Bettas are normally eager eaters. However a lack of appetite is often the first sign that something is amiss in your aquarium.
If your Betta fish is not eating here are some tips to consider that should help set things right again!
Is Your Betta Fish Not Eating? Look out for These Common Causes
Here are a few common reasons why your betta fish may go on a hunger strike:
Did You Just Bring Your Betta Fish Home?
This is probably the most likely scenario – especially if you’re somewhat new to fishkeeping.
Most first time fish owners will bring their betta fish home and immediately throw in a dash of food expecting their brand new fish to eat.
Your new betta fish will take a few hours to get acclimated and comfortable in his or her new home. We recommend not feeding for the first 6-12 hours.
You betta most likely won’t eat right away and it will just pollute the water – so don’t get worried if your betta isn’t eating right after you bring it home.
Consider Water Quality
One of the most common reasons bettas and other fish refuse to eat is because the water conditions are poor. If you aren’t performing regular water changes, the aquarium hasn’t fully cycled, or you don’t keep a filter running, toxic compounds can build up to stressful levels.
Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are lethal as their concentrations rise – ammonia being the most toxic product and nitrate being the least so. You should always keep aquarium water test kits or strips on hand to monitor conditions when your betta fish stops eating.
Most kits carry ammonia strips separately as the chemical reagents are reactive towards the ones that come with the 5-in-1 sets.
Signs of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate toxicity include listlessness, gill discoloration or bleeding, lying at the top or bottom of the tank, ragged fins, and lack of appetite.
How is the Temperature?
Bettas are some of the hardiest tropical fish around but as Southeast Asian natives they prefer heated water (75-84F). They tolerate room temperature conditions but are stressed when the temperatures drop below 70F.
Being cold blooded animals their metabolisms slow in cooler environments. They eat less food but also have a reduced growth and immune response, making them vulnerable to digestive issues and infections.
A simple aquarium thermometer gives you a constant reading on where you stand and whether you should invest in a heater or not!
When Was the Last Feeding?
Bettas don’t have current to work against in most aquariums, rivals to fend off, and females to impress. In short, they’re basically couch potatoes.
Your Betta might not be eating simply because he’s full!
As a rough rule of thumb a Betta’s stomach (when full) is about the size of an eye. Feeding beyond this is too much and will be uneaten, partially digested, or simply lead to fat.
Are You Offering a New Food?
Bettas can be notoriously picky, especially if they’ve been trained onto a single type of prepared food. Rich delights like Tubifex worms, rich in fat and protein, are sometimes eaten with so much relish that your Betta may ignore standard fare for a few days when the worm buffet is over!
Treats are always good but remember to mix things up. Offering your pets variety is necessary for a balanced diet, good color, and optimal health!
Is Your Betta Showing Signs of Disease?
Disease symptoms can go unnoticed for days or weeks if you’re busy. Check your Betta carefully for torn fins, discolored patches of skin, pale coloration, fuzzy growths, swellings, and other abnormalities.
Bettas are especially prone to fin rot and need treatment quickly as the disease can be lethal. Unnoticed injuries combined with poor water quality lead to the perfect conditions for disease to set in.
Dropsy (fluid bloat) and Popeye are also common Betta diseases caused by internal bacterial infections. Like fin rot they are treatable if caught early!
Lastly, a dash of aquarium salt is always a good idea for listless fish. Salt helps regulate gill function and ion exchange between fish and their environment. It also stimulates the slime coat, which is essential to disease resistance.
There could many possible reasons why your Betta fish is not eating – but these are by far the most common.
Fortunately as hardy as Bettas are, they tend to bounce back within hours or days once you find and correct the cause for their reluctant appetites!