Have you noticed your betta fish isn’t eating? That can mean big problems if not addressed quickly.
Stranger habits, like loss of appetite, can be signs of a much larger problem lurking beneath the surface.
It’s essential to address the situation swiftly and accurately. Substandard water changes or low-quality food can cause malnutrition and other long-term problems for a pet fish.
In this article, I’ll give you vital information about not just why your betta isn’t eating— but how to correct it too!
Whether you’re a newcomer to owning bettas or an experienced owner, you’ll get some keen insight into what might be behind your pet’s sudden disinterest in food.
With my tips, you’ll soon have your fish on the path back to good health!
10 Reasons Why Your Betta Fish Isn’t Eating
- Some bettas can be picky eaters
- Poor water quality & changes to water quality
- A Change In Their Environment
- You’re feeding a poor-quality diet, and nutrition is not balanced
- They don’t like frozen and freeze-dried food
- The water temperature is too low
- Your betta is suffering from diseases
- They are competing with other fish for food
- You just bought your betta fish
- Your betta doesn’t know it’s food
Some bettas can be picky eaters
Some betta fish can be picky eaters, especially if they were recently purchased or moved to a new tank.
Bettas may refuse to eat if their environment and food are not ideal.
Proper water temperature, quality, and tank size are important factors when caring for a betta fish.
In addition to the environment, bettas may favour specific types of food more than others. Different species will prefer either live or frozen food over pellets or flakes. Furthermore, introducing a variety of foods can help ensure that your betta is getting all the nutrients it needs from its diet.
Poor water quality & changes to water quality
Changes to the water quality can be a major cause of your Betta fish not eating. When Bettas are exposed to unclean or polluted water, they often become stressed and stop eating as a result.
Inappropriate pH, GH, and KH
The pH, GH, and KH levels of your betta fish’s water can greatly impact their eating habits. If the pH, GH, and KH are too low or too high, they may be unable to survive in the tank happily.
Therefore it is important to ensure that these levels remain in the optimal range for your betta fish – typically around 6.0-7.2 for pH, GH of 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm), and KH of 3-5 dKH (53.6- 89.4 ppm).
This range may differ for wild betta fish as many species prefer pH levels as low as 4.0, GH of 2, and KH of 5.
If the levels are out of this range, it can not only affect their ability to eat but also cause serious health problems by disrupting their immune system and causing issues which can cause severe organ damage or even death.
To check your water, you should buy a reliable pH testing kit from a pet shop or online store; this will enable you to easily detect any changes in the water so that you can take action quickly and adjust accordingly if necessary.
When adjusting the parameters, ensure you do not change them drastically; always increase or decrease just very slightly each time until you reach the desired level to prevent shocking your fish in one go with large parameter changes.
Additionally, make sure that when making adjustments, you use only safe additives such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) rather than more hazardous chemicals like ammonia or nitrates etc.
By regularly maintaining appropriate pH, GH, and KH levels in your betta fish’s habitat and paying attention to any changes, you should be able to ensure that they remain healthy and well-fed in your care!
Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates
Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are the three main components of a healthy aquarium environment.
They are found naturally in water but can easily become unbalanced if not maintained correctly.
When aquarium levels of ammonia or nitrite rise too high, they can cause dangerous health issues in fish, including death.
High nitrate levels can also lead to changes in the colour of fish or other organisms and stress them out by robbing them of oxygen.
Because betta fish are very sensitive to their environments, monitoring ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels is essential, especially when setting up a new tank.
Regular water changes should keep these levels low and stable if done weekly or bi-weekly.
If your betta fish is not eating despite having healthy water parameters, it could indicate something wrong with their environment. Check for unusual behaviour (lethargy or aggressive) or physical traumas like fin tearing to help diagnose the issue.
A change in their environment
While many betta fish will happily accept their new environment, some may need time to adjust to changes in the environment
A betta fish not eating could indicate that the water conditions or environment have recently changed.
