Hunger in fish, in general, is a somewhat controversial subject. Everyone has an opinion on what should be or should not be. Now try adding the betta in that pan; you will have a field day. Can you know when a betta fish is hungry?
Until this writing, there is no distinctive method of determining hunger in fish—anyone who tells you any different needs a proper smack. Betta fish make this even harder to define as they eat whenever they can, even when full. Their instincts drive them to eat more.
In their natural environment, fish eat as much as possible to store food for a later time: A survival mechanism to get them through periods of scarce food. That is not the case in the aquarium. We know that we have enough food for them. Well, they dont know that.
Overfeeding or underfeeding are the significant causes of death in the fishkeeping community. If that is the case, how much food should they have in a day? How much food should the Fish have?
This brings me to the next point!
How much Food should they have?
In my experience, following the general rule of thumb has worked wonders. The law says that betta fish should eat an equal amount of their eye size once a day. The first meal can be during morning hours and the second, just before you retire to your beds.
One thing we should understand is; fish can survive an entire week without food. Therefore giving them just enough food is key to maintaining their health and keep them thriving.
Different type of betta fish has various aspects that work for them. Observe your fish behaviour and find out what works for them. You may use the general rule until you establish your feeding routine.
While establishing your fish’s feeding routine, be wary of overfeeding them. Fishkeepers ought to be more concerned about overfeeding than they are about underfeeding their fish. Overfeeding our fish is deadlier and poses many complications such as loss of environmental stability in aquariums, related illnesses, etc.
To avoid overfeeding, you can;
- Keep a feeding schedule that you will strictly adhere to. Here, you will clearly outline the times in which they will have a meal. A plan will not only stop you from spoiling your fish with food but help you establish an apparent decline in relations to feeding times.
- Give your fish the right amount of food. You can implement the rule mentioned above and observe your fish. If they keep getting fat or have bloated stomachs, reduce the number of pellets you give them until you find your working amount. If there are no visible or observable changes in fish, keep the rule as it works well for you.
- Scoop out any uneaten food. Your fish will not always finish everything you dish out. This is a perfect signal of you giving more than they need. Please take out the unwanted food and ensure you give them a reduced amount at the next meal.
- If you are away, your “fish-sitters” should be left well informed about the feeding habits of the fish in their care. Almost all of us have suffered from the neighbour syndrome. We go to our neighbours in charge of our fish only to find them overfed and bloated.
Sometimes, if we are away for a long time, we find them dead. Avoid such a scenario by making your neighbour know what he/she is stepping into.
My fish seems hungry, always!
I wrote this heading while smiling. I recalled having a similar concern when first starting as a fishkeeper. Hmmm, Nostalgia!
Of course, I know better now. It is usual for fish to seem hungry. If they do, you are probably doing something right.
As I mentioned above, fish have instincts that primarily make them seek food. They will swim closer to tank glass when they see you passing by because they associate with meals. It is cute, but dont fall into the trap of feeding them whenever they do that. I repeat, they are not hungry.
Some fish will aggressively compete for food whenever you drop pellets into the aquarium; it is typical for them to do that. Competition for food is very stiff in their natural habitat, so they will permanently be wired to fight for available food. An increase in aggressiveness (above the expected behaviour) is a sign of underfeeding. In such a case, you can increase the number of pellets you give them.
These scenarios should tell you that fish will always be or act hungry, more so betta fish. It is essential to stick to a precise feeding routine to keep off temptations of feeding more food to your fish than they require.
Betta fish are little pigs that will always eat and eat and eat. Nothing is enough for them. It is up to you to ensure your fish’s well-being, and that includes their feeding behaviours.
Since we have a foolproof or fireproof method of knowing when betta fish are hungry, we must develop ways to work for them. Use your judgement and recommendations above to narrow and shorten that path for you.
Jesse is the principal author of this blog. He is an avid fishkeeper with rich experience spanning several years. He is here to share his knowledge and ensure you also have a guiding compass, as he did with his father.