Male Betta not eating

junket

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Hello All,
My Male Betta, Lulu, doesn't seem to want to eat. This has been going on for just over a week. He's active, swimming around and so forth, but will not eat. I changed his water last Sunday. I've tried his normal food, Omega One Super Veggie, freeze-dried blood worms (his old favorite food before I had to cure him of constipation), and Hikari Betta Bio-gold. The Bio-Gold did not interest him in the least. He either madly eats a piece of the Omega One and spits it out immediately, weakly chomps at it, or ignores it altogether. The bloodworms he only weakly chomps at. He does come to the top of the bowl when I try to feed him. I have a gallon tank, I use Betta Buddies for treatment, and I put 1/4 teaspoon of aquarium salt in with each change. I clean out the uneaten food a couple of hours after putting it in to avoid clouding the water too much. The temp of the bowl varies between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. What can I do? This forum was immensely helpful when the poor boy had constipation about eight months ago.
I appreciate any suggestions!
Thanks,
David
 

chickadee

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Well, David, his temperature is fluctuating a lot.  Bettas are really happiest in the range of 78 - 80 degrees and the temperature should not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in any 24 hour period.  That said, I am not sure that has much to do with the problem.  It is A problem but possibly not why he will not eat.  I know you said he had been constipated before and was over it, but Bettas who have had the problem before are much more suseptible to having it again.  (sometimes even with the correct diet)  So, I would start to treat him with a veggie fast or just as you did before when you got him over his constipation.  Did you use the Frozen Pea Solution?  If so then do try it again.  I have found that with my Bettas if they are constipated that they will eat a small chunk of defrosted and peeled frozen pea before anything else.  They seem to know that it is going to make their little tummies feel better.  The trick is, as I am sure you know, that a Bettas stomach is about as big as his eye and to get him over this the pieces of pea have to be SMALL so that they are not adding to the problem but not so small that he cannot see them or they will just go to the bottom of the tank.

Also, could you get some testing equipment for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates (but especially Ammonia even if you cannot afford the others).  Even if you are treating the water and all, in that sized tank it does not take long for ammonia to build up and he could be getting ammonia upsetting his system.  The cure for this is more frequent water changes and perhaps a different water conditioner that treats to remove ammonia.  (I am not familiar with the one you are using.)  Since your tank is probably not filtered and/or heated the water parameters are going to be much harder to maintain, but can be kept at a livable level doing frequent water changes. (but you will need to be testing your water for ammonia daily preferrably)
When you get the tests, I would recommend the test put out by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. or API.  It uses a test tube that you fill part way with tank water and then add two different solutions and shake gently and set aside for 5 minutes and then compare to a color chart.  This type is MUCH more accurate than they ones that are simply dipped into the water.  In fact, the dip sticks have been known to be totally inaccurate.  If you could test for ammonia and then post your readings here it would help to tell what the problem might be.

Now for food, the Omega One food is a flake food right?  I do not know how well he has eaten this for you, but my Bettas would not, could not, and do not eat flake foods.  Betta mouths just are not the right shape.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of Betta owners who swear by the flake food but not as an ONLY food.  They just use it as a Veggie supplement or treat, but a Betta is a carnivore and must have the majority of their diet coming from meat or protein.  That is why they seem so prone to constipation in my opinion, is because a diet high in protein would do that, but nevertheless, it is protein for them for nearly all of their diet.  That is just the way they were made and that is that.  So if he has not been getting anything but the Veggie food then he needs a diet change back to the "old favorites" and we will just have to limit the amounts to a regular Betta meal of 6 to 7 worms or if he is eating pellets 3 to 4 pellets.  He can have either a meal of worms or a meal of pellets as described before 2 times a day, but not worms and pellets both at one time.  And then he should have the Veggie snack about 2 to 3 times a week unless he starts to show signs of constipation, then take him off his regular food and put him on the Frozen Pea Diet for at least 2 days.

I hope I have helped some.  If there are further questions that you have come up or if you disagree or I didn't put things down in a way you understand (it is quite late here) then please let me know.  

Welcome to Fishlore.com.  It has been my pleasure to try to assist you and your Betta, LuLu.  We are most happy to have you both with us.

