Betta fish, or the Siamese fighting fish, are popular exotic pets famous for their fighting nature and colorful bodies. They are native to Southeast Asia and abundant in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Laos.
Betta fish are easy to keep due to their low maintenance; thus, they are ideal for beginner and veteran aquarium hobbyists. A crucial part of keeping pet fish is feeding them; it is a cause for concern when your fish does not eat.
This is a scenario you may encounter with betta fish. You will have many questions when you notice your Betta fish is not eating. What could be the problem, and how do I solve it? Keep up with us as we answer these questions and more concerning your betta’s strange behavior.
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
In the wild, betta fish are carnivores and prey on small crustaceans, zooplankton, insects, and their larvae. If you are keeping this fish as a pet, you should keep up with its natural diet. Avoid including too much plant matter, as they are not used to it.
Why is My Betta Fish Not Eating?
It is quite alarming when you discover your Betta fish is not eating. You will notice plenty of uneaten food remnants in the fish tank, or your fish may not be responsive to food when you drop it in the tank. There are many reasons for your fish’s disinterest in food, which we will look at later.
Implications of Betta Fish Not Eating
Your fish’s refusal to eat will have severe consequences. Lack of nutrition makes the aquatic pet more susceptible to illnesses due to a weakened immune system. Severe cases of starvation will lead to death.
Moreover, the untouched food will dirty the fish tank, making it inhabitable and prone to bacterial or fungal infections. You must regularly clean up after your betta fish to clear up the mess.
Let us delve deeper into this subject to get the answers we need.
Monitor Their Behavior
Do not conclude that something is wrong with your fish when you notice them not eating. You should monitor them to see if there is anything peculiar. You should check for their behavior when feeding them and after a consistent interval.
It is time to make a move if you notice the fish not eating food at all. Keep tabs on other anomalies like reduced activity and resting at one spot.
Please note that it can be challenging to know what is ailing the fish if there are many in a tank. The logical move is to isolate the ones you suspect have a problem.
How Long Has It Been Going On?
Duration is another crucial factor in helping you determine if there is something wrong with your aquarium pet. An occasional loss of appetite is understandable and should not cause panic. However, it may be catastrophic if your fish has not eaten for days.
Additionally, keep tabs on any changes you make to their environment. Betta fish are temperamental, and a slight environmental change can trigger appetite loss due to stress. If you tweaked the aquarium recently, it might be the cause of their behavior. The solution is to give them time to get used to the changes.
Ensure the Food is Ok
When your pet does not want to touch its food, the first area of focus is the food. There might be something wrong with the food that repulses the Betta fish. You may be giving your fish the right food, but they still don’t want anything to do with it.
In this case, the food may be frozen or too hard for the fish. The solution is to allow the food to thaw before dropping it in the aquarium. Soak crunchy or hard food to soften it and make it easier for the fish to eat.
Scrutinize Their Diet
What are you feeding your aquatic pets? This is a crucial query to help you know what is ailing your fish. As mentioned earlier, betta fish are carnivorous, meaning you should feed them animal protein.
It is a common misconception that betta fish can survive on an omnivorous diet. This notion comes from the fact that Betta fish may occasionally chew on aquatic plants. They do so mainly out of hunger or boredom; plant-based food should never be their primary meal. Please stick to meat dishes for their sake.
You may also be feeding them fish pellets, marketed as proteins, but they have plant-based fillers like wheat bran, corn, and cotton seed cake. While such fish food is ideal for typical fish, it won’t work for betta fish. The reason is that betta fish have short digestive tracts, which do not process carbohydrates well. Such foods may lead to digestive problems like bloating.
The typical diet for this fish includes:
- Brine shrimp
- Live blackworms
- Betta pellets
You may also give them freeze-dried food and insect-based pellets. Remember to check the food quality. Bettas may shun poor-quality food or fall sick if they eat it.
Some Bettas are Picky Eaters
Picky eating is a problem you may encounter with Siamese fighting fish. You will discover that your fish prefers some foods over others. Picky eating is noticeable when you introduce new foods to your aquatic pet. No need to worry, as the fish will eventually get used to the food.
If, with time, the fish don’t like the food you are offering, it is better to change their diet to something they love to prevent starvation.
Betta fish are prone to overfeeding, something that you should avoid. They have a big appetite and will gladly eat all the pellets you offer. The fish have small stomachs, and overfeeding may cause problems like constipation and weight gain. Constipation is severe, as it may make the fish sick or lead to death if left untreated. Overeating may also lead to bloating, which lowers the fish’s appetite.
The recommended food for your fish is two to four pellets twice a day. Give them freeze-dried food twice to three times a week to complement the pellets. Furthermore, starve them for a day per week to prevent overfeeding.
Remember that plant-based food can also cause bloating and constipation as it is foreign to their digestive systems.
It is advisable to rehome fish with a feeding problem. This will prevent their tankmates from overeating, as they will take the share of the fish that are not eating.
It Might Be the Breeder’s Fault
You are not always the one to take the blame for your betta’s lack of appetite. The finger may point to the breeders. Most breeders feed their fish various foods for fast growth, which is good for business. The fish gets used to the breeder’s diet and may decline the regular fish food you offer at home.
It may take some time before your fish gets accustomed to the food you are offering. The good news is that the fish will eventually warm up to the food.
