If you are only going away for 1-3 days, then the answer will be your betta fish should be fine.
If you are going away for longer, there are a few things to take into consideration that will affect how long a betta fish can survive without food.
- Betta Fish Overview
- How Long Can A Betta Fish Go Without Food?
- Betta Fish Care While On Vacation
- How To Optimize Betta Tank Before Going On Vacation
- How Can I Feed My Betta While On Vacation?
- How Often Should You Feed Betta Fish?
- What Do Betta Fish Eat?
- Final Thoughts On How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food…?
Betta Fish Overview
The beautiful betta fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish, is one of the most popular pet fish to keep.
With their dazzling coloration, long flowing fins, and reputation for being easy to care for, it’s not surprising.
- Name / Scientific Name: Betta Fish / Betta splendens
- Care Level: Easy
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
- Maximum Size: 3 inches
- Minimum Tank Size Recommendation: 5 gallons
- Diet: Carnivore
- Water Temperature: 78°-82° F
- dKH: 5-20
- pH: 6.5-7.5
I have done a much more in-depth betta care instructions guide which covers everything you need to know on how to care for this beautiful fish.
How Long Can A Betta Fish Go Without Food?
In a sizeable filtered tank, a healthy betta fish can survive for up to 10-14 days without food.
However, I would not recommend this as it can be very stressful for them and detrimental to their health.
The longest I would recommend a betta fish going without food is 1 week.
Can You Skip A Day Feeding Betta Fish?
Yes, you can skip a day when it comes to feeding a betta fish.
The effects of not feeding your betta for days at a time are:
1-3 Days Without Food
Your betta fish can benefit from this, as they are notorious for being greedy and gulping down their food!
Taking in too much air when eating can lead to swim bladder disease, so occasionally taking a break from feeding for 1-3 days can help avoid this.
4-7 Days Without Food
Betta fish go into starvation mode around day 5 when they’re not fed and stress levels start to increase.
8-14 Days Without Food
This is when your betta fish really starts to feel the negative effects of not having any food.
It will be in starvation mode, have high-stress levels, potential organ failure, and ammonia levels may be starting to increase in the tank.
Betta Fish Care While On Vacation
If you’re going on vacation (lucky you!) you’ll need to make sure your betta fish will be OK whilst you are away.
The best option is to have a pet sitter, friend, or neighbor look after and feed your betta fish.
However, having someone else to look after your fish isn’t always possible, so we’ll run through what you need to do in advance of going on vacation to give your betta the best chance of surviving whilst you are away.
It’s not just the lack of food that can be an issue for your fish, if toxins rise to dangerous levels that will be more of an issue for your fish than having no food.
There are a few things that need to be taken into account to determine how long you can safely leave your fish when on vacation.
- Tank Size
- Filtered or Unfiltered Tank
- Betta Fish Overall Health
I know we’ve all seen betta fish in tiny tanks and vases, and this has unfortunately led to the misconception that it’s ok to put bettas in these tiny containers.
It’s practically impossible to keep the water safe and healthy in such a low volume of water, not to mention there’s hardly any space for them to swim. We recommend a tank size of 5 gallons for a betta.
If your betta tank is a decent size (5 gallons or larger), you will be able to leave your fish for longer.
The higher the volume of water in your tank, the longer it will take longer for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to get up to dangerous levels.
I’ve covered this subject in-depth in my nitrogen cycle post.
Filtered or Unfiltered Tank?
Do you have a filter in your betta fish tank? If you answered no, I recommend you get one.
You don’t need anything fancy or expensive, a simple sponge filter with an air pump is a great option for a betta fish.
The main benefits of filters are that they clean the water, and allow colonies of beneficial bacteria to grow, which in turn remove toxins from the water.
Removing harmful toxins from the water allows you to go longer between water changes.
Betta Fish Overall Health
Is your betta fish in its prime and healthy? A healthy betta will be active, brightly colored, and have a healthy appetite.
On average pet betta fish live for around 3-4 years, so if it’s getting towards its later years, it’s going to struggle more without food and proper care.
Unless your fish appears healthy, it’s not recommended to leave it for more than a couple of days.
Signs that your betta fish is unwell
- Appearing lethargic
- Bruising or scale loss – this will be a sign that your fish has been flashing
- Clamped fins
- Flashing – flattening themselves out at the bottom of the tank and rubbing against the substrate or decor, twitchy swimming, sudden bursts of swimming, or even jumping out of the water
- Hiding more than normal
- Loss of appetite
- Pale coloration
How To Optimize Betta Tank Before Going On Vacation
To give your betta fish the best chance of surviving while you are on vacation you need to make sure its tank is in tip-top condition.
Clean The Tank
Clean your fish tank if you are going away for more than a few days.
If you’re going away for more than 3 days, perform a large water change the day before you leave.
