How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

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All living things need food to survive. Your Betta is no exception. Without it, your little guy would get sick or eventually die. Bettas often lose their appetite and refuse to eat from time to time. This is understandably upsetting for fishkeeping beginners, who often start wondering how long can betta fish go without food?

In many cases, don’t worry too much. These types of fasts are not that bad, which will resolve themselves in short order. No mentioned that they could actually be healthy for your Betta fish.

But at other times, it could mean that there’s a serious health problem going on – like constipated. 

In this article, we will try to give insights into the problem so that at least one of your struggles eases up just a little bit. 

Let’s dive right in!

How Long Can a Betta Fish Live Without Food?

Most adult Betta fish can go up to 14 days without food- but this only holds true if your little buddy is healthy! Just because he doesn’t need sustenance as often as other pets (birds or dogs) doesn’t mean his body isn’t going through changes when deprived of nutrients. 

How long does it take for a betta fish to starve?

After 5-6 days of no eating, they’ll enter starvation mode, which causes stress levels to increase and disease contraction. 

If you’re going on vacation, I recommend that you never leave your Betta alone for more than a week. It’s crucial for your Betta Fish to maintain proper nutrition as well as keep the gastrointestinal system functioning properly. 

Betta Fish who are suffering from underlying health problems may not be able to survive as long without food.

How to Feed Betta Fish While on Short Vacation

As mentioned above, a Betta fish begins to starve after 4 to 5 days without eating. So there is no worry about leaving your Betta fish while on a short vacation.  

Fasting Your Betta Fish on the Weekends

Bettas are never shy about food and should be eating voraciously, which is a good sign of their health. However, constipation- yes, your little guy will get constipated, happens when you feed them too much. 

While constipation is a common ailment in Betta Fish, it’s still not great for your little guy. Severe constipation can lead your betta fish into Swim Bladder Disorder (SBD), which means it has difficulty balancing itself or even floating at all. 

To prevent or constipation or avoid overfeeding in the future, fast your Betta fish 1-2 days every week is recommended, which gives their digestive system enough time to break down the food consumed in the past few days. As you might know, adult Betta Fish in the wild usually fast for a day every so often. 

I fast my boy on the weekends, and Monday is one of his treat days (and Friday). He’ll be rewarded with some bloodworms at the end of the fast! Having a feeding routine is essential to keep Betta Fish healthy and happy.

Pro tip: Feed them Daphnia along with fasting to flush their entire digestive system out if Bloodworms are a large part of your little boy's diet. 

Before You Leave

To keep your betta fish healthy while on a short vacation, we recommended doing a large water change before leaving and as soon as you return. For a smaller 3-gallon aquarium, it would be 80%, while for larger 5-10 gallon tanks, you’ll need 50%.

Feed your betta fish some high-protein food with plenty of meat content before you go, like thawed bloodworms. Don’t overfeed. Use the same portion size as you would use during regular feeding. 

You can also try to create a low-stress environment in the aquarium by keeping the lights off or keep them in a big tank. The larger the fish tank, the safer it is for you to leave it without care.

How to Feed Betta Fish While on Long Vacation

Are you planning to go on a long vacation soon? If so, then you need to figure out is how not to starve your Betta fish while you’re away. Without a proper meal for more than a week, Betta can get sick. 

Don’t Take Your Betta!

If you are apprehensive about whether you should take your little guy along with you on a long vacation, the answer is “No,” don’t take your Betta, too many things to go wrong and too much stress. 

Fortunately, there are many options available for taking care of them during holiday and vacation periods. The ultimate goal is to let your Betta go unfed while you are away. 

Have Someone Feed Him

The safe option is getting someone to feed him by following your feeding routine. If it’s an option, ask a close friend or relative to take care of your Betta while you’re gone. 

If it’s not possible for someone to watch over your Betta, consider posting an ad on Craiglist asking for people who would be interested in looking after them during these periods.

However, unless you have someone who has experience in fish keeping, it would be best to leave explicit instructions on feeding amounts. People kill the Fish by good intention – feeding in excess because “oh he just looked so hungry.” 

It may be worth your peace of mind by giving the sitter a pillbox to ration out your Betta’s food. Ensure they are aware of how important it is to follow the ration and don’t overfeed. 

Are Vacation Feeders Good for Betta Fish?

There are two types of vacation feeders to match your needs, one where Betta fish food is wrapped by a white block, and the other style mixes the fish food in a gel. The blocks dissolve over time, and Betta Fish can eat what’s inside! 

The product is marketed as being able to “slowly dissolve” in order to produce an even distribution of nutrients throughout your aquarium tank; however, this isn’t always true. 

These vacation feeders are terrible! Most of the time, they can’t deliver foods to fish effectively. The blocks dissolve at different rates, and there is not a standard rate that they go. This means you may get one block that lasts for two weeks without dissolving or you might receive one that releases 20-50 pellets in just 24 hours!

They just end up clouding and causing water quality changes, which is fatal for your fish during vacations. Avoid vacation feeders as much as possible for your Betta’s sake!

Can I Rely on Automatic Fish Feeders?

For the most part, yes, automatic feeders are an excellent way to keep your fish well-fed, and they’re especially useful for vacations longer than one week or more. While we are here are talking about these high-end models. 

Automatic feeders come in both electric and battery-operated models. With timers that allow you set feeding times every day of varying duration. The food-holding dispenser opening is adjustable so your fish will get just the right amount at each feeding!

The problem with automatic feeders comes when you choose cheap models, particularly from lesser-known brand names. Many people have lost their beloved Betta due to these cheap automatic feeders.

Cheap ones tend to malfunction and are typically ineffective – often dump all amounts into the tank at once or don’t drop food at all. A ton of food dumped into your tank results in the ammonia levels rise that will kill your Betta. On the other hand, they can ruin the Betta fish food due to the moisture infiltration. 

Ehiem automatic feeder is the only one that I would recommend. It’s easy to adjust the portion size, quality build, batteries last a long time, and the most important is it works consistently.

Author note: Using food in pellet form instead of flakes if you want to feed only a small amount each time. Different-sized food could get stuck. 

Your little guys will rely on the feeders when you are away, so don’t cheap out. If you have time, set it up and test it for a few days how the machine works with your food. 

Now, there are the last two things you need to consider. The batteries will eventually run out if you get a battery-powered one, and you might run into problems with short circuits if you have a plugin one. It’s still important not to rule out this possibility, even if the odds are slim.

Final Thoughts

So for a quick recap, your little boys can go over 7 days without food. Better for them to fast than be overfed. If you are leaving for vacation for more than a week, ask for your friend or find a neighbor kid to come by and drop a few pellets. An Ehiem automatic feeder could also be a helper during vacation. 

That’s all there is to it! I hope that you can find some value in this article. Enjoy your vacation!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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