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Old 06-24-2011, 07:19 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Betta fish won't eat

I got my daughter a betta fish about 2.5 weeks ago, and he won't eat. He otherwise seems ok - not great, but ok. He approaches the food, but won't eat. I tested his water today and the pH is high; not sure if that would make him not eat. He ate one pellet the day after we got him, and he ate one or two blood worms over a week ago, but nothing in over a week. Here's the questions:

What size is your tank? .75 gallon
What temperature is your tank? ~76F (room temp in my daughter's room)
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? We've tried betta pellets, flakes, freeze dried bloodworms and in a last ditch effort, frozen bloodworms, since they are supposed to love those.
How often do you feed your betta fish? We offer twice a day, and I remove the uneaten food after an hour or so.

How often do you perform a water change? 2x a week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? about 1/2
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? dechlorinator

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? I just tested today with a 5 in 1 strip test.

Ammonia: haven't tested
Nitrate: somewhere between 0 and 20
pH: 8.0-8.5
Hardness: 150
Alkalinity: 300

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? No change, appears fine
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He responds to us and seems happy and swims around when he sees us, but otherwise he seems to just hang out in his plant and not do much
When did you start noticing the symptoms? He's been that way since we got him 2.5 weeks ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? No, I realize the pH is high, so I should probably do something about that
Does your fish have any history of being ill? N/A
How old is your fish (approximately)? We just got him from a pet store where they have a lot of bettas and seem to sell them very often, so I would guess not very old?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. This is my daughter's first pet, and I'd rather he didn't die!
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:35 PM   #2 
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Location: MA and MO
Hi there, welcome to the forum!
There are a few things that concern me here aside from him not eating. Regardless of what petstore employees tell you, bettas require 2.5 gals or more in order to be healthy. The tiny things they sell "specifcally" for bettas are just schemes to make money. They don't care about the well being of the fish.

Bettas are also tropical fish and require temps between 78 and 82*F. Since water is always 3-4 degrees cooler than room temp, his water is way to cold.

Lastly, in a .75 gal tank you should be performing daily 100% water changes. ANything less than that allows deadly toxins to build up. He is most likely suffering from poor water conditions and cold water. You can theoretically keep him in a 1gal tank but that would require daily water changes and they are difficult to heat. It is much easier to get a larger tank that requires fewer water changes and is easy to heat.

So, if you can get him a 2.5+gal tank (even 2.5+gal kritter keepers are good) and a heater and perform more water changes he will feel better and be more interested in food.

Hope that helps! Good luck :)

Last edited by DarkMoon17; 06-24-2011 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:43 PM   #3 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Hi shutterbug, welcome to the forum.

76* is within a betta's comfort range but the ideal temp is around 78-80*. Your guy might be lethargic because he's a little cold. A heater would be great but I'm not sure you can fit one in a .75g tank. Is it possible you might upgrade him to a bigger tank someday? A 2.5 gallon tank would be good for him because you can fit a heater in there for him.

High ammonia could be a problem and an appetite killer for him. 2X a week is good but unfortunately in a tank less than a gallon the ammonia builds up really fast. In all reality, you need to be changing the water every day, 100%. The smaller the tank, the more water changes you have to make. In a 2.5g tank, you only have to do a 50% and 100% with gravel vacuuming a week.

There are a number of things you can do to encourage him to eat. You can soak his pellets in garlic juice (garlic powder in water works). You can try crushing his pellets up to make them smaller. You can also try pre-soaking his pellets in tank water so they're soft. And finally, he may just not like the pellets you're offering. Bettas are finicky little guys sometimes. A high-quality pellet like New Life Spectrum Betta formula or Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets are great because of the high protein and the amount of fish product is very high.

A possible tip to get the Ph down is to soak a decaf green tea bag in his water for a few minutes, until the water changes color. It has to be just pure straight decaf green tea though, no flavors added. The tannins in the green tea may help lower the Ph.

I hope your little guy starts to eat soon for you.
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:50 PM   #4 
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Location: Indiana
First of all, congratulations on your new betta!!! It is frustrating when they have problems like this, but they are a lot of fun =). I'm so sorry your little guy isn't eating well!! There are other people on this forum that will probably have better advice than I can give, but I'd like to offer any help I can!

One thing you can try is to change his water a little more often. In a tank that size, his water should probably be changed about 50-100% every other day at the very least. Clean water makes bettas feel better, and your betta might be more inclined to eat if his water is changed more often. I know water changes that frequent can be a pain in the neck, but once its part of your routine it gets pretty easy =). If you can't change the water that often, you might want to think about getting a bigger tank for him, and maybe a filter. Bigger tanks = more space for the betta and less water changes for us, so it works out well all around!

Good luck, I hope your little guy perks up!!

Last edited by Indyfishy; 06-24-2011 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:36 PM   #5 
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Thanks for the responses! We might be able to upgrade him to a bigger tank with a heater sometime in the not too distant future. That may be a couple of weeks away though.

I don't mind changing his water more frequently. The guy at the pet store actually told me not to because changing his water too often might stress him out. In fact he told me I should probably only do it once a week, but he didn't really seem to know what he was talking about so I ignored that advice. I went back and talked to someone else later who told me twice a week was ok, but I shouldn't change more than 50% at a time because it would disrupt the nitrate/nitrite cycle. So I am I understanding that 100% water changes are ok? Or should I keep it to 50%, but do it everyday?

I have some decaf green tea, so I'll try that for sure.

And I have some of the pellets soaking in garlic juice now, so we'll see if that works.

Thanks again everyone. I had a couple of bettas as a kid, and I remember loving them. I don't remember having to do this much stuff to them, but my mom had a huge aquarium and knew a lot about fish, so it's possible she was doing more for my fish than I realized.
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:02 PM   #6 
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Location: Washington state
you need a filter to get a cycle so you won't be disrupting anything. without a filter you need to do 100% changes to remove ammonia, otherwise all you're doing is diluting it some and eventually it's going to build up to toxic levels
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:03 PM   #7 
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One cannot maintain a stable cycle in that small of a tank, so 100% water changes should be done every day. I'm pretty sure that the minimum size for maintaining a stable cycle would be 5 gallons, but you maybe able to do it with 2.5 gallons. A possible way to slightly warm the temperature of the tank would be with a light, but a thermometer should be purchased to make sure the water does not get to warm. Your best bet would be to get a 2.5 gallon tank with a heater and a thermometer, and to preform 50% change X2, and 100% once a week. But until then 100% everyday.
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