Bettas are some of the most popular pets in the hobby. It’s easy to see why, with their bright colors, interesting behavior, and ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions. And like all living creatures, they need food to survive.
Keeping the fish fed and healthy is one of the biggest responsibilities of a Betta keeper. But sometimes, there may be situations that mean you won’t get to feed your fish for an extended period, such as during a trip or a vacation.
Here’s the important question: how long can Betta fish go without food?
In this article, we will explore the feeding habits of Betta fish to find out how long they can go without food. We’ll also cover the potential consequences of underfeeding or overfeeding Betta fish, as well as offer tips on how to feed your Betta properly.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Go Without Food?
In the wild, Bettas can live for days to even a few weeks without getting proper food. This is because food can be sparse in their natural habitat, and their hardy bodies are used to entering cycles of starvation.
However, aquarium Bettas are a different thing. Aquarium Bettas aren’t used to starvation, and they can experience significant stress if not given food for too long.
That said, Bettas are still hardy fishes overall. They can go ten days to two weeks without eating and still survive.
Keep in mind, though, that Bettas in this state might be very weakened and are more vulnerable to diseases. If starvation doesn’t kill them, the stress or some disease will, so it’s still not a good idea to leave your pet unfed for a long period.
What Happens When Betta Fish Go Without Food?
If it’s just short periods, going without food can even be beneficial to Bettas. They won’t immediately starve if they don’t eat for a day or two, but their bodies will process and excrete the waste in their bodies.
This is why fasting is often a regular part of some Betta fish’s diet, especially if they’re suffering from something like bloating or a disease that leaves them lethargic. Fasting can be beneficial to Bettas if only done for one or two days.
However, going too long without food will make your Betta sick.
Like any living thing, depriving them of food is depriving them of nutrients that they can use to fuel their bodies. Bettas will be weakened and lethargic, and will most likely not move a lot until they die of salvation within two weeks of not being given food.
Aside from lethargy and weakness, they will also likely suffer stress. Stress lowers the immune system defenses of the fish, which can then be an avenue for disease.
Tips for Keeping Your Betta Healthy While You’re Away
There are a few things you can do to help keep your Betta healthy while you’re away:
Buy an Automatic Feeder
The biggest hurdle that you will face while you’re away is feeding your Betta fish regularly.
Even if they can survive for long without food, that doesn’t mean that you should willingly let them, especially if you can do something about it.
To make sure that your beloved Bettas are fed, buy and use an automatic feeder. This device will dispense small amounts of food at regular intervals and can be set for as long as you want. This means that your Betta will have something to eat even if you’re not there to feed it.
Just be sure to properly calibrate the feeder to avoid overfeeding. Some of the best options you can buy right now include the Petbank Automatic Fish Feeder, the FISHNOSH Automatic Fish Feeder, and the FREESEA Aquarium Automatic Fish Feeder.
Test Your Automatic Feeder
It’s also worth keeping in mind that automatic feeders might overfeed your fish if they’re improperly calibrated, so be sure to test them out beforehand.
Be sure to purchase high-quality equipment as getting a cheap one may result in harm down the line. Cheap feeders break easily, and might even dump all of their contents into the tank, polluting the water and killing your fish.
Only choose high-quality automatic feeders, as they are less likely to break.
Feed Them a High-Quality, Varied Diet
A varied diet is important for maintaining the health of your Betta, so make sure that your automatic feeder is stocked with a variety of fish food.
Some feeders will let you load specific portions of food for your Betta, which would be ideal for your Betta’s health while they’re away. Offer a mix of high-quality dry and wet foods, as well as the occasional treat such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.
Although – if you can only get the automatic feeder for a single food, don’t worry, your Betta will remain healthy.
Do a Partial Water Change
Betta fish can survive for a certain period without food, but they must always have access to clean water. Otherwise, you might just return to a sick or dying Betta – even if you’ve been using an automatic feeder.
Make sure to clean and refill your Betta’s tank before you leave (at least a 50% water change). If getting water from the tap, using a water conditioner will remove chlorine and other contaminants.
Double-Check Their Environment
Betta fish are sensitive to temperature and need to be kept in a cool, well-ventilated location. If you live in a cold area, make sure that you have the heater on and that it will maintain a stable temperature.
Additionally, avoid placing the tank in direct sunlight or near strong heat sources. Excessive sunlight can drastically alter the temperatures of your tank, not to mention promote excessive algae growth.
Consider Getting Them a Tank Mate
If you’re going to be away for an extended time, consider getting a tank mate for your Betta. While Bettas don’t feel lonely like humans do, a companion in their tank will continually stimulate them and give them something to do while they can’t see and interact with you.
Just be sure to choose a compatible species, as Bettas can be territorial and may not get along with certain types of fish.
Ask Someone to Check Up on Your Betta
If you have an automatic feeder, it’s not necessary to have a person go to your house every day. However, if you’re gone for a long time (a month and more), it’s a good idea to have someone check up on your pet at least every week.
This way, they can at least monitor if your tank is stable and notify you immediately if there are changes. If needed, they can also load additional food in the automatic feeder or check to see if it’s still working right. This is especially important if you have multiple tanks.
Maintain a Standard Day/Night Cycle
If you have automatic timers, your Betta fish should follow a regular night and day cycle even if you’re not there to appreciate the view.
When keeping fish, it’s important to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible. While you might just think of lights as a way to see your pets better, fishes depend on them for their internal clocks. Having no night/day cycle for long periods might stress them out.
A standard cycle is all the more important if you have plants in your tank.
Plants need a regular period of light to photosynthesize. Going without light for a long time might irreparably damage your plants, and dead plants can foul your tank’s water.
Ensure Their Health Before Leaving
It will be pretty difficult to maintain the health of your fish while you’re away – so make sure that they’re not sick before you leave home.
Observe your fish a few days before your departure; if they’re sick, you will want more involved care, ideally in the hands of another hobbyist. If your beloved pets are healthy, then there’s nothing to worry about, and you can proceed as planned.
Even if what you can do is a bit limited, knowing your pets’ health will at least prevent surprises when you get back.
Betta fish can go for several days without food and still be healthy, but it is not recommended to leave them without food for an extended period.
To ensure that your Betta stays healthy and well-fed, it is important to provide them with a varied diet and to feed them small, regular meals. Even if you’re away, you can do plenty of things to keep your Betta fed and healthy while you’re not there to give them personal care.
By following these guidelines, you can help your Betta stay happy and healthy even when you’re away!