Bettas eat mostly live food in the wild, and insects are favorites. In captivity, bettas will eat almost any bug you can find, as long as it's not poisonous, spiny or sprayed with chemicals -- and the bettas can fit them in their mouths. You can even culture your own insect foods for bettas. When breeding bettas, live foods like insects can both condition bettas and trigger spawning.
Benefits of Live Food
Live foods offer many benefits over commercial betta foods. Live foods are nutritionally rich and have a greater diversity of vitamins and minerals than prepared foods, especially if you rotate through a variety of choices. Live foods are closer to what bettas eat in the wild. And since an increase in insects usually signals breeding season in the wild, adding live food to a betta's diet can trigger their spawning instinct.
Fruit flies make great live food for bettas. Some pet shops sell fruit flies and culture kits. You can raise your own fruit flies with fly media, jars and a starter culture. You can find all of these online, as well as a plethora of recipes for fruit fly media. Make sure you get flightless or wingless fruit flies, since these are easier to feed and less likely to escape and overrun your house.
You can feed bettas the larvae of several insects. You can buy frozen and freeze-dried mosquito and bloodworms at most pet shops. Bloodworms in particular seem to trigger spawning instincts in bettas and are among their favorite foods. You can collect mosquito larvae from buckets of aquarium water in your yard. However, make sure you feed your fish the larvae daily; do not let them reach the pupal stage. If you don't keep up on this chore, your yard can become a public health issue.
Other common insects are hard to culture, but still make nice treats for bettas. You can feed bettas almost any insect that's not sprayed with pesticide or poisonous. Avoid brightly colored insects, since these colors often indicate poison. Ants and houseflies, favorites of bettas, are difficult to culture in captivity. Still, if you happen to catch a couple, feel free to feed them to your fish.
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