Can I Feed My Betta Fish Small Live Fish?

blue black mixed color betta fish

Even Bettas can get tired of eating pellets every day. Manufactured fish food is nutritious and all. But the taste of a live and fully natural food (like a small fish) would be such a treat for them. That brings us to the question, is it okay to feed small live fish to a betta?

Feeding small live fish to a betta is completely alright. In fact, wild fish like Bettas love the experience of hunting live food and then devouring it. But the fish shouldn’t be too big (maximum 1 inch in size).

This is not the only consideration you have to take care of. Bettas are somewhat small creatures. You should be cautious regarding what you put in their diet. Now that you are mentally prepared to take in a lot of information let’s begin.

Key Takeaways

  • Indonesian Super-dwarf, Chilli Rasbora, and Guppy fries are some of the nutritious yet small fish your Betta can eat.
  • You can also offer live Brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, Ghost shrimp, etc, for a diet change.
  • However, live fish should not be given on a regular basis.
  • Offer live fish only once or twice a week for the best results.
  • Fish fries are also included in a live fish diet.

Do Bettas Eat Live Fish?

Well, of course, they do. Bettas are known for their attacking behavior in the wild. They would attack anything meaty and small enough to eat. Trust us, if a Betta could fit another Betta in their mouth, they would probably try to kill each other as well.

That’s why many aquarists who want to set up a happy community tank fail because of a Betta. One morning you wake up, and your Ghost shrimp or Amano shrimp is gone. It’s pretty easy to get on the bad side of a betta.

But since you are actively looking for live fish to use as a treat, we guess you won’t mind the killing. So, here’s a list of fish small enough to feed your betta. We have included the scientific name as well so that it’s easy for you to identify the species.

FishScientific NameSize Range
Indonesian Super-dwarfPaedocypris progenetica0.4 to 1 inch
Chilli Rasbora/ Mosquito RasboraBoraras brigittae0.5 to 1 inch
Baby GuppiesPoecilia reticulata0.25 inch
Brine ShrimpArtemia salina0.3 to 0.4 inch
Mysis ShrimpMysis relicta0.2 to 1 inch
Ghost ShrimpPalaemon paludosus1 inch
Cherry ShrimpNeocaridina davidi1 inch

As you can see, none of these fish are over 1 inch. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t find a cherry shrimp that’s 1.5 inches. What you see in the table is the average size range. Our advice to you is always to be very particular about the size. For live fish, don’t pick anything over 1 inch at all.

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We admit size is a pretty important factor. But nutrition is the crucial element you should look for. Keep reading to find out how nutritious each of these fish is (for your Betta).

Which Live Fish Would My Betta Enjoy The Most?

It entirely depends on your Betta’s taste buds, to be honest. However, as a Betta-keeper, it’s your duty to find something tasty and nutritious at the same time. If we have to rank the live fish we mentioned earlier, here’s what that would look like.

1.    Mysis ShrimpHigh in protein and other essential nutrients.
2.    Brine ShrimpContains a decent percentage of crude protein (but lacks other nutrients).
3.    Mosquito RasboraCarnivore fish, hence contain a decent amount of protein (but below the ideal range).
4.    Baby GuppiesThe wild ones mostly live on a plant-based diet. But can be raised separately, offering protein-filled pellets.
5.    Indonesian Super-dwarf fishUsually live on algae and plankton (not enough protein). But the small size is attractive.
6.    Cherry ShrimpOmnivorous in general. But will eat insects if you offer. The size is not that favorable as well.
7.    Ghost ShrimpAlso known as “crunchy water.” Contains a negligible amount of any nutrition.

Now, let’s shed more light on this topic.

colorful betta fish in white substrate tank
Owner: Raven Persad

1. Indonesian Super-Dwarf Fish

For starters, we have Indonesian super-dwarf fish. It’s labeled as the smallest fish you can keep in your aquarium. So, it’s a positive sign considering we are looking for something small. However, you also want the fish to be meat-eater or carnivores. It ensures the betta gets enough protein from the fish.

 But aquarists state that super-dwarf fish usually have plant-based food. You can’t expect it to be full of crude protein and healthy fat.

2. Chilli/Mosquito Rasbora

Rasboras are carnivores (extreme meat-eater). They live on tiny insects, bloodworms, daphnia, etc, in the wild. If you have these fish in your tank, you will notice they like the pellets you offer the bettas and other carnivore species. That’s a pretty good sign. It means your Betta is going to have more crude protein and fat (which is better for bone development).

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3. Baby Guppies

When you go for live Guppies, it’s important to avoid the adult ones. Yes, an adult guppie can be as large as 1.4 to 2.4 inches (which is too large for a betta). Your betta won’t even try to attack it. So, what you need are baby guppies ranging from 0.25 to 0.4 inches.

