How Long Does A Betta Fish Live Without Food & How To Keep It Alive When Travelling

How long can a betta fish live without food
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Have you ever wondered how long a betta fish can survive without food?

Maybe you’re going on vacation and won’t be able to feed your fish for a few days, or perhaps you simply forgot to feed them for a day or two.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand the limits of a betta fish’s survival without food. Betta fish are known for their resilience, but they still have their limits.

In this article, we will explore the question of how long a betta fish can live without food.

We will discuss the factors that can affect their survival, such as the fish’s age, health, and environment.

By understanding these factors, you can ensure the well-being of your betta fish and make informed decisions about their care.

So, if you’re curious about the survival capabilities of a betta fish without food, keep reading to find out more.

How long can a betta fish go without food in the wild?

In their natural habitat, betta fish have evolved to adapt to the scarcity of food sources.

These tropical fish are known for their ability to survive for extended periods without food.

In the wild, betta fish primarily feed on insects, small invertebrates, and larvae that are found in their environment.

Due to the unpredictable nature of food availability, betta fish have developed a unique feeding strategy.

They are known to be picky eaters and can survive for days to weeks without a meal. This ability to withstand fasting periods is crucial for their survival in the wild.

Several factors contribute to a betta fish’s ability to go without food:

1. Hardy creatures: Betta fish are hardy and can endure fasting periods without experiencing immediate health issues.

2. Fat reserves: Betta fish naturally store fat reserves in their bodies, which they can utilise during times of food scarcity to sustain themselves.

3. Stress levels: Bettas are capable of adapting to fluctuating conditions, including periods of starvation. They can lower their metabolic rate and conserve energy during these times.

4. Water temperature and quality: Betta fish are accustomed to living in water with varying temperatures and quality. These factors can affect their metabolism and need for food.

5. Overeating: In the wild, when there is a food source, this will come in abundance. Bettas will overeat during times of abundance to build their fat reserves, letting them sustain themselves until their next meal.

It is important to note that while betta fish can survive without food for a significant period, providing them with regular feeding is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

In captivity, it is recommended to establish a feeding schedule and vary their diet with high-quality fish foods, such as brine shrimp.

Overall, betta fish have impressive survival abilities and can endure fasting periods to ensure their survival in the wild.

However, it is essential to provide them with a balanced and regular diet in a healthy environment, especially when they are kept in a fish tank.

How Long Can a Betta Fish Survive Without Food in an aquarium?

In general, a betta fish can survive for around 2 weeks without food in an aquarium.

This is because they have a slower metabolism compared to other fish species, allowing them to conserve energy and survive with limited food intake.

However, it is crucial to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure their overall health and well-being.

This is especially important if you’re going to prepare them to not eat for longer than usual periods of time.

It is important to note that after generations of being bred for aquariums, the betta fish’s ability to survive without food may not be as strong as their wild counterparts.

While they can still go for extended periods without eating, it is not recommended to deprive them of food for too long.

Here are some ways to prepare your betta fish for when you’re travelling.

Fasting Periods

Fasting is an important practice when it comes to caring for betta fish in an aquarium.

It allows the fish to rest their digestive system and prevents issues such as constipation and swim bladder problems.

Training your betta to get used to days without food is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

The recommended durations for fasting periods can vary, but typically range from 1 to 3 days, or even longer for adult bettas.

During this time, bettas rely on their stored fat reserves to sustain themselves.

By fasting them periodically, you are promoting a healthy digestive system and preventing overfeeding, which can lead to obesity and other health issues.

It is particularly important to implement fasting periods if you are planning to travel.

By fasting your bettas for 1 day, 3 days, or even up to a week, you are training them to store energy and get used to not having food available.

Do it progressively. The first week you may fast them for 1 day, then feed them for another week, and fast them for 3 days.

Repeat for another week of feeding, and then 1 week of fasting.

I wouldn’t try going on a trip any longer than 2 weeks, but this will make it easier for them to adjust when you are away and unable to feed them regularly.

Maintain a Healthy Environment

Maintaining a healthy environment is crucial for betta fish in order to ensure their survival during fasting periods and overall well-being.

