How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food?

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How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food

As much as it is far from ideal, sometimes we are forced to go away for a while, leaving our aquatic pets without food, this is what makes us ask how long can betta fish go without food? In some cases, this can lead to problems, even the death of your dear fish.

A Betta fish can safely live up to five days without eating. There are some precautions to take when we are on vacation, for example. Other actions we must do routinely, avoiding problems in periods of unexpected absence.

For many years working with fish owners, I have witnessed numerous strange situations. From the owner leaving the aquarium full of feed to even taking the fish along in a plastic bag.

If you intend to go on vacation and have doubts about how to proceed or how long your betta fish can go without food, these topics will be explained in this article.

The Importance of the Right Diet

The fish, plants, and invertebrates in our aquarium need to be fed regularly. Mainly fish and invertebrates, since plants are less evolved beings with a greater ability to adapt and produce their food.

Fish usually have a certain energy reserve as long as they are healthy, and as long as the aquarium is balanced.

Avoid giving too much food for two reasons: first, the food usually loses its nutrients and spoils after approximately 10 minutes. When this happens, the food turns into ammonia, which is toxic to aquarium inhabitants. And second, because fish cannot overeat, if they overeat, they will produce a large amount of excrement and unwanted compounds, quickly degrading water quality.

How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food: Planning and Organizing Your Absence

Betta fish are fine for 2 or 3 days without eating. 5 to 7 days is already a long time when some individuals will survive, while others may die.

Ideally, in the periods when you are not present to feed your fish, you hire someone you trust to take care of your pets. This is the best way to ensure that everything goes well.

Even so, there are some simple steps we should take before we go on vacation. These tasks are simple and are basically about preparing your tank and also your fish for this period of absence.

To program our tank it is vital to know how long we will be away. Knowing when we will be out will dictate what steps we must take to keep our Betta fish healthy and well.

Tank Prep

Ideally, the aquarium conditions must be always impeccable. The substrate must be clean, as well as the glass, decorations, and everything else. Before we travel, this care in leaving everything in pristine condition is even more necessary.

Before leaving the fish alone, you must carry out thorough maintenance, cleaning the filters, decorations, and substrate. Even better if this maintenance is carried out daily.

Doing deep maintenance in short periods, we guarantee that the aquarium, even when alone, will have all the conditions for nothing to go wrong. If we leave a tank dirty, with food scraps, dead leaves, and fish feces, the water will quickly pollute, causing an ammonia spike and killing your fish quickly.

Water Prep

It doesn’t matter if, according to your calendar, the next aquarium cleaning shouldn’t be for five days. If you will not be there to ensure the water parameters, it is important to do this procedure to ensure the renewal of oxygen and nutrients in the water.

Along with tank maintenance, we must proceed with an extensive water change of around 70% of the total volume. And these water changes will be even more effective when maintained every other day until the time of travel.

The constant water exchange will guarantee the perfect and stable quality of the parameters, always providing new water to its inhabitants. When left unattended, the water will have a greater ability to retain and filter unwanted compounds. We also guarantee and check that all equipment is working properly.

Lighting Prep

As for lighting, there are not many secrets, just provide the fish with a cycle of 8 to 12 hours of light daily. You can achieve this need by keeping the aquarium in a well-lit place or using artificial lighting.

If you have a planted aquarium, it is vital to provide the plants with adequate lighting for the time you are away.

Use a timer connected to the lighting system. This timer will turn the lights on and off for the period you pre-programmed.

Filtration Prep

Filtration preparation involves cleaning and observation. At each water change, check the working and cleaning conditions of the filtering system. Especially before traveling, perform constant maintenance.

Keeping the water passing through the filter such as hose, ceramics, and sponges always clean, the chemical media always renewed, and the mechanical part of the pump working perfectly will avoid problems and accumulation of unwanted organic matter in the water.

Other Prep Work

Check everything related to the aquarium. See if the outlets are working without a hitch. If the thermometer and heater are properly adjusted and especially if your fish is healthy and eating properly.

Back-Up In Case of a Power Outage

Sometimes power outages can occur. This is a great enemy of aquarists because without energy there are no conditions to maintain efficient filtration and temperature control. Power outages are even more dangerous when we are not at home to take care of ourselves.

We know that a power outage can happen at any time and for no apparent reason and the concern about how to care for an aquarium during a power outage is not only very common but also quite pertinent.

A power outage in the aquarium can be caused by the fall of the light tower that supplies your street, by a circuit that is not working properly, or even by the aquarium that had been accidentally unplugged.