Rose
 
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junket

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gammerus said:
was this all the sudden or gradual?
It's hard to tell - I'd say that it took place over several days. I think he is getting *some* food, but nowhere near as much as he used to eat.
Thanks!
David
 
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junket

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Thanks so much for your detailed response! I really appreciate your wisdom.

First an update on my feeding of him last night and then my answers to your queries:

I tried feeding him small bits of warmed-up, shelled frozen pea. I place a bit at the end of a toothpick and move it around at the top of the tank - he loves this! He was very eager to eat, but could not seem to get his mouth on the pea. He does this with the small bits of Omega One I give him, too, it's almost as if he can't really see or sense the food & just sort of chomps in the general vicinity of it. I think he *did* eat a little pea, though. His behavior seems good.

Quote from Chickadee:
> Well, David, his temperature is fluctuating a lot. Bettas are really happiest in the range of 78 - 80
> degrees and the temperature should not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in any 24 hour period.

Do you have a recommendation on how to keep the tank temperature even - The AC at night tends to bring the temp down & without it it goes up during the day. Since his bowl is only 1 gallon, I have not been able to find a small enough heater.

<snip>

> I know you said he had been constipated before and was over it, but Bettas who have had the
> problem before are much more suseptible to having it again. (sometimes
> even with the correct diet) So, I would start to treat him with a veggie fast or just as you did
> before when you got him over his constipation. Did you use the Frozen Pea
> Solution? If so then do try it again.

I've tried feeding him pea several times over the past week & even though he is eager about it, he never seems to get too much in his mouth, a different behavior from when I was treating his constipation.

> Also, could you get some testing equipment for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates (but especially
> Ammonia even if you cannot afford the others). <snip>
> If you could test for ammonia and then post your readings here it would help to tell what the
> problem might be.

I will buy the API test kit(s) tomorrow and will let you know what the readings are!

> Now for food, the Omega One food is a flake food right? I do not know how well he has eaten
> this for you, but my Bettas would not, could not, and do not eat flake foods. Betta mouths just
> are not the right shape. Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of Betta owners who swear by
> the flake food but not as an ONLY food. They just use it as a Veggie supplement or treat, but a
> Betta is a carnivore and must have the majority of their diet coming from meat or protein. <snip>
> So if he has not been getting anything but the Veggie food then he needs a diet change back to
> the "old favorites" and we will just have to limit the amounts to a regular Betta meal of 6 to 7
> worms or if he is eating pellets 3 to 4 pellets.

He's been loving the Omega One flakes - I break them up into small bits which he used to eat happily. He even lost interest in the bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp I had been offering him. I'll try this diet change & let you know what happens.

> I hope I have helped some. If there are further questions that you have come up or if you
> disagree or I didn't put things down in a way you understand (it is quite late here) then please
> let me know.

You have been a great help - I have a plan, now, and will keep you all posted. This forum was such a wonderful resource when he had his his month-long battle with constipation back in December!

> Welcome to Fishlore.com. It has been my pleasure to try to assist you and your Betta, LuLu. We
> are most happy to have you both with us.

Thank-You!
Best,
David
 

poefox

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Have you tried any of the pellet foods? A lot of bettas prefer them. Whether it is because they are raised on them or not I don't know. Try either Betta Gold or TopFin. Those tend to be smaller pieces. Try 3-4, and don't give another pellet till the first is eaten; if they are well received your betta should seem to chomp on them and then eagerly look for more.
 

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I am so sorry about the heat situation, David but the smallest reliable heater with a thermostat is a 25 watt which is much too powerful for a one gallon tank as the general rule of thumb is no more than 10 watts per gallon. This means that the smallest tank that can safely be heated is 2.5 gallons. The smaller heaters that say they are for the tiny tanks are not able to be adjusted and all they do is raise the temperature of the water to a couple of degrees above the air temperature in the room and if you have fluctuation that means you will just have fluctuation at a higher temperature. They are essentially worthless. Some people in your situation have tried wrapping towels or blankets around their bowls at night to minimize the air exposure but I have my doubts about that method. The problem with temperature problems is there are a good many cool water diseases that Bettas are very suseptible to including Ich and Finrot. If they remain in cool water after they contract either of these, it is almost impossible to treat them as part of the treatment is to raise the temperature. (a large part) Since LuLu is already in a compromised condition, I have some serious concerns about the problem.

