In your excitement at the pet store, you may have bought a betta fish. But with feeding time fast approaching, you might be wondering—can bettas eat goldfish food?
Yes, your betta fish can eat goldfish food.
However, to keep your new pet healthy and colorful, we don’t recommend making a routine of it, as there are better alternatives.
In this article, we’ll teach you about the impact of poor nutrition.
Impact of Goldfish Food on Bettas
Let’s start with this—you’re not a bad fish parent if you give goldfish food to your betta now and then.
Bettas can ingest goldfish food. However, such food lacks the protein they need to thrive.
Goldfish food contains a high concentration of fruits and vegetables. While all of these carbohydrates are perfect for them, bettas require more protein in their diet.
Ingredients to look for in betta fish food include animal proteins like shrimp and other shellfish.
That said, if you don’t have access to betta fish in the near future, you can try catching some fruit flies and tossing them in their tank.
A Betta Fish’s Natural Diet
Betta fish are carnivorous and thrive off insects and larvae in the natural world.
In their native Southeast Asian land, they can sustain themselves off vegetable roots for a short period of time if they don’t have access to protein.
However, a plant diet will deteriorate a betta’s health, and the fish will soon die if it doesn’t receive a new means of getting protein.
Examples of proteins that bettas eat in nature include:
- Fruit flies
- Daphnia (aquatic fleas)
- Larvae (especially mosquitos)
- Small fish (including their own species)
In contrast, goldfish are omnivores. They eat greens and animals, including:
- Detritus (dead plant matter)
- Underwater plants
- Small crustaceans
So, while there is overlap between what betta and goldfish eat, a betta fish’s body isn’t adapted to consume plant-based foods for long periods like the goldfish.
What You Should Feed Your Betta Instead of Goldfish Food
At this point, you might be wondering what you can feed your betta fish to help them live a long, healthy life.
The good news is you have several options, and your local pet store will likely carry most or all of them.
No, we’re not talking about goldfish flakes here. Fish flakes are a favorite among betta fish owners because they’re easy to administer—a small pinch once or twice a day is sufficient.
Fish flakes geared towards bettas have a far higher protein concentration than goldfish food. However, they’re not as good of a replacement as prepared food.
Nevertheless, busy betta owners can feed their fish these flakes with confidence that they’ll receive enough of the right nutrients, which isn’t the case with goldfish flakes.
Betta Fish Pellets
If you have a little wiggle room in your budget but are still short on time, feeding your betta pellets is a more favorable option than giving them fish flakes.
The ingredients and composition in betta pellets tend to be better quality than their flake counterparts. They’re also fresher and tastier, giving your betta something to look forward to.
What’s great about betta pellets is their convenience. You can give them a small pinch in the mornings and evenings without any preparation work.
Frozen and Dry Food
Now that we covered the two most convenient betta foods, let’s move on to something that takes a bit more work—frozen and dried food.
These two foods most commonly come in the form of larvae and insects. So, knowing this, you might be leaning towards purchasing the dried variety.
We don’t want to discourage you with that—it’s a treat your betta will love, especially if it usually eats fish flakes or pellets.
However, frozen food is more nutritious for your betta than dry food.
If you want to keep your betta on this type of diet, you can also mix and match when you feed it dried and frozen food, depending on the time you have and what your pet store has in stock.
You read that right—it’s possible to feed your betta live food to make them feel like they’re in their natural environment.
As you can probably guess, live food is the most nutritious option for feeding your betta.
However, feeding your betta live food doesn’t come without its obstacles. For starters, not all pet stores carry the kinds of insects and larvae that are easy for bettas to consume.
Furthermore, you’ll need to have special containers at home to store the live food. To top it all off, you’ll likely have to replenish your supply often, as live food doesn’t live forever.
Symptoms of Feeding Your Betta Too Much Goldfish Food
If, after reading this, you’re still in a bind and need to feed your betta goldfish food, we’ll make you aware of some of the longer-term impacts it can have.
Like we said before, feeding your betta goldfish food once in a while won’t harm it.
However, if you’ve already been feeding your betta such food for a while, the following behaviors and symptoms are signs that you should stop doing so immediately.
Bettas tend to have an aggressive side, so if you’re feeding them veggie-packed goldfish food, there’s a high chance they’ll start attacking other fish in your tank.
They’ll most likely target the small fish in your tank, and they might start going for their tank companion’s vulnerable spots like their tails and fins.
Unless the other fish living with your betta are tiny, it’s unlikely that your betta will kill them. However, they could cause significant injuries and disrupt the harmony of your tank.
Lack of Growth
Baby betta fish are cute, but as the owner, you want to see your fish grow into a large, thriving adult.
By feeding your betta goldfish food, its growth may become stunted from the lack of protein.
Before you purchase your betta fish, speak with the pet store staff to determine how old the fish is. Your betta should grow up to around seven centimeters in length.
However, young bettas raised on goldfish food may only grow up to a length of four or five centimeters.
Refusal to Eat
Can you imagine eating plastic? That’s what eating goldfish food might feel like to a betta. As a result, if your betta refuses to eat, check the kind of food you’re giving it.
Improper food and refusing to eat can lead a betta fish to become anxious and stressed. Their physical appearance will also begin to deteriorate.
The good news is that such symptoms should clear up once you begin feeding your fish a proper betta diet.
How Often to Feed Your Betta
Now that you know what to feed your betta, you might wonder how much you should feed it. Because of its low activity, a betta tends to put on weight quickly.
Therefore, you should feed your betta once or twice per day. If you’re feeding them flakes, a small pinch will do. For pellets, one to two per feeding is a good amount.
It may feel cruel, but skipping a feeding day once in a while can help mimic nature.
It’s an especially good option if you notice that your betta starts taking on a lackluster attitude towards feeding.
Dangers of Overfeeding
Whether you feed your betta some goldfish food once in a while or a betta-approved food, you should be careful never to overfeed it.
A good rule of thumb is to wait approximately three minutes for your betta fish to eat. If there’s any food leftover after that time, you should remove it from its tank.
Otherwise, excess food will build up in your betta’s tank. When that occurs, it increases the ammonia and nitrate concentration in the water, which can kill your fish.
Poor water quality can also create sluggishness and fin rot in your betta, furthering potential obesity issues.
Regardless of the type of food you feed your fish, ensuring that the food is high quality is critical. Like human food, some manufactures include a lot of fillers in their fish food recipes.
As a result, bettas feel the need to eat more to receive the proper amount of nutrients.
Meanwhile, their bodies fill with starches and other additives that can contribute to them becoming overweight.
Nature made bettas picky eaters because their survival depends on the nutrition they consume—or lack thereof.
At the end of the day, it’s okay to give bettas goldfish food when you’re in a bind. However, you shouldn’t make it a regular practice.
To keep your betta fish thriving, purchase a protein-rich food designed for it. Your betta will be happier because of it, as well as any other fish that may share its tank.
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