Betta Fish Doesn’t Eat: Everything You Need to Know

Are you excited to bring home your pet betta at last? Or maybe you already have one and are having a blast with the time you have with each other.

Betta fish as pets are a great joy to have, but there is no denying how worrying it might feel when you see one day that your betta fish is not his usual self. One common symptom to watch out for is your betta fish not eating or having no appetite.

Try observing your pet and see if your betta is not eating. As much as this sounds alarming, it does not necessarily mean that your fish is in complete danger. If you are wondering why your betta fish isn’t eating, worry no more and keep reading to find out! 

This guide will help you understand more why your pet does this type of behavior and how you can be of help to them.

How long can your betta survive without food?

Before we discuss the different reasons why your betta fish is not eating, let’s know first how long your fish can go on without food

Did you know that bettas can survive for a week without food? This is entirely possible even until 14 days if, and that is a big IF, your betta fish is living in a well-maintained fish tank. However, don’t let your betta fish starve even when they can survive this long without food.

Your pet will start to rely on its fat storage when they go on without food on the 5th to 7th day. This process will not only starve them but will also weaken your betta fish’s immune system; making them more prone to diseases and illnesses. 

Knowing this information, just take into consideration that your betta might be eating the food you are giving them all along without you realizing it. But if you want to make sure that your fish is in excellent condition, observe and check if the following reasons why they are not eating apply to your little friend.  

betta doesnt eat

9 Reasons why your betta fish is not eating

Here are some of the possible reasons why your betta fish has stopped eating. Do not worry, included are also the solutions to each problem.   

1. Your betta is not hungry

You may notice leftover food floating around the aquarium and assume that your fish is not eating at all. One common reason why your betta fish is not eating is perhaps because they aren’t that hungry.

Overfeeding can sometimes be the cause of this which is why it is not advisable to overfeed your betta fish. Their stomach is just about the size of their eyes that’s why expecting them to eat too much food will surely not work for them considering their body. 

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Solution:

A simple solution to this problem is to make sure that you are not feeding your betta too much food. You may start feeding your betta no more than 1-2 pellets twice a day. If you notice that he eats this quickly and seems to be looking for more food, then you can increase the amount of their food by one pellet.

2. He’s a picky eater

Even bettas could be picky eaters just like some of us. Consistently feeding your betta fish with one type of food then suddenly changing it could explain why they are being picky.

To confirm this, try feeding them with his go-to food. If he eats it without any problem, then it is most likely that your pet is just being fussy.

Solution:

To solve this problem, the first thing you can do is, again, to feed your betta fish with the same food you used to feed him. If this doesn’t work then another thing you can try is to change your pet’s diet with different varieties of food until he stops being picky. Introducing them to new foods will help them to adjust to their diets.

One more option you can do, and probably the least advisable, is to starve your betta for a few hours or days. By the time you feed him with the food he doesn’t like, he will have to adjust and eat what you have to offer.

3. You have a new betta

Introducing a new betta fish in the tank may stress out your fish which is why they might refuse to eat their food. However, the stress is not only felt by your old fish, but also by your new one. The move from another place to a new home will also cause them stress especially if you had your betta shipped instead of getting him from a shop.

Solution:

The only thing you can do in this case is to give your betta time to settle to its new habitat. Try keeping the lights off for a while and schedule their feeding time in the morning and evening. If your betta doesn’t want to eat, remove the food after 10 minutes to avoid polluting their water tank.

4. Your betta fish is not sure it is food

Sometimes the reason why your fish is not eating is that they don’t recognize that what you’re feeding them is food. This is quite common when you feed them pellets and flakes. 

In the wild and with most breeders, bettas usually eat a mixture of live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Due to this diet, pellets and flakes will most likely be new to them when first introduced to them.

Solution:

The best solution in this situation is to keep exposing and introducing them to these kinds of food until they realize that it’s edible. Even though bettas can survive without eating for a few days, it’s really important not to make a habit of starving them.

Make sure that you have a backup food prepared just in case they still won’t be eating pellets or flakes. 

5. Food is frozen or freeze-dried

Giving your bettas freeze-dried and frozen foods is good for their diet, but they may ignore this at first if not thawed properly. Aside from this, some frozen food can expand when dropped in the tank as it absorbs water again.

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If your pet eats it too fast then it may continue expanding and may result in constipation and swim bladder disease in some cases.

