Why Is My Betta Fish Not Eating?
Why Is My Betta Fish Not Eating?
There could be several reasons why your betta fish isn’t eating, and while most of them are pretty common and easily resolved, others can indicate more serious issues.
Betta fish are a sensitive species, which is why the slightest changes in their everyday routine or living conditions can cause stress and a lack of appetite.
If you are asking yourself ”why is my betta fish not eating”, then this article will go through some of the most common reasons your betta fish won’t eat, provide a solution to each problem, and give additional advice to make your betta happier.
Reasons Your Betta Fish Might Not Be Eating
Bettas are beautiful tropical fish and, in the aquarium world, they are considered a favorite household aquatic pet.
Also known as Siamese fighting fish, bettas are among the most popular species to be kept in captivity. However, the fact that they sometimes suffer in small fish tanks and inadequate conditions makes taking care of them a serious commitment.
From the water condition to a poor selection of food, bettas can stop eating for various reasons. Sometimes it might even be a sign of illness. Here are some of the most common reasons your betta fish may not be eating.
A New Environment
Switching to a new fish tank can be highly stressful for any species of fish. This type of change can definitely alter their eating habits.
When it comes to betta fish, they need lots of space – don’t just place them in a bowl where they may feel disoriented and cramped.
It’s entirely normal for your betta to not be hungry during this initial adjusting period. To help them settle in, try making their environment similar to their natural habitat as much as possible. Here’s how you can do that:
- Bettas are tropical fish, so they like to be in warm water. Keep the temperature between 76 and 82° Consider purchasing an aquarium heater if your room temperature is too cold
- Decorate the tank with water plants, objects they can explore, driftwood, etc.
- Keep the light in the room dim and not too bright
In most cases, once they get used to the new environment, their eating habits will go back to normal.
They Don’t Like the Food
Don’t forget that betta fish are meat-eating carnivores. They like to eat food that’s moving, or at least it seems like it. Avoid feeding them only plant roots and pellets; instead, opt for a balanced diet full of nutrients and proteins.
Enrich their diet with bloodworms, dried shrimp, insects, and insect larvae. By sticking only to plant-based food, you may shorten their lifespan significantly.
And in addition to the selection, the quality of the food should also be taken into consideration. Betta fish food should always be of the highest quality. While freeze-dried and frozen foods are a good option, make sure to melt it before throwing it in the tank water.
Water Temperature Is a Huge Deal
The lack of appetite might also be caused by a drop in the water temperature. Remember that bettas are tropical fish and, therefore, the tank temperature should be between 76 and 82° Fahrenheit. Due to their need for warm water, don’t keep bettas in the same tank as goldfish, generally kept in colder temperatures.
In any case, veterinarians firmly recommend not keeping these two types of fish in the same tank. Aside from their differing needs, goldfish produce a lot of waste. This leads to toxic amounts of ammonia, which can be deadly for bettas.
Always measure the temperature with a thermometer. In case your room temperature is not warm enough, consider purchasing a heater for the aquarium.
Poor Water Quality
The quality of the water can seriously affect your betta’s health. Using regular tap water for the tank isn’t a good idea. The harmful amount of chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals will be deadly for your fish. Therefore, your tank needs to be supplied with a low-flow filter.
Before adding water into your tank, it must be filtered with a water conditioner. Even more importantly, you should cycle your water once or twice a week for about two months before you even purchase your fish. This helps facilitate the growth of beneficial bacteria, which disintegrates poisonous ammonia and other harmful toxins.
Furthermore, replacing around 10% of the tank water once a week will ensure your betta remains healthy.
According to vets, the minimum volume of any tank should be five gallons. However, this amount is only sufficient for one betta fish. Whereas 10 gallons of water is the average amount for one fish tank.
Another key factor to take into consideration is the water parameters. If there have been any changes in the water parameters lately, this might impact your betta’s appetite.
Water quality parameters include consistent amounts of ammonia, nitrite, chlorine, phosphate, silicate, pH, and water hardness.
A change in the water parameters can lead to nitrate poisoning, a troubling increase in ammonia, and other detrimental toxins. So be careful to check your water parameters regularly for spikes in chemical levels.
You May Be Overfeeding Your Betta
Your betta might not want to eat because it’s already full. If you feed your betta too much, this could be damaging for a couple of reasons. First, it’s unhealthy for the fish, leading to health problems such as swim bladder disease, constipation, or obesity.
Secondly, leftover food tends to gather on the bottom of the tank. As a result, it produces poor water quality, a plethora of bacteria, and toxic levels of ammonia and nitrite.
To make sure your bettas are eating a healthy amount of food, vets suggest feeding your betta the amount it can usually eat in three to five minutes daily. You should still monitor your betta to see if that amount of food is still too much.
If there is some uneaten food floating on the surface or on the bottom, make sure to take it out of the tank, so it doesn’t accumulate and generate bacteria.
