Can Betta Fish Eat Orange?- What Happens If They Do?

blue white gorgeous betta fish

Love sharing treats with your water pets? Well, if the pet is a Betta Splenden, you can’t do that most of the time. Because Betta doesn’t have the same digestive system as we do. The majority of Betta owners agree that processed food can be dangerous. However, they often seem confused about natural treats like oranges. After all, what’s wrong with giving a small piece of fresh fruit to a fish? Well, everything.

Feeding oranges to your Betta fish can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues. Orange is a citrus fruit meaning it’s highly acidic. Citric acid highly affects betta’s digestive system. It’s far from what an ideal treat for your Betta looks like.

Still, there are many who debate. Some argue that their pet (Betta fish) enjoys munching on orange strands. But as a pet owner, it’s your duty to identify which food benefits your Betta and which does not.

In this article, we strive to find out whether orange is an acceptable food for your Betta or not. So, don’t want to miss out on anything.

Key Takeaways

  • Orange contains Citric acid (9g/L), which affects the digestive system of a Betta fish.
  • Regularly giving oranges as treats can cause severe skin irritation, loss of appetite, respiratory problems, etc.
  • 9% of orange juice is actually sugar, which can be addictive.
  • Carnivorous fish like Betta don’t need too much fiber and Vitamin C in their diet.
  • Watermelon can be a harmless fruit alternative.

Can Your Betta Fish Eat Orange?

If you offer your Betta fish orange, they’ll probably eat it. That’s what they do with almost any treat you offer. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good practice. In fact, reports suggest that citrus fruits such as oranges contain acidic components, pesticides, and preservatives that are harmful to Betta fish.

There’s nothing much to argue, actually. Citric acid, or a high concentration of vitamin C, is beneficial for humans. But fish, especially the carnivorous ones, don’t necessarily need that much Vitamin C in their treats. Fish like Bettas get those minerals from their surroundings through rocks, water plants, sands etc. 

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They enjoy treats like frozen bloodworms, brine shrimps, cherry shrimp, fruit fly larvae, mosquito larvae, etc. One thing common in each of these treats is the high density of protein. Unfortunately, oranges lack that. so, we don’t see any reason why you should be giving orange to your fish.

Farmers spray pesticides to kill any insect prying on the baby oranges. But those chemicals get absorbed by the fruits. We might not feel it as much, but a fish does. The same goes for artificial preservatives and any other chemical used in the harvesting process.

betta fish swimming among green plants
Owner: Soph Jefferies

Why Orange Is Not An Appropriate Food For Betta Fish

It’s very common for fish owners to run out of treats. That’s when you try to look for something healthy and edible in the kitchen. Since fruits are the most “natural” thing found in our refrigerators, you might think it will calm the fish down for a while. But that’s when we make a major mistake.

You see, Bettas can actually fast for a few hours without any health complications. Just because you always feed them at a specific time doesn’t mean you are stuck. If you run out of treats, go to the pet store and buy some appropriate fish food instead of feeding them human food.

The diet you have planned for your betta must have these certain nutrients in the recommended percentage. Take a look.

NutrientsRecommended Percentage
Crude Protein40-50%
Polyunsaturated Fat8-10%
FiberNot required

Crude protein is the most important factor. You should find a dietary supplement (store-bought or natural) rich in protein and fat. Pets like Betta fish don’t do well when they eat too much carb (carbohydrate-rich food). The tolerable amount is 25% (but less is better). And as far as fiber is concerned, carnivorous fish like Bettas don’t usually need that.

Now, you know what the ideal food for Betta fish looks like. Any Betta fish owner will admit that Brine shrimp is one of the most filling and rich-in-nutrition foods you can offer to a Betta Splenden. Now, look at the difference in nutrition value for orange and Brine-shrimps.

The table says it all. Still, let’s explain our findings. Orange misses the number one “Crude protein” factor in its nutritional value. The percentage of fat is also way below the required level. We can see some minerals, but everything else is just optional. Plus, a high amount of sugar can act as an additive. These water pets do not need a high amount of vitamin C.

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Compare it to a Brine Shrimp with almost 52% crude protein and 33% crude oil. The latter will definitely sound like a better meal for Bettas than orange. So, apart from the fact that it is a citrus fruit, it also doesn’t add anything valuable to your pet’s diet. So, there’s practically no need to offer such treats to your beloved water buddies.

betta fish peeking from a hideout decor
Owner: Then-Sell-5399

What To Do If Your Betta Fish Has Already Eaten Orange

Orange doesn’t hold the essential nutrition value your Betta needs. But it’s still not poison. So, calm down. Your pet is not going to die just because it has eaten some orange strands today. However, if it’s a regular practice, there might be some health complications. Take a look.

1. Respiratory Problems

 You have to drop small orange strands in the water, which can decrease the pH level of the entire set-up. As you know, orange contains acid. Hence the water can become slightly acidic too. But the real problem with acidic water is that it tends to thicken the mucus on your Betta’s gills. Yup, that’s the part responsible for filtering out oxygen from the water and then transferring it to the lungs.

Since the mucus is now thicker, it’s difficult for oxygen to pass through. That’s why acidic water leads to breathing difficulty in your Betta. They have a hard time collecting enough oxygen to function.

2. Skin Irritation

There are two reasons why your Betta fish has an irritated skin. It’s because you have dropped several strands of oranges into the water. As a result, Citric acid has been released into the habitat causing the pH level to decrease significantly.

Another way the pH goes lower is the waste fish release into the aquarium. Eating highly acidic food will lead to highly acidic waste as well. And the waste stays inside the aquarium until the next water change.

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Overall the water condition becomes unsuitable for your Betta fish. Common symptoms are white spots on the fin or red spots on the body.

3. Constipation

An upset stomach is inevitable if you are feeding oranges regularly. Even though Betta is carnivorous, it enjoys munching down veggies like kale, peas, corn, etc. But orange is too much. The highly acidic component affects their digestive system.

Imagine what happens when we eat something highly acidic. For a small fish like Betta, orange does the same. Consequently, the fish might suffer from constipation or diarrhea depending on digestive strength.

4. Loss Of Appetite

Loss of appetite can be a sign of lethargy as well. But you will also notice it if the fish has an upset stomach, irritated skin, or breathing difficulty. So, it’s not the first symptom you look for. If the water stays cloudy long after you have poured pellets into the aquarium, your fish might not be eating much.

What Type Of Fruits Are Safe For Betta Fish, Then?

Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange should be avoided if you keep a Betta fish. Bettas don’t require fruits in their diet. But if you feel like your Betta has a sweet tooth, try giving it fruits like watermelon, grapefruit, etc.

Even though fruits like watermelon don’t contain enough nutrition as well, it doesn’t have citric acid to irritate your fish. So, it can be a good alternative to orange minus the harmful side effects.

Other alternatives are corn, peas (boiled), cucumber, kale, etc. But don’t overfeed. And, of course, don’t give such treats every day. Just stick with specifically produced pellets for Bettas.

Before You Leave!

We hope the idea that carnivorous fish like Betta can easily digest an orange has been debunked. But now what? Do you leave the fish unfed if you ever run out of treats again? And how long exactly can they survive without food? To learn the right thing to do, please follow our article that explains how many days a Betta can fast.

Article title: How many days can I fast my Betta?

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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