How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

It can be quite challenging to plan a vacation when you’re an aquarium owner. After all, you don’t want your fish to starve to death while you’re away.

Even though most fish need food daily, that’s not true for Betta fish. Typically, a Betta can survive without food for 10 to 14 days.

However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t feed your fish for days on end.

Read on to find out how long you can go without feeding Betta fish and how to care for your fish while heading on vacation!

How Long Can a Betta Live Without Food?

Betta fish are notoriously picky eaters. They can go a day or two without eating and then gulp down every bit of food you give them later.

Plus, a Betta fish’s stomach is as big as its eyes. It’s why Bettas don’t need a lot of food.

It’s also why it can be a bit difficult to gauge how often you should feed your Betta fish.

Similarly, it can be hard to guess how long your fish can go without eating. Usually, a Betta can go without eating for a week.

However, it only happens when you have been feeding it healthy food in the right amounts.

If you’re looking for the exact numbers, a Betta can survive without food for 14 days. However, that will naturally harm your fish’s life.

Additionally, there is no guaranteed that your fish will even last this long without food. After all, it’s the average maximum survival time for Bettas without food.

The truth is that most Betta fish will begin to starve after about four to five days without any food.

Their bodies will start to show signs of starvation, and their health will gradually deteriorate. The lack of food will boost their stress levels. It might even cause them to contract a disease or face organ failure.

As a responsible Betta owner, you should strive to keep your fish healthy and prevent them from starving.

It’s why you must not let your Betta fish go without food for more than four to five days. Ideally, if you want to keep your Betta fish in optimal health, you should feed it at least every three days, regardless of how long it can go without food.

Manage Your Betta’s Living Conditions

How long your Betta fish survive without food will also depend on their living condition. Betta is a tropical fish, which means it can only live in warm water.

It’s why your aquarium environment needs to be warm for your fish to thrive.

Additionally, changing the aquarium water is also essential for your fish’s survival. It’s because Betta fish release ammonia in the water while breathing.

Ammonia can be quite dangerous for fish, especially when combined with the toxins that exist in food waste.

If you plan on leaving your Betta fish for over four days, change at least 50% or all of the aquarium water on the day you leave.

Change the water again the day you come back from your vacation. Moreover, consider the size of your aquarium as well.

A small aquarium that holds up to two gallons of water will need at least 80% water change.

Meanwhile, a larger tank will not require a complete water change. The larger your Betta aquarium, the safer it is for you to leave your fish in it without changing the water.

Just make sure that there are enough holes in the lid to ensure a regular supply of oxygen.

Additionally, keep your Betta tank in a well-lit room, preferably in an area with access to indirect sunlight.

Just don’t expose the aquarium to direct sunlight. It will cause the water temperature to rise, which will make your fish uncomfortable.

Make sure that the water temperature is 76 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. It will mimic the temperature of the tropical waters.

It will also ensure that your Betta fish don’t stress out due to cold water, resulting in death.

If you’re worried that your fish will starve while you’re away, you can reduce the water temperature just a smidge.

It will cause the fish to become lazy, which will reduce their activity level and metabolic rate. They won’t be able to turn food as quickly as they can in ideal temperatures. However, remember that it is not a permanent solution as Betta fish need warmer waters to thrive.

What Should You Do If Your Betta Fish Is Not Eating?

How long a Betta fish goes without eating will also depend on what you’re feeding the fish. The best diet for Betta fish is one that is high in protein.

It’s because Bettas are carnivorous fish. They feast on insects and insect larvae in the wild. It’s why you should feed them food that has protein in it and doesn’t have fillers, such as wheat or corn.

If you don’t feed them food that is high in protein, they might not even eat it. The ideal way to mimic the diet of Betta fish is to give them high-quality flakes or pellets.

If you want to provide them with a balanced diet, you can give them live, frozen, or freeze-dried food along with the pellets.

When feeding Betta fish pellets, it’s best not to follow the instructions written on the back of the fish food bottle. It’s because these instructions can often be generic and misleading.

As mentioned earlier, Betta fish have small stomachs, so you certainly don’t want to overfeed them and create more food waste.

Ideally, you should feed Betta fish at least twice a day for six days a week. If you give your Betta fish pellets, don’t give them more than four to six pellets every day.

Give them two to three pellets at each feeding time. It will ensure that you don’t overfeed the fish.

Not Feeding Your Betta for a Day or Two Can Be Good for Their Health

Even though it might sound counterintuitive to not feed your fish for a day or two, it’s healthy for Betta fish.

It’s because Betta fish tend to overeat. Often, they will gulp down anything you give to them, even if it is scrap and they are already full.

Overeating can be quite detrimental to Betta fish’s health. It can cause various health issues, such as unhealthy weight gain and swim bladder problems.

