Q: It's difficult to feed my betta.  He can't seem to ever see the food (pellets) unless I carefully drop it one by one right next to him.  Are all bettas like this or is mine unhealthy?

Question submitted by Courtney

A: No Courtney, not all bettas are like this, but I am familiar with the behavior. In all cases I have observed, the bettas were older. Is it possible that bettas might lose some eye sight as they get old? I don't see why not. I once had an orange male that was blind. It took me a while to figure it out, but after a few experiments, my suspicions were confirmed. Mr.Betta was blind as a bat. Would not react to any visual stimulation. Otherwise 'looked' (pun intended) healthy.

You ask if your betta is unhealthy. If he was he would not eat the food EVEN if dropped right in front of his nose. Or perhaps you have a lot of plants in his bowl? That could be confusing or distracting for him. If so, experiment with removing everything and see if you get the same results. Maybe he can find his food if he can notice it.

If your betta's sight is bad, you will be able to tell by trying the following: 

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Put a mirror next to him so he can see himself and see if he shows any interest in his own reflection (swims up to it, looks at it or better yet, flares). If not, then try this next: 

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When he is close to the glass and facing you, place your finger right in front of his nose. Do not touch the glass (to not create a sound wave that may alert him to your finger's presence and would distort our experiments results). Carefully observe his eyes. Did they "move" as in focus on your finger? Does he swim away (to run away from this strange apparition LOL), or does he seem to follow your finger (either with his eyes or by swimming after it) when you move it?

If your betta neither looks at nor swims toward or away from your finger, then he might have real bad eyesight . Can you do something about it? Yes, get him glasses!! LOL Betta glasses are however rather hard to find and remain expensive. Further more they tend to get fogged ;P so are not always very efficient LOL. OK, I was pulling your leg about the glasses :))). There is nothing you can do about your betta's eyesight. He still can live a long happy betta life. Just care for him as you always have and love him all the same.

 

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I am a member of the IBC, founder and President of LABS  (Los Angeles Betta Society) and have been helping the betta community through this website since 1998. 
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180  spawns and  4000 shipments under my belt and have been featured on national and international television.       
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