When you have more than one hundred fish, feeding frozen food gets expensive. A packet of Ocean Nutrition or Hikari frozen food costs from between $5.00-$10.00, and with me going through multiple packets each month, I decided it was time to look for some alternatives.
Now I've tried pellets in the past to no success. The fish struggled, even when I'd crushed the pellets into smaller granules. Although flake food has a bit of a 'bad' reputation (undeserved in my opinion) in the hobby, I thought it would be easier for the fish to manage. The challenge was in finding a flake food that my wild bettas would find palatable.
After trialing several brands of food, surprisingly, it was the Ocean Nutrition Formula One flakes that my wild bettas found most appealing. I say 'surprisingly', because this food is actually designed for marine fish. While it does have a higher fat and protein content compared to flake food made for freshwater fish, I feed only sparingly. I'll feed flake food perhaps 3-4 times a week, and then supplement with frozen and live foods the remainder of the time. I also fast my fish for a day or two, every couple of weeks, as a precaution against bloating.
Another food I'm trying out, is Ocean Nutrition Brine Shrimp Plus flakes. While the fish don't respond as enthusiastically to these as they do to the Formula One flakes (perhaps because the texture with the Brine Shrimp Plus flakes is different), they will still eat it. Like the Formula One flakes it has a fairly high protein and fat content, but once again, it is fed only sparingly.
At this point in time, about 80% of my wild bettas are willingly taking flake food. In a couple of tanks, the fish won't touch the flake food, but I have certainly achieved my goal of cutting down on the amount of frozen foods I was feeding previously.
There is a final food I've tried to introduce to my wild bettas with very limited success, and that is Repashy Grub Pie. Repashy only became available in Australia recently, but it's a high-quality food and I feel some of the recipes more closely mimic the diet of wild fish than a lot of commercial fish food brands. Unfortunately, it received a very lukewarm response from my wild bettas. It was either ignored (I don't think a lot of the fish even recognised it as food) or what was eaten was very quickly spat back out. Only a couple of fish showed any real interest in the Repashy, but I'm going to persevere, and hopefully at least some of my wild bettas will learn to like it.
I do want to add that I still think a diet of live and frozen foods are best for breeding stock. However, as I'm no longer breeding wilds, having my fish in breeding condition is not a priority. This is why I have switched to predominately feeding flake food. If you are trying to breed these fish, there's really no better conditioning tool than live (and precluding that) frozen, foods.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.