If you’re the proud owner of a beautiful betta, you’ll want to feed your pet the very best diet that’s available. By providing him a correct, balanced diet, you’ll keep your betta fish healthy and thriving, and your pet will reward you by displaying his very brightest colors.
So, you might be wondering if you can feed your betta insects, such as ants. Keep reading to find out if betta fish can eat ants and ant eggs.
What Is A Betta’s Natural Diet?
In the wild, bettas inhabit slow-moving bodies of water, including marshes, rice paddies, ponds, and small streams.
Although they eat a small amount of plant matter, such as algae, bettas are primarily carnivores, eating whatever they find living in their environment. Wild betta fish typically eat insect larvae, water-bound insects, small worms, and tiny crustaceans.
Essentially, bettas need a varied diet containing lots of meaty protein content and a small amount of plant matter.
Can Betta Fish Eat Ants?
Like most insect species, ants are packed with protein, making them an excellent natural food for bettas and other fish.
In the wild environment, ants sometimes wander into the betta’s natural habitat, where they are quickly gobbled up. Ant eggs are also a highly nutritious food that bettas love. You can buy dried ant eggs processed as fish food from some pet stores, and many fish love them, including bettas!
If you discover an ant nest on your property, tread very carefully before you feed the insects to your betta fish.
Ants produce formic acid, which can be harmful to your fish if it’s eaten in any quantity. So, although it’s fine to feed ants to your betta, only give him a few per day.
Remember that your betta fish’s stomach is about the same size as his eye, so it doesn’t take much food to fill him up! Overfeeding is very bad for bettas and can cause constipation, bloat, and swim bladder problems. So, don’t go overboard when offering your betta ants, and maybe keep them as a treat or a tasty snack.
How Do Ants Operate?
Colonies of ants consist of individuals with different roles within the group. For example, the queen ant produces eggs, workers keep the colony clean and tidy and tend to the larvae and eggs, and soldier ants guard the colony, protecting the queen and her larvae. There are also scouts.
Scouts are ants that go out from the colony each day to track down new food sources, laying down a chemical trail for forager ants to follow. The foragers follow the path, break up any food they find into manageable pieces, and carry it back to the colony.
Nobody wants ants running around all over their property! Although most species of ants are not harmful to people and pets, they do get into your food cupboards, and some can bite. So, most people use some form of pesticide to get rid of the pests.
Even if you don’t use pesticides to kill the ants in your home, you don’t know where those little critters have come from and what they’ve walked through during their journey.
If the scout ants have crossed through other properties on their way into your home, they may have picked up some pesticide or other chemicals on their feet. Although the ants might not be affected immediately, your betta could become seriously sick if he eats a poison-laced ant.
So, unless you live in a remote area with no nearby neighbors, or you can be sure that the ants are toxin-free, it might be better to choose another meaty protein source for your beloved betta fish.
Meaty Protein Foods For Betta Fish
So, if ants are off the menu for safety reasons, what other betta foods that offer plenty of meaty protein sources are there for your betta fish?
Since a wild betta’s regular diet consists primarily of live insects and other tiny creatures, it makes sense to replicate that in captivity.
However, I urge caution when sourcing live foods for your betta fish. Live foods, such as daphnia and bloodworms, are often sold in plastic bags of fluid. If the food isn’t fresh, you may end up feeding your fish with dead, decaying creatures. Also, the water can contain bacteria and parasites that could attack your pet and make him sick.
So, always buy live commercial foods from a reputable, reliable supplier, and separate the food from the water by passing it through a sieve before feeding it to your betta fish.
Never source live food from the natural environment! You can never be sure what you’re collecting, and you could accidentally bring parasites or even harmful chemicals into your tank.
Growing Your Own Live Food
Of course, if you have the time and space, you could opt to farm some live food at home. That way, you know exactly what you’re feeding to your fish, and you can produce as much food as you need, potentially saving you a lot of cash.
So, what live foods can you farm?
Fruit flies are a brilliant live insect food and are known to be favorites of bettas.
You can buy culture kits from some pet shops, generally for wingless fruit flies, and grow the flies in glass mason jars. Check out this video to see how you do it. Flightless fruit flies are the best choice, as the winged variety can be a nuisance if they get loose inside your house.
Daphnia are also sometimes called water fleas. There are several species of these protein-packed little creatures that you can buy for breeding, including Daphnia Pulex, Daphnia Magna, and Daphnia Moina.
Culturing and harvesting daphnia is very simple and doesn’t take much effort on your behalf. Once a colony is established, it’s easy to keep it going, making this an ideal project for a beginner aquarist.
Artemia are also known as brine shrimp, and they make a good choice of betta foods.
