Feeding a betta or goldfish is an easy matter. Both kinds of fish snap at whatever hits the surface of the water! What if you are out of betta food and only have goldfish food on hand? Can betta fish eat goldfish food?
Bettas eat goldfish food when it’s offered. But goldfish foods aren’t very healthy for them because the balance of animal and plant matter is not good for them. Bettas are carnivores and goldfish are omnivores.
This video is an excellent breakdown of what foods are best for betta fish:
Only feed goldfish food if you have no choice. That said, bettas eat goldfish food because the two species do share some dietary similarities!
Can Betta Fish Eat Goldfish Food? Is It Safe For Them To Consume?
Part of the reason why betta fish are so popular is that they are eager feeders. But goldfish flakes and other non-betta approved items should stay out of their water.
Betta fish can’t fully digest goldfish food. It has many ingredients that are foreign to the digestive system of betta fish. The right food is formulated with the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
You wouldn’t give dog food to your cat, just because they are mammals. The same goes for feeding bettas goldfish flakes or pellets.
Fish Food Size
Another reason to stick to betta fish food is that the size of a food formula might not be suitable for them. This is less of an issue with flake food. Even large flakes can be picked apart by a hungry betta.
Pellets and food sticks that are too large can get trapped in the mouth of a betta. Or it may not be able to eat them at all, going hungry.
What Do Betta Fish Normally Eat? Diet Requirements
Betta fish are carnivorous fish. They live in hot, shallow, stagnant bodies of water. Here they find mosquito larvae, blood worms, and other kinds of aquatic insect larvae to eat.
Sometimes you will see betta fish listed as “omnivores.” This is not true. Goldfish, on the other hand, are actually omnivorous fish.
In fact, the best food for betta fish are pellets and flakes that don’t use vegetable-based filler ingredients.
Best Betta Fish Foods For A Natural Diet
To keep your pet fish healthy, try offering foods found in its natural habitat. Bettas come from warm bodies of slow-moving water that are loaded with aquatic plants. Just the right place to find small invertebrates!
- Brine Shrimp: brine shrimp are one betta food that even the pickiest betta fish won’t be able to resist. These little orange crustaceans are slow-moving and a great addition to a high protein diet. If you can find them live, that’s even better. Or you can raise them yourself. Just be sure to use as little of the water that live brine shrimp come with. As the name suggests, they are saltwater animals. And betta fish are highly sensitive to salt in their water. It’s best not to feed brine shrimp at every meal since they are higher in fat. Especially baby brine shrimp (nauplii).
- Daphnia: daphnia (or water fleas) are a different sort of aquatic crustacean. These little animals feed on green water algae and other planktonic organisms. You can buy them in huge numbers, making them a perfect betta food. Daphnia have thick skeletons that make them a good source of roughage to fight constipation or bloating in a betta fish.
- Blood Worms: blood worms are almost as popular as brine shrimp. They are easy to find in the frozen food section of your local pet store. Blood worms are not worms at all; they are the larvae of midge flies. Their vibrant red color is due to the presence of pigments that will enhance the red colors of your betta fish when eaten.
- Mosquito Larvae: betta fish thrive on mosquito larvae, which have a high nutritional value. They are kept not only for their beauty. But also to help control mosquitos in stagnant water throughout Southeast Asia. Mosquito larvae are harder to find in pet stores. Wild-caught mosquito larvae can be used as long as you’re certain the source is free of pollutants or pesticides.
You can even pick up rare treats like wingless fruit flies from many local pet stores. A varied diet goes a long way towards helping fish remain healthy. While a poor diet leads to disease in Siamese fighting fish.
Similarities Between Betta Fish And Goldfish Diet
Goldfish and bettas eat animal matter whenever they can find it. So any pellet or flake formula needs to have fish protein, squid, krill, or other sources of protein.
Bettas eat frozen foods and live foods as well, just like goldfish. In fact, these items are even healthier for a betta fish since they need a lot of protein. Brine shrimp and blood worms are easy to find at your local pet store.
Both of these invertebrates are rich in carotenoid pigments. These molecules are sometimes added to flake and pellet formulas since they act as color enhancers.
When a fish eats a dried food formula or frozen foods with them, the red, orange, and yellow carotenoids make their own colors brighter!
Differences Between Betta Fish And Goldfish Diet
The main difference between the dietary needs of betta fish and goldfish is that goldfish are true omnivores. As an omnivore, goldfish eat both plant and animal matter. Betta fish don’t eat plant matter at all, making them carnivores.
Goldfish live along the bottom of slow-moving bodies of water. Here they hunt for snails, soft plants, worms, fish eggs, and other morsels.
Even buried food like small clams are not beyond their reach. When you see a goldfish rooting into the gravel, it’s looking for hidden treats.
Best Goldfish Foods for a Natural Diet
Goldfish should not be given a high protein diet. They need higher levels of vegetation than betta fish do. That said, they do need some animal protein as well.
