Why Isn't my Betta Fish Eating?
Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are small and spectacularly colorful marine animals with large, fan-like fins. What happens with the betta, as with many other fish, is that they are very sensitive and need to be looked after in a fairly specific way. If these requirements are not taken into account, it can have a direct impact on their eating habits. This means that they might eat less or stop eating all together, which can have an affect on their health and even put their life at risk.
If you have a betta fish and are worried because they're not eating, keep reading this AnimalWised article in which we have researched the main answers to your question: why isn't my betta fish eating?
Your betta doesn't like their food
Who wants to eat when they don't like their food? Quite simply, your betta fish might have stopped eating because they don't like the food that you give them. It seems like an obvious reason but it isn't all so clear. If your betta fish is not eating pellets, perhaps you have chosen the cheapest pellets or flakes which have the lowest nutritional content and the worst taste, and this is why your fish is rejecting them.
Have you recently changed the brand of pellets you were feeding your beta? Just like many other pets, it will get some time to get used to the change, so this is why it's better to feed them actual food too while introducing the change.
Some foods are better than others. Try one from a higher-quality brand which contains more protein. Remember that betta fish are carnivores. You can give them foods based on salted shrimp, whether alive or dried, which they love. Here's a list of food they will enjoy:
- Artemia salina
- Mosquito red larvae
- Tubiflex worms
Stress in the environment
Betta fish get stressed for many different reasons. If your fish isn't eating, this might be a sign that they are going through a stressful period, which could be due to the aquarium's environment. When fish are stressed they tend to experience loss in appetite.
If your betta is stressed they won't feel like eating. Stress is common when you first bring your pet home, so remember to make the introduction as slowly and calmly as possible. If you are a new betta fish owner, make sure you ask the previous owner about the type of food they gave them so the change of food will be avoided (lowering the chances of stress).
A new tank, regardless of how big and cool it might be, will make your betta anxious for the simple reason that it is an unknown space. Give them time to get used to it. Fish rarely get sick unless they are under stress. So it is a good idea to reduce stress as much as possible. Or rather, try not to constantly change the aquarium or tank. Choose one which is well-suited to your fish from day one.
Even though the fish lives inside the tank, it still gets stressed from movement in its surroundings i.e. your house. A good solution is to bring a little darkness to the aquarium. Choose the best location in the house to place the tank. And if necessary, cover it with a blanket so that the betta fish doesn't need to see and witness everything going on outside its home. Never hit the tank's glass panels, and teach children who come to your house not to do so either. Darkness will help them to adapt to their own surroundings quicker. However, don't leave it in darkness all the time. Most fish eat during the day and need light to be more active, which makes them want to eat.
You are giving them too much food
The stomach of the betta fish is the same size as their eyeball, in other words, it's very small. This means that they can't consume large quantities of food like sometimes we presume.
When feeding your betta fish, providing them with a small amount of food to eat is enough. They will often eat a little bit and then continue eating after a while. Try not to over-feed your betta fish as they have very common digestive problems that later translate into other diseases. It's best to give them small quantities of high-quality food.
How to know if your betta fish is hungry
As we already know, betta fish have a small stomach and therefore don't eat as much as one may think. Nevertheless, when feeding a betta fish, you can provide them with 2-3 pellets in the morning and 2-3 pellets at night. We should avoid over-feeding them.
Now that you know how much to feed a betta fish, you may be wondering how to know when a betta fish is hungry. If betta fish are hungry, you may observe them:
- Biting and eating the vegetation in their tank: although betta fish are carnivores, before going hungry they will eat whatever food they can find for survival. So, if you see your fish biting and chewing on the plants in their tank, they're probably hungry.
- Skinny: if your fish seems leaner than they were, they're probably hungry.
- Lack of energy: when your fish is hungry they will not have the energy to move around as much as they used to. If you observe them being very still, try feeding them as they may be hungry. If they don't eat, bring them to the veterinarian as they may have a disease or health issue.
If you are still wondering why your betta fish isn't eating, it's important to remember that betta fish are cold blooded fish whose metabolism is directly related to the water temperature where they live.Betta fish need their water to be kept at a stable temperature, between 24°C and 26°C (75.2°F and 78.8°F). Since their metabolism speeds up in warmer waters, they need to eat more to maintain their own temperature and energy levels.
Despite being cold-blooded, a betta fish's metabolism slows down when they are kept in colder water, so they don't need to eat as much. You will also need to make sure that the water parameters are all correct: reasonable amounts of nitrates and ammonia and very low nitrite levels. To do this, read our article where we tell you all you need to know about the basic care of betta fish.
Expression of illness
Last but not least, you should rule out the possible presence of a disease. In betta fish, loss of appetite is a common symptom in fish diseases. If you have tried to make the aforementioned corrections and still don't know why your betta fish isn't eating, you should pay attention to the general alternative symptoms. For example:
- Lethargy (your betta fish isn't moving) and heaviness
- Loss of color
- Fins tucked in rather than being open
- Swollen stomach
- Scratched and bloody fins
Your betta fish may also be suffering from constipation (do not mistake with dropsy disease), which is equally as serious in beta fish, as it can kill them eventually, which is why it needs to be caught early so the vet can prescribe a suitable natural laxative that's appropriate for your beta.
If you notice any of these symptoms, your best option is to go to the vet as soon as you can. You might not only be putting your fish's health in danger, but also their life.
If you want to read similar articles to Why Isn't my Betta Fish Eating?, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.