We have hardly seen any other fish that loves food as much as a Betta. That’s why it’s a bit concerning when you notice the food is untouched. But what’s causing your betta to behave so differently? Is it going to die?
Bettas stop eating when they are dealing with something stressful. For example, poor water conditions, dirty tanks, hostile tankmates, stomach disease, and so on. However, not eating for 2 to 3 days won’t kill a Betta.
But that doesn’t mean you should sit down and watch your Betta starve. It’s important to find out what’s the reason behind such behavior and then solve it. Thankfully you will find everything you need to know in this article.
- Bettas can stop eating if something has increased their stress level.
- Stress can come from poor water quality, change in water parameter, cold temperature, hostile tankmates and so on.
- Not eating for 1 or 2 days won’t kill your Betta.
- The only way to make the Betta eat again is to remove the stress from its root.
Why Is My Betta Not Eating?
The main reason why your Betta is not eating is stress. Yes, no matter how resilient Bettas are, they don’t respond well to stressful situations. One common thing they do is stop eating altogether. It looks like a suicide from our point of view.
However, you can only treat the fish if you know what is actually causing the stress. There’s no other way. Below we have listed out all the possible reasons your Betta must have been behaving this way. Have a look.
1. Change In Surrounding
Have you recently shifted your Betta from one tank to another? Well, that explains why it is behaving in such a way. You see, bettas get very upset and tensed when their familiar surrounding changes. In the new environment, they can’t trust the food they are getting.
Many people make the mistake of grabbing the fish out of its old home and dumping it into a new one. They don’t spare one moment to let the poor fish adjust to these changes. That’s what leads to Bettas getting so paranoid. Even though they are your pets: don’t treat them like toys.
Here’s what you can do to make the situation a bit better. While cleaning out the tank, you must shift the fish to a temporary tank. At that time, use the plant and rock decorations from the old tank. This would help Betta feel comfortable even in the new setting.
The same goes for introducing new friends into the tank. Don’t put hostile fish like tail sharks or angel fish into the same tank. Bettas don’t like being threatened in any way. If they find out they are not the dominant creature in the whole tank anymore, they will show signs of stress by starving themselves.
2. Change In Water Parameters
There are simply too many things that can go wrong when it comes to water conditions. Bettas are freshwater fish and like their habitat in a certain way. Even a small change in these parameters can trigger anxiety in the Betta. Before we go into the changes, take a look at what the ideal parameters are.
|6.5 to 7.5
|4 to 5 gallons at least
|Ammonia & Nitrate
As you can see, they don’t like either acidic or alkaline water. It has to be between 6.5 to 7.5, which almost makes the water neutral. That’s why it’s extremely important to clean a Betta tank very often. Otherwise, you run the risk of making the water too acidic (due to the Nitrate found in fish waste) for them.
That’s why an ideal betta tank should always have filtration turned ON. The device keeps the cleaning cycle ON and makes sure the top portion of the tank is moving (like a narrow stream). It gives the natural vibe Bettas usually get in the wild.
Next comes the hardness level. Bettas do not prefer water too hard (the presence of minerals like calcium and magnesium). Low to medium number of minerals suits them best. In case you have added Bettas in a hard water tank; they would be super uncomfortable.
The tank size matters as well. Bettas love large spaces to explore. If you have put the fish inside a bowl, we don’t have to explain why the fish is so unhappy. Try shifting it into a 4 or 5-gallon tank.
Ensuring optimal tank conditions is crucial for a betta’s well-being.
Mary McCauley of Mary’s Magic Bettas suggests a minimum 5-gallon tank, a gentle filter, consistent water temperature between 78-82 degrees, and appropriate decor and enrichment for an ideal betta habitat.
Overlooking these essentials, such as water temperature, can stress bettas, leading to appetite loss.
3. Water Is Too Cold
Is the water chilling? If your Betta is not eating anything, it could be the water temperature as well. It’s one of the most important parameters you have to perfect (at any cost). Usually, Bettas live comfortably if the water is anywhere between 75 to 80 degrees.
But sometimes the water can get colder if it’s raining or snowing outside. And, if you don’t have a heater, there’s no way you can warm up the water. When the water is too cold, the reduced temperature takes away heat from the Betta’s body. That’s what physics says. And it leads to a slower rate of metabolism. Yes, now the Betta would have to work extra hard (internally) to digest some little food.
Once the Betta realizes it is losing body heat tremendously due to the water condition, it will try to protect its remaining energy. For that, the poor fish decides to stop eating at all. Such lethargic behavior is nothing but an instinctive survival method against the harsh cold.
