Love feeding your Betta? Well, then, you must know when to stop too. Because it seems like your betta doesn’t know how to do it for themselves, if you have decided to keep Bettas, we bet people have already advised you to watch how much you’re feeding them. Bettas have a bad reputation for not stopping even when they are full. So, how much of this claim is true?
A Betta will not respond to its full stomach by stopping its food intake. Considering they are carnivores, it’s an instinct for Bettas to store as much food as possible. If you give them a whole day’s worth of food, they will try to eat it all until a serious medical condition arises.
Bettas are wild and not very difficult to take care of. But the only thing they have a hard time dealing with is deciding when to stop eating. To be able to help your pet, you need to understand why they behave like this and what you can possibly do. So, are you ready to find out?
- No, Bettas won’t stop eating even if they are not hungry anymore.
- Bettas are wild fish; hence they naturally try to intake and store as much energy as possible.
- Fasting is better for your Betta than overeating.
- Overeating can cause stress, pain in the swim bladder, bloating, and other digestive issues.
- Don’t give food that a Betta can’t finish within 5 minutes.
Will Betta Fish Stop Eating Once They Are Full?
Is your betta going after any food you drop into the tank? Then, it’s probably still hungry. How about we tell you that’s a common misconception? Bettas are not like other domestic pets like cats or dogs. They don’t show signs of disinterest once their tummies can’t take anymore.
We know it sounds weird. But to understand why Betta showcases such behavior, we have to dive deeper. Imagine a carnivore (which mainly lives off meat) fish in a pond. It always has to look for insects. But let’s be honest; it mostly depends on luck.
The days they get a good catch like brine shrimp or mosquito larvae, they get to eat. Otherwise, they have no choice but to starve. That’s why whenever a betta comes across meaty food underwater, it almost never declines. There’s no guarantee they will get this awesome opportunity the next day.
Now, this primal instinct passes on to bettas living inside your fish tank as well. there’s nothing we can do about that. even though you are committed to providing food for the fish every day, they will still live in doubt and fear. That’s why no matter how many pellets you offer, the bettas seem interested in having more.
It’s simply because of their natural instincts and has nothing to do with their hunger level.
How Do I Know My Betta Is Full?
Bettas would rather spit out all the food after chewing than reject it completely. That’s why sometimes you see your bettas chewing food as if it’s enjoying the meal only to spit it out later.
You are simply wasting food. As we have said earlier, you can’t rely on a Betta to tell you when it’s full. Instead, you have to check for certain signs and decide accordingly. Such as:
1. Spitting Out Food
One of the most common symptoms is spitting out food once they are done chewing. At first, it looks like the betta is inviting food into its mouth. But if you follow up, you will see it spitting out majority of the food into the water again. It happens because the stretch receptors in its stomach don’t allow any more food leaving the fish no other choice.
We know betta-keepers who assume the fish doesn’t like the type of food, hence spitting it out. However, we always urge them to investigate whether they are overfeeding their pet or not.
To be honest, Bettas are not that picky. They will happily eat anything you throw into the tank (including veggies). So, that’s a major sign to know when your Betta is full.
2. Bloated Belly
What’s more obvious than a bloated belly? Even though bettas show no sign of stopping, you can check whether their body or face is bloating. If yes, remove the remaining food as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, bettas have a tendency to keep stuffing food into their mouth even with a swollen belly. Such bloating is a direct consequence of the belly stretching too much to make space for the extra food. It takes a while for the betta’s brain to receive the signal and discourage further eating.
Is your betta showing lethargic behaviors after eating? It includes hiding, sitting at the bottom of the tank, not moving much, etc. well, such behaviors arise when the fish has been overfed. It’s kind of similar to how we feel after overeating at a buffet. Having appropriate portions of meals wouldn’t affect your betta’s daily energy and activities.
4. Foul Smell
You won’t notice the smell immediately. Once your fish releases food waste back into the water, it might have a foul smell. That’s because most of the food is decomposed properly. That’s a sign that your Betta was offered too much food. Once you identify the reason behind such a smell, try to reduce the portion from the next meal.
Note: With foul smell, there must be a lot of toxins swimming around the tank. It’s better to run a filter or clean the water yourself.
What’s The Right Amount Of Food For A Betta?
The right amount of food varies for every Betta. If your Betta has a strong digestive system and appetite, it may want more than 3 pellets. So, you have to learn your pet’s eating habits before deciding how much is too much.
For example, start by putting 3-4 pellets (manufactured for bettas) that are rich-in-protein. Turn on a timer and wait for 5 minutes. Anything left after 5 minutes would cause bloating and should be considered as overeating. The reason is simple. Given their tiny stomach size, 5 minutes is enough to fill it up.
So, if your Betta successfully eats all 4 pellets within that time frame, it should be alright to give that much food on a daily basis. However, there’s a small tip. Please try to soak the pellets beforehand. This way the pellets become softer and easier to digest. It helps with constipation.
Another thing we would like to address is leaving your Betta unfed for a couple of days. Many people make the mistake of overfeeding the fish before leaving (thinking it would keep them full for a longer time). But that’s actually more damaging.
What happens when you overfeed your Betta like this is discussed below. But for now, just remember that it’s alright to underfeed or even let the Betta fast for a few days. According to reports, a Betta doesn’t show any medical issues if it doesn’t get any food for 5-7 days.
That’s why we have to stop the practice of dropping 15-20 pellets on the tank before leaving home. The Betta is not going to eat following its previous schedule or habit. The irony is, your betta will try to finish all the food available in the tank without a break. This would cause severe bloating, stomach pain, digestive error and so on.
That’s why even though you won’t be available for the betta’s next meal, try to stick with its usual meal plan. If you can’t make it, don’t feel guilty. Your betta would be able to handle being unfed one or two times.
What Happens If The Betta Keeps Eating?
We have said over and over again how overfeeding is bad. But exactly what kind of complications might occur? Well, see for yourself.
1. Swim-Bladder Issue
An overfed Betta will not swim as much as a healthy one. We blame their swim-bladder issue for that. Yes, it’s an organ responsible for helping the Betta float on top of the tank.
However, excess food can trigger high amount of digestive juice to be produced in the stomach. It ultimately helps producing lots of gas which find its way into the bladder. Needless to say, it affects how the bladder functions causing the betta to stay only at the bottom of the tank.
2. Toxicity In The Digestive System
Another problem with overeating is that it takes longer to digest all the items within the required time frame. Considering the presence of digestive juice and other enzymes, some of the food might rot inside the stomach. And that’s how toxins spread throughout the body.
It’s very important to digest all the food properly to avoid constipation. If the body tries releasing undigested food, there ought to be some kind of trouble. And, for Bettas, it’s called constipation. It can be really painful for a small species like Betta.
Before You Leave!
Again, we urge you to consider fasting your betta than overfeeding it. especially if you are planning to be away from home, it’s better to let the fish fast. Now, how a betta react to fasting is another question. For that, you have to check out our article on can a Betta fish fast?