Betta Fish Spitting Out Food – Why Do They Do It!

Betta fish is one of the most fascinating and colorful species in the aquarium circle; they have much fanciful behavior and personalities that keep entertaining you. However, they are not merely bright and attractive but also very demanding and recognize their caretakers. One of their quirky mannerisms is spitting the food out; indeed, betta fish spitting out food is a concern many Betta fish owners express.
Before you get a betta fish as a pet, or if you already have one, you should know what to feed it, what to do if you notice it spitting out food, how to check for digestive or constipation issues, and how to treat it effectively.
Well, it all comes down to diet; however, the Siamese fighting fish, also popularly known as Bettas, are too greedy when it comes to food and would grab more than they can swallow. So, whenever they see bloodworms, pellets, or any other forms of food in their habitat, they swim to the spot, wasting no time, and hurriedly gobble it up.
However, these fish cannot swallow big chunks of food, as their stomachs are not larger than the size of their eyeballs. Hence, they must chew and ingest their meals in smaller portions, or they can experience numerous digestive issues.

Why Is My Betta Fish Spitting Out Food?

The most common cause of your betta fish spitting out food is that the food pieces are too big and hard to swallow or they have eaten too much. However, their eyeball-sized stomach can’t digest or hold all the food they have swallowed hurriedly.

However, there might be other possible reasons for your betta fish spitting out food. So, here I have enlisted some probable causes for your convenience.


Innate Behavior

In order to understand why Betta fish spit out their food, it’s essential to know about their natural behavior. In the wild, Betta fish are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects, larvae, and small invertebrates. They catch their prey by striking it on the surface of the water, which can sometimes look like spitting. When Betta fish are kept in captivity, specific triggers can cause them to display their instinctive behaviors, leading to unusual feeding patterns.

A Young Betta

Suppose the Siamese fighting fish you brought recently is too young. In that case, it will have difficulty swallowing a large portion of food, resulting in spitting out, particularly if you feed them with pellets, as some fish pellets are much larger than their stomach size. 

What you feed your adult bettas is not an option for your young bettas. 

So, it is better to feed them live food, such as live worms, rather than preserved canned ones when they’re young to facilitate easy digestion; you can gradually move to pellets and the adult betta food.

Picky and Fussy Eater

Your betta fish can also spit out food if it is a picky eater and does not find your food interesting or delicious enough. There are two ways to tackle this issue continue feeding what you are providing; just like children, once they go hungry for a couple of days, they will start eating what you are feeding them. However, remember to pick out the uneaten food from the tank within 10-20 minutes; decomposing food would poison the tank water with Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Decomposing food and plant debris are the primary causes of Ammonia spikes.

The second trick is to provide your picky, finicky betta with different food and see what food your betta prefers. Then, based on it, you can offer your betta fish, the preferred food, in sizeable portions.

Water Quality And Parameters

The environment in which Betta fish live plays a significant role in their overall well-being, including their dietary behaviors. Poor water quality, characterized by high Ammonia or Nitrite levels, can induce stress and discomfort for Betta fish. They may exhibit uneasy abnormal behaviors, such as spitting out food in such conditions. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and vigilant monitoring of water parameters are crucial aspects of Betta fish care.

Betta fish are tropical species that thrive in warm water conditions. Inconsistent water temperatures or fluctuations in water temperature can stress the fish, affecting their appetite. Maintaining a stable water temperature within the recommended range (usually between 78- 80°F or 25-27°C) is essential for Betta’s fish health. Also, ensuring effective water circulation and adequate aeration can contribute to a comfortable environment for your Betta.


Swim Bladder Injury or Disease

Your Betta’s constipation can also be related to an injury or infection in its swim bladder. When a Siamese fighting fish suffers from swim bladder disease, it might indicate a wide range of health issues, constipation being one of them. Nevertheless, it can be the other way around, i.e., your Betta may experience constipation due to the swim bladder disease.

So, if you notice your Betta’s swim bladder has started to swell, understand that it is suffering from some injury or infection. And this phenomenon can cause constipation in your fish.

Thus, you should consult a veterinarian doctor at the earliest and get your Betta treated in such a case.

Presence of Parasites

If a Betta fish is consistently spitting out food and exhibiting other unusual behaviors, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem. Common illnesses such as fin rot, ich, or internal parasites can impact a Betta fish’s appetite and feeding behavior. Therefore, even if your Betta is hungry, they cannot swallow and expectorate their meal.
If you suspect your Betta is infected, move him to a separate container to avoid spreading the disease to the other specimens, and consult a vet.
How do I know if my betta fish has parasites?