The most common occurrences after turning off an aquarium filter are a decrease in water oxygenation, temperature changes, and an increase in the levels of nitrogen compounds present in the water. Changing the temperature can cause a lot of stress, while the increase in ammonia levels caused by failing to filter the water can make the aquarium environment completely toxic to your fish.

Since all aquarium fish species have very specific environmental needs, any of these changes can indeed be fatal to your aquatic pets.

Knowing the possible risks that a power outage can subject your aquarium to, you can already prevent yourself from all scenarios and thus act more quickly when necessary.

To meet the needs of aquarium care, there are several options for small continuous generators on the market – which will allow the operation of aquarium equipment such as heaters, filters, and pumps, until electricity is restored.

There is also the option of battery-operated air pumps that can provide good oxygenation to your aquarium for a certain amount of hours.

During a long power outage, it is important to remember that your fish can survive a few days without food. Feeding your aquarium during these periods can mean a very impacting energy expenditure on your fish, further reducing the oxygenation levels of the aquarium due to the accumulation of dirt and feces.

The Best Option Possible

Unlike other pets, when we travel we cannot leave our fish at a friend’s house or in a pet hotel. The ideal is always to have someone you trust to take care of your aquarium when you are away. This is the only way to avoid any problems in your aquarium.

If you have someone you trust and don’t mind sharing your house key with, this could be an excellent option. It is important to note that not all people understand aquariums enough to deal with problems. Ideally, the person taking care of the tank should know at least the bare minimum about caring for an aquarium.

Therefore, the person may have difficulty performing certain tasks when caring for an aquarium. Like, for example, giving the correct amount of food or checking the water parameters.

For those who can leave the aquarium in the care of someone, a tip is to leave the portions of food fractionated and leave important information written down.

Thus, you reduce the risk of the person administering excess food accumulating organic matter in the aquarium. In addition, you can also create a checklist with factors that the person can observe and essential aquarium accessories.

If you choose to leave the aquarium alone

We don’t always have someone we trust to take care of our aquatic pets. Many people also don’t trust leaving their house keys with others, especially when they will be away for a certain period.

Many aquarists even prefer this method to leaving the ecosystem in the hands of someone with no experience. But for that, it takes a lot of planning and attention.

In cases where the aquarium will be alone, we have some steps that can be taken to ensure that everything goes well during the period of absence.

The balance of an aquarium depends on the proper functioning of equipment such as a filter, pump, lighting, and heater with a thermometer.

Therefore, before traveling, it costs nothing to check that the aquarium filter and other accessories are in good condition and correctly adjusted. In the case of lighting, it is vital to pay attention to the timer. The timer will make the light goes on and off.

In general, healthy Betta fish in clean aquariums can go without food for up to 3 days without harming their health. This is the time considered safe, even though some fish survive more than five days without many problems.

This time is not a stable factor, as it is related to factors such as fish health and tank conditions. For example, in higher temperatures, the Betta can live less time without food, as well as if he has a health problem.

For prolonged absences, it is essential to ensure some form of food. Nowadays we can find equipment such as automatic feeders, or holiday rations, that help us in this task.

Automatic Feeder

This is the safest and most effective way to feed fish on vacation. The automatic feeder works like a clock with a reservoir in which the feed is placed and how many times a day, the time which the fish should be fed, and the amount of feed are programmed. In this way, it is possible to use the usual food, and the fish will be able to eat at the time they are used to, without the intervention of people who are often not used to the task.

Choose one for ornamental fish, preferably with an adjustment of time and amount of feed.

Easy to handle, the automatic feeder is a great tool for the aquarist during travel and period of absence. With this device, it is possible to control how much feed we are going to give, leaving the fish fed and with no leftover feed in the tank.

We can find two versions available: analog and digital. Some may have a high cost. As with other equipment, the higher the cost the higher the quality; It’s an investment that pays off.

If you choose the automatic feeder, we recommend that you purchase it up to 30 days before you travel. Start using it early, and test it out until you find the sweet spot. Instead of leaving to turn it on only on the day you travel, the ideal is to test it at least a week in advance.

This way, you can see the amount of food released, making the necessary adjustments.

Do not use in the auto feeder any type of feed, like flakes. Always opt for use granules. If you can afford to invest in a good automatic feeder, this is, without a doubt, the best option.

Because the automatic feeder runs on batteries, it’s essential to ensure they’re of good quality; So the equipment doesn’t fail while you’re away.

When adjusting the automatic feeder, be careful that it only delivers as much food as you need. Otherwise, it will accumulate at the bottom of the aquarium, turning into ammonia, which can kill your fish.