With that in mind, it’s safer to underfeed Betta than overfeeding them. Give them only a small amount of nutrient-rich food at a time.

When you don’t feed Betta fish for a day or two, it gives their digestive system sufficient time to digest the food particles consumed in the past few days.

Ultimately, it has a positive effect on their overall well-being.

Dos and Don’ts for Feeding Betta Fish While You Go on a Vacation

Here are some dos and don’ts that you need to remember to feed your Betta fish properly while away on vacation:

Trust a Friend or Neighbor to Feed Your Fish

If you plan to go on an extended vacation, find someone you can trust completely to take care of your fish. Reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors to find a reliable person to feed your Betta while you’re away.

It’s best if you find someone who has experience in keeping fish as a pet.

Even if you find an amateur fish keeper, make sure to provide them with detailed instructions on how often and how much to feed your Betta.

Make sure that they don’t overfeed the fish. You can also divide the pellets into days so that they know exactly how much to feed the fish. Also, give them your contact information before you leave for your trip. This way, they can reach out to you if they need any help.

Leave the Fish Unfed for a Weekend Trip

If you’re heading on a two-day weekend trip, you can leave Betta fish without food. Even though it’s not the ideal solution and you shouldn’t do this often, you can take this route if you can’t find anyone to feed your fish over the weekend.

Just make sure to feed your fish before you leave. Resist the urge to overfeed them to somehow make up for the two days they will spend without food.

If you leave home for more than two days, don’t leave your fish unfed. Find a reliable fish sitter to feed your Betta fish.

Otherwise, even if your fish survives without food, it will suffer from health problems caused by starvation. Plus, it’s downright cruel to leave the poor fish without food for so many days!

Use a Mechanical Auto-Feeder

If you’re going away on an extended vacation and cannot find someone to feed your fish, try searching for a mechanical feeder to do the job for you.

Petacc Automatic Fish Feeder, Programmable Moisture-Proof Electric Auto Fish Feeder for Aquarium Tank Timer Feeder Vacation &Weekend Fish Food Dispenser

An automatic feeder works by storing the food in a tiny container and then dispensing the appropriate amount of food at the pre-set time.

When getting a mechanical feeder, do thorough research. Test the device by putting it in your tank and monitoring it to ensure it works properly.

Make sure that it does not cause condensation to build up inside the drum. If that happens, it will wet the food, clog the feeder, and prevent the food from getting dispersed.

Don’t Use Vacation Feeders to Feed the Fish

Vacation feeders are white blocks that contain food. You put them in the water, where they dissolve over time and release the food that your Betta fish can eat.

Don’t get these blocks because the food inside of them is often low-quality. It consists of plant-based fillers that will not keep your Betta healthy.

Additionally, there is no set time at which these blocks will dissolve. The dissolving time can fluctuate between half an hour and a week!

It’s incredibly risky as your Betta can die from starvation or overeating. It can affect your Betta’s swim bladder.

Additionally, some of these vacation feeders release large amounts of ammonia. The release of excessive ammonia will prevent beneficial bacteria from turning it into nitrate quickly.

It will exacerbate your fish’s living condition.

Ammonia can also cause severe damage to Betta’s gills and reduce your fish’s lifespan. Additionally, it can cause serious harm to their eyes, mouth, scales, and fins.

Don’t Keep Your Betta Fish in Small Tanks

When heading on vacation, don’t keep your Betta fish in a small, uncycled tank.

You might think it’s a smart move to keep the fish in a tank with plant roots that will keep the water clean and act as fish food. However, that’s far from the truth!

Betta fish are carnivores. They won’t stay healthy on plant-based protein.

It can cause blockage in the fish’s intestines and cause constipation, which will affect their swim bladders and lead to bloating. Plus, terrestrial plants cannot remove ammonia or nitrate from a small tank.

If you leave your Betta in such a tank, you will effectively reduce their life expectancy. Leaving Betta in such living conditions will also increase the likelihood of nitrate and ammonia poisoning.

Final Thoughts

Betta fish are one of the rarest species of fish that can survive without food for an extended time.

On average, a Betta can survive without eating for fourteen days. However, you should ideally feed Betta fish twice a day.

You should also try not to leave your fish without food for more than two to three days. It’s because, after four days without food, Betta fish will start starving.

When going on a vacation, leave your Betta in the care of a reliable fish sitter. Don’t rely on vacation feeders as they are unreliable and can also cause harm to your fish.

Make sure to provide your fish with the ideal living environment. If you can’t find a sitter to feed your fish, purchase an effective and functional mechanical auto-feeder to feed your Betta fish.

Just remember to be a responsible fish parent while you enjoy your vacation!

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