- Snails: snails are a favorite food of all pond carp (goldfish, koi, and common carp). Goldfish even have specialized pharyngeal teeth located in their throats. They use these teeth for crunching up hard foods. Tough plant matter and the shells of clams and snails, for a start. You can even see a goldfish using them when it eats. It will chew with its mouth closed for a few seconds when eating hard foods.
- Green Algae: goldfish food also includes hair algae and green algae. Both of which a betta fish would never try to eat. Their love for eating algae makes goldfish excellent algae eaters for outdoor ponds. Algae that grows in a thin film on hard surfaces won’t be touched, though. Goldfish don’t have sucker mouths like plecostomus and snails do.
- Earthworms: since goldfish grow so much larger than bettas, you can offer them sized up worms. They will eat tubifex and blood worms. But a larger goldfish will eat most of what you have in a short time. Earthworms are plumper and large enough to fill up a hungry goldfish. You can get them for free in your garden. Or go to a bait store for them. Only feed earthworms a few times per week because they are very high in fat.
- Shelled Peas: shelled and boiled peas are often recommended as a cure for constipation in betta fish. Bettas should never be given peas. But goldfish love peas; the fiber helps them remain healthy and unblocked. Peas are small enough for medium sized goldfish to swallow in one gulp.
Can Betta Fish Get Sick From Eating Goldfish Food?
When betta fish eat goldfish food, they can get sick from it. Since goldfish are omnivorous, most goldfish foods contain high levels of plant material. Plant matter is rich in fiber and carbohydrates. Neither of which betta fish eat in the wild.
A betta’s digestive system is optimized for protein. It has a hard time processing a bellyful of fiber and carbohydrates. This can lead to intestinal bloating.
Plant-based fiber and carbohydrates can get stuck inside the intestinal tract. When this happens, bacteria start to feed on the plant matter. Causing gas to build up and toxins to leak into the betta fish’s bloodstream.
Bloating also happens when food absorbs water and swells up. Bettas don’t chew their food; they simply gulp it down quickly.
A dry pellet that hasn’t soaked up much water can swell if it’s full of plant matter. If the betta eats a large amount of goldfish food before the pellets soften, this swelling can become dangerous.
Most cases of betta fish swim bladder disease are really mistaken diagnoses. Intestinal bloat has identical symptoms to swim bladder disease. And it’s much more common in betta fish when given a cheap food formula that is high in plant matter.
Intestinal bloat is hard to treat and often fatal. The best cure is prevention by only feeding betta fish food flakes and pellets that have mostly animal matter. Take a moment to read the ingredients label of your food formula.
The first two ingredients should be animal protein. Avoid cheap fillers like potato and wheat starch. Goldfish food can have these but carnivorous betta fish can’t digest plant matter well. Ultra Fresh Betta Fish Food is one blend that meets these criteria, with an 80:20 animal:plant based formula!
How Often Should A Betta Fish Eat?
Bettas are active fish that live in a tropical climate. Their metabolisms are quite fast for a fish. Bettas thrive when they are fed multiple times per day. Whether that’s flakes, freeze dried meals, frozen food, or something else, many small meals are best.
Just because they eat a lot does not mean you should overfeed, however. Overfeeding leads to a fish tank with poor water quality. Leftover food decays into ammonia and feeds pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and white algae. All of which stresses even the hardiest of betta fish.
A good rule of thumb is to offer your betta enough food to fill the volume of its eyeball. For smaller fish, the stomach is about the size of its eye. Feed your betta two to three times per day.
Even if your betta dances in front of the tank every time you go by, that does not mean it’s always hungry. Fish will eat whenever food is available. That’s how any animal responds to excess nutrients. Since in the wild, you never know when your next meal will be.
How Long Can A Betta Fish Survive Without Food?
A well fed betta that suddenly has to go without food will not immediately die. Or even suffer from severe stress. Betta fish can go for 2 to 3 days without eating without being stressed.
So if you plan on taking a weekend trip, you are totally fine leaving your pet alone for a couple of days. Any longer and you should look at automatic fish feeders. Or having someone come by and drop some pellets into the betta tank.
Some stores still carry solid blocks of slow-release fish food. I don’t recommend these because they have very low nutritional value. Also, your fish aren’t the only things that will eat them.
Bacteria in your water will consume the slow-release food. Causing ammonia and nitrite levels to rise over time. The longer you are away, the more dangerous your water quality becomes. Especially if you have a small fish tank.
Bettas eat goldfish food when it’s offered. They are not picky eaters and treat anything you place in water as a possible meal.
But the nutritional value of goldfish food is not balanced to meet the needs of a betta fish. The plant material in it goes mostly undigested. Too much fiber and carbohydrates can even cause dangerous bloating.
That said, a little goldfish food is not likely to kill a betta fish. Just be sure to grab more betta fish food the moment you head out and do some shopping!
- Can Bettas And Goldfish Live Together Peacefully?
- How Often Should A Betta Fish Be Fed?
- How Long Can Bettas Go Without Food?
- How Long Can A Goldfish Go Without Food?