You can grow brine shrimp from eggs that you can buy online or from good local fish stores. In fact, artemia are also sometimes advertised as pets or science projects for kids since they’re so easy to care for and breed. When kept as pets, these interesting little critters are usually called sea monkeys.
Brine shrimp are the perfect type of food for fish that need a high-protein, energy-rich, proper diet. Also, bettas can be susceptible to various digestive problems, including swim bladder issues, bloat, and constipation. Artemia are very easy to digest, so your betta’s system can efficiently process them without problems.
Microworms are tiny little creatures that are even smaller than baby brine shrimp! That makes them ideal for your betta fish and are a food source that wild bettas also enjoy.
These nutritious creatures are pretty easy to culture and harvest, and you can be confident that you won’t accidentally introduce anything you don’t want into your betta’s tank. You can buy microworm starter culture kits online and in good fish stores.
If you don’t fancy farming your own live foods, frozen, commercially prepared meaty protein food sources are the next best thing for your betta.
There are several advantages to choosing frozen foods:
Frozen fish foods can be kept fresh for several months in your freezer. The food generally comes in small frozen cubes in blister packs or in large, flat sheets.
All you have to do is remove a small amount of the frozen food at feeding time, thaw it in a little bit of tank water, and then feed it to your betta fish. Thawed food generally keeps fresh for a few days when stored in a refrigerator.
There are many frozen foods to choose from for your betta fish, including bloodworms, daphnia, artemia, mosquito larvae, mysis, and krill.
Betta fish have a reputation for being fussy feeders. Still, you can buy frozen food variety packs that contain an appetizing selection of foods, which are the perfect option for picky eaters.
Minimal Risk Of Parasites
If you store the frozen food correctly, there’s very low to zero risk of accidentally importing diseases or parasites into your betta tank.
Improved Fish Health
Frozen food is packed with natural protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates that all combine to promote the fish’s immune system.
Fish that can suffer from digestive problems, such as bettas, benefit from the inclusion of easily digestible frozen meaty foods in their diet. You might also notice that your fish has much more energy and its beautiful colors are even more vibrant than usual.
There’s little waste with frozen foods, so they can be pretty economical to feed, even though the purchase price can be high compared with flaked and pellet foods.
Easy To Store
The small packs of frozen fish food that you buy don’t take up much space in your freezer, making them easy to store.
What Other Insects Can You Feed Your Betta Fish?
As well as ants, bettas feed on many other kinds of insects and insect larvae.
Bloodworms are the larvae of a species of midge fly.
The worms’ signature red coloration is caused by the iron component called porphyrin in their blood and body tissues. These worms are an excellent source of iron, and they also contain around 8 percent protein. However, bloodworms are poor in other essential nutrients, including amino acids.
Ideally, you should feed your betta fish bloodworms once a week as a treat.
Bettas also benefit from the inclusion of mysis shrimp in their diet. The shrimp’s exoskeleton is high in fiber, which assists in the digestion of other foods. Unlike bloodworms, mysis shrimp are full of many essential nutrients, including amino acids.
Earthworms are an excellent protein source for aquarium fishes, including your betta fish. If you don’t fancy digging up the worms from your backyard, you can often buy them in pet stores.
Keep the worms in a jar in your refrigerator to keep them fresh. If the worms are especially large and juicy, you’ll need to dice them into tiny pieces so that your betta can eat them.
How Much To Feed Your Betta
As previously mentioned, your betta’s stomach is approximately the same size as his eye. That can make it all too easy to overfeed your betta, and overfeeding is a common mistake made by newbies keeping bettas.
Ideally, you should offer your betta fish only what he’ll finish eating in a couple of minutes. Bettas can be greedy fish, so take care that you don’t give your pet too much.
When To Feed Your Betta Fish
Feed your betta a couple of times during the day so that his digestive system has a chance to process the food he’s eaten.
Bettas are diurnal fish, so feed your fish in the morning when you get up and at the end of the day before turning the aquarium lights out. If you’re not around to feed your betta, you might want to consider investing in an automatic fish feeder to do the job for you. Simply load the feeder’s hopper with food, set the timer, and you’re good to go.
Although it might sound cruel, it’s very beneficial for your betta fish to have one day per week when you don’t feed him at all.
That fasting day allows any food still in the betta’s system to make its way through naturally. If you overload the betta’s digestive system, there’s a risk that undigested food will cause a blockage, potentially leading to problems such as constipation and bloating.
I hope you enjoyed our guide to bettas eating ants. Please remember, sharing is caring, so take a moment to hit that button!
So, betta fish can eat ants, as long as you don’t overfeed your pet. However, it’s best only to feed your fish frozen foods or live foods that you’ve farmed at home. That way, you know that you won’t accidentally introduce diseases, parasites, or chemicals into your betta’s tank, and your fish will enjoy a healthy life.