Do Betta Fish Chew Their Food?- Or Spit Out?

betta fish eating

Bettas are one of those pets who would never say no to any food. Be it a piece of lettuce or cucumber, Bettas love anything edible. But have you ever noticed how they actually eat? Do they swallow the whole thing? Or, do they chew and break down the food like humans? Well, you are about to find out.

A mature betta fish has around 6 to 8 teeth in its mouth to help with chewing. Bettas love taking their time munching down food (especially meat) and devouring each flavor. If your Betta is not chewing, you might have overfed it leading to such disinterest.

Chewing indicates a lot of things about your Betta’s health. That’s why experienced Betta-keepers often observe their pets after sprinkling food in the tank. We hope after finishing this article, you will know how to do the same.

Key Takeaways

  • A grown-up Betta has eight strong teeth (small and sharp) in front of the mouth.
  • Bettas always chew food to break down the food into further pieces.
  • Chewing makes digestion much easier for them.
  • If Bettas stop chewing/eating, it is an indication that they are under great stress.
  • If your Betta spits out food constantly, it indicates that the pellet size is way too big for its mouth.
blue betta with red fin
Owner: Holybull79

How Does A Betta Fish Eat Food?

Bettas have at least six to eight teeth to help them chew their food. It’s kind of obvious considering Bettas are carnivores or hunters. They use their teeth to kill small larvae or insects found inside the tank. But that’s not the only use. Whenever a food appears to be too large in size (for Bettas), these teeth come in handy. You know just like how we use our teeth to chew and break down food.

Now, that doesn’t give you a green sign to start feeding chunky treats to your Bettas. The food should be small enough (bite-size as many people say) to even chew with ease. Imagine having a too large piece of meat in your mouth. It’s painful to swirl around the mouth or trying to chew. The same goes for Bettas as well.

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Make sure you chop up any frozen food finely before offering your pets. Otherwise, the Betta might choke trying to eat the whole dead insect or worm at one go. We know you don’t want that.

rainbow color betta fish
Owner: Frankie Hernandez

Why Does My Betta Spit Out Food Sometimes?

Spitting out food is not a normal behavior for Bettas. They love eating and storing energy (sometimes at the cost of bloating). So, if your Betta is spitting out food constantly, here are the possible reasons behind it.

1. Food Is Too Large

The shrimp or bloodworm (which you have given as a treat) might have been too large. The average length of a bloodworm is around 0.3 inches. However, it’s only natural that some of the worms will be longer than average. And, that’s where the problem begins.

If you don’t use a measurement scale while choosing food for your Betta, you will easily miss the difference. Even a slightly bigger worm (by 0.1 inch) can make a difference for your little pets. That’s why, bettas sometimes spit out food to protect themselves from choking.

You shouldn’t worry too much though. Just pick up the food (be it an insect or just pellets) from the tank. Next time try to give something smaller than this. If you have planned a shrimp treat, make sure it is finely chopped. Even though Bettas chew, there’s only so much they can do with those small teeth. Make sure each piece of the shrimp fits into their mouth and is easy to chew.

2. Digestion Issues

What if you never changed the food for your Bettas? If you have been giving the same three pellets you give every day, it’s concerning when Bettas spit it all out. We suggest you check for constipation or bloating issues. If your Betta has overfed itself in the previous meal, it might spit out the food out of disinterest.

Or, it can be a severe digestion issue like constipation. Don’t panic. Just let your Betta fast for one or two days.

3. Too Many Veggies

Does your Betta like munching on lettuce or spinach? It’s great. But you would be wrong to add veggies to a Betta’s diet every single day. You see, it’s unnecessary for carnivore fish like Bettas to eat veggies. If they get it once in a while, it’s good for their digestion (and overall health). But don’t underestimate the potential of high-quality pellets. Bettas accumulate all the fiber and moisture they need from natural protein sources like shrimps and bloodworms.

See also  Can You Overfeed A Betta Fish?

However, many Betta-keepers assume their pets need veggies as much as us. So, if the food your Betta spit out was any kind of vegetable, you know why that happened. Just try to stick with their natural dietary requirement.

gorgeous betta fish over brown leaf
Owner: Holybull79

Do Betta Fish Know When To Stop Eating?

The problem with Bettas is that they don’t know when to stop. If you put 3-4 pellets into the tank, your pets will keep eating until there’s no more left. You can’t expect a Betta to save some of the pellets for later. Even if their tummies are full, it’s their instinct to store as much food in their body as possible.

Usually, carnivorous fish don’t get enough kills every day. So, they try to eat everything around them and use that energy when there’s no food. It works well in the wild. Since it’s their natural instinct, you see your Betta copy the same behavior inside a tank as well.

But your aquarium pets don’t need to use that survival method anymore.

So, don’t put too many pellets or fish flakes into the tank. Your fish won’t know when to stop. Even though they are used to having scheduled meals, sometimes the instinct kicks in; leading them to eat everything edible in the tank. But it backfires in the worst way. You will see their bodies swell in no time.

What we recommend is you only offer them the food they need to thrive till their next feeding schedule. If it means one or two pellets per feeding, don’t hesitate. Remember, when it comes to Bettas, overfeeding is much worse than fasting.

blue white gorgeous betta fish
Owner: Sean Aurellio

Is It Alarming If My Betta Stops Chewing Food?

Chewing is the only way bettas eat. That’s how you know your betta is loving whatever you have dropped in the tank. That’s why it’s surely alarming when you don’t see it chewing anything. It means the fish has stopped eating altogether. But why? Here are some common scenarios. Take a look.

1. Unfamiliar Surroundings

Have you recently changed the aquarium set-up? Or, you might have shifted the Betta to a new temporary tank to clean up the old one. Whichever the case might be, it means that the surrounding is unfamiliar for now. That’s enough to scare your little fairy water pet. Bettas don’t do well in unfamiliar surroundings. It perceives the whole situation as a threat. That’s why even though there is an abundance of food, the fish won’t eat anything. It simply doesn’t think the food is safe to eat yet.

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In this case, we suggest letting the fish get familiarized first. Keep providing food at the same time. Try to add some elements from their old tank to fasten the process. However, if it’s a temporary shift, don’t force them too much to eat. Bettas can fast for a couple of days and it’s completely safe.

2. Too Cold

Is the aquarium warm enough? We know we always say this, but Bettas really eat well if the water is warm. Consider getting a heater to keep the water consistently at 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The warmth slowly transfers inside their tummies causing the metabolic rate to increase. And, higher metabolism helps digest the food better. Bettas living in a warm tank will feel more hungry than the ones in a cold tank. So, if your Bettas don’t show any interest in eating, please check the water temperature before anything else.

3. Bad Water Condition

Water condition is not a single parameter. There are lots of other things that matter as well. For example, is the water too acidic? Is there enough oxygen? Is the water filled with toxins?

You see, good water condition consists of so many different factors. But we are not here to talk about that. We are suggesting that, if the water condition is not ideal/ appropriate, it will increase your Betta’s stress level. That’s for sure.

Bettas don’t take changes in water conditions very well. The excess stress related to what is going to happen is too overwhelming for these poor pets. It causes them to shut down daily activities like eating or chewing on food.

Before You Leave!

It seems like these small pets (Bettas) will never stop amusing us. If you are worried about your Betta not eating well, please try adding natural elements to their diet as well. Live insects like bloodworms, larvae, and daphnia are some of the easily available options. Or, you can try the frozen stuff as well.

For a detailed guideline on whether Bettas fish like eating frozen bloodworms or not, check out our take on this specific topic.

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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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