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What Do Betta Fry Eat? (With Detailed Instructional Videos)

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The first question I asked myself the day I had to deal with betta fry was what they eat. I knew I couldn’t just give them what their parents eat, as their mouths are tiny. Fortunately, I gained a lot of experience in this field over the years.

Here is a table that gathers what beta fry eat at different ages:

InfusoriaUntil they reach day 7
Baby brine shrimpFrom day 7 to 21
Freeze-dried/frozen foodsFrom day 21 and beyond
BlackwormsFrom week five and beyond
Dry pelletsFrom week eight and beyond

As we move forward, I will elaborate on the different types of foods betta fry should eat at different stages of their life. I will also embed some detailed Youtube videos to show you how to feed them properly.

What Do Betta Fry Eat?

Betta fry are vulnerable. If you starve them, the creatures will die. And if you give them unsuitable food, you will either stunt their growth or saddle them with irreversible illnesses and deformities.

On the other hand, their survival rate rises to 90 percent when treated appropriately. In the wild, baby bettas will eat their egg sac for the first few days. Once the egg sack is gone, they will attack any viable food sources they can find in the water.

Because they are so small, betta fry don’t have as many options during those first few days. They have to limit their meals to tiny organisms like infusoria. 

They may prioritize the bottom of the water body because that is where organic materials typically settle. The bottom also permits the fry to feed in peace without worrying about predators. 

Over time, as they mature, the size of their food items will also grow. Betta fry in an aquarium follow a similar pattern.

However, you have to feed the babies instead of waiting for the creatures to find their own food. You can expect their dietary demands to transition through the following stages:

1. Infusoria 

Once again, the babies will start by eating their egg sacs. Once the sac is gone, you should remove the male betta before adding nematodes and infusoria. The betta fry are tiny. Therefore, you have to provide food items that can fit in their mouths. 

Infusoria is popular among aquarists because you can make the meal at home with relative ease. All you need is a clean jar, decomposing greenery, healthy bacteria, and some sun. You can also invest in Moina.[1]

  • Here is a fantastic Youtube video that shows how to culture infusoria using banana leaves and a simple plastic container:

The feeding process is pretty straightforward. Basically, all you need is a syringe. Follow the video above and see how it is done.

Remember that betta fry can rely on infusoria for about a week. After that, they’ll need more nutritionally dense foods like brine shrimp.

2. Baby Brine Shrimp 

Some people will add baby brine shrimp to the breeding tank after a week once the babies are too big to benefit from the microscopic organisms. 

Others prefer to incorporate the food item into the fry’s diet of nematodes and infusoria after the first few days. Both approaches are reasonable.

On that matter, I highly recommend checking the Ocean Nutrition Instant Baby Brine Shrimp (link to Amazon). Each jar contains about 1.5 million nutritious baby brine shrimp.

From my experience, it is best to introduce baby brine shrimp on the swimming stage of your betta fry. In other words, start feeding them that once they are no longer attached to the bubble nest.

  • Here is an excellent video that will show you how to do that:

Please make sure you feed your betta fry with baby brine shrimp and not regular brine shrimp. Fish owners tend to confuse the two.

That is crucial because adult brine shrimp are too large for the fry. Their mouths are too tiny to consume them. Only at the 7-8 week mark, they can eat regular brine shrimp.[2]

3. Freeze-Dried & Frozen Foods

Keep feeding baby brine shrimp to the betta fry for three weeks. You can add freeze-dried and frozen foods like bloodworms and daphnia to the mix in the fourth week. Start incorporating items like blackworms into the diet in week five.

At this stage, it would be reasonable to pick something like the Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Blood Worms (link to Amazon). That is what I used in the past, and my betta fry absolutely loved it.

4. Dry Pellets & Alternatives

Don’t include dry pellet foods until week eight or nine. The babies should have transitioned to conventional betta fish food by that point. 

Although, you are still expected to grind the food into pieces small enough for the babies to consume.[3]

You don’t have to follow this exact plan. You can experiment with different food items at various stages until you find a meal the babies enjoy. 

