Betta Fish Care

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

If you’ve ever researched Betta fish, you’ve probably come across the fact that they are very combative and can survive for a long time without food or even water. Do is somewhat true, but this primarily refers to Betta fish that live in the wild. 

Their natural habitat is the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, where periods of monsoon rains and great droughts alternate during the year. Such conditions are not easy to survive, but Betta fish succeed. 

Thanks to their fighting spirit and fearlessness, they have also become favorite pets around the world. However, there is a big difference between wild Betta fish and those we keep in the aquarium. Also, there is a big difference between tropical freshwater areas and water in the aquarium. 

Betta fish can generally survive without food for 10-14 days, but is it really necessary to have such a situation at home aquariums?

Don’t Try At Home!

Life is unpredictable and sometimes it happens that there is no one in the house to feed the fish. Vacation, work, school, college, unplanned problems … All of that sometimes makes us distracted and forgetful. Betta fish, like any other fish, are also living beings, and although a dog or cat will certainly let you know by their behavior that they are hungry – with fish it is a little harder.

So, although Betta fish can survive without food for 14 days – there is no need for us to test it or do it at home. Betta fish will die of starvation or get sick then and we will just save money on food.

Differences Between Wild And Betta Raised On Fish Farms?

It is very unlikely that Betta fish you keep as a pet -is  Betta born in the wild. 

Most of the fish we keep in home aquariums are originally from fish farms where they are purposely bred for aquariums. Such fish have not seen their natural habitat for generations and it is quite logical to conclude that they differ in many ways from their wild relatives. 

Although the instincts are the same – wild Bettas have to fight and hunt for their food, while those in the aquarium depending on the owner. Also, wild Bettas have been taught from birth to unstable environmental conditions; while Betta in the aquarium always need water of precisely defined parameters.

So, Betta in nature are left to the mercy or disfavor of nature, and in the aquarium to the responsibility of the breeder, and later the owner.

To be completely honest, most Betta fish breeders exploit the fact that Betta can survive in little water and with little food. So they keep them in cups or at best in bowls and feed them the cheapest food. Some will survive, some will not, but what is certain is that it is not a proper and humane treatment.

Also, there is no doubt that wild Bettas have stronger sharpened instincts and are more resistant. Thus, if they manage to avoid predators, fatal injuries and find a suitable place to hide – they will be able to survive for a maximum of 14 days without food

Betta in the aquarium, without food, survive a maximum of 5-10 days, provided that they have strong immunity, are healthy and the water is in proper condition.

You Will Be Away For A While – What To Do With Betta Fish?

The daily amount of food for Betta fish is 1.8 grams. You should not exceed this amount because Bettas have a small stomach, and any excess food can cause them to bloat or constipate. If you are planning to go on vacation or for any reason you will not be with Betta fish – it would be best to still find someone who will come to feed Betta. 

Although it would be ideal to divide that amount of 1.8 grams into two or three meals – when you are on the road you might take a risk so that your friend does not have to come three times a day and check the aquarium. 

The daily amount of food for Betta fish is 1.8 grams

However, be careful and tell a friend to wait ten minutes after feeding the fish and picking up any excess food. Otherwise, uneaten food could cause water pollution or get stuck in the filter.

If you travel for 4-5 days and you have decided to take a risk and not feed the fish during that period, you should know you are taking a lot of risks. It’s not okay not to feed Betta one or more days a week unless it’s for health reasons. 

If Betta has a problem with constipation or bloating – fasting for one to three days is part of the healing process. However, after only 4 days, Betta begins to feel very hungry. Since Betta fish are carnivores – this means that they primarily need protein. Already after those 4 days, Betta can become very aggressive because of a lack of protein in the body, and it can even hurt herself.

Lack of food after the fourth day starts to be a big stress for Betta fish. Skin color and internal organs are slowly switching to “maintenance mode” which means less swimming and activity. If this condition continues – the immunity will weaken and the otherwise good bacteria that are in the aquarium will become very dangerous for Betta fish.

If You Still Decide To Take A Risk – Pay Attention To The Following

You may have no choice but to leave Betta the fish alone and without food for 4-5 days. If you are a responsible owner and you take care of the size of the aquarium, the temperature and the quality of the water, as well as the choice of food – you might be able to get away with it. 

