The good news about betta fish is that they are very hardy and can survive for quite some time without food.
The bad news? They’ll suffer from stunted growth, weight loss, and weakness if they go too long without eating. So how long can your betta fish last before it needs to be fed again? Let’s find out!
The article goes on to answer the question “How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?” which has been asked by many of our readers.
How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?
How long can you live without food? Probably, you’ll end up underestimating your ability to go without food. You may be surprised to know that, typically, human beings can survive a month without eating. But the ability varies with different individuals.
Generally, most fish can survive without feeding for 10 to 12 days. However, it has been recorded that Betta might last up to 14 days! That’s the maximum length of time, and keeping them unfed is like pushing to the boundaries.
As a responsible Betta owner, you should be more conservative and concerned about when your pet may begin to starve. Bettas typically survive an average maximum of 14 days without sustenance; however, they start to starve after 4-5 days!
It may stress them, and If you starve your Betta for more than 4 days, it might suffer from organ failures and reach the point of death. If you are going on a weekend trip for 3-4 days, your Bettas should be fine; however, you need to feed them right after you return.
However, if you’re going on a lengthy excursion, ask a family member or neighbor to do the feeding job. Make sure you do it yourself right after you return. No one can take better care of them than you.
Factors Determining How Long Betta Can Go without Food
As we have mentioned, betta fish can survive without food for between 10-14 days. However, there are a couple of factors that impact the duration of their survival.
Major Factor 1: Tank Size
Betta’s ability to live without food is greatly affected by its aquarium size. The larger the aquarium is, the longer your Betta can survive without food. The reason is, that smaller aquariums become dirty so fast and need to be cleaned more often.
In other words, if a Betta fish is left in a small tank, water conditions could become more harmful to the fish than fasting for an extended period. However, your betta fish will have a relatively better water quality if they live in a larger tank or in a community tank.
Read More: Best Betta Fish Tank (Review & Buying Guide)
Major Factor 2: Filtered vs. Unfiltered Tank
A similar degree of maintenance is required for unfiltered betta tanks as with smaller tanks. Keeping bettas in unfiltered tanks or bowls isn’t dangerous. Because of their labyrinth organ, they can live without an air pump but make sure the aquarium is a sensible size and the fish have unobstructed access to the surface for oxygenation.
However, suppose you plan on going away for 10-14 days. In that case, a betta tank with no filter is at a significantly higher risk of losing its water quality than a filtered one. As a consequence, poor water quality will hugely impact the betta survival rate.
Related Read: Best Aquarium Filter for Your Betta Tank
Major Factor 3: Betta Fish General Health
There’s a significant difference in the survival rates for individual fish, and not all of them will respond similarly to the same conditions. The fish’s age, metabolism, and general health will play a role in determining how the fish will react to increased stress levels, hunger, and less than ideal water conditions during those 10-14 days.
As a fish gets older, it can survive without eating for a longer period of time. This is because old fish usually contain fat reserves. On the other hand, baby fish can not survive more than a couple of days without eating.
More substantial ones can often last longer than smaller ones because their body mass is more critical, allowing them to store fat that they need when food isn’t immediately available, or there are no other options left.
The Bettas that measure over 10 cm may survive up to 2 weeks without eating, while those under this size might stay beyond one week with nothing but air as sustenance at hand.
Don’t allow your betta fish to fast for prolonged periods. You shouldn’t do it regularly. When you have no other option, only leave your betta fish tank unattended.
How To Feed Betta Fish While During Vacation
Seeking help from a friend or neighbor.
While you’re on vacation, the easiest and most effective option is to take help from a friend or a neighbor. But, keep in mind to train them properly before you leave. Otherwise, it may end up more shocking for you if they overfed your betta fish in your absence.
Additionally, they will be able to ensure that everything is alright with your fish while they are feeding. However, if you can’t take or be comfortable with this option, you have some alternatives.
Automatic fish feeder
One of the best options to feed your betta fish when you’re away is to use an automatic fish feeder. Several products are available, and they enable sequential dispense of dry food throughout the day according to your desires so that your Betta is fed at the appropriate times.
This option is a fantastic choice if your trip lasts more than one week. The product continues feeding on autopilot until the supply runs out.
Be careful while choosing the fish feeder. If it dispenses way too much food than your betta fish need, that will result in overfeeding.
I have been using the Zarco Automatic fish feeder for the last 2 years to feed my Betta regularly and when I am away for a few days. It really serves my purpose magnificently for me; you can also try that out.
Another option is using food blocks that slowly release foods. They break down gradually in the tank before you leave for vacation and work, making sure not to overwhelm them.
Some food blocks are known to last up to two weeks. However, they are not recommended for small tanks. They are only meant for aquariums with numerous fish.
In a small tank with a few fish, this food block can cause overfeeding. Those also tend to foul the water. I have seen so many complaints and reviews about how they have increased the ammonia levels, which is harmful to your fish.
I suggest testing with a brand of feed block and observing how it affects the tank. If the outcome is satisfactory, you can use this while you’re enjoying your vacation. However, without knowing the characteristics beforehand, you can’t leave the fish with a feed block.
Gadgets that May Help You Feeding Betta When You’re Away
What To Do If You Can’t Feed Your Betta Fish?
Suppose you can’t avail yourself of any one of the alternatives mentioned above. In that case, there is no other option but to leave the fish unfed. But three are a few initiatives you can take to lessen the impact and ensure that your fish stay healthy until you come back.
- Reduce the tank temperature– Slow down the fish’s metabolism by reducing the water’s temperature a few degrees. Consequently, the fish will require less food. However, this shouldn’t be the everyday practice to limit the food expense because exposure to cold water makes your betta fish susceptible to various diseases. Raise the temperature again to the desired level as soon as you get back.
- Reduce the lighting duration – Limit the amount of light they are exposed to. A timer can be set so that you only have 6 hours worth instead of 12, making them burn fewer calories and eat less food.
How To Prepare A Betta Fish Tank Before Leaving It For A Few Days
Preparing the betta tank before leaving is crucial. This helps to provide the optimum condition during your vacation and will help to reduce stress and stay healthy. Stress-induced diseases, or just general poor health, can be prevented even if you take the below-mentioned actions.
Try to do as much as you can to provide a healthy condition to live healthy for your Betta.
- Clean the tank filter a week before leaving. Replace the clogged filter media.
- Clean the substrate to remove debris and leftover foods at the bottom.
- Check the water’s pH, nitrate, and ammonia to ensure you leave the tank in a suitable condition.
- Remove dead plant matter, and trim the plant with excess plants.
- Do a water change (30%) just before the day you leave.
- Check all the gadgets for the betta tank are working correctly.
- Use a lid to cover the tank to protect the fish from jumping.
It is not always easy to predict how long betta fish can live without food, but after reading this, you should make an educated guess.
A recent study by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Science found that some male bettas could go for up to 18 days with no food while females could only last 10.
If you are going on vacation, making some preparations and tactics can make leaving the betta fish alone possible. However, the best thing is to find someone who can take care of your pet, or at least make an arrangement so that your betta fish can get the necessary food for their survival.
So if you have any more questions about your pet fish, please leave them in the comments below!