When To Start Feeding A New Betta Fish?- Mine Is Not Eating!

colorful betta in planted tank

So you have recently bought a new betta fish home. The fish seemed happy and healthy at the pet store. But as soon as you transfer it into a new tank, it behaves differently. To be specific, it might not be showing any interest in the food. So, is there a rule that says when you should start feeding a new betta fish?

You should wait at least 24 hours before offering any kind of food to your betta. A new fish usually takes up to 48 hours to adjust to the new space. The more a new tank resembles their old home, the earlier they will start eating.

That’s not all. There’s a one-week ritual (kind of) you have to follow to let your betta get comfy in the new tank. Only then will they eat and thrive like you want them to be. Keep reading to find out what we actually mean.

Key Takeaways

  • New Bettas don’t get comfortable in a new tank for at least 24 hours.
  • You can start feeding after the initial 24-hour phase.
  • Most betta fish show interest in eating within 24-48 hours of staying in the tank.
  • To ensure the betta is actively eating, make sure the tank is clean every 3 to 4 days.
  • The water parameters and decorations play a major role in helping the betta feel comfortable.

Why Is Your New Betta Fish Not Eating?

Bettas have emotions as well. They feel scared when they are away from their surroundings. Imagine they wake up and the tank is different with some unknown fish. It can shock the fish and cause them to hide behind aquatic plants. In the meantime, they will not accept any food from you.

It’s not because the fish is sick or dying. Even a fully healthy betta will behave this way. Your ability to make the betta feel at home will ultimately decide how fast they start eating.

betta fish eating
Owner: Frankie Hernandez

When To Start Feeding A New Betta Fish?

There’s no specific time. It entirely depends on how your Betta responds. If the betta adjusts quickly to its new home, you can start feeding right away. But if it’s hesitant and scared, wait for at least one day. Here’s a step-by-step rule to how and when you should feed a new betta.

1. The First 24 Hours – No Food

The first 24 hours are very crucial. The betta goes through a traumatic experience. It discovers the surrounding has changed. So, the natural reaction is to stop eating anything. Because it’s not quite sure whether the food is a trap or not. So, the more careful you are while setting the aquarium, the earlier your betta will start behaving normally.

 Don’t push the betta to eat food in the first 24 hours. Let it come out of the shell first. No, the fish won’t die due to starvation. Don’t worry about that. Bettas are not used to regular meals in the wild.

See also  Do Betta Fish Like Small Tanks?

Being a carnivore, they catch food once in a while and store the fat inside their body. It helps them survive till their next meal. On average, a betta can survive for 10-14 days without eating. So, fasting for a day wouldn’t harm the fish in any way.

“Bettas, being carnivores, occasionally feed and store fat for sustenance.” –Mary McCauley

2. The Next 24 Hours- Offer Small Pellets

If you introduce the fish into the new tank carefully, it should start eating by the next 24 hours. The next 24 hours is a hit-or-miss situation. Some fish come out of their shell and start nibbling on the food available in the aquarium. It’s a positive sign. But we have heard of incidents where the fish actually dies in these 24 hours. It usually happens due to shock.

 Amateur aquarists might drop the poor fish into a new tank immediately. The difference in temperature of the cup and tank shocks the fish. It is not just a physical hazard; it is also a kind of trauma as well. The right way is to let your Betta acclimate to the new tank.

Get the betta, which is inside a plastic cup. Pour the cup into the tank. This will allow the temperature difference to be mitigated. After 10-15 minutes, you remove the fish from the cup and drop it inside the tank. Only this time, the fish won’t be too shocked. Thanks to the previous adjusting period.

If you let your fish acclimate properly, the betta should be well-adjusted within the first 24 hours. After that, you can start offering two to three pellets per meal. Don’t overwhelm the fish with too much food. Bettas have a bad reputation for not knowing when to stop. Only let them have food for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the existing food using a net.

3. The First Week- Change Water & Diet

Congratulation! Your betta has started to eat. But if you are still not satisfied with your appetite, try changing the diet a bit. Offer live food instead of pellets. Sometimes, new bettas don’t eat if you stand too closely. And wearing a bright shirt doesn’t help the situation at all.  Remember they are still scared due to the changed environment.

Try wearing beige color, and don’t always be in their face. Drop some tasty bloodworms into the tank and leave the room. If possible, dim the lights as well. It helps the fish let their guards loose a little. Who knows you might come back to a betta happily devouring the food.

In the first week, the betta will be more alarmed by any change in the tank. a sudden rise in hardness, pH level, or ammonia increases their stress. They might return to not eating at all. To maintain their appetite, make sure you change the water every 3 to 4 days. If you have an active filtration system, you can stretch the cleaning to every 7 days.

But here’s a quick tip. Never refill the tank with new water. it’s the same as transferring your betta into a new tank. you don’t want them to experience the trauma every week. The right way is to only change up to 10% water in the first week. You can change up to 1/4th of the tank in the second week. Not being hasty is the key here.

