Your betta fish not eating food can indeed be a concern. After all, food is essential to nurture them. If this trend continues, it might even prove fatal for the betta. That is the last thing any fish lover ever wants to see.
Your betta may not be eating food or swimming for various reasons ranging from frivolous to critical concerns. This article aims to help you identify and fix the underlying issues and have healthy betta(s).
Table of Contents
1. Why Is Betta Not Eating Food – Influencing Factors and Resolutions
1.1 Water Parameters
Bettas can tolerate a range of water parameters, but not sudden changes to any of the parameters. Cold water will slow down its metabolism and activity levels. It may refuse food due to constipation.
Water parameters (either way) outside the tolerable range can result in loss of appetite and other health complications.
Acclimate the new betta to your aquarium water so that it seamlessly adjusts to tank water parameters, as long as they are within the acceptable range.
Being tropical fish, bettas need warm waters. Maintain a stable temperature between 72 – 80° F, a pH of 6.5 – 7.5, and a water hardness of 70-300 ppm (or 5 – 20 DH). Make gradual changes to rectify water parameters (if need be). Drastic changes in any of these parameters will stress betta.
Invest in a good heater, thermometer, and water testing kit.
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- 𝐐𝐔𝐈𝐂𝐊 𝐔𝐒𝐄 – The whole test process only takes you 3 steps: ①Immerse an…
1.2 Chemical imbalance
Betta fish may stop eating due to the presence of harmful chemicals that might make it difficult for them to breathe/swim normally.
Decaying organic matter (uneaten food, leaves, fish poop, dead fish, etc.), an overdose of any medicine/chemical fertilizer, algae blooms, etc. reduce oxygen levels and increase ammonia, nitrate, phosphorus, and bacteria in the tank.
Too many plants in a small fish tank increase carbon dioxide at night during respiration, altering the water chemistry.
Minimize/avoid chemical usage in the aquarium. Try natural ingredients and methods instead. If unavoidable, remove your betta in a separate bowl with some tank water before adding chemicals/fertilizers. Use lesser quantity, sparingly.
Sterilize everything before adding it to the aquarium. Remove uneaten food, dead fish, and visible algae at the earliest to avoid nitrate and ammonia buildup.
Install a suitable filtration system, aquarium light, and live plants according to the tank size. The filter will clear floating waste from the tank ongoingly. Plants need light to thrive and oxygenate the water. However, an excessive light period can promote algal growth. Switch off the aquarium light at night.
Use dim light at night if you have any nocturnal tankmates like Kuhli loach.
- Contains one (1) API PROPER pH 7.0 Freshwater Aquarium Water pH Stabilizer 8.8-Ounce Container
- Sets and stabilizes water pH to neutral to help keep fish healthy and colorful
1.3 Water Changes and Aquarium Cleaning
Too much aquarium cleaning or more than 30% weekly water change destroys too many good bacteria, disturbing the fish tank’s ecosystem.
It may result in your betta fish not eating after water changes/tank cleaning.
Test the water after every change/cleaning. Water quality is the first thing to check anytime your betta loses appetite.
Always dechlorinate and treat the replacement water. It should be added at the same temperature as the aquarium water to avoid stressing your betta. Weekly water changes and periodic cleaning will keep your betta happy.
- Magnet makes it easy to clean the inside of the aquariums from the outside
- Scrubber falls straight down if separated from magnet for easy retrieval
Your betta may refuse food for various reasons. This section will help you to Identify why your betta is not eating food.
If you are a first-time betta owner, you must know that every betta has its personality. It may get fussy about food or refuse it for various reasons.
A new betta takes a while to adjust to your aquarium. It may refuse food initially. Your betta fish will not die if it does not eat for a day or two. It may take a week to settle but eat after 2-3 days.
Be supportive and comfort the new betta by providing a safe and healthy environment. Reduce noise near the aquarium. Do not remove uneaten food from the tank immediately because your betta may eat it once you move away.
It may happen that the vendor had been feeding a different food to the betta, and it is not eating the pellets you offer. Check with the vendor and feed accordingly.
If the betta suddenly stops eating, try feeding a different brand or type (live, dried, frozen), or try again later. You can also try feeding differently, like this betta parent.
So uh, my betta doesn’t want to eat unless I’m holding her in one hand and feeding her with the other. Has anyone else ever had this happen?
by u/angerphish in bettafish
Bettas locate food from its smell. Canned foods that are six months old lose nutrients and smell different. Replace them.
If betta is eating the food and spitting it out, it could be to soften it, or it is too big to eat. Hydrate pellets in some tank water before feeding. Bettas will accept them easily.
Watch this betta eat and spit out shrimp as they are too big to eat. According to the owner, the same betta accepted pellets immediately.
Why is my Betta eating it and spitting it back out? This is his first time eating fairy shrimp, and he ate, i think, 2 and then he just went around killing them and spitting them back out?
by u/Jamie_logan in bettafish
Use betta treats (refer to the next section) twice a week. Your betta will enjoy the variety.
