Betta Fish Won’t Eat: Reasons + What to Do

There are many reasons why your betta fish is not eating as it should. They range from poor appetite, excess food from previous feeding sessions, issues with water temperature, poor food quality to adjustment to the new environment.

Most of the listed issues can be solved through a slight change of diet, feeding routine, and attention to your betta fish.

This article highlights the possible causes of poor feeding habits in betta fish and their impacts. Additionally, we have compiled a list of things you need to do to make your betta fish eat again.

Why Won’t My Betta Fish Eat?

Betta fish won't eat and what to do

Your betta fish won’t eat because of the following reasons:


Your fish may be having one of those fussy days that interfere with its functionality, to the extent of depriving it of the need to eat. The fuzziness could be caused by environmental changes, introducing new types of food, or other health problems. Like other animals, betta fish can reject these changes or have difficulty adjusting to them.

To understand the cause of your fish’s behavior, you can try different types of food, adjusting the temperature or changing the aquarium contents until you reach an optimum point of comfort. The other issues can interfere with the feeding habits of your fish, and you must also control them to find the actual problem.

Your fish doesn’t understand what food is

This problem mainly occurs when the fish is new in the tank or after you introduce a new type of food into the aquarium. It could take a while before it understands what it’s supposed to eat or leave out. A simple diet change can confuse the fish as it interacts with foodstuff it hasn’t seen before.

If your betta fish was initially accustomed to dried or live feeds, it is likely to take some time to adjust to other foods like pellets and flakes. These foodstuffs are alien to your fish, and they might not even know if that is food.

New environment

When you transfer your newly acquired betta fish to a new aquarium, the surroundings can capture its attention more and cause it to pay little attention to the food. All living organisms need time to adjust to a new environment, and they can be drawn more by the effects of change and forget about other important issues.

Loss of appetite is common if you do not acclimate your betta fish properly. In addition, the type of water you use for your in its new environment can affect how the pet feeds. For example, bettas can live in tap water overnight but you’ll need to condition the water as soon as possible.

If your fish won’t eat and is showing other signs of stress, test the tank water for higher levels of chloramine, chlorine, or other chemicals. The addition of new water in the aquarium interferes with the initial pH, and your fish may need time to acclimatize before resuming its normal eating habits.

Extreme water temperature

Your betta fish can stop eating because of the high or low temperature of water in its tank. As a result of their cold-bloodedness, they derive their energy from their surrounding temperature. Betta fish also adjusts its body heat to a lower or a higher level to match the tank water temperature.

If the water lacks enough warmth, your betta fish can go into shock or experience lethargy. Its metabolism also slows down, causing it to digest food slowly and eat little or no food at all. You should not dismiss the problem of cold water in the tank as it can be fatal in extreme shock cases.

Your fish is sick

Your betta fish could have contracted diseases that cause it not to eat. Pay attention to additional symptoms that show evidence of sickness to understand the kind of medical condition in your fish.

Swim bladder disease and constipation lead to erratic swimming posture and loss of appetite in bettas. Dropsy, too, can be the reason your betta won’t eat for prolonged periods.

Nitrate and ammonia poisoning are also possible reasons your fish is not eating. Lethargic reactions occur when the fish is poisoned, leading to a lack of appetite.

Poor food quality

Poor quality of food is among the reasons why your fish is not eating. Some manufacturers acquire the cheapest raw materials to make fish food, resulting in low-quality pellets or other feeds. Your betta fish will reject anything that does not taste right, no matter how many times you decide to feed it.

In addition to this, your betta fish requires a diet change. It can reject manufactured foods in favor of frozen or dried live food.

You Are Overfeeding Your Betta Fish

If you put too much food in your fish tank, it will eat to its full capacity and leave the rest untouched. Betta fish has a stomach size equivalent to its eye, reaching its limits fast. The leftover food floats on the aquarium, and you might think that the fish is not eating while it has already had its fill.

What to Do to Make Betta Fish Eat

After realizing that your betta fish is not eating, it’s time to look for possible remedies to the issues listed earlier in this article.

Understand What Your Fish Likes Eating

By studying the feeding habits of your betta fish, you’ll know what they like eating and the types of foods that arouse their feeding stubbornness. That helps you determine what to buy in bulk and smaller portions to avoid wastage.

Start by feeding the betta fish with flakes and pellets, alternating with live foods that are dried and frozen. Understand what your fish likes more and increase the portions. However, you should reintroduce the other foods to test whether the fish changed its preferences and maintain a balanced diet.

Diversify to more new foods and insist on feeding your betta fish until they stop being stubborn. Regardless of how much your fish likes a certain type of food, avoid making it the only meal in the diet, as it may not contain all the required nutrients.

Adjust the Water Temperature

Adjusting the temperature of the fish tank protects your betta fish from shock that leads to poor appetite. A water heater is essential to maintain a 78 F in your aquarium. Even if your location of residence has hot weather, you should always be armed with a heater in preparation for the random cold nights.

Give Your Betta Time to Adapt

If your betta fish is new and not eating, the chances are that it has not yet grown accustomed to its new environment. The best solution is to watch it for a while as you try all means to make it comfortable in the tank. Its recommended to switch off the lights in the aquarium and create a feeding routine that will help the fish adjust to the tank’s conditions.

Buy Water Conditioners

Water conditioners break down the chemicals found in new water you intend to add to the tank. Chloramine, chlorine, dissolved metals, and other materials lead to animal poisoning when added in excess proportions. When poisoned, your fish becomes sickly and stops eating.

While distilled water or other treated brands are highly recommended, you may find yourself with no other option but to add tap water. Dechlorinating your water gets rid of chlorine as the chloramine is broken down into harmless gases that don’t threaten your betta fish’s life in the tank.

Avoid Overfeeding Your Betta Fish

The recommended amount of food to give your betta fish is one or two pellets. If it’s not measurable in that form, feed your fish a food amount that equals its stomach size. Another solution is measuring the excess food that floats in the water after every feeding session and ensuring that the next portion does not exceed that amount.

Seek Medical Treatment

Once you notice sickness symptoms that cause your fish to stop eating, get immediate medical help and watch the progress. The first signs of change should be noted when the fish resumes old eating habits. If the symptoms take longer to subside, it’s advisable to consult an expert and save your fish before it’s too late.

Betta Fish Not Eating and Laying at The Bottom

If your fish is not eating or swimming around the tank, you should pay close attention to it and find a solution as soon as you can. The most suitable explanation for this combined reaction is ammonia poisoning or other medical conditions. To solve this, you can use ammonia test kits and record the concentration before using water treatment solutions to break it down into harmless gases.

It is unusual for new or younger betta fish to lay at the bottom of the tank without eating the pellets. However, older bettas lack enough energy to move around and may prefer to rest at the bottom more often. When your fish clocks two years old, pay more attention to its feeding habits because its metabolism is slower, causing it to eat less. Maintaining a slow and gentle flow of water helps them remain calm and rested while swimming around.


The joy of a betta fish owner is complete when their fish is healthy, eating well, and moving around the tank. However, diseases, poor food quality, and chemical influx in the water can interfere with this and throw the fish into a bad appetite.

You can follow the suggested solutions to correct the issue and restart your fish’s appetite for better health. Remember to consult experts if the condition of your betta fish remains unchanged despite applying the listed remedies.

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