Vacation (Holiday) Fish Food

There are types of food designed to be used on these occasions. The most common type is block fish food. They are blocks of white tone found in most fish and aquarium shops.

However, this type of block food is not very nutritious. In addition, it gradually lose nutrients to the water, helping to pollute quickly. You should use this type of food with caution and observation.

While they are the cheapest travel food, this is often not the best option unless you have no other choice.

Another disadvantage is that these blocks usually have calcic components used to aggregate everything. Due to the presence of calcium, the pH of your aquarium needs to be between 6.8 to 7.2 for the feed to be efficient. If the pH is more alkaline than 7.2 this feed may not dissolve. If the pH is too acidic, it can dissolve too quickly.

There are vacation fish foods that last for a long time, depending on the amount of fish that inhabit the aquarium. Each manufacturer has an indication, but they work the same way. Just put the amount of food referring to the number of fish and the days you will be out.

Other common types of holiday food are gel and natural. Gel food has a higher cost, but in return, you don’t have to worry about the pH of your aquarium. The same goes for natural food.

The main advantage of these types is that they dissolve gradually, not polluting the water all at once and offering the fish a higher quality food for a longer time.

To-Do (Checklist Before Leaving)

After making the necessary preparations, before leaving it is vital to check that everything is ok and going as planned. To be sure, make a checklist of the tasks that have been carried out and check again if the aquarium is working well.

  • Perform a large water change (around 70%): this water change is vital to leave the water in the tank in perfect conditions, avoiding the accumulation of ammonia and other nitrogenous substances, keeping the accumulation of organic material low, and avoiding the sudden drop in pH;
  • Perform tests: Before traveling, measure pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and everything else you can. If necessary, correct and stabilize the parameters;
  • Check the heater and thermometer: The heater and thermometer must always be properly adjusted and in perfect working order. This avoids overheating or equipment failures;
  • Check the fish’s health status: Check if your Betta fish is healthy, eating correctly, with open fins, colored, and with active behavior;
  • Check filter and other equipment: Check that equipment such as pumps, compressors, filters, lighting, and everything else is working well and fault-free. Also, check the timers and whether the batteries are charged;
  • Adjust and check the automatic feeder: If you choose to use an automatic feeder, make sure your batteries are up to date and that the device is properly regulated releasing the correct amount of feed;
  • Perform equipment test: Perform tests to observe how the aquarium works without your supervision. That way you predict and prevent accidents from happening.

By performing these simple procedures, you will have an aquarium that will remain stable and well for the period you have programmed it to be out.

FAQ – Keeping your Betta Fish Healthy

Let’s now answer some of the most common questions about keeping Betta healthy while traveling.

How long can I keep Betta without food?

Surely you can keep your fish for 2 to 3 days without food. As much as some sources say that 5 to 7 days is a safe period, avoid leaving your fish without eating for more than three days.

I’m traveling, what should I do with my Betta?

Check the Betta tank and make sure the system is clean and the water is free of pollutants. The idea is to leave someone you trust responsible for feeding and taking care of the fish if this is not possible, use automatic feeders.

What Size Aquariums Do Betta Fish Need?

The bigger better. You must never keep Bettas in small spaces, and use a minimum of 5 gallons.

Do Betta Fish Need Filters?

Yes, filters are essential in keeping any species of fish.

Can I Use Vacation Fish Food?

Yes, you can, but with caution. Use the right food for the size of your aquarium and the amount of fish.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

Healthy Betta fish can live for over 5 years.

From Betta Fish Need Heater?

Yes, these are tropical fish that live in warm water. In addition to keeping the water warm, heaters are essential to keep the water temperature stable.

Can I Keep More Than One Betta Fish In The Same Aquarium?

Male Betta fish are territorial and should only be kept once per tank. Female bettas can live in groups without problems.

Can Betta Live With Other Fish?

Yes, they can live with different tank mates like corydoras, catfishes, and even invertebrates like clams and shrimp.

Why Do My Betta Fish Make Bubbles?

Male bettas make a bubble nest for breeding.

Summing Things Up

Even following all the tips, it’s normal to have a fear that things won’t work out as planned. To put an end to your doubts, how about taking a test on how to take care of an aquarium in your absence?

Let’s say you know you’re going to be out for 15 days soon. Instead of leaving to take the measures just before traveling, follow all the tips given above!

Carry out the water change, adjust the equipment and turn on the automatic feeder. Keep an eye on the aquarium, do water tests, and monitor it to see if it remains stable.

That way, if you notice any anomalies, you can correct them before you travel.


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