I am wondering if he is having a problem seeing the food because he is weakened. He may have really loved the flake **** and I am glad that you had not problem getting him to eat a variety of foods, but he really does need to eat protein as the major part of his diet and I am glad that you are going to go back to giving it a try at least. Please be aware that a Betta can be the most stubborn of fish and if he is not interested in the protein food right now you need to keep offering them exclusively for a while after you are sure he is no longer constipated. He will soon get the message that this is the food for now. I do agree with Poe and the pellets are the easiest and to make sure that he chews his food before he gets a second one. It takes a little training but it is worth it in the long run. There are those of us who have had to feel like real heels for a couple of days but with healthy fish to show for it, we have felt it was worth it.

Again I hope this helps and I shall be checking my posts for a couple times a day if there are further questions or comments.

Rose
 
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junket

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Thanks for your suggestions, Poe and Rose! I will keep him on a meat-only diet, I would always cave after a couple of days and go back to the Omega One food when he neglected the bloodworms and other meats. Is there a specific pellet-food you would recommend? I will also try to mange the temp a little better by closing AC registers in his area. I really want him to eat! I've seen him through other ailments & hope I can get him through this. He really does have a lot of energy, though!
Thanks again, and I will keep you posted.
Best,
David
 
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junket

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I just thought of a possible heating solution - I can get one of the small always-on heaters, and only run it when we have the AC on - that should work, it would certainly stabilize things a bit. Was there a particular manufacturer or brand of very small heaters that you would recommend?
Thanks again,
David
 
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junket

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Another thought - should I get him a larger home? Would this be too much of a change for him in his condition? I got him in February of 2005, so he is probably 1.5 years old.
Thanks!
David
 

inari

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I would definatly advise a larger home Inari was in the same pickle as Lulu except he would eat like i never fed him greedy snot anyway i had him in a 1 gallon hex no filter no heater tank and he was alright in it here recently i got him a 10 Gallon he is sooooooooooooo much more active and happy tho it is a bit of pain to have to keep up with testing lol anyway I got him some live plants and a full 10 gallon set up (spent more money on all the extras than i care to recall but he likes it so i guess i can't complain) anyway i'm not saying go out and get him a 10 gal, live plants, the high end heater and filter i'm just suggestioning that u get him a 10 gal set up (tank, filter, heater, gravel, lid, thermometer, and decor) and cycle it i used Bio-spira it seems to be working well tho his pH is going through the roof anyway neither here nor there i would say over all it is worth all the money i put into it he is happy as a pig in mud and lets me know that is what I would do if i were u but again it is up to u completely
hope this helps

Brent
 

chickadee

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If you can afford it there is not a thing wrong and quite a few things right with getting him a new and bigger home. He would love at least a 5 gallon and if you are around a Walmart they have good tanks in 5 or 10 gallon size for very reasonalbe prices. If you want a kit with everything in it then you can get a 5 gallon hex tank for about $30. but they will sell you a standard tank without and filter or light for around $15. The best of all worlds would be to get a kit with a filter and light included and then all you would have to add would be a heater and gravel and possibly an airstone and airpump (you would need air tubing also) If you want to cycle the tank right away, the only product that does an instant cycle is the product BIO-SPIRA. (like inari said) It is a product that has to be kept under refrigeration so if you go into a store and they try to tell you you need a product off the shelf, that is not it. Most pet stores will not carry it because it has a shelf life and they don't sell it fast enough. It is expensive not so much for the product, ($8.99 for enough to do a 20 gallon tank) but the shipping has to be expedited shipping so it is expensive. I just bought some and paid $8.99 a vial for it and $41.15 for the shipping and handling. (UPS overnight) I could have gotten a slower method but since it has to be kept cold, I did not want the bacteria arriving dead. The lovely thing about this stuff is that you pour it into the new tank and add the fish right away and the fish does not do the cycle itself which does stress them. You also do not have to wait for the fishless cycle to take place. The fishless cycle is a lot cheaper but takes a matter of weeks until you can add the fish to the tank.