Betta fish are very sensitive to any disturbances in their living space, such as changes in room temperature, new decorations, new substrate or other aquariums placed near them.
When changing any part of their living environment, it is always important to do so gradually and in small increments over several sessions.
This allows your betta to slowly become accustomed to changes without feeling overly stressed or overwhelmed.
Overfeeding your betta fish can have serious consequences on its health. Overfed fish can become bloated and experience digestive issues, leading to malnutrition or even death.
Common diseases caused by overfeeding are dropsy and swim bladder disease.
The best way to protect your fish from being overfed is to give it the recommended amount of food for its size and species.
You can find this information on the packaging of most pet stores’ fish food products, a veterinarian, an expert, or just based on experience.
It is also important to only feed your betta what it can consume in two minutes; any excess food that remains should be removed as soon as possible to prevent bloating.
Take note that even though your bettas continue eating, it doesn’t mean that they’re still hungry. They can be greedy.
You’re feeding a poor-quality diet, and nutrition is not balanced
Having a poor quality diet is often why betta fish are not eating. If the diet is imbalanced and doesn’t contain all of the essential nutrients that betta fish need, they will likely go off their food.
Not only will an unbalanced diet lead to a lack of appetite in your betta, but it can also cause nutritional and health problems due to the lack of specific vitamins and minerals.
When thinking about what to feed your betta, it’s important to consider a well-balanced diet with a variety of proteins, carbs, fats, and other healthy ingredients. Without this balance, it can be hard for your betta to thrive.
By providing them with high-quality pellets or live foods such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae and bloodworms, you can ensure they get all the right nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy.
In addition, make sure you are feeding your betta regularly, so they know when to expect meals.
This encourages good behaviour as well as appetite! Betta fish who receive regular meals at set times can also develop routines, which makes them easier to care for overall.
Here’s my betta feeding guide.
They don’t like frozen and freeze-dried food
If you’re trying to feed frozen and freeze-dried food and your betta isn’t eating them, it could be because they don’t like it.
Bettas have picky palates, especially when it comes to their food.
Try offering fresh or live foods occasionally to see if they appeal to your fish’s taste buds. Offer small amounts of food at first and then gradually increase the portion size over time as needed.
If you notice your betta still not wanting to eat the food provided, change up the type of food offered and make sure it is more digestible for them.
Good options are daphnia, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and blackworms.
While freeze-dried and frozen foods may seem appealing due to convenience, many betta owners find that their fish much prefer the flavour of fresh or live meals better!
But to be honest, I never had problems feeding frozen bloodworms before for many different types of bettas.
If you’re facing this issue, keep trying different types of food until you find something your betta enjoys – this will help keep them healthy and happy!
The water temperature is too low
One of the most common causes for a betta fish not eating is the water temperature being too low.
An ideal temperature for a betta fish is around 77 to 86ºF or 25 to 30ºC, any lower than that can lead to loss of appetite or physical discomfort and stress.
A betta’s metabolism will slow down due to the lower temperatures, and they become less active, so they have less energy to search for their food.
Additionally, colder temperatures reduce their ability to absorb nutrients from food due to impaired digestive function.
It is essential to understand that when the water temperature drops too low, your betta’s health will suffer very quickly, and it can even lead to death in some cases.
Get an aquarium heater to regulate the water temperature if needed.
Your betta is suffering from diseases
If you have noticed that your betta fish is not eating, it is possible that it may be suffering from an underlying disease.
Diseases can cause stress or discomfort to your betta fish, reducing its appetite and making it reluctant to eat.
The most common diseases in betta fish are swim bladder disorder, fin rot, and bacterial infections.
Swim bladder disorder occurs when a betta lacks the ability to maintain their balance in the water due to having a deformed swim bladder or improper nutrition.
Fin rot is caused by an infection and causes deterioration of the fins.
