How Long Can a Betta Fish Go Without Food? (Vacation Guide)

Betta Fish looking for food

Betta fishes, otherwise called the Siamese fighting fishes are one of the most popular fishes in aquariums. In addition to their iridescent and vibrant colors, and particularly prominent fins, the betta fish is one of the easiest fishes to keep, they can survive under extreme conditions and can, in fact, go on for a couple of extra days without food as compared to an average fish, making it even easier to care for them.

How long can a betta fish go without food? The answer is at least 7 days, but if your tank has been kept under optimum tank conditions previously, your betta fish is capable of surviving without food for two weeks, yes, imagine that. Two whole weeks!

For fish owners that might have been worried that their betta fish isn’t feeding adequately or those that are concerned about skipping some feeding times for their betta fish, this article would be discussing how it is possible for your betta fish to survive for a while without food?

It Also Depends on what you’re Feeding Them

If it can be avoided, you are advised not to try this out; although your betta fish can survive without food for two weeks, going without food for that length of time starts to deplete their fat reserves, which might result in stress and other health complications for your betta fish.

Before you can be sure that your betta fish can effectively survive for two weeks without food, what are the prerequisite tank conditions you have to put in place?

Your betta might be one of those ‘special’ betta fishes that are picky eaters, some days, it might not want to feed, other days, it might decide to feed and it would do so voraciously.

This means that you have to be sure that you are feeding your betta fish with the right type of feeds. Betta fishes are carnivores, more specifically- insectivores, they feed on insects such as blood worms, and they especially enjoy frozen brine shrimp.

This might be because they require a diet rich in protein, and other nutrients such as fiber, fat, calcium, phosphorus and a few vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, the B complex Vitamins and Vitamin C.

If you are feeding your betta with plant-based feeds, your betta might choose not to eat them and even if they manage to, they are definitely not getting the adequate nutrient form that food. So you have to confirm that you are feeding them with the appropriate kind of diet.

So for your fish to be able to survive without food for two weeks, it must have been fed previously with the proper diet required- which is one that is provided by protein-rich feeds. Otherwise, your betta fish might not be healthy enough to survive even up to the 2-week mark.

Although the betta fishes are a hardy species, an can survive under some temperature variations even though the optimum temperature they require is about 76-81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continuous exposure to the temperature outside this range might have stressed your betta fish previously, so it might not be able to survive without food for a while because it has been stressed.

Otherwise, if your betta has been kept and nurtured in an optimum, healthy environment, it should be able to survive without food for up to 14 weeks.

Betta fish

Can your betta go a week without food?

As mentioned previously in this article, as long as your best fish has been nurtured under optimum tank conditions, it can survive without food for up to one week.

However, keep in mind that after one week, it starts to use up its fat reserves, tilting your betta fish towards starvation, organ damage, and other health complications. This is even worse in immature bettas as their fat reserves are not as developed as those of other mature betta dishes.

Although it is possible for your betta fish to survive one week without food, it is not advisable to do this if you can afford not to. At most, they shouldn’t go without food for more than 5 days.

How long does it take for a betta fish to die of starvation?

Typically, it takes about 5 days without food for your betta fishes to enter into starvation mode. Upon entry into starvation mode, your betta dishes starts to use up previously stored fat.

After about 10 days, the fat reserves start to wane and this might result in widespread organ damage, which would, in turn, increase their susceptibility to diseases.

As soon as the starvation period starts extending beyond the 10-day mark, death is almost certain. In some cases, however, it might not even be up to 2 weeks before your betta fish begins to succumb to the harsh effects of starvation, but if your tank conditions have been optimum, it is possible for them to bounce back after a period of starvation for two weeks.

After 2 weeks without food, death is unavoidable, as there would already be widespread organ damage.

How long can you leave you betta fish alone?

Although your betta fish can survive without food for at that a week, and at most 2 weeks if they have been nurtured under optimum tank conditions previously.

So you might be going on a vacation and you may be worried about the feeding your betta fish, be assured that they can go without food for as long as two weeks, as far as the tank conditions allow are healthy enough for them.

It is advisable that you ask your relatives or a fish keeper to look after your fishes for you because if anything happens to your betta fish, it is more likely to be as a result of unhealthy living conditions rather than an absence of food.

You can consider making a pre-rationed quantity of feeds in an airtight bag or container and instructing your fish sitter or relative to feed them with the labeled rations, this is to ensure that they do not overfeed then as overfeeding them would result in a whole lot of other implications which you would definitely not want.

Once your fishes would be alone for more than one week, it is advisable to a 50-100% water change on the same day you would leave and another water change on the same day you get back.

Failure to do this before leaving might result in the accumulation of ammonia and other toxic wastes and you might get back to meet you fishes all dead in the tank.

You might want to make sure that your tank is at least within optimal ranges of temperature, although they are hardy fishes and can still survive under slight fluctuations in temperature, you are still required to make sure that these fluctuations are at least avoided. So, this means that you have to make sure that your tank heater is functioning effectively.

One trick to help your betta survive for a longer time without food is to adjust the temperature of your tank heater to 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit, this has to be temporary.

The betta fish can still survive within this temperature ranges, the trick only works because the betta fish has a lower metabolic rate at temperatures that are this low, so it uses up calories much slower than normal

Vacation Feeders

If you are still skeptical about having your betta fish for too long without food, then the vacation feeder is an option to consider.

