Why is my betta fish not eating?

One of the things that worries us betta owners most is when our little guy refuses to eat – maybe even for a few days.

A betta fish not eating can be troublesome because a lack of appetite can often be a symptom of another underlying issue. If you’re wondering, “Why is my betta fish not eating?” there are a few steps you can take to diagnose the problem and return your fish to its regular diet.

Some Bettas Are Picky Eaters

In the wild, carnivorous fish, such as bettas, eat live prey that wiggles around and looks appetizing. Young captive-bred fish are also often fed live foods. If a betta fish is not eating pellets, it could simply be because the food being offered isn’t interesting enough. Check out our guide to the best betta fish food.

Betta pellets are packed with nutrients and are easy to offer to a fish. However, to some fish, they may not seem like food at all, or they may taste bland compared to what they’re used to. This is also a common answer to why a new betta fish is not eating. It was probably being fed live, freeze-dried, or frozen foods that looked, to it, more like real food.

To entice a betta that refuses to eat, try adding some variety to its diet. You can offer live brine shrimp or freeze-dried bloodworms. Intersperse these feedings with the pellet food and, often, many bettas will be happier with a varied diet and will come to see the pellet food as just as tasty.

So in the first instance, try switching up his food. How old is that tub of food anyhow? Maybe it’s time to buy a fresh unopened pack for him!

Temperature Changes

Bettas are tropical fish. They prefer warm water somewhere between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Suppose a betta fish’s water temperature drops below this. In that case, it can cause a range of problems, including slowing the fish’s digestive process. Fish that aren’t digesting food properly may stop eating because they’re uncomfortable. Cold water can also cause stress, which can lead to a loss of appetite.

To avoid any sudden water temperature changes, you should have a heater on your betta fish tank. You will be able to set your heater to a specific temperature and keep that temperature steady. As the water in the tank warms up, the betta should go back to eating normally.

Water Quality Changes

One of the most common answers to “Why is my betta fish not eating?” is poor water quality. Bettas are often housed in smaller aquariums, and this means that the tank and water can become dirty very quickly.

Dirty water or waste at the bottom of the tank can cause chemicals within the water, such as ammonia, to spike. These chemicals are toxic to fish. Over time, the chemicals can cause serious health problems, and one of the first symptoms is a lack of appetite.

To keep the water pristine, avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding leads to a quick accumulation of waste. You can also scoop out any waste at the bottom of the tank and perform partial water changes every week.

Your tank should have a filter. Most filters will remove waste while also providing a place for beneficial bacteria, which helps to eat up chemicals and grow. An aquarium test kit can help you monitor the chemical levels in the aquarium and keep everything balanced.

Stress and Illness

If your betta fish is not eating, it might be due to stress or illness. To figure out which might be the cause, observe your fish closely.

A betta that lives in a small tank or is housed with incorrect tankmates, or has few hiding places can easily become stressed. Stress is also a common reason why a new betta fish is not eating. A sudden change of scenery, bright lights, or too much activity can make fish nervous.

To make a betta fish feel more comfortable, keep the area around their tank calm and not too bright. You can also add plants or other hiding places to make them feel more secure. Offering more space and keeping the betta either by itself or only with very peaceful tankmates that won’t nip at fins is also a good idea.

If you feel that stress isn’t the issue, your betta might be sick. Check for signs of distress, such as lethargy or an unusual swimming pattern. You can also look for white spots along the body or fins. Bloating, tattered fins, or sores are also symptoms of different illnesses.

Different illnesses, whether bacterial, fungal, or parasitic in nature, must be treated differently. The best way to treat your fish is first to ensure that the water is as clean as possible and is within the correct temperature range. Then, research your fish’s symptoms and check to see what the recommended treatment is. Some illnesses can be treated with home remedies, while others will need a specific medication.

Overfeeding

If a betta fish is not eating pellets, it may simply be because they’re not hungry. This is often the case if a betta is being overfed.

Bettas have small stomachs, so they only need four to six pellets twice a day, or the equivalent in live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods. Overfeeding can not only cause your betta fish to stop eating but can also result in excess waste in the water. Overfeeding also often leads to health problems such as swim bladder disease or constipation.

To avoid overfeeding, observe your fish every time it eats. If you drop in a few pellets and the fish only eats one or two, you may want to cut back. Either offer fewer pellets at each feeding or only feed your fish once a day.

A betta fish that’s not eating can be a problem, but taking steps to observe the fish and see the underlying cause can often help you quickly solve this. Checking for stressors, illnesses, or changes in temperature or water condition can usually answer questions you have about your betta’s lack of appetite. Offering high-quality live or freeze-dried foods can also help to entice even the pickiest fish to eat.

Do you have a betta that isn’t eating? Please leave us a question or comment below.

Our tips:

  • Offer live or freeze-dried foods to tempt picky bettas.
  • Buy a fresh pack of food. That opened pack may have gone stale and tasteless.
  • Check water parameters and keep the aquarium as clean as possible.
  • Test for any spikes in chemical levels.
  • Ensure that the water temperature remains between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and hasn’t fluctuated.
  • Offer more space or more hiding places to alleviate stress.
  • Check for illnesses and treat them accordingly.

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