See also  Can Betta Fish Eat Frozen Brine Shrimp?

Should I Let My New Betta Fast For The First 24 Hours?

Yes, you should let the betta fast for the first 24 hours. But we only recommend it if the fish is not interested in eating. How do you know that? Well, put one or two pellets into the tank. Now, wait for a while. If the betta is not ready to eat yet, remove the food before it gets rotten. You don’t want the rotten food to pollute your new tank.

However, not every betta will behave that way. If the betta seems happy enough to inspect the food, you can give it more. It’s alright to start the normal feeding schedule from day 1. As long as your betta has no problem eating, you shouldn’t starve it.

5 Things That Will Make The New Betta Eat

Some aquarists complain about their new Betta not eating at all. If it’s been a while, it’s a serious issue. Here are some things you have to ensure before putting a new betta into the aquarium. If one of them is missing, you have got to fix that immediately.

1. Water Parameters

If you have shifted a betta recently, make sure the new tank resembles its old home. The ideal water condition for a betta looks something like this-

ParametersIdeal Condition
pH Level6.5 to 7.5
Hardness5 to 20 DH
Temperature73 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit

 In short, the pH should be close to neutral. You don’t have to worry too much about minerals. Bettas are not a big fan of hard water. and, as far as temperature is concerned, they prefer their surroundings to be close to room temperature. Did you know that you can manipulate the betta’s appetite by changing the temperature? We are not telling you to go beyond the ideal range and possibly hurt your pet.

 Instead, go to the edge of the temperature limit suggested by pet experts (80 degrees Fahrenheit). A warmer but welcoming water temperature boosts the fish’s metabolic rate. It uses more energy to perform day-to-day activities. The eventual outcome is getting hungry quicker than you expect. It’s a good thing, considering the betta is showing a lack of hunger in a new tank.

You will know when the betta is hungry by its behavior. It will frequently swim to the top of the aquarium. You can take it as a sign that the fish is looking for food.

2. Enough Lighting

 The fish tank isn’t too dark or too bright, is it? While Bettas prefer bright surroundings, it shouldn’t be harsh. Otherwise, the poor fish might feel overstimulated and have difficulty sleeping. If you notice, Betta’s natural habitats are always covered by dry leaves. They don’t like to be exposed. The general rule is to stay within 20-25 lumens per liter.

You can also track your betta’s behavior to understand how much brightness they like. Bettas usually move frantically all across the aquarium under harsh lighting. It looks like they want to hide somewhere. On the contrary, if the tank is too dim, it can hamper the fish’s daily tasks. They need a clear vision to locate and hunt their prey.

See also  Do Betta Fish Like Music?

In short, you have to establish a day and night rhythm inside the tank. A soothing light source on the aquarium head should be ON for at least 12 hours per day. You can dim the light or turn it off completely for the rest of the day. You have to master the balance.

3. No Threats

Not every fish is your betta’s friend. In fact, if the fish is below 1 inch, your betta might end up eating it as a snack. Bettas are naturally attackers and not very friendly. They even showcase hostile behavior towards other bettas. It explains why the fish is too scared to go ahead and grab the food. The poor thing might be too scared of the bullies in the tank.

So, you have gotta be extra careful. Here are some friendly companions for your new betta: guppies, tetras, snails, rasboras, plecos, etc.

4. Easy-To-Eat Food

Sometimes bettas don’t eat because the food is too big for their mouth. It’s true if you rely on home-prepared meals. For example, you can cut green veggies like spinach, cucumber, and zucchini into small pieces or chop a live shrimp. There’s a big possibility that you will cut pieces that are way too big for a Betta. Especially if it’s still a “baby.”

One common symptom is spitting out. You will see the betta chewing, but instead of swallowing it down, it spits everything out. the tank is filled with half-eaten food. That should alarm you regarding the food size you are offering.

One way to fix it is to stick with manufactured pellets. The pellet size is never too big, considering it is made for bettas. And, in the case of raw food, like freeze-dried worms, make sure you thaw it beforehand. For dried shrimp, use a hammer to break it into even smaller pieces before defrosting. If the fish chokes on food, it will have a hard time trusting you again.

5. Delicious Treats

The best way to break your betta’s fast is by offering delicious treats. No Betta fish can refuse yummy bloodworms or crunchy shrimps. Once you have given it enough time to adjust, introduce healthy snacks. If you don’t have access to live worms, you can also try freeze-dried options. almost every pet store has freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimps, and mysis shrimps (betta’s favorite).

Even though experts don’t suggest giving live food so frequently, you can do that to break the ice. It might help the fish overcome the stress of living in a new place. Try different insects and shrimps until you find the one your fish loves.

Before You Leave!

Just because your betta shows a great appetite for live food, don’t give it every day. Even though small fish or shrimps improve the betta’s digestion, they lack all the nutrients you want. To learn more on this topic, why don’t you check our take on whether you can give live small fish to a betta or not?

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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