We suggest you get a heater for the Betta tank. That’s the only viable way to maintain the heat level of the tank even if you are away. Don’t worry, though. Aquarium heaters come in various affordable options.
4. They Are Just Picky
No two fish are identical. It’s true for Bettas as well. Just because a typical Betta enjoys almost anything you throw at it doesn’t mean your pet would be the same. It’s true. Some Bettas are just naturally picky. They might not like the type of pellets you have chosen for them. hence, they stop eating. We believe this cause is the least serious within this list. And it’s easily fixable.
Such choosy bettas need a variety in what they put in their mouth. So, you can divide the meals into manufactured and organic food. They can start their day with regular pellets or fish flakes. You can give them a small piece of boiled corn, pea, or cucumber for the next meal. We know it’s not adding anything to their diet. Still, offer them tasty treats to help them overcome this starving mode.
And any two days within a week should be booked for live fish hunting. Throw one or two bloodworms into the tank. let the betta manifest its inner fighting o attacking abilities. The food is high in nutrition, and your Betta will love the experience above anything. It will be worth the trouble, trust us.
5. Choosing The Wrong Food
Bettas would eat even human food if you offered it. But that doesn’t mean human food is healthy for a Betta fish. So, you have to be practical while choosing a diet plan for your water pet. We have seen hobbyists try very hard to prepare green veggies for their Betta. It might be lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, or just corn. They argue that fiber helps with digestion.
But in reality, Bettas can accumulate all the fiber it needs from its regular food. If you have been incorporating food that has no nutritious value to your Betta, it will cause the fish to get sick and pause eating. Here’s what you need to remember. Research how much crude protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, and crud ash a food has before serving.
Crude protein is the most important ingredient since it ensures body growth. The ideal percentage should be above 35%. Take ghost shrimp, for example. Your betta will love eating a ghost shrimp, but it barely has any protein in it let alone other nutrients. It’s more like crunchy water. So, there’s no point in giving it to your Betta.
6. Suffering From A Disease
Of course, sickness is another major cause. If the Betta is suffering from a major internal infection, it will lose appetite significantly. Some common diseases are gas in the swim bladder or rot-in-tail. The first one is super painful and even causes the betta to lose balance while swimming. So, it should not be hard to identify.
The second one is also easily visible. In this case, the fins and tails of betta get affected by germs (mostly due to poor water conditions). The fish slowly starts losing all the color around those areas. So, the bright and colorful fish looks kind of pale. These are very serious health complications.
However, bettas also lose interest in eating because of constipation. If the issue is prolonged, their body automatically reacts negatively towards anything edible. Adding more food into the stomach can only cause more problems.
7. Bloated Belly
Overfeeding simply leads to undereating. That’s the simplest way we could have said it. If you end up feeding your Betta too much on a particular day, it will suffer from bloating. And the pain and excess gas and toxins inside the body (due to unprocessed or half-processed food in the stomach) trigger starvation. Betta simply rejects anything fearing the outcome.
People usually make such mistakes when they are going away for long hours. the owners end up serving food that would easily last 2 days. But the problem is bettas don’t know how to save remaining food for later. As long as there’s food before their eyes, they will continue eating. That’s how a simple concern turns into overfeeding.
What you can do is only give food that the Betta can finish instantly.
How Long Can A Betta Go Without Eating?
Don’t panic if it has been a couple of days since your Betta has last eaten. Bettas are wild carnivores. In the wild, they don’t get regular meals like your pet. Most of the time, they fast after finding a good catch once in a while. So, your betta wouldn’t die fasting for 3 to 4 days.
However, this issue needs to be solved immediately. They can only go so long without food (up to 10 days). Use that time frame to figure out what might be bothering your pet and take appropriate action.
How Can I Make My Betta Eat Again?
Once you have corrected the water condition, try to convince the Betta to eat again. You can do that by offering limited but delicious food. For example, offering small live fish or shrimp is better than boring pellets. It will work if the fish is starving merely due to boredom.
Another reason behind boredom is the lack of friends. Try introducing another Betta into the tank. Or, you can put some friendly species that won’t bully the betta.
Is there any particular food your Betta loves? Try to remember your past encounters with the fish. For example, some bettas love munching on fresh veggies. However, experts suggest we limit offering plant-based food to a Betta (for proper growth). Since it’s an emergency, offer that particular food to your Betta. Who knows, seeing their favorite treat might bring them out of depression.
Before You Leave!
We have just seen why a betta doesn’t eat at all. But there’s a different scenario where bettas enthusiastically eat and then choke. It happens if the food you give is not bite-size. Want to know what you should do if such an accident ever occurs? Follow our next article called What to do if betta fish food is too big.
Article link: What To Do If Betta Fish Food Is Too Big?
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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