Now, moving on to food habits, wild guppies often live on algae and plankton in the wild. That means it wouldn’t contain much fatty acid or protein to suffice your Betta. However, if you are so adamant about feeding guppies, try raising some in a separate tank. Feed them pellets, fish flakes, egg yolks, and other insects (blood worms mainly). Such consistent intake of high-protein food will make the guppies more nutritious.

red betta fish close up
Owner: Jenseng Tea

4. Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp is hands down the most popular betta food around the world. So, no doubt it’s good for your Betta’s development. The best part is it’s also cheap and easily available at any local market. As far as nutrition is concerned, around 37% of brine shrimp contains high-quality crude protein.

If you want to double-check, experts suggest 35% (the more, the better) is the minimum protein level any ideal Betta food should have. So, brine shrimp passes that test as well. Also, considering the size, it’s easy to hunt and eat quickly.

5. Mysis Shrimp

Mysis shrimp is another Betta food considered to be full of nutritious. It’s not as famous as Brine shrimp because it’s more expensive. Size-wise, it’s similar to Brine shrimp. However, experts state that Mysis actually has more crude protein than Brine shrimp(above 50%). That makes a huge difference.

Also, Mysis shrimps are full of other nutrients like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals (phosphorus). So, you are getting more value from a single food type. No doubt, it has topped the table.

6. Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps or Glass shrimps are slightly bigger in size. However, it makes hunting more fun for your Betta. Adult bettas can easily kill and then rip the shrimp’s body into smaller pieces before eating. However, if the Betta is not that skilled at hunting, you should just avoid this type of shrimp.

Another reason why we don’t like ghost shrimps for feeding Betta is the lack of protein. Yes, ghost shrimps mainly live on plant-based diets (like algae, plankton, and other herbs). So, it’s a bad idea to bring ghost shrimps from the store and feed them to your Betta. Some aquarists even go to the extent of calling it “crunchy water.”

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However, if you decide to raise the shrimps yourself, that’s another question. Considering how ghost shrimps almost eat anything, you can feed them insects every now and then. Still, it’s a big hassle.

7. Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimps are excellent scavengers like most other shrimps. That’s why they mainly live on leftover food or litter in the tank. in the wild, cherry shrimps enjoy lots of herbs and plants. That’s why we can’t say you would get the most amount of protein from them. We guess it can be a fun treat for your Betta once in a while.

gorgeous betta fish reflection
Owner: Laura Drohman

Can I Feed Live Fish Fries To My Betta?

Yes, you can. Fish fries are significantly smaller in size. For example, guppy fish fries only tend to be around 0.6 millimeters. So, you can feed multiple fries to your Betta in a single meal. And, it doesn’t matter which type of fish you are choosing as long as they are not too large for a Betta’s mouth.

Moving on to the nutrition facts, fries naturally are not as nutritious as the adult size of that particular fish. At the fry stage, the fish don’t get any chance o accumulate more protein in its body. So, you have to compromise that aspect.

Other than that, fish fries are an excellent choice to make your Betta’s diet more appealing. Don’t feed it regularly, though.

Is A Live Fish More Nutritious Than Regular Pellets?

We are accustomed to thinking natural food is always more nutritious. However, when it comes to fish food, the manufactured food (or pellets) are more healthy. A live fish is more delicious, of course.

But every fish has different nutrients in its body. Some are not even that crucial for a Betta’s development. However, the large size of the fish doesn’t allow the Betta to eat any other food which might be more nutritious. That’s why feeding live fish to your betta regularly can actually backfire in the long run.

On the other hand, regular pellets for Betta fish have around 55% of protein along with many other minerals and vitamins. It’s easier to digest, and the size is completely safe for even a baby Betta. The only better thing about live fish is that it contains more moisture and fiber, which helps with digestion. That’s why try giving live fish to your Betta once or twice every week.

5 Tips For Feeding Live Small Fish To A Betta

  • Don’t make them addicted. Treats should only be offered once in a while. Also, Live fish (no matter how tasty) doesn’t have all the essential nutrients found in pellets.
  • Say no to Crunchy water. Don’t feed your Betta anything without researching its nutritional value. If it doesn’t contribute anything to a healthy Betta diet, there is no need to spend your money on it.
  • If a live fish is too big for your baby Betta, try the frozen shrimp option. You just have to thaw it before feeding.
  • Bettas don’t know when to stop, especially if it’s a live fish (their favorite). Make sure the fish doesn’t overwhelm your Betta.
  • In case you have the privilege, try raising small fish in a separate tank. feed them high-in-protein food to increase their nutritional value (for your Betta).

Before You Leave!

We again emphasize the importance of not overfeeding your Betta. It’s a death trap for them. Some aquarists even say you should rather let the fish starve than give too much food. Now, to understand why it’s said, you have to delve into betta’s eating habit. Or, you can just check out our article on will betta fish stop eating when they are full. 

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. 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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