A New Betta in the Tank or Other Incompatible Fish
If you want to add new fish to your collection, always do your research. Some species are incompatible, and they will end up hurting each other or worse. This is especially the case with other betta fish, particularly males.
It’s best not to put two male bettas in the same tank bearing in mind their territorial behavior. As opposed to males, female betta fish can usually live in groups.
On the other hand, there are different kinds of fish that are safe to add to your betta’s tank, such as Cory catfish, kuhli loaches, and guppies. If you’re not looking to add fish to your betta tank but want to add other aquatic life, consider snails, ghost shrimp, frogs, etc.
Your Betta Might Be Confused
In certain situations, especially when your betta finds itself in a new environment, it could be confused about the type of food it receives.
For example, your betta might have been fed with a different kind of food before you purchased it from the pet store. If this is the case, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t respond to food in the form of pellets and flakes.
To solve this issue, you can try switching up their diet. Freeze-dried or frozen foods will surely appeal to them more. However, if you give them a few days to adjust to the new food, they will soon realize what it is.
Just be careful not to allow your betta fish to go too long without eating. If the pellets don’t interest them at all, then your only choice is to change their diet completely.
All of the factors we mentioned so far can bring your betta stress, whether it’s the low water temperature, the poor water quality, or the food choice. Fish can react to stress differently, and not eating is one of the most common ones. There are several things you can do to reduce their stress levels.
- Place a blanket or some kind of protective cover over the tank so the betta can get used to its new surroundings gradually and without all the distractions coming from outside the tank
- Don’t leave your tank bare. Instead, decorate it with colorful pieces, corals, plants, artificial caves, and driftwood – places where they can explore and hide if they desire
- Make sure your tank isn’t too small. They need room to move around freely
- Don’t place your betta fish in the same tank with unharmonious species
- Change the tank water regularly, and check the water temperature and quality
They can also get lonely, but that is rarely the case with betta fish. As long as it has enough space, a betta fish won’t have any problems living alone.
Your Betta Could Be Ill
If your betta isn’t eating, it can also be a sign that it’s sick. You can usually tell by the way it’s acting – if it’s swimming slower than usual, if it’s remaining close to the bottom of the tank, if it’s hovering around the surface of the water, or if it has white spots on its scales.
Observe your betta and research the symptoms. Several things could be damaging your betta’s health:
- Cleaning your tank with soap and detrimental chemicals will end up killing the fish
- Fish are cold-blooded, which means that their body adjusts to the temperature of the water. Tank water that’s too cold could result in thermal shock
- Nitrate or ammonia poisoning – this usually occurs when the water parameters shift too much
- Bacterial infections due to poor aquarium maintenance
Most common illnesses are treated by cleaning the tank, replacing the dirty water with clean filtered water, and adjusting the betta’s diet to a healthier alternative.
You might need to consult with a vet on which medication you should use in more serious cases. Don’t try giving your fish any medication on your own.
How Do You Know if Your Betta Fish Is Dying?
Depending on which disease your betta is suffering from, it will show subsequent signs of illness. These are some of the most common symptoms that your betta fish might be dying:
- Not being able to swim (either spending too much time on the bottom of the tank or floating on the surface)
- Unusual swimming patterns
- Discoloration – if its scales look faded out, or if its scales are dotted with white spots
- Ripped or punctured fins – this is usually caused by a fungus or a bacterial infection
- Lethargy – this is common if the water temperature doesn’t suit it
- Bulging eyes and raised scales
- Swelling and constipation
How Long Can a Betta Go Without Eating?
Your betta fish can usually survive without food from between 10 days to about two weeks. This varies from one fish to another and depends on the overall environment in which the fish lives. Bettas have tiny stomachs, so they don’t require a lot of food, but that’s not an excuse to not feed them daily.
How Can I Tell if My Betta Is Stressed?
Keep an eye on them. To tell if your betta fish is feeling stressed, you need to observe them and look for signs of stress and illness.
For example, lack of appetite is a signal that your betta is stressed. Other symptoms may include strange swimming patterns, lethargy, gasping at the surface, spending too much time on the tank’s bottom, etc.
Check your water temperature, the water parameters, and if your betta has been eating recently.
Can You Force Feed a Betta Fish?
Although trying this option might seem far-fetched, it is possible. If your fish is sick, but it still needs to eat, you can try feeding it with a small pipette. However, this option is usually not advised.
Make Sure Your Betta Fish Are Healthy and Happy
The next time your betta fish refuses to eat, you will know what to do. No matter what other people think, taking care of a betta fish can be just as challenging and time-consuming as with any other pet. But with the right mindset, prepared research, and affection for animals, it can be pretty straightforward.
Have you ever had betta fish that didn’t want to eat? Did you try any of the solutions from this article? Let us know in the comments section below.