Now one other matter, the little tank heaters just do not work. There is not a good brand and they tend not to last long. You will pay around $7 for one and they will not do a thing for the problem that you have and that is Fluctuation. The temperature for your bowl is sometimes within the normal range, but the difference in the ups and downs is too great. The small heaters compare the water and air temperature and raise the temperature of the water a couple degrees above the air temperature. As long as the air temperature is fluctuating during the day and night the heater will allow the tank water to fluctuate right along the same lines as the room temperature. It just is not strong enough to do otherwise and any of the reliable heaters are too strong for the size tank you have and would cook your little friend. The smallest tank you can get that you could safely heat would be a 2.5 gallon tank and then you would need a 25 watt heater. The reason I suggested a 5 gallon tank is that they are not much more expensive and you will be amazed at the difference in the activity level and contentment in a Betta who has the extra room.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Thank you for the kind words.

Rose
 

inari

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Also I forgot to mention with Bio-Spira if you get it at ur lps then be sure to bring a cooler especially if it is a hot day out i think that is what happened to mine it was hotter than **** outside so alot of my bacteria started to die off from lack of food just a warning tho i do have plants to help reduce some of the Ammonia so i'm sure that has helped too....
good luck and the 10 gallon is about the same price and it is so big for them they need a map to get around altho come feeding time Inari can find his way to the front center of the tank without a problem

good luck
 
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Thanks again Inari and Rose for your speedy and helpful replies! I've an update and still more questions! I put 3 freeze-dried bloodworms in his tank - he zoomed up and swam around and eventually located one - he didn't eat it, though, just pecked at it a couple of times and left it there He just seems so derned active, though - swimming a lot, hanging out with me when I talk with him, etc. He's resting in all his usual plcaes, too. Just not eating! So frustrating! I left the AC off last night, and the temp of his tank has sewttled around 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Alright, then, here are the questions:
I don't have a lot of room, so I am thinking of getting a 5 gallon tank. Can this be used without a filter? Just the tank, light, and heater? I figure I would have to clean it more, but the tank is currently on the mantle over the fireplace, the only place the cats can't get to, and there is not room for the whole setup. Would a 2.5 gallon tank be too little of an upgrade? The Bio-Spira cycling stuff is used to prepare a new tank for a fish, yes? I've never used this before - when we've gotten fish in the past I've just rinsed out the tank really well, and then added water, treated it, etc. Is Bio-Spira necessary only for tanks using air filters and so forth? If I'm going to get a larger tank without a filter, would I need this?

Thanks to you all for helping me out with this - It's an excellent forum!
Best,
David
 

inari

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I would definately advise against having an unflitered tank for ur betta especially a 5 gallon, I know that my Betta hated the currents infact whenever i move the shield he gets mad at me I would Highly recommend a filtered tank atleast 5 gallons but if u have room and can afford it i would go with a 10 gallon and get him some tank mates so he has company while ur gone also another problem u may run into is that with an unfiltered tank NH4, NO2, NO3 and other compounds will build up faster and u may or may not get an algea problem. The problem with a heaterless system is that the more water you have the harder it is to change the temp IE the AC kicks on and cools the wast severely it is almost impossible to warm that water back up, that is y u would want a heater.

Bio-spira is a god send when it comes to setting up a new filtered tank. This bacteria will consume the ammonia making it more liveable for ur betta and/or other fish since i would suggest a filtered system, i would advise getting this stuff it just plain makes life easier. Bio-spira can me bought at a very very very VERY limited number of lfs so if u find one that has it i would suggest getting it. I paid 20 usd for enough Bio-Spira to fully cycle a 40 gallon tank. it was awsome 'cause after i got the plants in i could just drop Inari in and dry out my small tank for whenever i decide to move again. I think that is everything I hope u do take my advice and get ur betta a filtered,heated, lighted system he will greatly enjoy

~Inari
 

chickadee

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If you have limited space and all, I do too. So I am going to show you a picture of what my 5 gallon Hex tank (Marineland Hex 5 Eclipse) It is covered with a lid so the kittens cannot get in and has a light, filter and tall tank that basically takes up very little table room. They take up no more room than my 3 gallon quarantine tank. You NEED a filter to keep the ammonia down in the tank because it is the bacteria that grow in the filter that eat the ammonia and keep the fish from dying in his own waste products. Unless you want to do daily water changes which are also stressful for the fish, but not as stressful as living in an unfiltered bowl, you NEED a filter. There are some really good cheap filters if that is the issue but if you get a kit most of them include a filter. Just make sure it is not an UNDERGRAVEL filter. They are not good. The cheapest and easiest filters to use are the sponge filters. They can take the place of an airstone and filter both and run by airpump power. The only down side to them is that they do take up quite a bit of room unless you have a good sized tank. Well anyway I am going to send some pictures of the tank I have and then you will have an idea of what I am talking about. First here is the link to one of the places that sell it so you can read about it and a few others that are complete so you will know what is available, but if i were you i would not order online but head for Walmart or Target or KMart or Shopco or one of those places to see if you could find one of these cheaper there.

