Betta Fish Won’t Eat: Tips and Advice

Betta fish, also sometimes referred to as Siamese fighting fish, are unique in the fish world. Not only do they have stunning scales and fan-like fins, they have personalities and needs. Beginner and experienced fish owners alike find betta fish to be charming pets and give their bettas the utmost care. That’s why it is not surprising you are disconcerted by your betta’s lack of appetite. When your betta fish won’t eat, you can’t help but wonder if it is something serious.

If your betta fish won’t eat, then keep reading. This article will answer all of your questions about your betta’s lack of appetite and give you tips for feeding betta fish.

Common Reasons Your Betta Fish Won’t Eat

There are several reasons why a betta fish is not eating. Sometimes, it has to do with what you are giving it. Other times, you might find that the condition of your betta fish is preventing it from eating. Knowing the common causes of a lack of appetite in betta fish will help you determine the solution.

1. Your Betta Doesn’t Like The Food

Anyone can agree that eating when you don’t like your food is difficult. It’s the same with your betta fish. If you are giving your fish something it finds unpalatable, then it might stop eating. Betta may not be as intelligent as a cat or dog, but they do know when you have selected the cheapest, least nutritious, foulest tasting food in the pet store.

Betta fish are carnivorous. This means they want high-quality sources of protein. You should by at least medium-grade food formulated for betta fish, such as:

  • Salted shrimp
  • Krill
  • Squid
  • Mysis
  • Tubifex worms
  • Mosquito red larvae
  • Daphnia
  • Artemia salina
  • Clam

If your betta fish won’t eat, give one of the above foods a try. The fish is bound to gobble it up.

2. You Are Giving The Fish Too Much Food

Did you know that the size of a betta fish’s stomach is about the size of one of their eyes? In other words, you might be giving your fish too much food. That is why you see food still floating at the top of the tank and start to wonder whether your fish is eating or not.

Overfeeding can be dangerous for a couple of reasons, which is why it is a good thing your betta fish refuses to eat in this case. When a fish ingests too much protein, it can become constipated. The constipation will press on the swim bladder, making it difficult for the betta fish to stay upright. It might start laying around a lot or swimming upside down.

So, to avoid feeding your betta fish too much food, you should give the fish no more than 1 or 2 pellets (or an equivalent) two times a day.

3. The Environment Is Stressful

Like people, betta fish will get stressed for various reasons. When a fish refuses to eat, it is often a sign that it is stressed. If this happens out of nowhere, the environment might be the reason. A new tank is one example of how the environment can upset your betta fish. No matter how awesome the new layout could be, or how big the new tank is, your fish is not going to take the change lightly. In fact, an unknown space could scare it.

Reduce the stress as much as you can by giving your betta fish time to settle into its new environment. Since stressed fish often get sick, you should avoid changing around the layout of the aquarium too much or increasing the size.

Stress can also come from movement outside of the tank. If your household is usually calm but then suddenly becomes a whirlwind of motion, such as during family gatherings or the holidays, you might want to relocate the tank somewhere dark and tranquil instead. Or, you can cover the tank with a blanket to keep your betta from seeing everything going on outside of its aquarium. Just don’t leave your fish in perpetual darkness, because they need light to be active and hungry.

Lastly, never tap or hit the glass of the bowl or aquarium. Teach children not to do this either.

4. Conditions of the Aquarium

If you change the environment to a less hectic area of the house and your betta fish still refuses to eat, you might want to check the water temperature of the aquarium. Betta fish are used to tropical waters that run around 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit (22-26 degrees Celsius). Anything colder than what they are used to will affect their energy levels and their rate of metabolism.

When the water is too cold, a betta fish’s metabolism slows, and it becomes less energetic. Conversely, if the water is too hot, your betta fish will be burning through energy and will want to devour anything you give it. Try to keep the water with the ideal range to keep your fish happy and healthy.

5. The Food Is Poor Quality, Frozen, or Freeze-Dried

As mentioned earlier, a lot of food you find in the pet store is going to be cheap and lack the appropriate vitamins and minerals your fish needs to be healthy. You should use a blend of pellets and freeze-dried foods, such as daphnia or shrimp, to mix things up a bit. Allowing for a balanced diet will prompt your betta fish to eat more.

Of course, while frozen or freeze-dried food is an excellent choice for betta fish, you might have a picky little guy who will only eat these items if it is thawed out or softened. Another thing to consider is that, as the frozen or freeze-dried food softens in water, it will expand. If your betta fish consumes the food too quickly or overeats, the food will continue to expand in its stomach, resulting in constipation or swim bladder disease.

6. You Have a New Betta Fish

If your fish-friend is new, then its lack of appetite may be due to stress and a new environment. It is not uncommon for a new betta fish to refuse food for a few days while calming down. Give your betta fish time to calm down and settle into its new home. If you think the fish is stressed, you can keep the lights off, letting only natural sunlight in, and try feeding it in the morning and at night. Stick to the routine. If your betta fish won’t eat, remove the food from the tank after 10 minutes.

7. Your Betta Fish Is Sick or Diseased

After running through everything else on this list and finding no solution, you might want to consider that your betta fish won’t eat because of illness or disease. The absence of hunger is a major symptom of many diseases. Aside from hunger, if your betta is showing signs of lethargy (lack of energy); heaviness; a loss of color or discoloration; has fuzzy, white patches on its body; is keeping its fins tucked; displays signs of fin rot; has a swollen stomach and bulging eyes; or cannot swim upright or is laying on its side, then you need to either go to a veterinarian or diagnose and treat your betta first as soon as possible.

Your betta may have ich, a fungal or bacterial infection, or have dropsy disease. Knowing the signs of these problems is also important, so do your research. The longer you wait to treat your betta fish, the less chance it has of survival.

Getting Your Betta To Eat Again

While some solutions for common problems that cause a lack of appetite in betta fish have already been introduced, some methods for getting a betta to eat are better than others. Before doing anything drastic, follow the tips below:

  • Wait and see. Yes, it will be hard to stand around and wait for your betta fish to make a decision about eating, but sometimes, your fish is being finicky and needs time to make up its mind. Sometimes, you have a spoiled fish that refuses pellets and only wants worms. Eventually, it will get hungry enough to eat the pellets. So just wait a little.
  • Try a different kind of food. But here is a warning: Always mix old and new food at first to introduce the new stuff and to keep your fish from getting sick. Slowly introduce new flakes, pellets, and frozen or freeze-dried items to see if it was the quality of the old food.
  • Acclimatize the betta fish to its environment. Make your betta comfortable in its home by adding preferred substrate, plants, and decorations where it can hide. Keep the water clean and the temperature level.
  • Put the tank somewhere with less commotion and noise and vibrations. This will help your betta feel less stressed and make it more likely to eat.
  • Young, juvenile bettas may not like pellets right away, because they are used to live food. Simply keep trying until the betta gets used to pellets, flakes, and other food items.


Whatever the reason, a betta fish that refuses to eat is bound to worry you. Knowing the reasons for a lack of appetite as well as the solutions is all part of being a responsible betta fish owner. Once you have identified the cause, be sure to give your fish time (or the appropriate medicine) to make sure it regains its appetite.

If you liked this article or have any questions about why a betta fish won’t eat, be sure to leave a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts and solutions.

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