. Cucumber is ripe with many, many nutrients. Besides fulfilling much of the nutritional requirements of betta fish, it can also cure the infection in the swim bladder.
Betta fish will be delighted to gobble up little pieces of mango. Cut up the fruit into very small pieces and lower them into the tank. See how excitedly the betta nibbles it down!
But don’t get carried away by the fish’s enthusiasm. It may like to have mangoes frequently but use them as an occasional treat. Too much of it is not good for the betta fish.
Here’s the sensitive part: remove any uneaten mango pieces. Don’t allow them to stay in the tank for more than 30 minutes. With a long exposure, mango reacts with water and makes it poisonous to the betta fish.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to be careful enough or not, don’t offer this delicacy to your little friend. Because mango poisoning often has fatal consequences on betta fish.
Banana, just like mango, can also be offered to betta fish. Human food, in general, is seasoned and cannot be directly served as fish food without considerable modification. Because of being spicy, oily, or acidic, they’re either not suitable or unappetizing to a fish.
Banana is an interesting exception. It has very little acidity, doesn’t have the poisoning effect like mango, and is very easy for betta fish to chew and digest. All you’ll have to do is cut the banana into small pieces and drop them into the aquarium.
It should be noted that all betta fish don’t like bananas. See whether your ones are banana-type or not!
Human Foods That You Shouldn’t Feed Bettas
Feeding human food can be very convenient for betta fish owners. But if you’re a proud owner of a few of these Siamese fighting fish, you have to be careful about giving human food to them. Betta’s digestive system is rather sensitive, and they’re also picky eaters. Here are some human foods that aren’t good for a betta fish.
When it comes to feeding human food to betta fish, the first thing that comes to mind is bread. And yes, betta fish can eat bread, and if you let it have its own way, it’ll eat a lot of bread. But taste and nutrition, more often than not, don’t go hand in hand.
The very reason you feed your betta fish is to give it nutrients that’ll keep it alive and healthy.
But, even though bettas eat bread, bread has very little nutritional value for bettas. This is also true for most carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta and rice.
Betta fish needs very little carbohydrate, and it can get that amount from the other foods it gets. Besides, bread contains yeast. After coming into contact with water, yeasts expand, causing constipation and bloating in the fish.
Citrus fruits include grapes, lemons, limes, and most types of oranges. Hands down, these are some of the most appetizing human foods. Betta fish eat fruit, including these. These sour-sweet fruits are tasty because of their acidity.
This means they have a very low pH level. Thus when citrus fruits are dropped into the tank, they bring down the pH of the water as well. This is unhealthy for betta fish and can even be fatal! So don’t give citrus fruit to your bettas.
The Meat of Farm Grown Animals
As discussed earlier, you can feed betta fish meat. Whether it’s beef or chicken, meat is a great source of protein. They’re a perfect source of optimally balanced nutrition. Bettas being carnivorous, need protein, lots of it. But there’s a BIG obstacle for you to feed your betta fish. Much of the meat available to us is farm-grown.
Farm-grown animals are usually genetically modified. This is done for issues like more meat, faster growth, etc. Some of these may be beneficial, but admittedly they’re not natural.
Moreover, they are modified, keeping humans in mind. So when you feed your betta fish this type of meat, you’re giving them proteins that aren’t meant for them.
On top of that, most farm animals are given steroids and antibiotics. These are certainly not betta fish-friendly substances. So, if you mostly consume farm meat, don’t use it as fish food for bettas.
There’s a funny misconception among some fish enthusiasts that betta fish can live off plants. The origin of this notion is the fact that betta fish eat lettuce and many other plant-based foods. But the key here is ‘some plant-based foods’ and not plants themselves. Even when humans eat plants, they need to be thoroughly processed.
Plants are not fish food, not for bettas at least. So, if you’re expecting the bettas to survive eating the leaves and roots of the plants inside the tank, you’re utterly mistaken. If left to feed on plants, bettas will die within weeks, if not days!
Some Feeding Tips to Help You Feed Your Betta Fish
Bettas are carnivores, so they thrive when there’s a steady supply of high-quality protein. Out in the wild, they eat live food such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, blood worms, and similar organisms.
To keep your little friends healthy, you should try to mimic nature by supplying them with foods of similar nutritive value. A combination of processed food and human food will bear the best result, both economically and in terms of fish health.
The betta-friendly commercial foods or processed foods that may be available at the nearby pet store include blood worms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, white worms, brine shrimp, copepods, etc.
Feed these live/frozen food to your betta fish and complement them with human food from time to time. With experience, you’ll get the right combination for your specific bettas. And that’s the pinnacle of fish keeping!
Most fish pellets and fish flakes don’t contain enough protein that bettas need. There are special betta pellets and flakes that are specifically produced for them. Soak these fish flakes and pellets in water before you offer them to betta fish. Soaking will prevent bloating and constipation. This will also help complete digestion.
Fishes like bettas have very sensitive digestive systems. So, when feeding them commercial food, check its expiration date, and make sure that you’re not using foods unpacked long ago.
Congratulations! You started with, can betta fish eat human food? By now, you know all the human foods you can offer to the betta fish, the food you shouldn’t, and the way you should prepare the food before giving it to your fishy friend.
So, the bottom line is betta fish can eat some human foods but can’t survive exclusively on them. Therefore, use these foods as occasional treats and not the basic food for the fish. And even in those cases, give them in moderation. Like all pets, bettas will be delighted to have these treats every once in a while.