Solution:

For these types of foods, the solution is very easy. Defrost them first before putting the food in the tank. Once thawed properly, your betta should start eating its food heartily.

6. The food is poor quality

If your betta is not eating then one factor you might want to look into is the quality of the food you are giving them. Although buying cheap food from stores may seem to be the most convenient for us, keep in mind that its cheap price is because it is made from cheap ingredients. 

But what if I’m already feeding them with quality food yet they still won’t eat it? This is where the varieties of food and giving them a balanced diet comes into place. Aside from foods that you can buy in pet stores, you also need to mix their diets with live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods as well.

Solution:

The best solution in this situation is providing your betta fish with a balanced diet. Again, these diets may consist of pellets mixed with either live, frozen, or freeze-dried food. Some of the best recommendations out there include (but not limited to) brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and freeze-dried daphnias.

To check out other best fish food options for your betta, check out this article.

7. There is a change in the environment

Changes in water parameters such as the pH level can affect not only your betta’s health but also their eating habits. Ammonia is said to be the most common cause of change in water parameters which results in your fish not eating.

However, not all changes are caused by harmful chemicals, sometimes as simple as changing the water tank will have your betta fish getting used to the new environment. 

Solution:

What you can do in this situation is trying to feed your betta fish a few hours after changing the water to give them more time to adjust. Also, make sure to always check the water parameters and make necessary adjustments if needed to avoid causing further harm to your beloved pet.

Your betta’s appetite should return back to normal once you’ve made sure that they are living in a safe and clean environment.

8. Your betta is sick

We always tend to lose our appetite when we’re not feeling well. In betta’s cases, ruling out illnesses or diseases is one of the first things you do when you notice their lack of appetite.

When this does happen, immediately lookout for other symptoms such as having a lack of energy, sudden change in behavior, and skin discoloration which could indicate the seriousness of their health. 

What are some common diseases that can affect your betta? A lack of appetite can be due to constipation, swim bladder disease, and dropsy. 

Solution:

If you suspect that your betta could be ill, you have to act accordingly and swiftly. Not addressing this immediately will only worsen their condition which could even lead to death when not treated.

Research on how to treat your betta based on the symptoms showing or better if you can contact the nearest vet in the area if your betta’s condition is more serious.

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9. Water temperature needs adjustment

Same as the other tropical fish, bettas (which are considered freshwater fish) are best kept in a warm temperature ranging from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When you notice that your betta is not eating, this may be due to the tank’s temperature. 

If your aquarium’s temperature is not warm enough for your cold-blooded friend, it may result in lethargy and a slower metabolism which will make it harder and longer to digest food. 

Solution:

Make sure that you have a water heater inside your tank which is heated as closely as the recommended temperature. What if I live in a warm or hot country? The answer is you still have to provide a heater because the water temperature changes differently (and is colder) than land temperature.  

Betta fish won’t eat? What to feed them

Now that you already know the reasons behind your betta’s lack of appetite and how to solve it, let’s talk about the common questions about betta feeding.

How much to feed a betta fish?

Again, this depends on how much your betta eats and the type of food you are feeding them. Ideally, it is best to keep in mind to give them only a portion size that is equal to 5% of their body size.

Since bettas thrive in a clean environment, make sure to remove any excess food in the tank to keep it as clean as possible.

How often should I feed my betta?

Your betta may eat twice a day, one in the morning and another at night. There are owners who practice giving a full portion meal once a day while others prefer giving half a portion twice daily. Whichever suits your schedule best, it would be best to consistently feed your bettas at a certain time so your pet will know when to expect their feeding time.

Note: If you are training your betta some tricks or just want to engage with them, giving them a little treat will be fine.

What should I feed my betta fish?

If you’re betta fish won’t eat, try to feed them freeze dried or frozen bloodworms. Brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and fruit flies are also excellent food choices. 

Betta pellets are especially made for them and are packed with the right amount of protein to keep your betta healthy.

Try not to give them too much fish flakes as they lack nutrients that your betta needs. Fish flakes should be your last option.

Betta fish not eating: Final thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of your betta’s behavior and eating pattern, it is now time to take the necessary actions needed. Do further research and remember to not panic so you can give the best assistance needed by your betta fish.

Try observing your betta first and see if he is indeed not eating. Check the quality of your food and keep in mind the diet your pet needs. If your betta is not eating due to stress, give it time first and remember that some issue resolves itself over time.

Related: Why Is My Betta Fish Spitting Out Food?