Can Betta Fish Eat Tropical Flakes? (With Alternatives)

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As a fish owner who is used to tropical flakes, I was wondering if they are suitable for my betta fish. As time passed, I researched and experimented with different foods for bettas, including tropical flakes. Now, I have a clearer understanding of that matter.

Betta fish can eat tropical flakes, but these are not the preferred options in their diet. Tropical flakes typically lack protein and are plant-based, which can cause constipation. On the other hand, live foods, including bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae, are excellent for bettas.

As we move forward, I will show you why tropical flakes are not the best choice for betta fish. Then, I take you step-by-step to discover the best foods for your betta fish, including links to actual examples.

Also Read: Facts About Bettas

Can Betta Fish Eat Tropical Flakes?

Betta fish are not picky eaters. For the most part, they will eat whatever you add to the tank. That doesn’t apply to every single betta. Some are very picky, and it may take you a while to identify a suitable diet for the creatures. 

But most bettas have simple requirements. They can eat most commercial fish foods, including flakes. That being said, it would be incorrect to assume that most commercial fish foods are good for bettas.

Tropical flakes are especially tricky. Before you decide to incorporate them into your betta’s diet, you have to keep the following in mind:

1. Bettas’ Attitude Towards Tropical Flakes

For various reasons, tropical flakes are a poor addition to your betta’s diet. First of all, tropical flakes are normally plant-based. Bettas do not eat plant-based foods. 

They do not have the appetite for it. More importantly, their digestive system does not process plant-based foods as efficiently as it does meat.[1]

Even if your bettas choose to eat tropical flakes, tropical flakes do not have the protein content that bettas need to thrive. In other words, the tropical flakes wouldn’t benefit their health.

If that wasn’t problematic enough, many flake foods have fillers which, as you now know, can cause bloating and constipation in bettas.[2] Simply put, among all the foods that bettas can eat, tropical flakes shouldn’t be your first choice.

2. Kinds Of Flakes That Bettas Can Eat

Some bettas will reject tropical flakes altogether. Others are willing to experiment with them. If your bettas have shown an interest in fish flakes, but you don’t want to burden them with a food item that may harm them in the long run, you have the option of buying flakes that were made for betta fish.[3]

Some flakes are specifically targeted towards bettas. Others are made with various fish species in mind. But if you check their ingredients list, you will realize that they have a high protein content, which means that bettas can eat them.

The best source of proteins in the water is fish. Look for flakes that list ‘Fish Meal’ in their ingredients, not to mention shrimp and various forms of seafood.[4] If you can locate the right brand of fish flakes; it will simplify your betta’s mealtimes. Flakes are easier to distribute than live or frozen foods.

One recommended option is the TetraBetta Flake Medley Fish Food (link to Amazon). These flakes contain Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, which have a sufficient amount of protein. My bettas absolutely love this food.

I also suggest considering the fat content. Commercial products with high-fat content are dangerous because they will create an obesity problem in your tank, especially if you tend to overfeed your bettas.[5]

An abundance of fat will harm your bettas, damaging their livers and possibly even killing them. Again, look at the list of ingredients. Make sure the fat content is low. The fat content in some of the best flakes on the market is less than 10 percent.  

3. Flakes Vs. Granules For Betta Fish

Beginners rarely consider the types of flakes they buy. They do not realize that actual flakes will float on the water for a while, whereas granules will sink.[6] Fish that feed on the surface will miss the granules. 

Granules are only suitable for creatures that occupy the middle or the bottom. Ordinary flakes will eventually sink. But they are designed to float long enough for fish like bettas to eat them. 

What Are The Eating Habits Of A Betta Fish?

Bettas are carnivores. In the wild, they eat insects that have fallen into the water.[7] While you can’t call them scavengers, they won’t hesitate to eat any fresh meat they encounter. Any meal plan you create for your bettas has to include foods rich in protein.

Bettas feed on the surface.[8] They have no interest in hunting for food at the bottom of the tank. This will affect your choice of fish food. Fish food that sinks is less likely to sate your betta’s hunger.

Do Bettas Like Fillers?

Bettas do not like fillers (Corn, Wheat, etc.). Their digestive tracts are short. Not only are bettas incapable of processing fillers, but fillers do not offer any nutritional benefits to bettas. 

In the best-case scenario, your fish will simply expel them as waste. In the worst case, the fillers will cause bloating and constipation. 

What Should I Feed My Betta Fish? (From Best To Worst)

Flakes are not your only option where betta fish foods are concerned. They are the easiest option. However, most aquarists would encourage you to try the following before you settle for flakes:

1. Live Food

Fish eat live food in the wild. As such, they are just as likely to appreciate it in an aquarium. Live foods are highly nutritious. You can give your bettas everything from bloodworms to mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and brine shrimp eggs.

