Betaine (BEET-uh-een) is a feeding stimulant for a number of fish species, including common carp, and less fortunately, channel catfish. Studies have shown that Betaine hydrochloride (HCL) is better at stimulating a feeding response than pure Betaine and has been tested to determine the optimum concentration in a paste type food.

ChemSpider 2D Image | Betaine Hydrochloride | C5H12ClNO2

Betaine Hydrochloride is better than pure Betanine at stimulating feeding in fishes

The results of some of these tests are interesting. As would be expected, very low levels did not preform as well as higher levels – however, this trend did not keep going. A concentration of 15.66ppm was found to be more attractive than a concentration of 1566ppm. Concentration of Betaine HCL above 1566ppm were not tested, but if this trend is supposed to continue it could be assumed that very high concentrations of Betanine HCL might at some point put fish off.


The response of the carp to different concentrations of Betaine HCL. I had to transform the concentrations as they could not really be seen in their original form.

According to this graph (by solving for y=2.94), once the concentration of Betaine HCL reaches 25 ppt it is only as effective as the food that has a very low concentration in it, indicating that you could add to much Betaine and decrease the attractiveness of the bait.

So, how much Betaine should you use? It seems that a concentration of 0.01566 ppt is a good starting point. This means that you would add ~0.01566 grams to 1 kg of bait.  A 1/4 teaspoon is ~1.19 grams.

Before you take these results as the last word on Betaine concentrations there are a few things to remember. First is that this test was done on small farmed raised carp in a relatively small tank with recirculated water. This is about as unlike any of the waters we fish as you can get. Second, these fish were not actually eating the food containing the Betaine, they were just assumed to have been attracted to it. And third, the results could look a lot different if more concentration levels were tested, and could show that higher levels keep working better…you just can’t tell from the results as these levels were not tested.

I have added parts per thousand (ppt) to the results table below.  Ppt is equal to grams per kilogram for making bait, so if you want to add a concentration of 20ppt, you would add 20 grams of Betaine per kilogram of bait.

I know that I have rethought my Betaine use,  and I hope this helps you when trying to decide what levels of Betaine to add to your next bait.

Results of the Betaine HCL exsperiment.

Number of fish Treatment (ppm) Log(ppm) ppt (grams per kg)
8.29 1566 3.194791758 1.566
9.69 15.66 1.194791758 0.01566
7.68 0.1566 -0.805208242 0.000157
2.94 0.001566 -2.805208242 1.57E-06
3.25 0.00001566 -4.805208242 1.57E-08