If you’re wondering “why is my betta fish not eating?” you are likely concerned about the health of your fish. There are a number of reasons why your betta fish could be not eating, however, that have nothing to do with health and are perfectly normal and easy to fix situations.
Let’s take a look at the most common issues and their solutions.
The Common Causes and Solutions For Bettas Not Eating
There are several potential causes for your betta’s loss of appetite. We’ve made up a list of the most common issues and the solutions to help your betta decide to start noshing again.
1. Your Betta is a Picky Eater
One of the most common situations that causes your betta not to eat is similar to why toddlers won’t eat – they’re picky eaters. If you have consistently been feeding a specific food to your betta but switched up, you may find your betta doesn’t like the new food and that could well be why he’s not eating.
There are three basic solutions to this issue.
The one is obvious – feed the betta the same food you used to feed him. If you can easily access the prior food easily, this shouldn’t be an issue. If, however, you can’t get ahold of it anymore or the price has become ridiculous, this isn’t your best bet.
The second option is better if the former food is problematic in some way. Diversify your betta’s diet with lots of different foods until he stops being so fussy. This should help him adjust to any new foods you can introduce.
The third option is fast your betta for a few days. When you feed the food he didn’t like to him again, he will be likely to end his hunger strike and just eat.
2. Some Bettas Don’t Like Freeze-Dried or Frozen Food
If your betta fish is not eating food, it might be because your betta doesn’t like the supplemental food you’re feeding her. Some bettas simply don’t like freeze-dried or frozen foods.
The solution for what to do when your betta fish won’t eat this kind of food is trying two options.
One, you can alternate the food given to your fish, flooding him with new foods, until he stops being so picky about it.
Or you can do the fasting route on this one as well – stop feeding your betta for a couple of days (2-3 days), and then introduce only the freeze-dried or frozen food. He’ll start eating them and adjust to having these supplements as part of their regular diet.
3. Your Betta is Overfed
Another common issue for bettas not eating is that they’ve overfed. If you’re giving your fish too much food, he simply won’t be able to eat it all. They have stomachs about the size of their eyeball, so feeding them more than that amount will be simply too much.
The solution on this one is super easy – reduce the amount you feed your betta. Start with only one to two pellets twice a day. If he gobbles this down really quickly and still seems hungry, increase by one pellet. Keep track to make sure the additional pellet is actually eaten however.
4. The Food You’ve Purchased Is Poor Quality
If your betta stopped eating, you may have this common issue. Unfortunately, many of the fish food options sold online and in pet stores are poor quality. Cheap food for fish, much like junk food for humans, aren’t good for the body. Your betta may well be rejecting poor quality food.
The best solution for this one is studying up on what you should be feeding your betta. Overall, the best recommendations include:
- Low or no grain betta pellets
- Low or no grain betta flakes
- Freeze-dried daphnia
- Mosquito larvae
- Brine shrimp
- Wingless fruit flies
- Mysis shrimp
5. Your Betta Doesn’t Recognize the Food as Food
If you’re trying to help your betta have a more balanced diet, you may discover that the fish doesn’t eat certain foods. Freeze-dried foods and frozen foods are good for them, but bettas don’t always recognize that they’re food. If you simply drop these kinds of foods into the tank without letting them thaw or soften first, the betta might well simply ignore them.
The solution for this one is easy. Defrost the food before feeding your betta. Or let the freeze-dried food expand first. Take a small amount of tank water and put it into a bowl. Put the food (either to defrost or expand) and let sit for a bit. Once it’s ready, you can put them food into the tank. Your betta should be able to recognize the food as food now.
Note: some foods expand in water and if your betta eats it too fast, they may have constipation due to the continued expansion of the food in the water. This can cause swim bladder disease.
6. The Water Temperature Needs Adjustment
If you’re saying, “my betta fish won’t eat and barely moves,” this issue is likely: the water temperature isn’t right for your cold-blooded betta. Their energy is heavily influenced by the temperature of the water. If the water is too cold, they will become sluggish. If they’re sluggish, they won’t eat much, thanks to their metabolism slowing.
The best solution to this problem to get a heater if you don’t already have one. Get the heat as close to 78-degrees as possible and make sure the temperature stays there. Even if you live in a warm climate, your aquarium still needs a heater to keep it up to temp.
7. Your Betta Hasn’t Adjusted to His New Home Yet
If your new betta fish is not eating, you don’t need to worry too much. This is a common issue for new bettas. When they change homes, they can be stressed out. This is especially true if your betta was shipped.
The easiest option for how to convince your betta to eat in this situation is simply letting him settle in. Keep the lights off for a couple of days to try to reduce the stress levels and make sure you feed him morning and evening. If he isn’t ready to eat yet, make sure you scoop out the food within ten minutes, though, to avoid the food turning into detritus that can harm your fish later on.