Change 50%-80% of the water, the longer you are going for, the larger the percentage of water you should change.
Clean the filter and check it’s working.
Check the heater is working and maintaining the correct temperature.
Bettas are tropical fish and like the water to be around 78°-82° F.
If you are going on vacation for more than 1 week and can’t get anyone to feed your betta, turn the temperature down to 72°-74° F.
This will decrease your betta’s metabolism so that it uses less energy and won’t have to dip into its fat reserves as quickly.
If you have a light on your betta tank, use a light timer so that it’s not on 24/7, betta’s like having a day and night schedule like us, 10-12 hours light per day is ideal.
A light timer is a great way to do this, even when you’re not on vacation.
Bettas are known for being great jumpers, make sure you have a secure lid on your tank, so you don’t come home to a dried-out fish on the floor.
How Can I Feed My Betta While On Vacation?
You have a few options when it comes to feeding your betta while you’re away on vacation:
Automatic feeders are a great option when going on vacation.
One thing to note with these automatic feeders is that they take a little fine-tuning, so it’s best to check your feeder is set up and dispenses the correct amount of food BEFORE you go away.
You need to buy a decent quality one, the cheaper ones can get condensation build up inside them. This then causes the food to clog together and it won’t dispense into the tank properly.
2 great options are:
The Fish Mate F14 allows you to individually portion out and offer a variety of food over 14 days.
It also has a great feature that allows you to attach an air pump to blow dry air through the feeder and prevent the food from going stale or clogging up due to condensation.
With the FREESEA Automatic Feeder, you add all the food into one container, and as it rotates it will dispense the food through adjustable slots.
However, it can be difficult to get the portion size just right for a single betta fish, I found it dispensed too much food for my betta.
You can put some tape over the slots so that the portion size will be reduced to the right amount.
Make sure any food you put in an automatic feeder is dry so it doesn’t clog up or go moldy.
I don’t recommend using feeding blocks for betta fish, although they look like a great idea, they tend to be made out of low-quality food and betta fish need a high protein diet.
If you want to try them out, the ones I’ve linked to above aren’t full of fillers and artificial colors or preservatives, but an automatic feeder is a much better option.
If a pet sitter, friend, or neighbor is going to feed your betta fish, a pill box is a great way to measure out the correct amount of food for each day, before you leave.
Most people (especially non-fish keepers) have a tendency to overfeed your fish thinking they are being kind.
Unfortunately, this will cause the ammonia levels to spike in the tank due to rotting uneaten food and additional poop (from overeating), which will make your fish ill or worse!
How Often Should You Feed Betta Fish?
Betta’s can be a bit like Labrador retrievers when it comes to food (greedy)!
It’s really easy to overfeed a betta fish as they only have a small stomach, but a large appetite.
You should feed your betta once or twice per day.
I give my betta pellet food in the morning and protein-based foods in the evening.
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
Bettas are carnivorous and should be fed a wide and varied diet of protein-based food.
After trying many different brands of pellets, I’ve finally found one that my betta gobbles down! The Aqueon Pro Betta Pellets.
They also love freeze-dried and frozen foods like:
When buying pellets, make sure they are specifically designed for betta fish, as regular pellets are too big for them to eat.
Some frequently asked questions on this topic are:
How Long Can Betta Fry Go Without Food?
Once betta fry are free swimming (after around 48 hours), they can go up to 3 days without food.
Can I Leave My Betta Fish For 3 Days?
Yes, you may actually do your betta a favor. Bettas are notorious for being greedy, gulping their food down, and ending up with swim bladder disease because they’ve swallowed excess air with their food.
The 3-day break allows their digestive tract to clear out fully.
Just make sure the tank is clean before you leave.
Can I Leave My Betta Fish For 1 Week?
A healthy betta could be left for 1 week, but I don’t advise it.
After the 5th day without food, they go into starvation mode which becomes detrimental to their health.
If you’re going away for a week either have someone check on your betta and feed it, or use an automatic feeder.
Can I Leave My Betta Fish For 2 Weeks?
A healthy betta could ‘survive’ for 2 weeks without food, but, again, I do not advise this at all.
If you’re going away for 2 weeks either have someone check on your betta and feed it, or use an automatic feeder.
Final Thoughts On How Long Can Betta Fish Go Without Food…?
Although betta fish can go up to 2 weeks without food, this is not healthy for them and should be avoided.
Ideally, if you are going to be away for more than 4 days, get a pet sitter, friend, or neighbor to look after your fish, or at least invest in an automatic fish feeder so your little buddy isn’t going to starve to death!
I hope this post has answered everything you wanted to know about how long can a betta survive without food and you now know how to prepare your betta tank before going on vacation.
Check out the Aquarium Health section for more guides on how to keep your fish tank in tip-top shape.