Apart from spitting out food, 

  • your betta might have difficulty in breathing, gasping for air 
  • cloudy eyes also your betta start to rub on the plants and decors 
  • finding challenging to swim; swimming erratically
  • white patches on the bodies, tails, and fins;
  • Some parasites, such as anchor worms, you can see with your naked eyes, especially on the fins; they are white or green.

Digestive Problems

Fish can also experience digestive issues, just like anybody; if your Siamese fighting fish experiences digestive issues, it can also spit out food. This situation may worry you, but fear not, as it is a common scenario in bettas.
Generally, betta fish spitting out food is related to constipation. The best and most effective way to cure this digestive issue is to bring forth some changes in their diet. However, consult the vet if your betta fish has other digestive problems.
Symptoms of constipation include a swollen belly and scales sticking out as the body balloons up, lethargy, and not swimming as usual. You can also observe their defecation schedule. If you notice they are not defecating, it’s a serious problem; you must consult the vet immediately.

What causes constipation in bettas?

Diagnosing the cause of constipation is the first step in treating constipation in bettas. Treating the symptoms alone is pointless; if you keep repeating the same mistake, the fish can fall sick again and again.

Poor Diet

In nature, all living creatures hunt or choose the food meant for them except humans. So, there are days some animals don’t eat or chew on plant matter- even a carnivore does that sometimes- because the animals follow their instincts. 

However, domesticated animals only have this sense a little as we humans design their diets and gradually get used to them. So, we must supply them with a proper and balanced diet. 

Siamese fighter fish are greedy for food; they eat anything that comes their way and it’s not just Betta fish; many other species do the same. For example, goldfish cannot stop eating of their own accord, but their digestive system and metabolic rate differ. They keep growing till they die.

However, Bettas generally grow at most 3 inches (8 cm). Although some selectively bred bettas reach up to 7 inches (18 cm), this is unnatural.

Besides, the commercial flakes or frozen-dried food you offer them are so dry that they absorb all the moisture and expand when immersed in the water and in turn swells up in their mouth or stomach. Hence, improper diet is one of the primary causes of constipation in bettas.


Overfeeding is a common mistake made by betta owners. As we have stated earlier, bettas have small stomachs, the size of their eyeballs, and overfeeding can lead to indigestion and constipation. Excess food in the aquarium can contribute to poor water quality, fostering harmful bacteria that further affect the Betta’s digestive system.

To avoid overfeeding, bettas must be fed in small portions, typically two to three pellets at a time, and adhere to a regular feeding schedule. Monitoring the fish’s behavior and adjusting the quantity of food based on its appetite is crucial in preventing constipation.

Lack of Fibrous Nutrition

In their natural habitat, bettas consume a mixture of small insects and plant matter, providing essential fiber. In captivity, the absence of plant-based feed can lead to a lack of fiber in their diet, contributing to constipation. Adding fibrous foods like blanched spinach or peas to their diet can help regulate their digestive system.

Peas, in particular, are known for their laxative properties and can be offered as a treat. However, it’s crucial to remove the outer skin of the pea to prevent any potential digestive issues.

Water Quality

The importance of water quality in preventing constipation cannot be overstated. Poor water conditions can stress bettas, making them more susceptible to digestive issues. Regular water changes, appropriate water parameters, and reliable water filters are essential to ensure a healthy environment for bettas.

Additionally, inadequate water temperature can slow down a betta’s metabolism, leading to digestion problems. Maintaining a stable water temperature within the recommended range of 76-82°F (24-28°C) is crucial for the overall well-being of bettas.

Lack of Exercise

Bettas are active in their natural habitat. However, in captivity, in a smaller tank or bowl with limited space, they may become lethargic, which in turn affects their metabolic rate and leads to constipation.
Physical movements of Betta tend to stimulate contractions in their intestines, making them easily poop out. But when you keep your fish in a small tank, they become more sedentary and develop constipation.

Can Betta Fish See In The Dark? Do They Need Lights On At Night?


How to Cure Constipation in Betta Fish?

As soon as you notice constipation symptoms such as bloating or lethargy in your Betta, get started with the treatment. Otherwise, your Siamese fighting fish will keep spitting food for 24 hours or even 2-3 days. In fact, feeding your fish while being constipated will cause more trouble and create a bigger blockage in its intestines.

So, what are the ways to treat constipation in your bettas?


Usually, fasting once a week does the trick for most mild constipation cases. When it fasts, its intestines get enough time to empty themselves. Thus, it prevents the accumulation of feces, which further helps get rid of constipation.

