Betta fish are beloved pets due to their stunning colors and unique personality. Of course, it can be concerning when a betta suddenly stops eating, as it could be a sign of an underlying issue.
Several factors could be causing your fish to lose its appetite, such as illness or stress. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to understand the reasons for this loss of appetite and take steps to protect your fish’s health.
In this article, we’ll explore the possible causes of a betta fish not eating and provide practical tips for resolving the issue so that you can ensure your fish is happy and healthy.
Reasons Why Your Betta Fish Is Not Eating
There are many reasons why your Betta has stopped eating. Here are 10 common causes and what you can do about it.
Bettas, despite their reputation as being tough and resilient, can be very sensitive creatures. Contrary to popular belief, they can actually get stressed pretty easily.
Stress is one of the most common causes of betta fish not eating and has several potential symptoms, including lethargy and loss of appetite.
Some of the main things that can cause stress for Betta fish include:
- A new environment. It may take some time for your fish to get acclimated to the new tank or even their old one if you’ve recently rearranged it.
- Incorrect lighting. Betta fish don’t need bright lighting, nor do they need light 24/7. Keep the lights down and only turned on at specific times.
- Incorrect parameters. Bettas have a specific set of parameters they must be kept in, such as temperature, pH, and hardness levels. You can use a water testing kit, such as the API Freshwater Master Kit to check the parameters.
- Dirty water. If the water in the Betta’s tank is dirty, it can cause the fish to become stressed and stop eating. You can solve this problem by doing a water change and making sure that you clean the tank on a regular basis.
- No hiding spots. Bettas require ample hiding spots in their tank to feel comfortable, similar to their natural habitat. Make sure you add enough plants and decor that your Betta can use to hide.
You can also try using water treatments that can help reduce stress in pet fish, such as API Stresscoat.
Illnesses or Diseases
If your betta has been with you for some time and has recently lost its appetite, it’s possible that it has a disease or illness of some kind.
The first thing you have to do is to determine what illness they have.
Here are some common Betta diseases that can cause a decline or loss of appetite.
- Fin rot: Bettas that have fin rot will have raggedy fins and may exhibit increased levels of stress. It’s very easy to spot, especially in long-finned variants like halfmoons, crowntails, and veiltails. API Fin & Body Cure is a good fix.
- Swim bladder disease: It’s not unusual for pet bettas to get swim bladder disease. Typically, it’s caused by constipation, which is why good diet is important for Bettas. If you notice your Betta not eating and struggling to keep upright, it may have this disease.
- Columnaris: This is a bacterial infection that can affect all fish, including Bettas. It usually starts as a line along the side of the Betta and will spread in your entire tank if not treated. One way to deal with it is to give your Betta aquarium salt baths.
Parasites can be a major cause of Betta fish not eating, as they feed off of the Betta’s nutrients and can make them feel unwell.
Here are some common parasitic infections found in pet Betta fish:
- Ich: Ich or Ick is another common parasitic disease that affects Betta fish. It will cause white spots on the body and fins. One notable trait of this condition is how itchy it is. If you see your Betta constantly rubbing his body against hard surfaces in your tank instead of eating, it might be ich. Some medications you can use against ich include API Liquid Super Ick Cure, Weco Non-Ich Water Treatment, and Hikari Ich-X.
- Flukes: These are tiny parasitic flatworms that attach themselves to the Betta’s body, especially the gills, and cause their immune system to weaken. They’re typically found in tanks that aren’t maintained properly or are allowed to go dirty for long. Unfortunately, gill flukes can be a serious issue, so make sure you treat your fish with a dewormer like Hikari Prazipro as soon as possible.
- Velvet: This is a common but serious disease that is caused by a parasitic infection. Bettas with velvet disease will have gold or rusty-looking dust on their fins and body, as well as red streaks on the fins. Treatments that work against velvet include Kordon Copper-AID and Seachem Cupramine Copper, as well as ich treatments.
Betta fish originated from the warm waters of Southeast Asia, so it makes sense that they don’t do well in temperatures that are too low, or even too high.
If the temperature of your tank is outside the recommended range (between 73°F and 80°F), it might be the reason why your Betta is not eating.
Maintaining the right temperature in your tank is important not just for your Betta’s appetite, but also for its overall health, so make sure to invest in a good aquarium thermometer and heater.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to male Bettas, but if you have a female Betta who seems to be healthy but just suddenly stopped eating, it might be because she’s pregnant.
Female Bettas tend to become less active when they’re pregnant and will not eat as much or even at all. If you notice your female Betta swimming around more slowly than usual and bulging near the belly, then it’s likely that she’s carrying eggs.
Unfortunately, if your female Betta is experiencing this, there’s not much that can be done to help them resume eating. The good thing is that Bettas can go 10-14 days without eating, which is enough time for your female Betta to release her eggs.
Bettas can sometimes be picky eaters. Since they have individual personalities, it’s only natural that they’ll have their own favorites.
If you have access to live food such as daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp, that’s even better. Bettas love live food and will find it hard to resist the temptation of chasing after their prey. They’ll probably be more than happy to eat them.
You can also put some floating plants in your tank to simulate natural feeding conditions. Bettas are more likely to eat in a less hostile environment, so make sure to provide plenty of cover and hiding spaces.
It Just Doesn’t Want To
Betta fish are, after all, living creatures that have moods and personalities of their own. And sometimes, they may stop eating simply because they want to.
It’s certainly frustrating for worried owners, but don’t give in to the temptation of trying to forcibly feed your fish or treating them with medication that they don’t really need. It’s best to just observe your fish and let them decide when they want to eat.
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Bettas can go 10-14 days without eating, so it’s best to wait a few days and try again. You should also watch out for other symptoms that could suggest serious issues. However, if your fish is still not eating after two weeks, it might be time to contact a vet for help.
2. What to Do if Fish Is Not Eating?
If your Betta is healthy but just not eating, try changing up its food or adding floating plants to the tank. You can also try treating the water with a water conditioner to reduce stress and add vitamins to its food. If there are other symptoms, such as white spots on its body, cloudy eyes, or lethargy, it might be suffering from a condition.
3. Can I Feed My Betta 1 Time a Day?
You can feed your Betta fish once or twice a day. Once is certainly fine, although if your fish is active and seems to want more food, you can feed it twice. Make sure not to overfeed as this can result in digestive problems.
Also, if you’re feeding it freeze-dried or live food, make sure to rinse and soak them first in clean water before giving them to your Betta.
4. How Can I Make My Betta Fish Eat?
How you can get your Betta fish to eat depends on the reason why it’s not eating in the first place. Generally, the best thing you can do is to treat whatever is causing your Betta to not eat.
5. How Do I Know if My Betta Fish Is Hungry?
Hungry Bettas will be more active and search around the tank for food. You can also look out for signs such as clear eyes and protruding tummies, as these are indicators that your Betta is not getting enough food.
Keep in mind, however, that Bettas are rarely truly “hungry.” They’re built to constantly search for food, which is actually why overfeeding is such a big problem for pet Bettas.
As you can see, there are many reasons why your Betta fish may not be eating. It’s absolutely critical to identify the cause and take appropriate action. In most cases, changing up its diet or treating the water with a conditioner is enough to get your fish to start eating again.
Of course, if your Betta is still not eating after two weeks, it’s possible that there’s a serious issue at hand. If all home treatments have failed, it’s time to consider getting your fish to an experienced vet.
And last, don’t forget to provide plenty of hiding spots and compatible plants in the tank for a happy, filled Betta!