Vacation feeders are also known as slow release feeders, they are designed to dissipate feeds slowly to your betta fish. They are temporary feeding solutions for fish keepers that might be away for a while.

They are in the form of a solid block and are programmed to dissolve a particular quantity of feed at a particular time. This slow dissipation can take place for up to 2 weeks.

The vacation fish feeder or the fish feeding block you would select should be the one that would be most appropriate for your tank.

Otherwise, any food that is released might not be liked, or even regarded as food by your betta. You have to select one that is specifically designed for betta fishes.

You can check out these feeding blocks on Amazon:

For your slow release fish block to work adequately, you will have to make sure that your tank has an optimum water quality, this means that your tank has to have a well-functioning filtration system, because if the water filter is not functioning properly, the feeds released by the feeding block might accumulate in your tank, creating a dirty and cloudy environment due to the increase in nitrate and ammonia from the uneaten feeds.

This cloudy environment might further disrupt the chemical balance and water quality of your tank, and might stress your betta fish, ultimately resulting in their deaths.

Also, the feeding block is programmed to dispense feeds in form of flakes and pellets, so it might not be able to supply your betta feeds that are in form of blood worms and other live insects it might enjoy.

It is advised that you try out your vacation feeding block for at least a day or two to observe your betta fish reaction to this type of feeding system, whether or not they would decide to eat the feed dispensed.

Automatic Feeders

An automatic feeder is another option to consider if you want to feed your betta fish in your absence. An automatic fish feeder is considered by a lot of fish experts to be a more preferable option compared to the feeding block.

Check this on Amazon

An automatic fish feeder is a piece of electric equipment that is programmed to rotate and dispense food to your fishes at programmed times. The automatic feeder stores your fish feed in a container, which could be small or large, and the quantity of food to be dispensed at a given time is programmed.

One advantage of the automatic feeder is that it can be programmed to feed your betta fish more than one time in a day if you are one to feed your fish more than one in a day. Some automatic feeders store foods that can be dispensed for up to 6 weeks!

However safe and reliable you might think an automatic feeder is, it is important that you invest in quality automatic feeders, purchasing an inexpensive or low-quality automatic feeders night be disastrous for your betta fishes.

For reliable and quality automatic feeders, you can check out these Automatic Feeders on Amazon with amazing reviews.

A downside of the automatic feeder is the accumulation of moisture in the container which would either make the food soggy, block the feeder and make it difficult to dispense, or it might even promote the growth of mold on the feed since the food is wet enough and can support their growth. You see, this is another reason to invest in a quality automatic feeder.

Using automatic feeder could be tricky because two outcomes could result from an automatic feeder that is not functioning properly.

The feeder might dispense more food than is required by your betta fish, this could cause overfeeding that might lead to bloating of your fish, or a reduction in the quality of your tank.

Another instance is when the feeder does not dispense at all. None of these outcomes is favorable for your fish. Overfeeding can result in too many left-over feeds in your tank that might cause ammonia toxicity, while underfeeding can result in the starvation if your fish, which is what you were trying to avoid.

You have to carry out an initial test run before programming your automatic feeder in your tank so that you can confirm how fully functional they are.

How often do you feed a betta fish?

Before we begin to discuss how often a betta fish should be fed, let us look at the regular diet of an average betta fish.

Betta fishes are known to be carnivores, that is, they feed on meat. They require a feed that is rich in protein. Not only protein, but other nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, Phosphorus, Calcium, and Fat. To prevent constipation, they also require a diet that contains fiber.

What type of feeds do they require?

The diets could form frozen feeds, freeze-dried feeds, live feeds, pellets, or even flakes. The actual meal is usually worms, insects or crustaceans.

Examples are California blackworms, mosquito larvae, blood worms, common fruit fly, house flies, or even tiny earthworms. However, they particularly enjoy frozen brine shrimps in ice cubes.

Since we have discussed the feeding options available, the question remains, ‘how often do you need to feed your betta fish?’

Bettas have very small stomachs and a short digestive tract, so to prevent overfeeding which might cause bloating of your fishes it is advisable to properly ration their feed as they would even keep eating as long as you keep feeding them.

You can choose to feed them once or twice a day, you only have to adjust the quantity depending on the number of times they would be fed.

If you would be feeding your betta fishes in form of pellets once a day, you can feed them about 3-4 pellets. However, if they would be fed worms, about 3-4 worms is enough for each betta fish in one day.

And if you decide to feed them twice in a day which is actually more preferable, you should feed them with 2 pellets each time and 1-2 works for every betta fish.

Just ensure that the pellets are floating pellets, and not sinking pellets, because the betta fishes are top feeders and as such, they might not eat any fee that is not on top of the tank, this might starve them and even create a buildup of organic eat in your tank.

When you are feeding them with flakes, ensure that you feed them with flakes that are specifically for betta dishes as they have a higher requirement for protein, compared to other regular fishes.

You can also try skipping about one feeding day, this is to allow your betta to properly rid its system if any undigested foods before the next feeding day.

One very important thing you have to do is to clear out your tank for any leftover food so that they do not accumulate in your tank and make your tank unhealthy for your betta fishes.

Since this article has enlightened you on how it is possible for your betta fish to survive for a period of up to 2 weeks without feeding, you really shouldn’t be worried about missing a few; just a few, feeding days. Just be sure that their tank conditions are healthy enough for them to thrive in.

Taking care of a betta fish couldn’t even be better!

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

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