Bacterial infections such as columnaris and ich (white spot disease) will cause white patches on the skin, loss of appetite, and can lead to death if left untreated.
To diagnose diseases in your betta, look for signs of physical distress such as discolouration of the fins or body, laboured breathing, bloating or any other type of visible soreness.
If you suspect that your betta has a disease, quickly provide treatment before it becomes too severe or fatal.
It’s also important to give your betta plenty of clean water and feed them nutritious food regularly to prevent them from getting sick in the first place!
Make sure you regularly clean their tank with fresh water and frequently test their water parameters so any issues can be detected early on.
They are competing with other fish for food
To ensure that your betta fish is getting the food it needs, you must ensure they are not competing with other fish.
When two or more fish compete for food, either the faster and larger ones will eat first, or they will develop aggressive behaviours towards each other.
To avoid this, avoid keeping too many fish in one tank. If you can’t avoid overcrowding, consider feeding them in separate containers as soon as you notice signs of aggression or competition.
Alternatively, if you think there may be too much competition within the tank, reduce the number of other fishes – especially top roaming fishes – and see if this helps your betta become more active during feeding time.
It might also be the case that your betta does not feel comfortable enough with the presence of the other fish to come out and feed.
In this case, try moving around some objects in the tank to create hiding spots where the betta can safely eat.
Finally, try offering multiple small meals throughout the day rather than one large meal at once.
This will give your betta plenty of opportunity to come out and forage for food without competing against other fish.
You just bought your betta fish
If you recently purchased a betta fish, it may take a few days for the fish to acclimate and get used to its new environment.
In general, it’s best to wait at least two or three days before feeding your betta for the first time.
Your betta doesn’t know it’s food
If your betta fish isn’t eating, one reason could be that they don’t recognise their food.
Like any other pet, they need to be taught what to eat and get used to it.
Initially, they can take a few days or even weeks to learn.
For betta splendens – or the common betta fish you find in your local fish shops – it’s pretty easy for them to figure out that the flakes or pellets you’re feeding are food.
They’ve probably eaten them since they were young.
The problem comes when you’re keeping wild bettas, especially if it’s wild-caught or not trained by the previous owner.
They almost always exclusively eat live foods. They’re pretty hard to train onto frozen foods, even frozen bloodworms, yet alone dried food.
You’ll have to train them to know whatever you’re putting in the tank is food.
I’ll come up with a guide on how to train your wild betta fish to eat pellets soon, so watch this space.
Tips To Help Your Betta Fish Eat Their Food If They Are Not Eating
Add live food to the tank
Adding live food to the tank is one of the best ways to encourage a finicky betta fish to eat.
Live food, such as bloodworms, tubifex worms and brine shrimp, will stimulate your betta’s natural instinct to hunt and help them get all the essential nutrients they need.
For maximum effectiveness, it’s important to feed your betta live food regularly.
Not only will this entice them to start eating again, but it will help keep them healthy and prevent any potential illnesses or deficiencies in their diet.
Finally, avoid overfeeding – too much food will not only mess with water chemistry levels but could even make your betta sick or cause stomach bloat due to overeating.
Monitor closely how much they are consuming and adjust accordingly!
Let your bettas fast for a day or two
Allowing your betta fish to fast for a day or two is one of the best ways to encourage eating. Bettas need time for their digestive system to rest, reset, and return to normal appetite.
The body can focus on energetic processes such as cleansing and restoring during fasting.
This also gives them time to build up an appetite from not having food for a little while. After fasting for 1-2 days, offer them a variety of small meals spaced out over several hours.
This ensures that they can eat when they’re hungry without eating too much at once.
Fasting your betta fish can be beneficial when done correctly.
Not only will it encourage them to eat more often, but it will also give their digestive system much-needed rest and allow them to refuel before returning back into regular feeding times.
Just make sure you’re paying careful attention throughout the entire process and providing plenty of nutritious food afterwards!
Check your Water Parameters
Keeping an eye on the water parameters of a betta tank is important for their health and well-being.
