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Why Isn't my Betta Fish Eating?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 10, 2020
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?

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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:

  • Krill
  • Clam
  • Artemia salina
  • Shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Mosquito red larvae
  • Squid
  • Mysis
  • 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.

Why Isn't my Betta Fish Eating? - Stress in the environment

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.

Aquarium conditions

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.

Why Isn't my Betta Fish Eating? - Aquarium conditions

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
  • Parasites
  • Fungi

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.

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Suya
Hope you are well! Beta fish appears not to be eating. It has been about 2 months now. We went down to one pellet in the last three weeks, and we find that pellet is untouched. For the first two to three weeks, the betta was very sluggish and breathing was a challenge, because he was gulping for air. In the middle of the 2 months, he was collecting the food that we gave to him in a corner, but did not eat it. In the last four weeks, he is building bubble nest, swimming around, and not as much gulping. We have had him for about 17 months. We used Spring water for him and he stays in a half gallon tank. We prefer not to feed him any shrimp or scavenger diet. About three months, we move our living room around and he was placed closer to the window. Not sure if that or a bright light at night from outside caused him to change his behavior. Once we realized the light may have impacted him, we move him to another location, he seem to be a little better, but still not eat. We bought some products to test the water and treat possible illness, still not eating. He swims around and builds bubble, that is about it. Not sure how long he is going to last or how else to help him. Your thought are welcomed.
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Cassandra Kavanagh
have always kept my Betta fish with other small tropical fish such as guppies, Tetra, Bumble bee goby , Kuhli loach, Danio without any problem at all. The Betta fish is not a sea creature so in answer to your question there are no sea creatures suitable for keeping with a Betta. In a large tank it is sometimes possible to keep a female Betta with a male as long as there are a lot of hiding places. I have managed this successfully many times (I usually have 2 or 3 females to one male but you do need a large tank). Betta fish can become very friendly with their owners and mine always curl around my finger . I find that most Betta fish enjoy a community tank as long as it is big enough and there are a variety of natural plants and rocks to hide in and explore. They are curious and intelligent fish and deserve to have proper environment to make their short lives happy and interesting. It is a joy to watch them. I hate it when people keep them alone in a tiny bowl or cup ! They might survive (but many don't) ,but surviving is not the same as thriving !Betta fish have a right to have as good a life as is possible !
Administrador AnimalWised
We agree, they definitely deserve all the care in the world. Than you for sharing!
Kylie
My fish had a serious case of fin rot. I gave him the maximum dosage of kanaplex from the label instructions and did a 100% water change with salt and stress coat. He’s in a filtered and heated 5 gallon tank. I still see a tiny red spot on his bottom fin and a black outline on his back fins. He hasn’t eaten for over a week and hides at the bottom of his tank. What should I do to help the little guy?
BONNIE REID
could you tell me the best way to clean my betta fish tank that will not stress him. i have a 5 gal tank with filter, and heater, but it gets algae growing in it. i use algae chemical but it does not seem to work well. after reading you comments about stress I am worried. I need to clean it but my fish has not eaten in two days and i am worried that if i clean it now it may up set him. He has been a very happy fish up to this point.
Beverlyparks
Is It safe to place any other sea creatures such as turtles,or another type of fish in the same tank as the betta fish.???
Purple Gabe
There can be two possible outcomes of making your fishy fighter share his tank. The first is that your beta's new roomate will be murderered, as betas can be very territorial and aggresive toward others, which is why your beta would try and bite your finger if you stick it in their habitat. The other outcome is that your beta will die. Turtles are herbivores, yes, but that doesn't mean it can't use its mouth-claw for fighting
Al
Sea creatures live in salt water, bettas do not.

There are plenty of examples of people keeping bettas with other fresh water tropical fish that can live in the same temperature range. There are lots of video on Youtube that talk about tank mates for bettas.

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