I got my tanks (all of them like the one you see here) at Walmart for $30. each and I am extremely happy with them. All I had to add was a heater and gravel. Well, plants and decorations too, but those are not necessities.

Here is the one like I own. As you can see it is taller than it is wide and that is how i can find room for mine and still let the fish have their 5 gallons.

There are also these in the 5 gallon size that would work for a Betta and a tank mate or so.

If you decide that you absolutely cannot do the 5 gallon due to room and still want to be able to provide a safe and heated home for him and feel you have room for a smaller tank here are a couple to look at.
(the 2.5 gallon one)

All of these tanks are acceptable for a betta, but if you get the smaller tank then you should not plan on having anything in with him. But those tanks will be big enough to be heated with a really dependable heater. I have the following recommendations for heaters as they have LIFETIME warranties and you need to keep your receipt and UPC code off the box (or the whole box) if you should decide to buy one of these.

If you got any of the tanks above you would need a 25 watt heater for them. Any of the tanks above will have lights and filters included. The tanks with an asterisk (*) next to them are the ones I have personal knowledge of. I have used both styles of the heaters listed and the first is appropriate for the 5 gallon tanks and the second for the smaller tanks not because it is better but because it is a little smaller.

I hope this is not too overwhelming as I do not mean it to be, but I would like for you to see what you could do. Then you can decide what you can afford or want to do. There is no pressure here, you make your own decisions as you are the only one who knows your situation. We will make recommendations based on whatever questions you may ask but please know that the final decisions on everything are definitely yours.

Now I will attempt to show you how the tanks that I have work into my room.

Rose

p.s. Just to clarify some of the tanks are the same ones just with different gravel and decorations. I only have 3 hex tanks and the one 3 gallon hospital/quarantine tank. The jar is no longer in use. (not a good idea even though it was 3 gallons in size and i did have it filtered and heated)
 

inari

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just to add a note sorry i forgot to mention this but if u do happen to have or get some room for a 10 gallon i would suggest to go to like Meijer and get a tank kit, it had tank (duh), filter, heater, thermometer, and about two water changes of water conditioner in it for less than $30 not a bad deal if u have room tho if u don't i would stick with the 5 gallon.
 
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junket

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Rose, Inari;
Thanks *again* I'm going to stop by the Petco today and see what they have. I read the article on this site about the nitrogen cycling - I really hope that I can find someplace locally that carries bio-spira - If I'm going to get him a new home (and I'm pretty sure I will, just need to talk it over with my wife who is out of town) I'd rather not wait the two weeks for the first cycle. I'm going to pick up some other sorts of food for him to try - hopefully I'll hit on something he'll like.
I'll keep you posted - you both *rock*!
Best,
David
 

inari

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David,

I found my Bio-Spira at a locally owned petstore u might want to look there I know Petco doesn't carry it I just walked home from there anyway good luck

brent
 
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junket

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I just went to my local pet store - Big Fish, Little Fish here in Somerville, MA and the owner there thought that he is probably not eating because I have been putting twice as much aquarium salt as necessary in with each tank change possibly burning his gills a little. He also recommended that I change only 1/3 of his water at a time. He suggested that I change 1/3 of his water today, avoid the aquarium salt for now, and use API's Stress Coat Fish and Tap Water Conditioner instead of Betta Buddies to treat the water. I've done this (acutally changed out a little more than 1/3) now and will try feeding him again tomorrow. I made sure that the water I added was the same temp as that already in the tank. The owner said I shouldn't worry too much that he (LuLu, not the owner) hasn't eaten in over a week as they can go for a while without food. I will still be talking with my wife about a larger tank, though. This store did not carry Bio-Spira, so I will have to find it elsewhere.
Thanks again!
David
 
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