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Betta Fish Not Eating? Here’s What to Do

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

There are few things as worrying as a pet that won’t eat. So, if you’ve been trying to feed your betta fish without success, you’ve likely asked yourself —why is my betta fish not eating?

The answer is that your betta fish not eating may be a sign of several things. Some of these scenarios are preventable or have an easy solution. In other cases, your betta fish might not be eating because of a health condition.

Regardless of why your betta fish doesn’t want to eat, you should take care to remove their food after 10 minutes. Otherwise, the uneaten food can create ammonia and unwanted bacteria growth in their tank.

Betta Fish

Why Isn’t My Betta Fish Eating?

Below are some of the possible reasons why your betta fish is not eating:

  • Your betta doesn’t recognize its food
  • They might be a picky eater
  • The food needs thawing
  • Poor food quality
  • You’re overfeeding your betta
  • Your betta might be sick
  • Their environment changed
  • Water temperature needs adjusting

Needless to say, many factors can cause your betta fish to stop eating. So, we’ll talk about each of these points in more detail to help you sort through your betta’s problem.

1. Doesn’t Recognize the Food:

Betta fish come from the shallow waters of Southeast Asia, where they usually scout for food on marshes and rice paddies. Therefore, the betta pellet or flakes you toss into their bowl may not look like food to your fish.

You have two options if your betta fish don’t know that you’re feeding them food—continue feeding them until they get curious enough to take a bite, or offer them a different type of food, such as freeze-dried or frozen food.

2. Picky Eater:

When you bring home your betta, make sure to ask the pet store or former owner what they fed them; it could be that your betta prefers their old food over the new kind you’re giving them.

Alternatively, if you recently tried a new food on your betta and they suddenly stop eating, there’s a good chance they’re being fussy and want to revert to their old food.

3. Food Needs Thawing:

Freeze-dried and frozen food is excellent for your betta fish, so kudos to you if you go the extra mile to feed it to them. However, if this food remains partially frozen or isn’t soft enough, your betta might turn up their “fins” to it.

Therefore, check to make sure that the food you give your betta is soft and thawed. Furthermore, let it expand in water before putting it in your betta’s tank. Otherwise, it could do so in your betta stomach, causing constipation.

4. Poor Food Quality:

Betta fish can sense cheap food, which pet stores commonly sell. So, sometimes a betta fish won’t eat because the ingredients have too many fillers and taste unnatural to them.

If you feed your betta high-quality pellets or fish flakes, then the issue could be that it’s not enough to give them a varied diet. So, try adding live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods along with their usual betta pellets or flakes to see if that fixes the problem.

5. You’re Overfeeding Them:

Don’t let their long, beautiful fins fool you—a betta’s stomach is about the size of their eye. So, if you have a betta fish not eating, it could be because they’re still full from their last meal.

If you notice leftover food on the top of your betta’s tank after feeding them, remove it and make a note to reduce the quantity you give them. As a general rule, you should feed your betta one or two pellets twice per day.

6. Illness:

Unfortunately, a lack of appetite can be because your betta isn’t feeling well. In that case, they’ll usually show other symptoms as well, such as swimming sideways, lethargy, or their fins turning a different color.

Some of the most common causes of illness in betta fish are swim bladder disease, dropsy, and constipation. If you sense your betta is sick, do some research online to see how you can help them.

7. Environmental Change:

What may seem like a small change to you can feel like a massive change to your betta, forcing them to stop eating; excess ammonia or other chemicals in the water is a common cause.

Therefore, you should check the parameters of your betta’s tank to see if something is off. For example, excessive ammonia can lead to gill and internal organ damage, but you can use water conditioners to prevent this from happening. 

8. An issue with Water Temperature:

A betta’s ability to function depends on the water temperature, as this is where they get their energy from. Therefore, if your betta’s water is much higher or lower than 78°F, there’s a significant chance that they’re not eating because they’re too hot or cold.

You should make it a habit to check your betta’s water temperature regularly. Furthermore, consider adding a heater to your tank if you keep your house at a cool temperature.

Why Is My New Betta Fish Not Eating?

If your new betta fish won’t eat, it’s likely a combination of some of the factors we just discussed. Environmental changes have a significant impact on betta fish. So, it’s common for new betta fish to refuse food until they acclimate.

Furthermore, there’s a good chance that their new bowl’s water temperature is different from where they came from. Therefore, you should take care to acclimate them to their new water accordingly. It’s also helpful to turn off the lights for a few days until your betta fish relaxes and begins eating.

Betta Fish
About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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