Why Is My betta Fish Not Eating?

Before we can answer this question you should make some general observations. 

If you notice that your betta fish hasn’t eaten in a few days, this is likely the first sign of a potential problem. If they have taken a meal off every once in a while, it might not be so serious. But if it has been consistent, then you may need to keep an eye out for other problem signs.

Possible Reasons Your Betta Fish isn’t Eating

  • Overfeeding
  • Picky eater
  • Trouble recognizing a new food
  • New betta
  • New environment
  • Stress 
  • Dirty water
  • Wrong water temperature
  • Illness

Are you overfeeding your betta?

To find out why your betta won’t eat it’s generally best to consider the simplest possibilities first. 

The first thing you need to consider if it seems like your betta fish won’t eat is the fact that he may just not be hungry. The good news is that if you are overfeeding all you should need to do is reduce feedings. 

How often are you feeding your betta?

Some of the first questions you should be asking yourself include how often and how much are you feeding your betta.

Generally, betta fish should be fed 2 times a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. If you are trying to feed your betta more often than this he may simply not be hungry. 

You may only be feeding once or twice a day but is someone else feeding them as well? I ask this question primarily of parents who have small children in the home. Are you sure that your little one isn’t trying to feed spoonfuls of food to your betta when you aren’t looking?

I have had this happen in my home and what alerted me was a large amount of excess food sitting at the bottom of the tank.

How much are you feeding your betta?

Another reason your betta may not be eating much or at all is because you are trying to feed him too much. 

Betta pellets are the most commonly used betta food and seem extremely small. Rather than just throwing a pinch of pellets in the tank you need to count individual pellets. A good rule of thumb when feeding twice a day is 2-5 pellets.

If you have been feeding more than this amount your betta may be full or even constipated. 

What are you feeding your betta?

Did you recently change what you are feeding your betta? Did his lack of appetite coincide with this diet change?

Betta fish can be finicky eaters and it may take them a while to recognize a new food. It should normally only take 3 days or so for your betta to recognize the new food. If you don’t want to wait this long you can try some different types of food. If he shows a preference for one type of food that means he is just being picky. 

If your betta is a picky eater you can keep feeding your preferred food until he takes to it.  This may take a few days but he will eventually get hungry enough. Make sure to remove any uneaten food after 10 minutes.  

Alternatively, you can switch to a higher quality natural food. These include things like live brine shrimp or freeze-dried bloodworms. 

Is Your Betta Not Eating Due to Stress?

If you have determined that you’re not overfeeding your betta and he’s not being picky there are some other possible causes. 

The reason your betta may not be eating could be due to stress. There are of course a wide variety of reasons a betta can become stressed. So let’s take a look at some of the most common. 

The New Betta

Do you have a new betta? Did you make some major aquarium changes for your existing betta?

If so, he may not be eating because he is still dealing with the stress. This stress comes from being placed in a completely new environment. Stress also occurs when being transported or moved from one tank to another. 

It helps to reduce stressors as much as possible while the betta settles in. You can do this by placing the betta tank somewhere quiet and leaving the tank lights off. 

Another thing you can do is make sure there are ample hiding places in the aquarium. In a few days, he should start to feel more comfortable and begin eating again. 

Stress Due to Poor Water Quality

When is the last time you’ve done a water change? When was the last time you tested your water chemistry?

If your answer is never or I don’t remember you may have water high in ammonia and nitrogen byproducts. Dirty aquarium water can make your betta sick and experience a loss of appetite. Exposure to ammonia-laden water long term can severely reduce lifespan and even kill your precious little guy.

The solution to this problem is easy. Get an aquarium water test kit and perform regular water changes. I also advocate for making sure your betta fish has a filter in the tank. So if you have one of those tiny betta bowls it may be time to upgrade to something at least 5 gallons in size or larger.  

Water Temperature

One of the most important factors to consider when you are keeping fish is temperature. Fish cannot regulate their own body heat and thus, they need a certain temperature to feel at home and be healthy. It is a common misconception that betta fish don’t need a heater

Water temperature that is too cold, warm, or fluctuates can stress a betta and cause it to not eat.  To determine your water temperature make sure you use a standalone water thermometer. Don’t rely on a heater alone as they are often not calibrated correctly. 

The optimal range for a betta’s tank water is between 76 – 82°F (24-28°C). If you are below this range your betta will likely be sluggish due to a reduced metabolism. This in turn will also lead to a reduced appetite. 

Water temperature above this range can be dangerous to the health of your fish and will also stress them out leading to a loss of appetite. 

Additionally, wide temperature swings can cause a lot of stress on a cold-blooded fish. Non-heated betta bowls situated near windows and doors can experience dangerous temperature swings. This will cause your betta to feel unwell and may affect appetite.  

This is why I always advocate controlling a bettas water temperature with a heater. 

Loss of Appetite and Illness

If you’ve owned betta fish for very long chances are that your fish has been sick at some point. Loss of appetite is a very common symptom of many illnesses. So if you have ruled out all of the above possibilities an illness may be to blame.

If an illness is the case there will likely be other symptoms present that will clue you into a diagnosis. Common symptoms of sickness include clamped or damaged fins, labored breathing, faded colors, white spots, and laziness. 

If your betta is exhibiting any of these symptoms make sure you diagnose and treat it quickly. Not doing so could mean the death of your fish! 

If you’re not comfortable diagnosing and treating your betta, find an expert or veterinarian to assist you.

Renewing Your Bettas Appetite

Hopefully, this article has helped you discover why your betta lost his appetite. Solutions may be as simple as making sure the water is clean and at the correct temperature. Or you may have a more serious problem such as an illness. Renewing your betta’s appetite may take a few days depending upon what the problem was but don’t lose hope!