So, if you keep Betta in a large aquarium (larger than 5 gallons) on the day of the trip, change 50% of the water and on the day you return the same amount; if you have a smaller aquarium – change 80% of the water on the day of the trip and the same amount when you return.

The bigger the aquarium, the better the chances that everything will go as it should.

Place the aquarium closer to natural light, but do not expose it directly. That way the water could overheat.

Under normal conditions, the water temperature in the aquarium should not fall below 76 degrees Fahrenheit or exceed 82 degrees. 

However, advice can often be found on the forums that if you are already forced to leave Betta fish alone and without food – to set the heater and thermostat between 71 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature should keep Betta from losing fat quickly; Betta will not be so active, that is, will not consume food supplies. However, be careful with this technique and it may be best to consult a veterinarian. Sudden temperature changes can harm a Betta fish in a variety of ways, so be careful.

How Long Can A Betta Fish Go Without Eating

What Else Do You Need To Do Before Leaving Betta Fish Alone And Without Food For 4-5 Days?

  • Check and clean the filter; make sure it works properly. 
  • Check the heaters and the thermostat and use the timer to adjust the desired temperature for the next 5 days.
  • Remove excess plants from the aquarium, or anything that could create a Betta fish health problem – while you are away.

By no means do you leave the aquarium without a lid, because Betta also likes to jump, so it can happen that when you return from vacation, you will find Betta fish on the floor or table. 

Do not completely cover the aquarium. Either drill enough holes or buy a special cover for aquariums that has the necessary openings, because as you already know, Betta fish need oxygen. The light in the aquarium must be turned off for 8 hours a day, due Betta fish need for darkness to rest and sleep.

What Are Vacation Feeders?

These are special feeders for fish, intended exclusively for the aquarium. They are conceived as automatic; white blocks that gradually release a certain amount of fish food. Although a very good idea, these feeders have many drawbacks in practice. 

It is difficult to control the periods of food release, as well as the amount of food. Sometimes it’s quite a decent meal, and sometimes the pieces are big. Excess food is, as we mentioned, very dangerous in the aquarium. You can’t put the food in by yourself, and the one that comes together with the feeder is mostly generic. Therefore, it is not specifically intended for Betta fish or some other species. In addition, the filling is of poor quality and mostly plant, with a lack or complete lack of protein, minerals, and other nutrients needed by Betta fish.

The big problem is the inconsistency of dissolving these white blocks, so Betta can very easily overeat or stay hungry. Overeating most often leads to constipation or a swim bladder disease, which prevents Betta from swimming.

Keep in mind that automatic feeders can release more ammonia than bacteria and plants can break down. It would not be bad to soak a special conditioner in water before going, but still consult a veterinarian. 

Misconceptions About Betta Fish

There are many misconceptions about Betta fish in general. Many information are partial, inaccurate or based on insufficient experience. You can often read on the internet and forums that is OK to leave Betta fish in a cup or small bowl – for a few days. 

Supposedly, it is enough to have plants that Betta will eat when they are hungry and that will purify water and oxidize it at the same time. This is far from accurate information and the correct handling of Betta fish. This is the only way to permanently damage Betta’s immunity and reduce her life to 6 months.

Why Is This Happening?

Primarily, because Betta fish are carnivores and there is no chance that they get proteins and all the necessary minerals and vitamins from plants. Moreover, plants can harm the digestive system, cause constipation or bloating. 

Also, plants in vases and bowls cannot remove all ammonia and other dirt in the water and will prevent fish from moving and swimming. In such an environment, without proper food, Betta fish can feel stressful and anxious, which further leads to a weakening of the immune system and disease.


Betta fish can survive for a while without food – that’s right. However, this doesn’t mean that it will pass without consequences for health. Betta fish that have been treated with healthy food since birth and swam in large aquariums – certainly have a stronger immune system and a better chance of being without food for 5 days without major problems

But, there are few such fish in pet stores. Also, keep in mind that survival is not a quality life and that returning to normal mode is not easy. Betta fish are sensitive, and even return from a stressful to a normal state – it can be hard again. 

Yes, it sounds paradoxical, but these are Bette. It would be best not to leave them without food and when you go on a trip to find a friend who is willing to come and feed them every day.