High stress levels causes betta fish to burn through their energy reserves. Prolonged stress causes diseases, making things worst.

Many things affect stress levels, but the two important factors that you can control is the water quality and the tank size.

Water quality plays a key role in a betta fish’s health.

It is important to regularly test and maintain appropriate water parameters, such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, to create a clean and stable habitat.

The size of the betta fish tank is also important.

A larger tank can accommodate a variety of hiding spots and plants, which help reduce stress levels and provide mental stimulation.

Reduce your aquarium temperature

Water temperature is another critical factor. Depending on the species of betta you have, this will vary.

Lower water temperatures reduces the betta’s metabolism, thus, not needing food. This slows down burning their energy reserves too.

If you’re able to reduce this, you can reduce your aquarium’s temperature to the lower end of what it’s comfortable with.

Do it gradually over a few days and not make a sudden change, otherwise this will shock your betta.

If you have a heater, reduce it a degree daily until it reaches the lower end. If you’re in the tropics and have a chiller, you can do the same thing.

Otherwise, leave it be and don’t use a fan. This will cause evaporation and you will have no control over how much water is left by the time you’re back.

A consistent and suitable water temperature helps bettas maintain their metabolism and overall health.

Feed more frozen and live foods before you travel

When it comes to traveling and leaving your betta fish behind, it’s important to ensure that they have enough energy to sustain them during your absence.

One way to do this is by building up their fat reserves before you leave.

To accomplish this, it is recommended to feed your betta more frozen and live foods.

These types of foods are high in proteins and fats, which are necessary for building up their fat reserves.

By increasing their intake of these foods, you can ensure that your betta has enough energy to survive without regular feedings.

In addition to frozen and live foods, another alternative is to switch to high-fat content pellet foods.

While these may not be as effective as live and frozen foods, they can still provide your betta with the necessary nutrients to sustain them during your absence.

Do a large water change before you go

Before you travel and leave your betta fish alone in the aquarium, it is crucial to ensure that the water conditions are suitable for their survival.

One essential step to take is to do a large water change before you go.

A large water change involves replacing a significant portion of the water in the aquarium with fresh, clean water.

This helps to remove any accumulated waste, toxins, and pollutants that could harm your betta fish during your absence.

It also helps to maintain optimal water parameters and ensure a healthy environment for your fish.

By doing a large water change, you can refresh the water and provide your betta fish with the best possible conditions for their survival.

It is recommended to replace at least 30% to 50% of the water, depending on the size of your aquarium.

Additionally, it is essential to test your water parameters before you go. This includes checking the levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature.

These parameters should be within the appropriate range for your species of betta fish.

If any parameters are off, it is important to address them before leaving to ensure the well-being of your fish.

Taking these precautions and doing a large water change before you go will help to minimise the risk of water quality issues and provide a healthier environment for your betta fish during your absence.

Solutions to Help Your Betta Fish Survive Without Food For Longer Periods of Time

Okay, so far I’ve covered the ways you can keep your betta healthy without food for short periods of time.

What if you’re going for more than two weeks, how will your betta survive longer than two weeks?

When it comes to betta fish surviving without food for extended periods, there are two solutions that can help ensure their well-being.

On top of the mentioned ways above, you can take these additional steps to make sure your betta can go for longer periods without food.

Automatic Fish Feeders

When it comes to ensuring your betta fish receives regular meals even when you’re away, automatic fish feeders are a great solution.

These devices can be programmed to dispense food at regular intervals, mimicking the your feeding schedule.

They offer convenience and peace of mind, especially during extended periods of absence.

However, I recommend not to follow your feeding schedule and feeding amounts. You should reduce the amount you feed and the frequency.

If you’re feeding twice a day, consider feeding once a day.

If you’re feeding once a day, consider halving the portion or feed once every two days.

This is because you’ve already taken steps to reduce your betta’s metabolism.

If you’re gone for more than two weeks, there’s no one to take care of your pet betta fish if something goes wrong.

And things WILL go wrong.

