Betta Fish Not Eating: What Should You Do?

As dedicated aquarists, we worry when one of our scaly friends stops eating. We begin to wonder if our Betta is sick, then worry that if he is, can we fix it.

The good news is that most often a Betta fish not eating is nothing too serious and, in fact, there are simple explanations and solutions to help solve the issue.

Read on for reasons and pro tips on curing the dilemma of a Betta fish not eating.

betta fish

Reason #1 – Betta is Being Picky

Have you switched your Betta’s food or are you using the same type of food, but opted for a different brand? 

Even though we may know the new food is better for him, your Betta may stop eating because he can tell the difference and has decided to become picky. 

How do you know if this is the problem?

Go back to the old food. If he eats it, then your fussy Betta is giving you a clear message.

Pro Tip Solution

Although it’s not uncommon for Bettas to be picky about their menu, there are two options before you – the easy option and the difficult option.

Let’s start with the easy option – just feed him the food he likes. 

This will solve your immediate dilemma, but it may not solve the whole problem.

Sure, Betta Buddy will be full, but what happens if you can’t get that brand anymore, or you realize the food isn’t the healthiest choice?

To help your Betta become accustomed to a new food, put him on a two-day fast. After this time he should be happy to gulp down the better food choice. This would also be a good time to introduce a variety of foods, so your Betta doesn’t have the opportunity to become picky again. 

Reason #2 – Betta is New

If you’ve just brought your Betta home and introduced him to a new tank (or tank mates), he may hide and refuse to eat. 

Being taken from a small cup and placed in a larger tank can be very stressful for a Betta, so it’s common for the species to be a little on edge.

Pro Tip Solution

The simplest way to help get your new fish on track is to give him the time he needs to settle in. You can help ease his stress by keeping the lights off on the tank and making sure he has plenty of hiding places.

Watch your Betta closely for 24 hours to ensure he is exploring, then offer him food (we recommend morning and evening). Be sure to remove any uneaten food after 10 minutes. 

Reason #3 – Overfeeding

The stomach of the Betta fish is only about the size of his eyeball.

So…maybe he is eating but you don’t realize it because there’s way too much food still floating on the surface?

Pro Tip Solution

This is another no-brainer solution. Simply cut back on the amount of food you are feeding your Betta. If you’re using pellets, we recommend giving him 1 to 2 twice a day. 

Overfeeding your Betta is never a wise choice as it can lead to constipation and bloat. 

Reason #4 – Tank Temperature

Bettas are tropical fish that like their aquarium to be between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your tank is below the ideal, then your Betta may get sluggish and lack an appetite because his metabolism has slowed down – this happens to many cold and warm-blooded creatures.

Pro Tip Solution

Even if you live in a warm climate, it doesn’t take much for the temperature to drop in your Betta’s habitat which can lead to cold water shock (a potentially fatal condition for Bettas).

To prevent this, upgrade your Betta to an aquarium that can include a heater (at least 5 gallons). You will also want to invest in a thermometer to gauge the temperature to ensure it doesn’t go above or below the ideal. 

Reason #5 – Poor Quality Food

Unfortunately, even though the pet fish industry has made strides when it comes to care and diet, there are still some products on the market today that are inferior.

These poor-quality foods use cheap ingredients that bulk the food up with fillers instead of quality ingredients. And, even if you are using a “top shelf” food, you may be neglecting to offer variety in your fish’s diet. 

These can all spell L.A.C.K when it comes to your Betta’s appetite.

Pro Tip Solution

We recommend feeding your Betta a high-quality balanced diet. Remember, this species is a carnivore, so read the label to ensure the brand uses premium ingredients. 

You will also want to offer him some variety. Try using pellets, freeze-dried, and frozen foods to help ensure your Betta stays healthy and happily gulps down his meals. 

Reason #6 – Frozen/Freeze-Dried Food

We know that frozen and freeze-dried foods are excellent for our carnivorous Betta, but did you know that some Bettas will not eat these foods until they have completely thawed or expanded?

If you’re just plopping these types of foods in their “raw” state into the aquarium, your Betta may just ignore them.

However, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it could save your Betta from bloat or constipation which may occur if your Betta eats these foods and they continue to swell in his stomach. 