Always use good quality food from known brands/vendors to avoid infection(s).
1.4.1 What Do Betta Fish Eat
Bettas accept all types of dried, frozen, and live foods. Being carnivorous, they need high-protein foods. Offering a lower nutritional diet will result in malnutrition and health complications.
Feed them Betta Pellets and Betta Flakes. Other fish pellets/flakes do not have the high nutritional content bettas need.
Avoid foods containing additives like corn, wheat, etc. Small digestive tracts of bettas find it taxing to process such additives.
Most bettas love live foods like Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp, Bloodworms, Tubifex Worms, Mosquito Larvae, Wingless Fruit Flies, etc. Pamper your betta with these treats once or twice a week in rotation.
The same live foods are available in frozen form. Defrost before feeding. Do not re-freeze it if unused, as it may contain bacteria from the open.
1.4.2 How Much to Feed
Bettas intuitively eat food anytime it is available, as they do not know (in the wild) when their next meal will be. Their bodies store fat reserves to survive days with no less/no prey.
Betta pellets expand in size after bettas eat them. Hence do not feed (for 2-3 minutes) till your betta continues to eat. Instead, feed only 2-4 hydrated betta pellets twice a day. Or 2-3 frozen/live worms, shrimp, or larvae per meal. Anything above this is overfeeding.
Stress, bloated belly, lethargy, and difficulty swimming or breathing may be signs of overfeeding.
Check with your vet about extra feeding if your betta fish is super-active.
Skip feeding your betta once a week. It improves digestion and overall health.
Betta fish can live from ten days to two weeks without eating food. However, it is not advisable to starve them for so long unless your fish vet advises.
If betta does not eat for more than three days despite everything else being in control, consult a fish vet.
1.5 Environmental Stress
Aquarium setups that resemble the natural habitat of bettas keep them happy. Bettas like subtle lighting, plants, caves, etc., to hide. They love to sleep/laze on plant leaves.
Any of the following may cause stress. Under stress, your betta fish may not swim or eat food, remain hidden, be less/not active, and look pale (fading colors).
- You can keep only one male betta in a tank with/without other tankmates. Or have a female betta-only tank, as they are less aggressive.
- Small/inappropriate tank sizes.
- A fast or moderate water current, bright light, or too much noise in the aquarium room.
- Inappropriate companions. Fishes that are colorful, aggressive, larger than betta fish, fin-nippers, etc., make inapt co-habitants, increasing aggression and stress.
- Transportation/handling – When you purchase betta (online/offline), move it from one tank to another, from the water pouch to the quarantine tank, etc.
- Poor water quality (as discussed in earlier sections).
- Physical wounds (from rough edges/surfaces, too small an opening to swim through, aggressive or fin-nipping tank-dwellwers, etc.).
- A broken bubble nest annoys bettas. They may flare their gills and get aggressive. Some may even sit in a tank corner and refuse food from the person who broke the nest under protest. Learn how to protect betta bubble nests to keep your betta happy.
Appropriate tank setup, choosing tankmates wisely, and good aquarium maintenance reduce stress.
With age, the food intake of betta fish reduces as their activity decreases. Feed them only once.
On the other hand, fry(s) demand 5-6 feedings a day in tiny-miny proportions. Juveniles feed twice or thrice if they are super active in a large tank. Their diet also increases when they are mating.
Malnutrition, overfeeding, stress, unattended physical wounds, and poor water quality invite diseases. Parasites and bacteria enter the aquarium through infected food or fish, unsterilized decor, instruments, etc., used in the tank, or unquarantined fish(es) added to the aquarium.
If your betta is sick, it will not eat and barely move. Identify and fix diet, stress factors, physical wounds, or water quality. Ensure all pieces of equipment are functioning well.
The most common diseases bettas are prone to are:
- Fin/Tail Rot.
- Ich, Ick, White Spot Disease.
- Velvet, Rust, Gold Dust Disease.
- Swim Bladder.
Learn more about these diseases and ways to heal and prevent them.
If your betta is constipated (lethargic, bloated, inactive, or loss of appetite), do not feed it for the next two days. Alternatively, offer only a frozen pea without skin in the meal.
If the issue persists, consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
2.0 Before We Part
As a betta parent, you bond the best with your betta. There are no strict rules that bettas live by. After initial hiccups, betta will start recognizing you. It will glass-surf and look out for you when hungry.
If you feed them at the same time daily, they adjust their body clocks and await their meals eagerly. Do not hesitate to try different foods and ways to feed betta. You never know what betta will enjoy the most till you try. Just ensure that the size of the morsel befits their mouths.
Make feeding one of the best times for yourself and your betta. Their energies will match yours. By the end of it, both of you will feel rejuvenated. We wish you a happy betta-feeding time!