My new betta fish won't eat!?

On Saturday I bought a male betta fish at a Pets Supplies Plus. His setup is a bowl (actually it’s a vase, but it’s big enough) with pretty glass pebbles and a live underwater plant called an "Undulata" that I got just yesterday. I also bought some cheapy betta fish flakes at the store when I bought him. Ssnce I’m paying for this all with my own money, I wasn’t exactly worried about quality. D: I really need a job! I read on some website that bettas don’t really like the flakes, so my mom and I went to Petsmart and bought some freeze dried bloodworms and betta pebbles as well as the plant. The lady working in the fish aisle said that he would eat those. We didn’t take the fish out when we were putting the plant in, so he was kinda freaked out, and that’s why I thought he wasn’t eating. A couple hours later I tried feeding him the bloodworms, because I read they absolutely love them, but it’s still floating on the top of the water right now, a whole day later. And just now, when I got home from school, I discovered a little cluster of bubbles about the size of a quarter, and I think it’s a bubble nest. I read that when betta fish are healthy, they make these. But I’m worried he’s never going to eat! Do bettas normally do this?
I am EXTREMELY confused now. The person at Petsmart said since that bettas live in the wild in not so great conditions, they would rather have water that’s sorta dirty. She also didn’t say anything about the plant rotting. I honestly don’t know who to believe and it’s frustrating! I just don’t want to kill the fish.
I am definitely going to go buy a fish tank this weekend if I can get the money. :/ I also am really thankful to you guys for pointing out my error. The reason I thought it was okay was because I remember when I was….five? I had a betta in a bowl. o: But my dad accidentally killed it by putting a penny in it. That’s besides the point. And since you aren’t trying to get me to buy things, I have a good feeling you’re telling the truth. Thanks. =) Flo says thanks, too.

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7 Responses to My new betta fish won't eat!?

  1. Drake says:

    Betta males make bubble nests as an instinct to breed. Happy bettas will nest, unhealthy bettas will nest, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

    My betta doesn’t like flakes or blood worms. She really like dried brine shrimp and her betta bites. Bettas usually go crazy for blood worms, but don’t tell that to my fish because they’re expensive (in my opinion). :X Bettas will not eat plants. They are carnivores.

    On my other answer to your later question I though mostly his not eating was a temperature issue (which it may be), but it is also a settling in issue. Your betta is brand new to you and your home and he needs time to adjust. My betta didn’t eat for the first 4 days after I got her. After that it was 2 weeks before I got a heater and she only ate enough to sustain herself. She wasn’t very active. After I got the heater and she got up to the proper temperature, she begs for food all the time. I can see her happy round belly, but she still thinks she needs to eat.

    Bettas in the wild live in pretty decent conditions actually. The waters of the betta habitat are dark colored, not with mud but with tanins released by leaves that are decaying in the water. The color of the leaves leach out (like when brewing tea) and make the water brownish. While bettas in the home aquarium do not need the leaves, they do enjoy clean water. Bettas in dirty water have lower immune systems and are more prone to becomming sick. Cold water also has this effect. I learned that the hard way.

    If you can, clean up what you’ve got and see if the store will take it back. Buy yourself a small tank of 2 gallon or more. A filter is not necessary, but a heater will do your betta a world of good. After that, refer to my answer for your other question on what else you can do.

    Good luck!

  2. Sibyl says:

    Bettas build bubble nests because it is instinctual. They will build them on death’s door or in the height of health. It is not a sign of health or happiness.

    While it is common for new fish to initially refuse food, another reason they won’t eat is if living conditions are not right. If water quality is poor or the temperature is wrong they may refuse to eat:
    A vase is inappropriate for a fish, as is a bowl.
    A single betta should have about a 5 gallon aquarium, a gentle filter, and an aquarium heater. They are tropical fish and their temperature should be maintained steady between 78F-82F.

    Odds are that plant is going to rot.

    ~ While many pet care associates use that argument you have to keep in mind that your betta has never seen the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, and that your betta is different from the bettas found there. While fundamentally the same, the long tail that they have been bred in captivity to enhance can actually rot away in poor water conditions.
    Keeping a fish in a bowl means that any waste that fish produces, any uneaten food, any organic material breaking down, etc is contributing to ammonia that cannot be broken down. Ammonia is highly toxic to fish and builds up in a bowl.

    ~lol, Flo. Nice choice.

  3. Abbie; says:

    test your water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate (usually the problem). I already assume you have a filter and dechlorinated it.

  4. Jesse says:

    Bettas make bubble nests by instinct, not necessarily when they are happy or healthy. He might not be eating because he’s a little stressed from everything going on lately. Take out the old food and try again. He’s still adjusting. Did you use water conditioner and stress coat when you put him in the vase?

    It would be best for him if you could buy a five gallon tank (try CraigsList) with a filter and a heater. He’ll be much happier and more active.

    EDIT: The person at Petsmart has no clue what she’s talking about. Bettas are just like any other tropical fish, just a bit more territorial. The workers at chain pet stores are only there to make money. Most of them don’t have a clue about the needs of a betta fish. They also have nary an idea about cycling a new tank.

  5. anita h says:


  6. BettaFan says:

    If the temp is below 74 degrees, bettas slowly stop eating

  7. Tania says:

    I only use betta pellets made by Hikari. the only one I ever recommended, but would also say that the other brands have bigger containers and are cheaper by the ounce.
    I have kept bettas in bowls or other containers- successfully. not to say a tank isn’t better, just that it’s possible. Don’t let others make you feel like you’re a bad keeper just because of that. a tank might be easier if you’re not experienced though.

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