Q: What causes a Betta to have trouble getting a hold of his food? I have had him for one year.  Is it a sign that he is getting old?

Question submitted by LAURA, Moses Lake - Washington

A: Laura: You say your betta has trouble getting a hold of his food. I assume you mean he tries to bite at it, but keeps missing it? (As oppose to say, eats it and spits it back out). Since I am not sure I will address both problems:
bulletTrouble getting his mouth and the food to line up ;): This is not a problem related with age. I have many older bettas and they can find their food and gobble it up in less time then it takes to type this. The most common cause of this problem is the betta not being able to maneuver his body and position it properly so that his mouth lines up with the food. This can come from two causes: Fins are too long, especially tail, which may be too heavy and cause Mr. Betta to swim somewhat "nose up", as the weight of tail makes his little buttocks sink ;). Not much you can do about this except give him a slight 'hair cut' to rebalance him. Only an experienced betta person should perform fin trimming. And by the way, many people have misconception about trimming betta's fins, if done properly, it is painless and the bettas do not mind a bit. They are much happier afterwards as they can swim faster and be more alert and appear to be relieved to have lost some fin weight. But you could hurt your betta if you do not know how to do it right so DO NOT try it. Any experienced betta breeder close to you could help you and do it for you safely. 

Another common problem that causes the misalignment of betta's mouth with betta's food is swimbladder disorder. Observe your betta, does he appear to have some trouble swimming? Does he lay at the surface sideways? Or does he tend to sink at the bottom lately? All above are signs of swimbladder problems. Please see my disease page for more info and help on this.

On very rare occasions, a betta might lose eye sight and no longer see his food that well. I once had a gorgeous orange male that appeared to be blind. No outside signs, but his behavior indicated he didn't see much at all.

bulletFind his food but then spits it out: That's an easy one. Mr. Betta is either picky (does not like new food) or sick (no longer wanting to eat the food he usually gobbles up). If sick, you have to do some research and scope my disease page to see what may be wrong and what you can do to help.

Your betta is probably already about 2 years old, and may have another year or so to play with his food in your company :). I hope above will help you help him. Goodluck.