How Long Can Bettas Go Without Food?

Holiday seasons come with a lot of camping and vacations away from home. This also includes betta keepers who are planning to go out of their base for a while. But they are often faced with a pressing concern: “What do I do with my betta fish while I’m away?”

Betta fish can survive up to 14 days with out food in ideal conditions.  Conditions such as water quality and temperature will need to be matched which will make the fish lethargic which will slow their metabolism. 

How Long Can Bettas Go Without Food

If you’re planning to vacation somewhere with family and/or friends and worried about the welfare of your betta fish, you’re not alone. Most fish species need to be fed almost on a daily basis, hence your concerns are totally valid.

Bettas are picky about their food, often feasting on the food on the water surface rather than consuming the ones stuck on the substrate. Because they’re carnivorous, bettas are mostly fed with balanced food rich in protein and fats.

But if you’re wondering how long your bettas can survive without food while you’re away, the answer is 14 days. However, it is not recommended to take a 2 week-long vacation and abandon your bettas.

But while you’re planning to leave for a while, there are a few tips you can take to keep your bettas healthy till you get back. We’ll be exploring some of them.

Keep them in a cool-water tank.

Fishes are cold-blooded animals and they live a decent life in environments that are best suited to thrive in. For instance, when it comes to feeding, fishes that are kept in warm water tanks require more food than those kept in cold water.

When it comes to bettas, this rule is easily neglected. Bettas are known as tropical fishes and will not be able to survive in cold water. Hence, you must ensure the water in the tank is at a steady tropical temperature.

The recommended temperature range should be between 76 – 82 Fahrenheit degrees which are best suited for them. For bettas, water that is too cold or too hot will lead to stress or worse, death to the fishes. Also, it is recommended to adjust the temperature surrounding the fishes to between 71-73 Fahrenheit degrees. This should be done in order to reduce the fishes’ caloric consumption.

Change the water before leaving

If your vacation will be stretching more than 4 days, it is important you do a 60-100% change in the water a day before your trip and immediately you get back.

However, this instruction is fairly dependent on the size of your aquarium. If your aquarium can hold 3 gallons of water or less, you’d need to do an 80% water replacement on the day before you leave. Bettas naturally expel ammonia into the water. Coupled with released food waste and other toxins, the oxygen level in the tank will be limited. Hence, the recommended water replacement.

For tanks that can hold more than 6 gallons, you can carry out a 50-65% change of water.

Put the fishes in filtered tanks

Before making the move to leave, ensure the fishes are kept in a filtered tank. Their chances of survival will be very high compared to living in an unfiltered water tank.

Ensure you have tank lids with holes.

The free flow of oxygen is important for fishes to survive. Hence, if you’re leaving your aquarium for a couple of days, it is important to have tank lids containing holes.

This will keep the steady supply of oxygen into the tank.

Maintain indirectly sunlight.

If you’re planning to travel, it is important to leave the tank in a position where it receives indirect sunlight. It is not safe to keep the tank in a completely dark room or a room flooded with lights. This is to ensure the water in the tank is not affected by the surrounding temperature, making it increase or decrease in temperature.

If your tank has a canopy light above the water, you should turn it off before leaving.

Do not rely on automatic feeders.

While automatic feeders are a wonderful alternative to feeding your bettas if you’re not around, they are often unreliable.

Automatic feeders have the tendency to overfeed your fishes. There have been complaints from betta-keepers that these automatic feeders do not even work at all.

The alternative rather is to feed your bettas fatty food twice in the 4 days leading up to your vacationing. Bettas are known to have small stomachs, and feeding them fatty foods like white and bloodworms will build up their fat reserves which will sustain for a couple of days.

However, if you still want to go ahead with an automatic feeder, here’s a little tip: ensure you set it up at least 7 days before you leave. This is to monitor it daily and note how it is releasing the food into the tank.

If it keeps dumping large amounts of food into the tank, it will turn to ammonia if uneaten which is dangerous for your fish.

Come back on time.

While 14 days is the duration bettas can go without food, it is not always ideal to leave them unattended for 2 weeks.

After 4-6 days of starvation, bettas begin to tap into their reserves and making use of it until it runs out. Under prolonged days of starvation, the fishes are subjected to stress, leading it to experience kidney failure and shutting down their immune system.

This makes the fishes vulnerable to common illness, leading to severe complications and death.

Hence, the maximum recommended time you can leave your fishes unattended is 5 days, and you should feed them as soon as you return.

If you notice that some of your bettas are affected by the disease, it will die of unattended in fewer days. You should ensure the water is in perfect condition before leaving.


Bettas are strong creatures that can survive for long periods of time. If you’re planning to vacation somewhere, you need to plan properly for your aquatic creatures, ensuring that they’re in perfect condition.

The aforementioned tips if followed thoroughly will protect your bettas from harm due to starvation.

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