  • They might overeat and not digest as quickly due to the fasting schedule you followed and lower metabolism rates.
  • There might be more leftover food, fouling your water.
  • Your automatic feeder might malfunction.

Overall, automatic feeders are a reliable solution for betta fish owners who want to ensure their fish receive regular meals and proper portion sizes, even during extended periods of absence.

But it’s not a fool-proof solution.

Get someone to help feed your bettas

If you are planning to be away from home for an extended period of time and are concerned about your betta fish not being fed, getting someone to help feed them is a great solution.

However, it is important to choose someone who knows what they are doing and won’t meddle with your aquarium unnecessarily.

When asking someone to help feed your bettas, it is essential to give them very specific instructions.

This includes telling them not to overfeed the fish, as overfeeding can lead to health issues. You should also instruct them to clear any leftover food from the tank to maintain water quality.

Bettas are cute and will eat more than what they need. Your pet sitter needs to be able to resist cuteness.

In addition to feeding instructions, it is wise to provide instructions for emergency water changes if needed.

This is important in case the water quality deteriorates while you are away. Make sure the person you choose is comfortable performing these tasks or is willing to learn.

By getting someone to help feed your bettas, you can ensure that they are taken care of while you are away.

Just remember to give clear instructions and choose someone who will respect the needs of your aquarium.

Do not use block feeders

Block feeders or vacation feeders should be avoided for betta fish due to several issues they can cause.

These feeders, which slowly release food over time, may initially seem convenient but can have negative consequences for the health of betta fish.

One major concern is the possibility of overeating.

Betta fish are known to be picky eaters and can easily consume more food than they need when given access to a continuous food source.

Overeating can lead to obesity and associated health issues in betta fish, such as organ failure.

Another problem with using block feeders is the potential for rotting food. As the feeder block slowly dissolves, any uneaten food can accumulate in the tank.

This not only spoils the water quality but also creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which can be detrimental to the health of the fish.

The use of block feeders can also result in ammonia release in the tank. Uneaten food particles can break down and release ammonia into the water, leading to poor water quality and stress for betta fish.

Ammonia toxicity can have serious consequences, including damage to the fish’s gills and respiratory system.

Swim bladder issues are another concern associated with using block feeders.

When betta fish overeat or consume a diet high in dry foods, they may develop swim bladder problems.

This can cause difficulties with buoyancy and swimming, leading to stress and discomfort for the fish.

To ensure the health and well-being of betta fish, it is advisable to avoid the use of block feeders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can betta fish live without food?

Betta fish can live without food for approximately two weeks if you carefully prepare them for it. This include setting up a healthy environment with proper water temperature and quality, and building up fat reserves by feeding live and frozen foods.

What are the risks of not feeding betta fish?

The risk of not feeding betta fish for prolonged periods is sickness and potentially death.

During periods without food, betta fish utilize their fat reserves for energy. However, if the fasting period extends for too long, it can lead to various health issues.

Extended periods without eating can cause stress levels to rise, weaken their immune system, and make them more susceptible to diseases.

In severe cases, organ failure can occur, leading to a shortened lifespan.

Can betta fish survive five days without food?

Yes, betta fish can survive five days without food as it is shorter than the maximum duration (up to twi weeks) they can survive without feeding.

Make sure you follow the guide above on how to best prepare your bettas for this fasting period.


In conclusion, regular feeding is crucial for the well-being of betta fish.

They are picky eaters and overeating can lead to obesity and organ failure. Using block feeders can result in rotting food, ammonia release, and swim bladder issues.

To ensure the health of betta fish, it is important to have a feeding schedule and provide a varied and balanced diet.

In cases where feeding may be disrupted, such as during vacations or emergencies, it is essential to have contingency plans in place.

This can include using automatic fish feeders or arranging for a pet sitter who understands the specific dietary requirements of betta fish.

Ultimately, maintaining a healthy environment and proper feeding practices are key to the longevity and well-being of betta fish.

By understanding their feeding habits and providing for their nutritional needs, we can ensure that these beautiful and captivating creatures thrive in our care.

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