But the source matters. You can’t just scavenge for bloodworms in the nearest body of water. Doing so could introduce parasites to your tank.[9] If you can’t buy the live foods you need from a store, you can culture them at home. 

2. Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are the same as live foods. Frozen foods are live foods that are frozen. Why do people freeze live foods? Well, freezing them allows the foods to last longer. It also gives you more control over the amounts you feed your bettas. 

Frozen foods have to be thawed out before you add them to a tank. It takes a few minutes for the frozen cubes to unravel. Don’t use tap water or any other water source. Get some water from the aquarium.

External sources of water will introduce pollutants like heavy metals to the frozen foods. Adding the frozen foods to the tank will introduce those pollutants to your betta’s environment. 

3. Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-dried foods are the same as live and frozen foods. However, unlike frozen foods (where the food is frozen), with freeze-dried food, the moisture is removed. Of the three, freeze-dried foods are the least beneficial. 

This is because the freeze-drying process removes a lot of the nutritional value. Additionally, you have to soak the freeze-dried foods before you feed them to the bettas.[10] If you don’t, they will expand in the fish’s stomach, causing bloating and constipation.

In this category, what I would typically recommend is the Freeze Dried Bloodworms Fish Food (link to Amazon). Bloodworms are excellent for bettas and contain a lot of protein. This will also benefit other types of fish, such as goldfish, guppies, etc.

4. Commercial Foods

Rather than agonizing over your betta’s diet, you can just buy packaged fish food from a store. This isn’t always the healthiest option. Many aquarists do not take the time to find out what their betta’s food is made of. Their only objective is to get the quantity right. 

If this is your attitude, you have to prioritize high-quality brands. If you want to leave your betta’s future in the hands of the canned food your manufacturer of choice created for your bettas, make sure you trust the manufacturer.

A simple online search will paint an accurate picture of the reputation the manufacturer has. It would help if you also made it a habit to look at the ingredients list. Bettas require high-protein diets. 

Commercial foods that have more plant-based ingredients and a smaller volume of fish meal won’t benefit your bettas.

Also Read: Why Does My Betta Fish Flare At Me?

Do Betta Fish Like Pellets Or Flakes?

If you had to rank all the foods that a betta eats in order of the most beneficial, flakes and pellets would come last. However, if you had to choose between flakes and pellets, most aquarists would select pellets as the superior option. 

First of all, their shape makes more sense to the mouth of a betta. They are small and spherical. A betta is more likely to mistake them for an insect. This works in favor of any aquarist whose bettas have refused to eat.

Living foods like insects tend to engage the betta’s hunting instincts. Pellets may do the same. They may encourage bettas that do not care about food to eat. Additionally, pellets tend to be of a higher quality than flakes. 

People flock to flakes because they are so cheap. But pellets are just as inexpensive. Though, as with flakes, the ingredients used to make the pellets matter. Many pellet manufacturers use fillers in their products, which bettas hate.

The best pellets for bettas should have the fewest fillers. They should also boast a high protein content. Like flakes, some manufacturers make pellets specifically for bettas. If you can get such brands, you can trust them to satisfy your bettas.

Betta pellets are perfect for beginners because they do not know what their betta should eat. They cannot interpret a list of ingredients accurately enough to determine whether or not a given product is suitable for their bettas.

By purchasing pellets explicitly made for bettas, they have assured a food item that their bettas will appreciate and enjoy. Naturally, you should take a moment to determine whether the pellets in question will float or sink.

It matters. You can find pellets in both categories. Floating pellets are the only rational option for bettas because they will stay on the surface long enough for bettas to eat them. Sinking pellets are a problem because your bettas may ignore them.

Of course, bettas are unpredictable. Yours may prefer sinking pellets. You won’t know until you try. In fact, if your bettas have refused to eat the pellets you sprinkle on the surface, you may get them to eat by adding sinking pellets.

How Many Flakes Do You Feed A Betta?

Bettas should eat the number of flakes they can consume within two minutes, twice daily. Their first meal should be in the early morning. The second meal should be 12 hours later, typically during the evening. 

If you don’t feed them at the same time every day, they will confuse their biological clocks. This can cause all sorts of trouble for them. For example, it may reduce the quality of their sleep and lead to stress. 

Also, their immune systems may weaken and render them even more vulnerable to diseases. Bettas who are constantly hungry are more likely to develop digestive disorders, which is why I recommend avoiding overfeeding. It is usually better to feed less than more.

Also Read: Can You Have Multiple Female Bettas Together?


In this article, I reviewed the food that bettas eat. If you’ve decided to care for a betta, you can view this as a crash course on what they need to eat and how often. 

Bettas are primarily carnivorous fish. They need protein most of all. Protein is an essential nutrient, and they require it to grow and develop properly. As long as your betta has access to protein, he will live a happy and healthy life.

Good sources of protein include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and freeze-dried foods. In particular, freeze-dried bloodworms would be a good option for you to try out for your bettas.