How Long Do Betta Fish Live Without Food?

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You’ve begun planning your family’s summer vacation for the year.

Your furry pets have been booked into kennels.

Your focus suddenly shifts to your lovely Betta Fish.

Even if he appears to be in good condition and is happily swimming around in the corner, how will he be cared for while you are away and how long do Betta Fish live without food?

Some things to think about include how long you plan to be away from your fish as well as what kind of fish you have.

When it comes to health, focus on food and water quality.

In order to better equip you to make an educated decision for yourself, your aquarium and your fish, let’s take a look at each option one by one.

Options to think about while planning your fish’s care

Ask a neighbor, friend or relative

This is obviously the best option that you should go for if you can.

While they are feeding your fish, they can also check on the tank itself.

Is the heater still working? Is the filter running as usual.

Does your fish look okay or do they look like they are sick or dying.

If there is a problem then they can get hold of you and hopefully rectify the problem.

You can leave them comprehensive instructions and even instruct them to feed different foods on different days.

Your Betta will be happy with only being fed once a day.

The problem of course is finding someone that is relatively close to you so that you do not inconvenience them too much with excessive traveling and costs.

You could offer to pay for any expenses they may encounter.

Be very clear on how much to feed your Betta to avoid them overfeeding your fish which will cause bloat and the water quality dropping to dangerous levels. 

It might even be a good idea that they only feed your Betta every second day.

Leave the fish unfed for the weekend

Your Betta Fish will be just fine if they are not fed for 2-3 days.

Make sure to feed them as you are about to leave for the weekend but only the normal recommended amount.

Do not be tempted to overfeed them. 

The excess food will affect the water quality.

How long do Betta Fish live without food?

Worse case scenario – up to 10 days but this is to avoided at all costs.

The honest fact is that after 4 or 5 days your Betta Fish will begin to slowly starve causing it to suffer.

Yes, they may survive but it is cruel to put them through the ordeal of not eating for so many days.

They are totally dependent on you to supply all there needs.

They cannot go off and find there own food.

Rather arrange for either a fish sitter or someone you know to pop in and feed them.

Can a Betta Fish live without food for 3 days

Automatic Fish Feeder

These feeders can be a bit of a hit or miss.

If you do decide to use one then set it up a few weeks before you leave to test that it is working properly and not getting clogged with condensation or worse, feeding too much.

Each Betta Vacation feeder has a different number of chambers that must be pre-filled with food.

The feeder uses a clock mechanism to spin the chambers so that the food falls into the aquarium at a specified moment.

They can work very well but please make sure you test it well before leaving on vacation.

Block feeders

Block feeders are not recommended.

They tend to pollute the water, and we’ve seen several comments and reviews in which they have severely elevated ammonia levels, which may be hazardous to your fish.

They are also unreliable in the sense that they can either dissolve very quickly or not at all.

This happened to me when I used them in my tanks when we went on vacation a few years ago so I speak from experience.

The blocks had not dissolved as they should have and only released a little bit of food. Luckily my vacation had been cut short so we were only gone for a few days.

Plug Socket Timer

I have plug socket timers on all my tanks all the time.

I use them to regulate the lights so that they come on and go off automatically.

They are especially useful for times when you are not at home but are equally handy for every day use.

Betta Fish Vacation Planning

How To Prepare A Betta Fish Tank Before Going on Vacation

You may change how long Betta fish can survive without food by reducing all of the other stressors that your pet fish may encounter while you are away.

Leaving your pet fish’s tank in good shape is more about keeping stress levels low than it is about affecting your Betta’s ability to fast for more than 3-4 days.

Even if you have to leave your Betta tank unattended for 10-14 days, you can avoid stress-related illnesses or general ill health.

If you follow these preventative measures, you are more likely to return to a healthy Betta fish:

Enhance your Betta tank’s conditions

These tank-conditioning preparatory steps can be divided into two time frames, depending on how much time you have left before your trip.

About a week before you plan to depart:

  • Replace or clean any blocked filter media in the tank’s filtration system.
  • Remove any leftover food or waste by siphoning the gravel.
  • Aquarium test kits can be used to determine water quality (pH level should be between 6.8-7.5).
  • Cut back aquatic plants and clean up plant detritus that is lying on the substrate.
  • Double check that all of the equipment in your Betta tank is in functioning order.

The day you depart:

  • Make sure the water is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Change more water than you usually do:
    At least 50% of the water for a tank over 5 gallons and 80% for tanks smaller than 5 gallons.
  • Have a good look at your Betta to make sure it is healthy and there is no sign of disease.
  • Just before you leave, feed your betta fish with the same portion amount you use when you normally feed it.
  • Use an aquarium thermometer to ensure the water temperature is correct.

In order to keep your Betta fish from jumping out of their tank, make sure the lid is on.

It is important that the lid be ventilated and that a space be left between the water’s surface and the tank’s top in order to provide them with the oxygen they require.

Do not fill the tank to the brim.

Final Thoughts on How Long do Betta Fish Live Without Food

Betta Fish are one species of fish that can go for an extended period without food.

However, you must give them an optimal living habitat with appropriate water conditions to guarantee your fish remains healthy and flourishes while you are away.

While Betta fish can survive for 10 days without food, don’t go more than 5 days without feeding your pet.

If your betta has a calm and peaceful temperament then there are other fish that can be added to your betta tank.

Summarized guide 

  • A weekend – Your Betta should be perfectly fine without any food.
  • A week – Someone needs to pop over at least 3 times during the week to feed your Betta. Failing that, get an automatic feeder.
  • Two weeks – Use a trusted friend or relative and leave very clear instructions on how to care for your Betta Fish. If you are gone for a long time then they will also need to top up the aquarium water. If you cannot find anyone then your last option is to use an automatic feeder. 
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Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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