Varied Diet

I’d also recommend adding a wide range of food items to your Betta’s platter. For example, give it some fibrous food like bloodworms or blanched peas as treats. Fiber absorbs and retains water, ensuring that your fish’s poop is softer and easier to pass. 

Hence, you can also feed your Siamese fighting fish healthy live food like mosquito larvae and daphnia. These items are natural laxatives that will help sort out your fish’s digestive system.

Epsom Salt Bath

For some severe cases of constipation, you will need to go for more radical treatment. Hence, try using Epsom salt. This type of salt relaxes the muscles and eases tension in your Betta’s digestive tract, allowing the food to pass effortlessly.

But how do you use Epsom salt to treat your Betta’s constipation issues?

First, scoop out some water from your Betta’s tank and store it in a clean container. Then, add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per 5 gallons of water and stir it well. After that, pour this treated water back into the tank and allow your fish to swim in it for about 7 days until it relieves itself. 

If your Betta lives in a community tank and has other tankmates, I would advise you to use a separate quarantine tank for implementing this method.

Larger Tank

As I mentioned before, bettas that do not exercise much and stay idle in the tank are more susceptible to constipation. 

So, keep your Siamese fighting fish in a larger tank, preferably a minimum of 5 gallons unit, to give it enough space to move, thereby preventing the chances of developing constipation issues. Thus, the bigger the size of the aquarium, the better your fish can swim around and undergo regular exercise. Also, it helps your fish to stay fit and healthy.

What to Do When Betta Fish Spit Out Food?

As we have seen, there is more than one reason for Betta fish spitting out food. To determine the cause, you need to observe your Siamese fighter’s routine and eating habits. Vibrant, colorful fish with large wings and tails are among aquarists’ most popular fish; obviously, they come with their own challenges. Owning Betta is also a work. 

Hence, only through continuous observation will you be able to discern the cause and take appropriate measures.

  •  The most effective solution is to slice the food into smaller pieces so that they can quickly ingest it.
  • Another method can be to pre-soak the dry food to prevent the dry pellets from swelling up in Betta’s mouth or stomach.
  • Introduce variety into Betta’s diet to encourage eating. Consider offering live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp as occasional treats. This will not only stimulate their appetite but also bring out their vibrant colors.
  • Regular water changes, appropriate water parameters, and a clean and well-filtered tank are essential to keeping your Betta healthy and happy.
  • If nothing works, it is advisable to consult a vet.

However, always clean the tank after your Betta spits out the food into the water. If you leave the food particles in the tank, they will turn into toxic Ammonia and nitrites and become a potential health hazard for your fish.

What to Feed Your Siamese Fighting Fish?

Bettas are carnivorous. While living in their natural habitat, they enjoy devouring shrimps, bloodworms, insect larvae, and smaller insects like grasshoppers. So, when you house these fish in your aquarium, ensure to offer them a diet comparable to their natural habitat. 

Your betta pet usually requires a diet that is high in protein. Hence, plant-based food will not suffice. So, you can offer your Siamese fighting fish a variety of commercial flakes, brine shrimps, and high-protein betta pellets. 

For pellets, I would suggest going for the ones explicitly made for bettas. Unlike the regular pellets made for all kinds of fish, these specific pellets and flakes contain the right formula and appropriate nutrients needed, particularly for your Siamese fighting fish. In addition, these pellets can be digested in a lesser time, safeguarding your Betta from under or overfeeding.

However, if you’ve got a younger betta, it might not be accustomed to consuming pellets or flakes. These food items can lead to your juvenile betta fish spitting out food. So, I’d suggest offering them a mix of frozen and live food in the initial days. Then, as soon as your juvenile bettas start feeding on these foods, you can slowly introduce them to pellets or flakes.

Siamese fighting fish also enjoy freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, and daphnia. But I’d say tread lightly with these options as they are meant for special treats, and you will be better off allowing your fish to eat these in moderation.


Final Words – Betta Fish Spitting Out Food

The key to nurturing your betta fish is assimilating the above facts and quickly learning to master the mentioned tricks and tips. So, the next time you catch sight of your betta fish spitting out food, you’ll be more aware of why it’s happening and how you can deal with it.

Although constipation can be a factor, your betta fish may also be spitting out food due to overestimation and taking in more than it can chew!


Related Readings:


Why are your fish in aquarium fighting? Why do they chase each other?

Can Guppies Live With Bettas? The Precautionary Measures!

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