They Might Be Stressed
Betta fish can get stressed for various reasons, such as rehoming them, introducing new tankmates, changing food, or varying water parameters. They may react to the changes by being aggressive, gloomy, or refusing to eat.
You may attribute the loss of appetite to stress if the betta swims anxiously, locks its fins at the side, or rubs itself on the gravel, rocks, and other items in the tank. Most of the time, the fish will eventually calm down. You have to give it time to get accustomed to the new changes.
For severe situations, you can help stressed betta fish by using water conditioner drops to neutralize the water’s impurities. Additionally, the conditioner drops can add a protective slime covering on fish to alleviate stress levels.
The use of tannins is another answer for stressed fish. Sources of tannins include some aquarium woods and the leaves of the Indian almond. This substance darkens the water, imitating the betta’s natural environment. The dark water keeps it hidden, making it feel secure and reducing its stress levels. Tannins possess antibacterial and antifungal properties, ensuring your aquarium pet is healthy.
You should also create hiding places in the fish tank where the fish can hide if they feel threatened.
The Water Temperature
Changing water temperatures may stress Betta fish, leading to their avoidance of food. These Southeast Asian natives are hardy and can withstand various water temperatures, though the ideal limit is between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
Betta can withstand a slight temperature increase, but it hastens its metabolic rate, contributing to fast aging. On the other hand, this fish does not like low temperatures. Dipping water temperatures can have severe side effects, such as loss of appetite, vulnerability to diseases, and death in extreme situations.
You need a thermometer and fish tank heater to control the situation. Check the water temperature using two thermometers for an accurate reading. If low, you should heat the water to the recommended levels, and vice versa for high temperatures.
Is Your Betta Fish Sick?
Loss of appetite for days is one of the signs of a sick betta fish. It accompanies symptoms such as:
- Lethargy and inactivity
- Consistent hiding
- Faded colors, mostly noticeable in male fish
- Damaged or clamped fins
- White spots, or a thick film on their bodies
- Difficulty in swimming
Your fish may be ailing if you notice a combination of the highlighted symptoms.
Betta fish may go down with several diseases brought on by various factors, primarily a dirty fish tank, incorrect water parameters, or injuries. The following are common diseases the fish might contract:
The Swim Bladder Disease
Swim bladder disease is one of the most common conditions that affect Betta fish. As its name implies, it affects the swim bladder, hindering the fish’s ability to swim.
This disease is a bacterial infection brought on mainly by low water quality, though injuries also cause it. Treatment involves shifting the fish to a shallow tank and infusing the water with antibiotics. Also, change the water daily until the fish recover.
Velvet is a frequent yet serious condition affecting fish and can lead to massive fatalities. It is a parasitic disease caused by Oodinium. The parasite’s host develops a gold or yellow dust-like substance on its body, primarily the head. The parasite irritates the fish, forcing it to rub itself against boulders in the aquarium.
Treatment involves the removal of the carbon filter from the tank and adding treatment to the water. Raise the water temperature to around 85 degrees to eliminate the parasite.
Does your fish’s fins appear clamped, with irregular colors or formations? If yes, it may have fin rot, a bacterial infection. The leading cause of this condition is a dirty tank. A water change is necessary, followed by treatment with antibacterial medication.
Other conditions that may plague Betta fish and lead to loss of appetite are constipation, ich, and columnaris. You should address the conditions promptly to prevent further damage. Check with veterinarians specializing in fish if you face out-of-control situations.
Check the Water Parameters
You must observe the correct water parameters when setting up a tank for betta fish. The following are the recommended water parameters for this fish:
- Temperature: 75 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit
- pH: 6.5 to 7.5
- KH: 3 to 5 dKH
- GH: 3 to 4 dGH
Additionally, the water should not have traces of ammonia and nitrite and less than 20 ppm of nitrate. You should maintain the indicated water parameters. Veering away from the limits makes the water inhabitable for the fish, making it sick.
How Long Can a Betta Go Without Eating
Betta fish are hardy and can go for more than ten days without eating. While it is an incredible display of their resilience, you should not leave them without food for such a long time. It is akin to mistreatment, and the fish will wear out gradually. It becomes susceptible to various illnesses due to malnutrition and may perish.
The stress and aggression levels of betta fish increase past the third to the fourth day of hunger. You should act promptly if your fish is still not eating on the third day.
You can skip a feeding day, especially if the fish suffers from constipation or bloat. This action prevents overfeeding, which can worsen the situation.
Is It Time to Visit the Vet?
It is never too late to visit the vet if you notice any anomaly with your betta fish. A day or two of not feeding is okay, especially if it is a result of overfeeding. However, a change in its normal appearance or behavior is a sign that things are not alright.
The Siamese fighting fish is very active and playful. Gloom or aggressiveness signifies sickness or stress, which you should attend to promptly before it goes overboard.
Visit the vet if you cannot handle the situation. The pet doctor will assess its state and advice you accordingly.
Betta fish is a suitable aquatic pet to have as your housemate. It is colorful and will lend its vibrance to your space. While this fish is a fighter, it is playful and easy to care for.
Why is my betta fish not eating? Betta fish passing up food is common and should not be a cause for worry if the behavior lasts a few days. You should act fast if the fish declines food for three days or more. Observe it keenly to get to the root of the problem. Probable causes of this behavior include a poor diet, overfeeding, stress, illness, and improper water parameters.
Most of these problems you can easily solve using the recommended solutions in this article. For any issue beyond your capability, you can always seek the help of a vet.