But you have to feed them protein-rich meals, which is why live foods are so important. Prioritize Grindal worms, Tubifex worms, mosquito larvae, and the like. 

Betta fry are carnivorous. Treat them accordingly. If you don’t have access to live foods or commercial flakes and pellets, use egg yolk. Boil the egg, remove the white sections and grind the yolk into a powder.

How Many Times A Day Should I Feed My Betta Fry?

Most aquarium fish will eat as much food as you can give them. They can’t say no to food, which is why overfeeding is such a common occurrence. Baby bettas are in a similar boat.

However, unlike adult bettas, which you can only feed two or three times a day, you can afford to feed betta fry up to five times each day. Three or four meals are the norm.

But you won’t harm these creatures by jumping to five or more meals a day because they eat smaller portions than their adult counterparts. 

Studies have revealed that baby fish exposed to a higher feeding frequency enjoy a higher survival rate.[4] They also tend to exhibit superior health.

Can Betta Fry Eat Crushed Pellets?

Fry can eat crushed pellets. Some introduce them at week three or four.[5] But if you grind the pellets into a fine texture, younger betta fry will eat them if they don’t have better options. 

During those early days, they are more likely to gravitate towards live food. But hungry bettas won’t reject pellets. 

You have to look for the most nutritious brands, though. Otherwise, you may debilitate the growth of the baby bettas. The Tetra Betta Small Pellets (link to Amazon) will be a reasonable choice.

Why Is My Betta Fry Not Eating?

You shouldn’t starve betta fry. They will go without food for three days after hatching, but only because the egg sack can meet their nutritional needs.[6] Once the egg sack is gone, you have to feed them.

You don’t want the babies to fight one another. If you observe a lot of conflict during mealtimes, the food isn’t enough. You have unintentionally placed the fry in a position where they have to fight for food.

But that is better than situations where the babies won’t eat. Various factors can rob a betta fry of its appetite, including:

1. Bad Water Conditions

Betta fry in tanks with poor conditions spend most of their time struggling with stress. Poor conditions include:

  • Extreme temperatures.
  • The wrong pH and hardness.
  • Wild fluctuations in the parameters.

Aim for a pH of 7.0 to 7.2 and a stable temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F. The ammonia and nitrties should be kept at 0 ppm, while nitrates remain under 20 ppm.

2. Elevated Ammonia

As mentioned above, the ammonia concentration in your breeding tank should be at zero. But you cannot keep ammonia out of the water. After all, the substance forms when waste, organic matter, and leftovers decompose.

You can also introduce toxins like ammonia, lead, and chlorine to the tank by adding water with these substances during a water change. 

Baby bettas in a tank with too much ammonia will fall sick, losing their appetite in the process. Eventually, they will die.

3. Frequent Water Changes

Believe it or not, water changes can harm your fry. As you know, fish hate drastic fluctuations. If you want to change the temperature or pH, you must do so gradually. 

Massive water changes are problematic because they cause drastic fluctuations in the tank’s chemistry. You can also produce similar results by performing smaller water changes frequently.

4. Oxygen Deficiencies

Oxygen deficiencies can form in small, crowded tanks. They can also manifest because of a fungal infestation. Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of an oxygen deficiency.

Generally, betta fry tanks should have an air stone. Female bettas can lay up to 500 eggs at once, so the tank can get overcrowded pretty quickly.

I usually suggest getting the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone (link to Amazon). It gets the job done fantastically while keeping the environment pretty quiet.

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Conclusions

Feeding betta fry can be time-consuming, as they require different types of food as they age. For that reason, it is best to be prepared upfront.

Start with infusoria for the first seven days, and then move on to baby brine shrimp until they are three weeks old. From that point, their diet is far less strict.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1687428521000649
  2. https://www.bettacarefishguide.com/brine-shrimp-for-betta-fry/
  3. https://bettasource.com/more-betta/breeding/power-growing-fry
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333850661_Effects_of_feeding_frequency_on_fry_and_fingerlings_of_African_catfish_Clarias_gariepinus
  5. https://pets.thenest.com/baby-bettas-eat-4783.html
  6. https://www.fishkeepingwisdom.com/how-long-can-betta-fish-go-without-food/