Pro Tip Solution

Of course, the solution here is obvious. Always thaw those frozen foods and rehydrate freeze-dried foods to prevent any issues. The easiest way to do this is just take some of the aquarium water and mix it with the food. Once it is thawed and rehydrated, you can feed it to your Betta

Reason #7 – Doesn’t Recognize it as Food

If you’ve purchased your Betta directly from a reputable breeder, he may not be eating because he doesn’t recognize the food as edible. This is because good Betta breeders only use live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Flaked and pellet form foods are unrecognizable to this well-fed Betta.

Pro Tip Solution

If this describes you, then be sure to ask the breeder what type of food they were feeding your fish and go back to those forms. 

If you want to switch over your Betta to a flake or pellet food, then keep giving it to your fish until he realizes its food. 

This process should only take from 2 to 7 days. If your fish still refuses to eat the flakes or pellets, then you may have a fussy Betta and you may have to go back to the live, frozen, and freeze dried varieties. 

Reason #8 – Water Quality Has Changed

Bettas can be very sensitive to their habitat which includes any kind of changes in the ammonia, nitrates, temperature, and pH levels. If your Betta has suddenly stopped eating this may be the culprit.

Pro Tip Solution

Check on the aforementioned levels to ensure they are within the acceptable parameters. If not, perform a partial water change, wait an hour and recheck the levels. If they are still too high or too low, you may need to add commercial products to help aid the situation. 

If your Betta is out of sorts because his watery world is unbalanced, this should do the trick. 

Reason #9 – Stress

Even if your Betta is not new to the aquarium, it can still experience stress. This could include the addition of new fish, new decorations, over-flaring, or illness.

Unfortunately, stress can be difficult to pinpoint and, sometimes, even more difficult to cure. 

Pro Tip Solution

To help ease your Betta’s stress levels, you will have to identify what is causing it. If you’ve added new tank mates, decorations, or even changed the location of the tank, then these can be easily fixed by going back to the original state of his habitat. 

However, if you have no idea what may have caused the stressors of your Betta, you will have to wait and watch him closely. Sometimes, the stress will just pass and your Betta will suddenly be his old self again, while other times, it could be a symptom of something larger at play. 

Reason # 10 – Disease

Like many creatures, the first sign of a larger issue can be the lack of an appetite. Common illnesses that can stop your fish from wanting to eat are dropsy, swim bladder disease, and constipation. 

Pro Tip Solution

If your Betta has other symptoms of illness like a big round belly (bloat and constipation) or is having difficulty swimming, diving, or staying upright (swim bladder disease), or if its scales are poking out (dropsy) then you will want to address these illnesses quickly. 

Catching and treating any sickness in your Betta early will give him the best chance of survival.

Betta Not Eating Extra Pro Tips

It is troubling when a beloved pet stops eating. To help you even further, here are some extra pro tips.

  • Keep an eye on them. We recommend closely monitoring your Betta. In other words, don’t just plop the food and zip away. Watch him to see how he reacts to the food. Is he eating some, or totally ignoring it? Take note of any changes (or new behaviors) so you will have the information if a vet visit should arise. 
  • How long has it been going on? The length of time your Betta has not been eating may indicate the severity of the problem. If it’s just a time or two, it’s probably nothing. However, if his lack of appetite has been an issue for days and continues to persist, then you will need to start to look for more serious issues.
  • Scrutinize the diet. Take a good hard look at the type of food and the quality of the menu you are offering. If you have to make some changes to accommodate your picky fish or one that has no interest in a poor quality dinner, then do so. 
  • Recognize and eliminate any additional stress. Many things can stress out your Betta. Recognize that perhaps, your little one is banging on the aquarium too much, or Fluffy is dipping her paws into the water in an attempt to flip Betta from his habitat. Make your Betta’s health a priority and help ease the stressors. 
  • Make and stick to a tank maintenance schedule. We all have busy schedules and sometimes the silent pets of the household may accidentally get ignored. However, keeping your Betta’s habitat at optimal conditions needs to be a priority to ensure your pet’s health. Make a schedule for water changes and stick to it. 
  • Take him to the vet. If you’ve done all you know to do to no avail, then it may be time to take your Betta to a vet or a fish expert. 

Betta Fish Not Eating Conclusion

If your Betta fish is not eating, then be sure to check for any changes in the aquarium itself, things that may be causing him stress, or the type of food you are offering him. You will also want to check for signs of the common Betta ailments such as constipation, dropsy, and swim bladder disease. 

Once you have pinpointed the issue, then do your best to rectify the situation. 

Getting your Betta back on a healthy diet and feeding schedule will help ensure his health and happiness.