10 Human Foods You Should Never Feed to Betta Fish

Written by Alanna Davis
Published: March 16, 2024
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Are you the proud owner of an adorable little betta fish? If so, you might have questions about how you can spice up their diet. While many betta fish get by just fine on fish feed, other owners choose to feed their betta snacks in the form of human foods, such as peas, melon, corn, or cucumbers. Although there are some human foods that are suitable for betta fish consumption, others should be avoided entirely. Let’s explore 10 foods that you should absolutely never feed to your betta fish.

1. Bacon Bits

A plate of bacon overflowing in a skillet

Bacon contains high levels of saturated fat.

©nelea33/Shutterstock.com

Although ground-up bacon bits might have the appearance of fish food, this is highly toxic to betta fish. We all know that bacon isn’t one of the healthiest foods for human consumption. That being said, you can only imagine the effect that all that salt and fat has on a small betta fish’s digestive system. It might seem like a nice gesture, but avoid feeding your fish bacon at all costs.

2. Candy

Airheads candy

While gummy candy is toxic to betta fish, it isn’t necessarily good for humans either.

©CC BY 2.0 - License

If you think that your betta fish wants to share your gummy worms with you, you’re sorely mistaken. The sugars and preservatives present in many processed candies are highly toxic to betta fish. If you want to share a sweet treat with your betta, try offering them a betta-safe alternative like cantaloupe instead.

3. Onions

Fresh Picked Large and Sweet Whole Walla Walla Onions in a bin in a Farmers Market for Sale

In addition to onions, betta fish should not eat shallots, spring onions, or leeks.

©Candace Hartley/Shutterstock.com

Although it might seem okay to feed your betta fish onion because it’s a vegetable, this food is a no-go as well. Feeding your betta fish onions can result in lethargy, digestive issues, and in the worst cases, death. If you want to feed your fish a vegetable, try offering them plain leafy greens instead.

4. Meat

Close-up of a woman's hands preparing ground beef to make hamburgers, the meat is still raw and she is adding the ingredients, nice atmosphere in the kitchen.

Betta fish do eat some types of meat such as insects and brine shrimp.

©Alfredo Hernandez Rios/Shutterstock.com

It might seem self-explanatory, but feeding your betta fish a piece of your hamburger is something you’ll want to avoid. In fact, you should avoid feeding your betta fish any kind of meat, especially highly processed types such as pepperoni, fast food meats, and hot dogs.

5. Lemons

Harvesting fresh tasty lemons from potted citrus plant. Close-up of the females hands who harvest the indoor growing lemons with hand pruners. Ripe yellow lemon Volcameriana fruits and green leaves

Every part of the lemon is harmful to betta fish.

©Ivan Semenovych/Shutterstock.com

The bright flavor of lemon juice is popular with many people. However, the same cannot be said for betta fish. While some fruits such as cantaloupe or mango are safe for betta fish consumption, acidic fruits like lemons are not.

6. Seasoning

Spice, Herb, Seasoning, Condiment, Food

Seasoning can be unhealthy for many animals.

©iStock.com/monticelllo

For humans, cooking without seasoning blends would be utter torture. Many spices have the ability to give meals new dimensions of flavor, and many people enjoy combining them in new and creative ways each time they cook. Despite this, spices and seasonings are highly dangerous for fish. Even if the food that is coated in seasoning is safe for betta fish, the seasoning itself is not.

7. Dairy

Various dairy products

Betta fish don’t have the ability to digest lactase, which is present in dairy.

©pilipphoto/Shutterstock.com

While some people can’t get enough of ice cream, cheese, and milk, betta fish should avoid it entirely. Consuming dairy can disrupt digestion in betta fish, dirty the water in their tank, and the preservatives present can harm their small bodies.

8. Chocolate

Stack of chocolate chunks with coffee beans on a wooden background, closeup

Chocolate might be beloved by humans, but it’s important that fish avoid it.

©audibanciu/Shutterstock.com

Many people are familiar with the fact that chocolate is highly toxic to animals like dogs and cats. However, this rule stands true for betta fish as well. Similar to candy, you should never feed your betta chocolate due to its high sugar content. In addition, chocolate contains an alkaloid called theobromine which is poisonous to betta fish. Many types of chocolate also contain some level of dairy, which is another dangerous food to feed your beta. These factors combine to make chocolate one of the worst fish foods of all time.

9. Garlic

Closeup of Garlic bulbs on wooden table with garlics blur background.A set of fresh garlic on the chest wooden background.

While many vegetables are safe for betta fish consumption, garlic is not one of them.

©IURII BUKHTA/iStock via Getty Images

Although some people praise the medicinal benefits of garlic, it can be deadly if your betta consumes even a bit too much. For the maximum benefits with the lowest risk possible, garlic juice should be used to treat medical issues in bettas instead of the clove itself.

10. Oranges

Tangerines. Close view on Fresh Mandarin Orange. Mandarin Imperial Ponkam, Sweet and Juicy. Chinese. New Year.

Betta fish should not be fed lemons, limes, or oranges.

©agung n. wibowo/Shutterstock.com

As we stated above, citrus can be dangerous to feed to betta fish. While oranges might seem less acidic than lemons, the truth is that they’re just as dangerous and should be avoided entirely. According to the National Park Aquarium, “Steer clear of citrus fruits. Their acidic nature isn’t just problematic for your betta’s digestion but also impacts the tank’s pH balance, turning the water acidic.”

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tu.Kulaya/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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