You’d Be Crazy to Ignore These Betta Feeding Secrets

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Pellets are more and more becoming the food of choice of betta keepers in the know. For several reasons. Convenience aside, the higher quality ones tend to provide a more complete nutritional diet so they are what you might call nutrient dense. They are easier on your fish’s digestive system than flakes which can swell up in their stomach causing problems. Again they are more convenient than live or frozen foods even. Plus they are better tolerated and produce fewer digestive issues than say flakes or freeze dried products.

To make them even better tolerated digestively some turn to presoaking them to soften, reduce any trapped air and by doing so reduce the (perceived) amount of swelling that ultimately occurs in your betta’s stomach.

Simple right? When it comes to feeding your bettas then presoaked pellets are the way to go?

Well, not quite. Were it only that simple.

Three Presoaking Perspectives

As has been suggested elsewhere on this site if you were to get two or three hypothetical betta keepers together and ask them a question you’ll likely get uniquely different points of view. Such a topic ripe for discussion (or is that second guessing?) is the issue of presoaking pellets.

Who would think such a small thing would create such a big range of strongly held opinions? But if you raised the issue with an intrepid trio of betta keepers you might well get three quite varied opinions. Or points of view that might break down like this.

The first would say he never presoaks. In his experience when he does so his fish refuse to eat. So what good does it do if it doesn’t encourage the basic result – eating? Plus he’s not so sure more is lost (nutrient wise) than gained by doing this.

Owner number two would counsel it is smart to pre-soak but only to in the smallest amount of water needed to saturate the pellet. Knowing as we do that over soaking diminishes water soluble nutrients this might be a point well worth considering.

The third would weigh in and agree that while presoaking might make for easier digestion, that’s not really the issue. She would say she feels feeding a 100% pellet based diet isn’t natural for a fish that eats bite sized critters in the wild. So it’s better to mix in plenty of frozen or live prey since that’s more natural, insures a more complete diet and so is better for your pet in the long run. Which is to say, the first two are all wet – just in different ways.

Who is right, or is it righter? Well, it’s not exactly obvious now is it since each raises good points. Points worth serious consideration.

Other Points to Keep In Mind

Now if you ARE considering pre-soaking to aid digestion, one question you may have is how long. As in how long should you soak ‘em?

Good question. It suggests you are thinking there might be a right and the wrong way to go about this. Which would be correct. What this really comes down to is both the amount of water you use and how long you let them soak. So it’s more of a two part question when you get right down to it.

And before you answer that, it would seem best to understand the goal. And that is to make the grub more easily digested. Which would suggest you only want to use just the right amount of water to saturate the pellet soaked long enough to soften it, not turn the things into mush that sinks. Keeping in mind bettas are surface feeders for the most part. And yours may not do such a good job of canvassing the gravel to get to any fallen bits. If your pellets are sinking on contact, you are likely soaking too long in too much water. So to get to “just right” you’d want to use only a drop or two and no more. And only for long enough to soften the pellet just enough.

What I Do and Why

Yet despite all this variation of opinion and after careful study I decided a while back NOT to presoak the pellets I feed. Deciding to error on the side of better nutrition. Feeling that outweighs any risk of bloating that may come from dry pellet expansion – real or imagined. That and doing all I can not to overfeed pellets if that’s anywhere near a concern. Thinking overfeeding may be the real culprit in this bloating/constipation debate.

Figuring too that if you feed the better quality pellets, swelling is less likely. Knowing that cheaper, lower quality food is more apt to be made up of more grains and undesirable vegetable type byproducts. Which could make digestion a bigger challenge regardless of what you do to them. Which in turn could be what is leading to the chronic bloating or constipation problems some bettas on a pellet only diet experience. Not the dryness of the pellet itself.

Also just to take this a step further, if presoaking was the approved way to go, doesn’t it make sense that the manufacturer would indicate as much in the feeding instructions?

Finally there’s the risk of nutrient leach plus the leaching of water soluble vitamins and minerals – which believe it or not can be gone in a matter of 60-90 seconds from what I understand. Although this may result from using too much water to soak them, the tendency by betta keepers would be to do just that rather than the other way around. Simply because they’re in a hurry and can’t carefully limit the amount of water used all the time. And the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that leach out are nutrients, vitamins and minerals you paid for. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals your fish needs. So why risk it?

Naturally what you decide to do may be different. And I respect that. But I think the science of betta food prep has come a long way. Anymore, the better betta pellets are packed with essential stuff for a complete diet. One that provides all that is required for healthy and thriving bettas. So it would seem it would be best if the fish got all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals the manufacturer intended. And you simply can’t insure that is going to happen by pre-soaking. Which is why this is advice you’d be crazy to ignore.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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