8. Something Has Changed Your Betta’s Environment
If your betta fish stopped eating recently, check in on the environment. Has anything changed in the aquarium lately? New aquascaping? New fish? New decoration? New plants? Different lighting or equipment? Any of these things may stress out your betta and cause some issues for your fish.
If something in the aquarium has changed and your betta fish is not eating pellets, run some parameter tests to verify something hasn’t changed in this way. Make any corrections necessary and then keep an eye on your betta. His appetite should reappear once the parameters level out.
9. Your Betta Is Ill
If your betta fish is not eating and laying at bottom, he may well be feeling poorly. They may be moving slowly in the water, having weird coloration changes, or other have other behavior changes. The loss of appetite will be accompanied by some other symptoms, so if no other strange behaviors or appearances, try resolving the issue in other means first. If, however, the symptoms are obvious, suspect illness or disease and act accordingly.
If your betta does appear to be ill, make sure you address the situation quickly. Contact a vet, do research to understand what illness it may be, and deal with accordingly.
10. The Water Parameters Have Changed in Your Aquarium
Why won’t my betta fish eat? One other issue may be that the pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates levels may have changed. Some of these issues aren’t terribly horrible for your fish in short-term periods, but some are critical – like potential ammonia poisoning.
Be sure to check your water parameters and make corrections as necessary. The appetite should return when the parameters are corrected.
11. It’s Mating Season for Your Bettas
The final reason you might have to ask “Why my betta won’t eat” is that, well, it just might be mating season. During betta breeding season, they tend to demonstrate strange behaviors, both singly and in pairs.
They sort of “dance” in the water and often stop moving for long periods of time. If they are kept in pairs, they will intertwine and form bubble nests on the top of the water. These are clear signs of breeding season – and you don’t need to worry about the lack of appetite. It’s a natural side effect.
Betta Feeding Basics
Besides knowing what to feed your betta (see above), it’s important to know how often, how much, and when to feed them to resolve many of the issues seen above.
How To Feed Bettas
Betta food comes with instructions that generally aren’t accurate on how to feed your betta. They tend to call for overfeeding and can cause issues for your fish and your aquarium overall. Ignore these instructions to feed multiple times a day or as much they’ll eat in five minutes.
This is a bad idea and will lead to overfeeding, which can result in swim bladder disease for your fish, change the water parameters, and create other environmental issues. Instead, do some research (and read below) and make sure that you’re feeding them the right amount, the right number of times per day, and the right things. Something labeled “betta food” isn’t necessarily the best choice.
When to Feed Bettas
The best practice for feeding your bettas is either feeding your fish a full portion once daily or half a portion twice daily. When that time is falls on your schedule, however. If it’s most convenient for you to feed your fish before and after work – meaning this will help you stay consistent with the time and when they sleep – that’s perfectly fine. If you will do better feeding your betta at lunchtime, that’s fine, too.
Ideally, you’ll feed your betta twice daily, however, as it helps to engage them more. They’ll be a little happier and more engaged throughout the day. They’re intelligent and have fairly decent memories, so if you’re consistent with your schedule, they’ll respond to you during feeding times, expectantly.
How Much to Feed Bettas
The recommended approximate amount recommended for a single betta each day is 1.8 grams. It’s pretty hard to get that exactly, unless you’re going to weigh it all out. Besides, some bettas have a little higher metabolism and will happily eat more than that in a day.
You may want to weigh out the amount the first time so you can have a visual understanding of what 1.8 grams looks like.
If you’re going with pellets, however, 2-3 medium pellets in the morning and 2-3 at night is about right.
Since they need a balanced diet, however, you might want to keep a varied schedule instead to help keep your feeding consistent and easy to track.
An example plan looks like:
- Sunday – 2-4 pellets 2x daily
- Monday – live, frozen, or freeze-dried food, about 2-3 pieces 1-2x daily
- Monday –2-4 pellets 2x daily
- Tuesday – live, frozen, or freeze-dried food, about 2-3 pieces 1-2x daily
- Wednesday – 2-4 pellets 2x daily
- Thursday – 2-4 pellets 2x daily
- Friday – 2-4 pellets 2x daily
- Saturday – Fasting to help keep the GI system of your betta regular
You’ll have to determine the schedule based on your own, but basically doing pellets 4 days a week, live, frozen or freeze-dried 2 days a week, and 1 day of fasting to help keep your fish’s digestive system regular.
And just a note, but if you normally feed twice daily but you miss that morning feeding, don’t try to make up for it during the evening feeding. They are okay going without food a little bit and do much better with that than if they are overfed.