Testing your tank’s pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, GH, KH levels, and temperature regularly will help to ensure that your betta fish has the best possible environment.
Testing your water also helps you to recognize if any changes with the tank are causing them to reject food like contaminated water or a drastic temperature shift.
If you know the water conditions are the problem, you’ll know what to rectify without blindly guessing what’s causing the issue.
In fact, this should be the first thing you check every time there’s an issue.
Remove anything that may stress your bettas
Removing any source of stress from your betta fish’s environment is important in encouraging your betta to eat.
Stressors can arise from various external sources, such as bright lighting, water temperature fluctuations, overcrowding, and proximity to other fish species.
To help reduce your betta’s stress levels, it’s a good idea to shield the aquarium with a dark sheet or cloth. You can turn off the aquarium lights too.
Place the aquarium away from loud noises and keep the tank out of direct sunlight if possible.
Be sure to maintain consistent water temperatures within accepted ranges, as sudden temperature spikes may create undue stress.
Keeping your betta isolated is also beneficial in creating a more comfortable atmosphere.
It’s best to avoid housing more than one fish in a single tank as this increases competition for food and can create aggressive behaviours among them.
Regular tank maintenance is also important in reducing stress levels; weekly water changes can help ensure the healthy balance of essential minerals needed for optimal growth and comfortability of the fish.
Testing for pH levels with a good test kit should also be done regularly to maintain acceptable parameters within the tank.
Overall, it’s important to remove anything that may stress your bettas by providing a peaceful, stable environment that is consistently taken care of to encourage eating behaviour with minimal disruptions caused by environmental influences.
Remove fishes that compete with your betta
One of the simplest ways to ensure that your betta fish gets enough sustenance is to remove any other fish living in the same tank with it.
Other fish, such as tetras or guppies, can often compete for food, which may lead to your betta not getting enough to eat.
When there is competition for food, the stronger and faster fish will usually win out, leaving your betta hungry and malnourished.
And bettas are usually the slower fish to eat.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to remove any other fishes that may be competing with your betta for food.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Can a Betta Fish Go Without Eating?
A betta fish can survive up to two weeks without eating due to their unusual digestive system.
During this time, the fish will use its energy reserves stored in its liver.
However, it’s important to note that this is only a short-term solution, and your betta should resume eating as soon as possible.
Without food, your fish’s health will decline over time, and you may notice changes such as loss of colour, weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
Therefore, you should look for any signs or indications which could make it clear your fish isn’t eating and provide them food as soon as possible.
Are Betta Fish Picky Eaters?
Yes, betta fish can be picky eaters. You may also find that some bettas have more discerning preferences than others.
If you suspect your Betta isn’t eating because it is a picky eater, you should try offering various foods to see which ones it likes best.
How Do Betta Fish Show Stress?
Betta fish show stress in a variety of ways. One of the most common signs is a lack of appetite.
Other signs include hiding or darting around, biting/nipping at objects, excessive gill/fin flaring, and excessive physical activity.
Some bettas may become more reclusive and remain hunkered down near the bottom of their tank.
They may also display discolouration or changed swimming patterns.
If you think your betta is stressed, pay close attention to its behaviour and identify the potential cause so you can help them feel more relaxed and comfortable in its environment.
Oh, adding an Indian almond leaf to your betta tank helps as well.
In conclusion, betta fish not eating can be indicative of a wide range of health issues.
If your fish is not eating and seems to be in distress, it’s important to pay attention quickly so the issue can be addressed.
Start by performing a water test, which will let you know if chemical or environmental changes may affect its health.
If the water looks healthy and the problem persists, consider changing your fish’s diet or providing a different food altogether.
It’s also important to ensure that your betta fish is in suitable living conditions, such as tanks with plenty of clean water and a comfortable temperature.
With proper care and observation, you can help make sure that your betta fish stays healthy and happy for years to come!