Betta Fish Won’t Eat From the Surface


Happy Chinese New Year Everyone!!!!, originally uploaded by louie imaging(busy).

Q: EW wrote:

I have had betta fish before, and I get them from my local pet stores (in those horrible little bowls) I usually have to wait a couple days for the betta to start eating and acting like a normal betta, but my most recent, Rudy, will not eat food from the surface. He really likes the food as it is falling to the water, but he won’t look up to the surface when I feed him, I am worried only because this has never happened before and I don’t want him to be underfed b/c he won’t go to the surface to find food. What should I do?

I have tried pellets, flakes, bloodworms and brime shrimp. He likes the flakes when the sink, but then the water gets filthy faster.

A: If it is important to you to feed your betta at the surface then you can try conditioning him by feeding the same type food consistently at the same location. If needed, try several times per day until he anticipates food at that location. If after a few days your betta hasn’t picked up on the new plan then you may want to cater to his instincts and allow the food to sink. Food that sinks won’t necessarily foul your water any quicker then floating food. The issue is rotting organic debris. As long as he is eating the food and not allowing it to decompose in the tank, you should be able to get by with your regular water changes. If your betta is leaving some food behind you can remove it 15 to 20 minutes after your initial feeding with a turkey baster. You may also want to look for other things that may be keeping him from noticing the floating food, like bright overhead lighting, strong filter current or dense surface vegetation. It could be that he just isn’t seeing the food until it has begun to sink.

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

2 Comments for this entry

  1. My betta, “JOHNNY” is just the opposite! Have had him almost 3yrs. Feed him flakes 2-3times daily in same spot, if he doesn’t see it right away I tape the lid up & down, or rub my fingers together & call his name. He likes eating when food is floating & running down “ONLY”! Once it hits the bottom of tank, he doesn’t give food a 2nd look or won’t eat it. Likes it fresh, very spoiled. I change is water 5-7days.

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