It’s happened to every betta fish owner. You go to the cupboard to get your betta his favorite snack or meal, only to discover that you’ve completely run out of fish food!
What can you do? You can’t leave your beloved pet to go hungry, so what’s the alternative? A few crumbs from your breakfast loaf would be okay, wouldn’t they? But can your betta fish eat breadcrumbs? Bettas are carnivorous fish, aren’t they?
Read this guide to find out!
Can Betta Fish Eat Breadcrumbs?
Yes, in theory, betta fish can eat breadcrumbs. But, breadcrumbs and other types of human food should only be offered to your fish in an emergency when you have literally no other commercial food on hand for him to eat. Bread is great bait for fish but terrible food for your aquatic pets.
In fact, rather than feeding your fish bread crumbs, it’s advisable to fast your pet fish for a day or so until you have a chance to buy your pet some proper betta food. It’s fine to let your betta go a couple of days without food.
Many experienced betta keepers routinely starve their fish for 24 hours once a week. That fasting day allows the betta to digest any food that’s still moving through his gut, helping to prevent serious health conditions, such as a bloated stomach and constipation.
So, in short, it’s not cruel to deprive your pet fish of food for a day or so rather than feeding him unsuitable human foods, such as breadcrumbs. The same goes for any fish species, including goldfish and other tropical aquarium fish that suffer from constipation.
Not A Suitable Diet
Although they eat a small quantity of algae and plant matter, bettas are primarily carnivorous fish. That means your pet needs mostly meaty protein in his diet to thrive and survive. Bread is high in carbohydrates, not protein, making it an unsuitable diet for your betta buddy.
Also, the bread we eat contains added amounts of sugar, salt, yeast, and wheat products, including gluten, none of which naturally occur in significant quantities in a betta’s wild diet. Consequently, your betta’s digestive system is not designed to process any of those substances. Also, breadcrumbs don’t contain essential nutrients for good health in betta fish.
Bread typically contains vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for humans, including:
However, those substances are not good for betta fish and don’t meet your pet’s dietary requirements. So, you can see that feeding breadcrumbs to your betta fish friend in large quantities will almost certainly cause a serious upset stomach for your pet.
Breadcrumbs Cause Bloating In Bettas
Betta fish have tiny stomachs. Your betta buddy’s stomach is about the same size as his eye, so you can see that it doesn’t take much food to fill it. Bettas are greedy fish, and excessive feeding of any kind of food can present health risks to your pet.
When it gets wet, bread swells, so if your betta eats lots of breadcrumbs, his stomach will quickly become distended and swollen, causing a serious condition called bloat. A bloated betta will struggle to swim properly, stop eating, and even die.
Constipation causes excessive bloating in betta fish. Bread doesn’t move quickly through your betta’s digestive tract like meaty protein does, causing a blockage that results in constipation. Like bloat, constipation is a serious condition in bettas, affecting the fish’s swimming ability and leaving him with no appetite.
Fortunately, curing bloat and constipation is relatively simple. All you need to do is starve your fish for a day or so, offering only a blanched, cooked frozen pea. Your fish nibbles on the pea, and the cooked vegetable matter quickly gets things moving through the fish’s digestive system again.
I Fed My Betta Breadcrumbs – What Do I Do?
Don’t panic if you accidentally fed your betta fish bread! As long as you take prompt action, your pet shouldn’t suffer any permanent harm.
First of all, immediately remove any uneaten breadcrumbs from your betta’s fish tank using a fishnet. That ensures that your pet doesn’t continue gorging himself on the bread. In addition, rotting bread crumbs can be a major source of ammonia, leading to poor water quality.
Once you’ve removed the breadcrumbs from harm’s way, keep an eye on your betta fish, and watch out for any signs of bloating or constipation. Hopefully, your fish will be fine, as long as he didn’t eat too many breadcrumbs.
What Is The Correct Diet For Betta Fish?
So, pet fish of any species ideally shouldn’t be fed breadcrumbs. But what’s the ideal food for betta fish?
As previously mentioned, the wild betta fish diet usually consists of meaty protein. In the wild environment, betta fish feed on mosquito larvae, water-bound insects, algae, and bits of aquatic plant matter.
Did you know that your betta can jump?
In the wild, bettas or Siamese Fighting fish routinely jump to relocate to better feeding grounds, escape from rivals, and find mates. Bettas also jump out of the water to snatch insects from just above the river water surface.
And you can even train your betta buddy to jump through a hoop to grab a morsel of fish food from the end of your finger! Watch this brilliant YouTube clip to see a jumping betta in action!
What’s The Correct Betta Fish Food?
In captivity, bettas can be fed a diet of high-quality fish food, betta fish pellets, high-protein freeze-dried foods such as blood worms, frozen meaty protein, and a much-welcomed variety of live foods, including blood worms, white worms, brine shrimp, and other sources of crude protein.
Don’t Feed Live Foods From Nature
Although catching some critters from your local pond might seem like a good way to offer your betta a natural diet, we don’t recommend that you take live foods from the wild environment as a food source and give them to your pet. Unfortunately, many water bodies are polluted, and the critters living there might be carrying toxins that could harm your pet.
Also, unlike pond fish, your betta lives in a clean, healthy tank. Worms and insect larvae from your local pond or stream could be carrying bacteria or parasites that will hitch a lift into your pet’s tank. Although wild bettas eat tiny flies, any insects that you catch in your garden might have landed on something toxic, such as weed killer or chemicals, which could kill your pet fish.
What Can You Feed Your Betta If You Run Out Of Fish Food?
If you don’t have any fish flakes in stock for your betta, there are a few things you can safely use instead.
Although meat makes up most of your betta’s carnivorous diet, you can offer him homemade betta fish food consisting of small slivers of cooked veggies, including lettuce, zucchini, peas, and asparagus, to nibble on if you don’t have anything else.
Remove the skin from the vegetables to make it easier for your betta to eat them, and never put any form of seasoning on the veggies. If you make a batch of cooked veggies for your betta fish, you can freeze them for future emergency use. When you want to feed your betta, simply take a frozen cube of vegetables, thaw it in a little warm tank water, and then offer the food to your fish.
So, bettas can eat breadcrumbs, although we don’t recommend including that as a food in your fishy friend’s diet. Bread contains little or no nutritional value for betta fish. It can actually cause constipation in betta fish and serious health problems for your pet’s sensitive stomach if fed in excess.
If you run out of suitable natural food items for your friend, try offering some cooked veggies to nibble on instead to keep your betta fish happy. Next time you go to the fish store, why not pick up a few packs of frozen fish foods, such as mosquito larvae or blood worms, to keep in your freezer? You can store the food to always have something nutritious and tasty in stock for your pet.
Although your betta might enjoy a special treat from time to time, human treats, including bread, are not suitable foods for your pet and can even cause health complications for your fishy friend.